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British Airways offering you EU compensation as Avios – at a poor rate

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Over half term, my brother had a terrible time flying out to New York on BA.  His connection from Manchester to Heathrow was delayed due to a cancellation.  Because they had booked 5 x World Traveller Plus seats, BA struggled to reseat them on a Heathrow service and they had to take a taxi to Gatwick to take their NYC flight.  They arrived about five hours late.

He promptly filed a claim for his automatic compensation under EC261 for delays over three hours.   To give them credit, British Airways was very efficient and within a week he had received €3,000.

Recent reports on Flyertalk suggest that BA is offering customers the option of taking Avios instead of money.

This is allowed under the EU regulations, which state:

The compensation …… shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

What I don’t understand is that BA appears to be treating this as another option to leg over its passengers.

The deal being offered is €600 (c £500) or 38,000 Avios.

This is a VERY poor deal if you take the Avios.  You are paying 1.33p per point.You can often buy Avios for noticeably less than 1.33p per point via the regular special deals run by BA and  More importantly, most people would struggle to get more than 1.33p per point when redeeming – take a look at my core article on ‘What is an Avios point worth?’.

I would strongly recommend taking the money if you find yourself in this scenario.  Money is more flexible than Avios and if you really need 38,000 points an offer is likely to be along soon enough to buy them for less than 1.33p anyway.

BA could do itself a favour by offering, say, €800 of travel vouchers instead of €600 in cash.  This would be a more interesting alternative and would help retain a customer who (since they are making a delay claim in the first place) is probably not feeling very positive about BA currently.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (79)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Joseph says:


    Hoping someone here may have some insight into my experiences with BA on a delayed flight in September.
    I was booked on a Baltiimore BWI to London Heathrow flight (BA 0228) on 6th September 2016. I arrived in plenty of time to check in my bag with my pre-printed boarding pass but was told by BA check in they were having a small technical issue and everybody would have to wait. Very little updates from BA but after a couple of hours waiting in line it was confirmed that there were problems with the BA computers and if necessary BA would switch to manual check in. (Around this time I discovered I was one of only a handful of passengers who had managed to check in and print my pass, not that it seemed to help me at all)

    Finally we did go manual which was sloooow and the flight due to depart at 21.50 left around 1.00 am. And almost worse still was that the flight was full and the inflight entertainment was not working.

    We then landed at Heathrow at 13.57 (by BA’s own flight checker) delayed from 9.55am. So just over the magic 4 hours by my calculation. I thought raising an immediate complaint via the BA website ought to be relatively clear cut. Over 3 weeks later I received a response from BA that they were sorry to hear about the delay and (non) entertainment system but:

    “Your claim’s been refused because BA0228 on 06 September was delayed because of airspace restrictions being in place that operational circumstances outside of our control. We always concern about our passengers’ safety. Under EU legislation, I’m afraid we’re not liable for a compensation payment in this situation.

    We take all reasonable measures to avoid delaying a flight and we always consider if there are any operational options available before we make a decision. We’re very sorry the delay was necessary in this case.” And that they have instead credited by BA account with 3,000 Avios.

    I’m very surprised to hear about the “airspace restrictions” as this was never mentioned by check in staff or the pilot/staff when apologising for the delays. Of course upon returning to London I discover on the news that ‘IT glitches’ have caused chaos with BA check in and flights, worldwide.

    So my question is, am I being naive in even wondering if BA could be telling porkies about the airspace restrictions? Or if there were some sort of airspace restrictions they don’t change the fact that the BA IT glitch was the primary cause. Should I persist with BA or consider the small claims route?

    Any pointers or similar experiences gratefully received. Apologies for the long rambly post but I noted elsewhere that a poster was asked for fuller details.


    • Han says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Sounds to me they’re def telling porkies!! I would file an MCOL in this instance under EC261 as they will now have to justify their petty response in court.

      Good luck!!

      • the real harry says:

        +1 you’ll get your compo but need to press it

        don’t fall at the first (spurious) hurdle

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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