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Avios has launched, as a trial, ‘Avios Advance’. This has been knocking around for a while on a limited basis but is now popping up for more and more people.

This is something new for airline loyalty programmes although Marriott has been doing it for years with its hotel programme.

You can book an Avios flight even if you don’t have enough points.  You have until 35 days before departure to earn them.

How does it work?

This is an initiative.  You will not find it on and so you cannot combine it with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

If all of your Avios are in British Airways Executive Club, you will need to move them over to before you can do this.


The exact rules for ‘Avios Advance’ have not been published.  This is how it seems to work – but please do not take this information as fully accurate:

You seem to need to book 6 months ahead of travel

You seem to need to have 75% of the Avios required already in your account

Note that there is no guarantee that you will be offered ‘Avios Advance’ even if you do meet these criteria.

Go through the flight booking process on and, assuming your potential booking meets the criteria above, the box above will appear on screen.

It invites you to ring the Avios call centre and make your booking.  This is what happens:

Avios reserves your seat

You pay your existing Avios balance plus the full taxes for the ticket (the box only mentions £35 Reward Flight Saver taxes but I assume you need to pay the full taxes figure)

You have until 35 days before departure to earn the balance of the Avios required

It isn’t clear what happens if you don’t have the remaining Avios in your account 35 days before travel.  Do you forfeit your ‘deposit’ (ie all of the Avios you used)?  That sounds too excessive.  I am guessing that the booking is cancelled and you receive your Avios and taxes back less the usual £35 cancellation fee.

What do I think?

This is an interesting move by Avios.  It is customer friendly but also has the potential to cost Avios money:

It saves the customer from buying Avios points to top up their account at the punitive 1.6p per point rate

It creates additional call centre work as these bookings cannot be made online

Let’s see how it goes – the fact that it is now being offered more widely implies they are happy with it.  Hopefully it will be a success.

PS.  The Marriott version of this scheme is FAR more generous.  Marriott Rewards members can make reward redemptions without having any points in their account!  You have until 7 days before arrival to earn the points you need.  I have a Ritz-Carlton booking for October currently booked via this route.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (55)

  • Nick says:

    This is a canny move for another reason too – look at the booking deadline…
    When BA changed EC rules to guarantee at least 6 spaces per flight, a line a lot of people ignored stated that this applied until 45 days before the flight, implying they could be closed if not already booked (not guaranteed or automatic but they reserved the right to). If you cancel at -60 days and that flight was limited to the 6 seats this means they will release for resale. If you book an Avios award without the required points and it auto-cancels at -35, these don’t then have to be re-released…

  • Mark says:

    This would make sense if offered by BAEC and would only allow you to book using avios that you will earn from flights that have already been booked but not flown (There would still be an issue if flights were canceled/missed).

  • Swanhunter says:

    The LH SEN overdraft used to be 160,000 miles. Then Star Alliance did a big UK status match, lots of people chose LH and used the miles for a J return to Australia then abandoned their account. The good old days!

    That abuse triggered the reduction to 50,000 and the invoice for any negative balance when downgraded.

  • Joe says:

    OT… my son turns two on April 7th and we have a 2-4-1 to use if we fly outbound before he is two and return after is second birthday will BA try to charge full Avios for return leg for him? Reason I ask is recently called BA to price a fee redemptions and operator told me if he was over 2 on return journey we leagally have to have a seat for him… but last year I booked return business to Singapore flying out before is birthday and back after but they never mentioned it or charged more or forced me to get a seat for him was this a mistake ?

  • Joe says:

    but…last year your son would have been aged under 2 for both legs of your trip to SIN?