Interesting niche anomalies in Avios reward pricing you can exploit

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Some Avios redemptions are ‘disproportionately’ cheap because they fall right on the edge of an Avios pricing band.

Until Aer Lingus rigged the game by forcibly moving it into the higher band, Dublin to Boston was the prime example of this.  At 2,993 miles it used to be a bargain as it fell into the cheaper “sub 3,000 miles” pricing of 75,000 Avios return in Business.  Aer Lingus has now decided that Boston is 8 miles further away than it really is, so it now costs 100,000 or 120,000 Avios depending on whether it is a ‘peak’ day.

Back in 2013, spurred on by an article I wrote on the topic, the team at Flyertalk produced some fantastic diagrams to highlight potential pricing anomalies.  These make it easy to spot interesting redemptions which might be surprisingly good value.

I have only focused on one example in this article, but if you click here to visit Flyertalk you will see them for virtually all oneworld airline hubs.

This example chart shows Avios pricing bands for Qatar Airways, radiating out from Doha (click to enlarge):

Qatar distance map

The numbers refer to the nine Avios pricing bands (click to enlarge):

Redemption chart 2

The zones relate to the distance flown:

  • Zone 1:  1 – 650 miles
  • Zone 2:  651 – 1,150 miles
  • Zone 3:  1,151 – 2,000 miles
  • Zone 4:  2,001 – 3,000 miles
  • Zone 5:  3,001 – 4,000 miles
  • Zone 6:  4,001 – 5,500 miles
  • Zone 7:  5,501 – 6,500 miles
  • Zone 8:  6,501 – 7,000 miles
  • Zone 9:  7,000+ miles

Let’s take a look at the Qatar Airways chart in detail.  A green dot means that the city is in the lower priced band.  A red dot means that the city is in the higher priced band.

An example to Doha:

London to Doha, as you can see, is Zone 5.  That means you pay 120,000 Avios return in Business Class (remember that every day is a ‘peak’ day when redeeming on a British Airways partner airline).  Taxes and charges are £399 on top if you fly British Airways or £393 if you fly with Qatar Airways.

Frankfurt, though, is just in Zone 4This means you pay only 75,000 Avios return in Business Class from Frankfurt to Doha.  Taxes are £288 return.

As you get a return Avios flight to Frankfurt for 9,000 Avios plus £35, you can make a substantial saving – 36,000 Avios plus £105 of taxes – on peak date redemptions to Doha by connecting in Frankfurt.

(A warning – if you book both flights on the same ticket, the taxes figure will jump up because you will need to pay long-haul Air Passenger Duty.  If you book both flights on separate tickets, you will need to collect your luggage in Frankfurt and recheck it.  The choice is yours.)

An example to Singapore:

You will also see that Singapore is conveniently placed on the edge of Zone 5.  This means that, whilst connecting usually means a bad deal when redeeming with Avios, in this case it works out OK.

Frankfurt to Singapore via Doha is 97,500 Avios plus £197 tax (business, one-way). 

London to Singapore on BA, non-stop – a VERY tricky seat to find – is 105,000 Avios plus £365 tax one-way on a peak day. 

Add in 4,500 Avios + £17.50 for a one-way flight to Frankfurt and the Avios cost is roughly equal.  Clearly one of these trips requires three flights and the other is direct, but the £150 tax saving compensates partially – and, of course, you’re flying Qatar Airways.  In any event, it is VERY hard to get seats on the direct British Airways Singapore service so you may end up looking for an alternative.

There’s more ….

You can spend ages playing with these charts and working out options.  Over at Flyertalk you will find them for:

  • Aer Lingus ex-Dublin
  • American Airlines ex-Los Angeles
  • American Airlines ex-New York
  • American Airlines ex-Chicago
  • American Airlines ex-Dallas
  • American Airlines ex-Miami
  • Cathay Pacific ex-Hong Kong
  • Iberia ex-Madrid
  • LAN ex-Santiago
  • Malaysia Airlines ex-Kuala Lumpur

… as well as generic charts from Delhi and Singapore.

Note – and this is very important – that these charts were created before the 2015 Avios devaluation.  All of the Avios pricing examples given in that thread are now wrong and you will need to re-work the numbers.  The charts themselves are still accurate, however, as the Avios bandings did not change.

All of the charts can be found in this Flyertalk thread.

(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.)

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  1. Thanks for your replies, I wont spend the next £3500 on this card in that case!

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