Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

You can now use Avios points to pay for BA seat reservations – but is it a good deal?

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British Airways went live yesterday with its well-trailed plan to allow you to use Avios to pay for seat reservations.

You can find out more on ba.com here.

It will be of particular benefit to those in the Blue tier” said James Hillier of the Executive Club in a statement of the blinkin’ obvious, given that all other Executive Club members receive free seat selection.

You won’t be surprised to hear that this is a terrible use of Avios.

Use Avios to pay for British Airways seat selection

I would also be surprised – and quite worried – if it proved popular.

People in the Blue tier are unlikely to have a large number of Avios and are unlikely to want to use up to 35,000 Avios to select a seat in advance for a return Club World flight.

What do BA seat reservations cost?

Full details are on ba.com here.

BA now uses dynamic pricing for seat selection.  Pricing varies by seat and by how many seats are available.

Here are the minimum charges, each way:

  • Short-haul economy – from £7
  • Long-haul economy – from £20
  • Long-haul economy exit row – from £50
  • World Traveller Plus – from £18
  • Short-haul business – from £14
  • Long-haul business – from £62 (upper deck seats on a Boeing 747 are £90+)

Seat selection in First Class is free.

Pay for British Airways seat reservations with Avios points

What is the value per Avios?

It is …. and no surprise …..

0.55p per Avios.

This is the same rate that Avios uses for most of its other non-flight redemptions, such as redeeming for wine, experiences, hotels etc.

0.55p per point is a bad dealAs I wrote here in my ‘what is an Avios worth?’ article, you should be looking at 1p to 1.5p per point.

You should never redeem Avios obtained via credit card spend, Tesco Clubcard, Heathrow Rewards etc at 0.55p per point.  You would have been far better off using a cashback credit card, using your Clubcard points for another transfer deal or using your Heathrow Rewards points for airport shopping.  You need to be getting at least 1p per Avios if you are transferring in points from other places.

Conclusion

I am fully in favour of giving people more way to use their Avios.  If you earned your Avios exclusively from flying, so they were effectively ‘free’, then even getting a poor 0.55p per point is worthwhile.  For everyone else, I would try to avoid this redemption option if you can.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2022)

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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel 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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

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

Comments (108)

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

  • Big Dave says:

    going to Orlando cattle class this summer and facing 30 odd pounds per seat (4 of us) each way… now although the redemption is poor paying in avios or partly paying in avios it is most welcome and having an extra 200-300 quid to pay on top to guarantee to sit together (the kids are no longer under 12) meant that we’d have to spend less elsewhere….

    • Big Dave says:

      basically the avios earned for the whole trip will be used to pay for the seats (or at least partly pay for them)

  • Nick_C says:

    Does any other airline charge for seat selection if you are flying in business?

    • Rob says:

      Swiss charges for its ‘best’ seats but 80% are free.

  • Stuart says:

    Slightly off topic but seat related, paid for my seats together on my honeymoon flight in CE to Venice as I kind of want to sit next to my new wife, logged into the BA app yesterday and they have moved us, same row but apart. Is there anything I can do? All other seats are now showing as blanked out and I obviously paid for something I’m not getting

    • Charlie T. says:

      Remember there’s no middle seat in CE so A is next to C and D is next to F.

      • Stuart says:

        Sadly we are now in A and F, we were originally in D and F which are obviously together. Rang the call centre and I can sit with her at the back of CE which is a 12 row CE on an A321 which is not what I wanted as that’s the reason I booked me seats together at the front of the plane. Told I could then have a refund but would be back to square one and picking from what’s left of the seats at check in time, 24 hours before as I hold no status as I’m like a few other on here that’s mentioned earlier in the thread, an avios collector through other means than flights.

        • Anna says:

          I’m sure one of the other 2 passengers in your row will be willing to swap unless they both have a fear of sitting in a window seat which is highly unlikely!

        • Leo says:

          So the option is – carry on paying for seats you are unhappy with, or get the money back and have seats you are unhappy with. I guess at least with option 1 you do get to sit together. I would probably get the money back and take my chances. You will both be in the same cabin and you won’t actually be sitting next to someone else. It’s not a long flight – but it is your honeymoon. Having said all of that I do have sympathy – were you in row 1? Maybe bounced for a Gold?

        • Genghis says:

          Agree with Leo. Get your money back and take your chances at t-24. After a few years of marriage you’ll not be that bothered about sitting apart anyway. We sit one behind the other in first and when flying back from NYC in a couple of weeks’ time, we have separate bookings and wife no status but no way am I giving up my prized 62A to sit with her (and she’s happy with that) 🙂

        • Chris L says:

          Think about what your new wife would want. Personally, my wife would rather us sit together if it meant just being a few rows further back.

        • lumma says:

          Doesn’t that seem to be a huge Club Europe cabin for a flight that you’d imagine wouldn’t have that much demand?

          I do think someone would swap one of the aisles for the window if you asked at boarding. This happened to me on my recent flight home from Bilbao, which only had 3 rows of business

        • Definitas says:

          BA make a continuous habit of charging for seats and then arbitrarily moving people. I can only imagine that they do it to accommodate “status” holders. They also make it far too difficult to get the money back to the point where I just don’t bother. Friends in Canada booked CW for cash and paid for seat reservations as it was a special anniversary. Despite the fact that they booked 350 days out not only did they not get their paid seats, one of them got downgraded to PE (next to the toilet). Welcome to BA customer service. Needless to say they have forsworn never to fly BA again.

    • Geoff says:

      Yes- you are entitled to a refund if BA move seats that you’ve paid for.

      • Lady London says:

        Personally I’d cancel the entire booking with British Airways and fly with someone else if I could!

  • Alan says:

    I think that this will appeal to people at either end of the Avios collecting spectrum, but not those in the middle.
    If you have some Avios but don’t actively collect them then you may feel that you won’t get reward seats so may as well “use them up” on something.
    If you have way more Avios than you can use then you may as well use them on this.
    If you are in the middle and actively collect Avios for redemption flights (and don’t have loads left over) then I would not think that this would appeal to you.

    • Peter K says:

      This is exactly what I think. Those with very large amounts might not care about poor value of it gets them what they want.

      At the other end, it’s giving value to those that have a few avois, don’t want to spend it on BOB and would struggle to get the amount required for a RFS. They are again getting something they want, are used to paying for seat selection with Ryanair, Easyjet etc so the pence per point is irrelevant to them.

  • meta says:

    I agree it’s shocking the amount of miles they’re  asking! On my next year’s flight to SEZ using Lloyds voucher they are asking 32k for CW one way when I paid 79k for 2 tickets! I am wondering since you can also part pay with Avios for seat selection whether it would be better to guarantee a better seat. I seem to be getting worse and worse seats T-7 as a Bronze member. Everything seems to be greyed out.

    • Nick_C says:

      Some of those greyed out seats may have been pre-allocated to you!

      When I checked in at T-24 last time, there was suddenly a lot more availability and we had been pre allocated seats together (which I then changed)

      Check Expert Flyer to see which seats are occupied and which are simply blocked

      • meta says:

        Oh great tip. Thanks. I actually thought that blocked on Expert Flyer meant already booked.

  • mark2 says:

    Where have I gone wrong?
    In Mike’s example above two people with 241 to JFK is 120,000 plus 70,000 to book seats i.e. 190,000. But Two seats in F (if available) would be 160,000 including seat selection.

    • Alex W says:

      Ha good point! If there’s availability, mind you.

      • Polly says:

        Often is availability in F to NYC when usknv a 241. Makes no avios sense using so many avios to reserve J seats..unless you are very avios rich.. but at least the option is there. Helps BA get rid of millions of avios anyway.

    • Mike says:

      Mark2 – great point but as Alex said it only works if there is availability. But I like your approach – if in doubt “Fly First”

  • Peter K says:

    A lot of people put no value on something they haven’t worked for…and an excess of value on something they have.
    That’s why people will spend hours looking for the cheapest flights and then spend avios on seat selection. The avios might have come from a previous flight or credit card spend but to a lot of people they are “free” so any saving of money is great.
    BA are cleverly making lots of people feel good about saving money and at the same time reducing their avios liability.
    It’s only more clued up ones, like those who read this blog, that feel it’s a waste because we know the value that can be gained from them.

    • Doug M says:

      I agree. And companies exploit this to confuse those that mistake cheap for inexpensive.
      Look how airlines have broken out components of a flight to they say give customers choice, but the reality is it’s to appear on low fare finders. Even worse is hotel resort fees, unlike the flight things there is no choice with these.

  • Nick_C says:

    OT – just saw this on the Iberia website.

    “Iberia Plus gives you double Avios to get you to your destination twice as fast.

    Book by 15 May to fly wherever, whenever, and in whichever class you want”

    Can’t find any further details, but it may be useful for people booking a BA codeshare who don’t need qualifying flights for tier points?

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