How to use BA Holidays to avoid paying for your flight until 5 weeks before departure!

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If you’re ‘not the sort of person who books package holidays’, you may have given BA Holidays a wide berth.  That would be a mistake.  BA Holidays has three unique benefits:

It allows you to book flights today but not pay the majority of the cost until 5 weeks before travel

It turns non-refundable flights into up to 90% refundable flights (all you lose is your deposit if you cancel)

It gives you extra Avios on top of the Avios you already earn for the flights and the credit card spend

There is also a potential fourth benefit:

Booking via BA Holidays may actually be cheaper than bookings stand-alone flights

Let’s look at how it works …..

Book your next flight by just paying a deposit

British Airways Holidays has a very generous interest free payment plan.  You pay a deposit when you book.  You only need to pay the balance within 5 weeks of departure.

It is VERY easy to turn a potential ‘flight only’ booking into a qualifying BA Holidays booking.

All you need to do is book using the ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ options on  You need to add some accommodation or car hire to your stay.  Adding a car is the easiest option unless you actually need a hotel too.

BA Holidays can save you money too

An added benefit of doing this is that it can save you money.  You will often pay less for a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ booking than just for the flight.  This is because British Airways sells you a different – cheaper – sort of flight ticket (don’t worry, you still get Avios and tier points!) which is made exclusively available to travel agents.

Even if the price is the same or is marginally more expensive, you may feel that it is a price worth paying to give yourself what could be a substantial period of interest free credit.

And it should make your non-refundable flights up to 90% refundable ….

You are also building in an element of flexibility, since you could potentially cancel your booking and forfeit your deposit.

The BA Holidays website says this is possible:

“In most cases, the deposit amount is not refundable in the event that you decide to cancel your booking”

This is substantially better than having to cancel non-refundable flights where you will get nothing back.  Do read the small print carefully during the booking process though.

BA Holidays

How it works

There is a special page on the BA Holidays website here which expains how the ‘paying with just a deposit’ scheme works.

Your ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car hire’ booking is confirmed as soon as you have paid the deposit.  The amount will be:

  • Package value £300-£999 – pay £150 deposit per booking
  • Package value £1000-£2999 – pay from £300 deposit per booking
  • Package value £3000-£3499 – pay from £350 deposit per booking

I’m not sure what the ‘pay from‘ element represents.  I am guessing you need to pay the higher of 10% or £350 on larger bookings.

The balance is not due until five weeks before departure.

Alternatively, you can by pay instalments at any point up to five weeks before departure.  This is another benefit – you can split the cost across numerous credit cards if necessary, unlike a straight ‘flight only’ booking.  You can also time your payments to maximise credit card sign-up bonuses or annual spend bonuses.

And an Avios bonus!

By booking a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ package, you get an extra bonus.  You receive 1 Avios per £1 for your booking.  This is in addition to the Avios from the flight and from your credit card spend.

You can learn about collecting Avios on BA Holidays bookings on their website here.

Are there any downsides?

Some, yes:

Flights booked via BA Holidays do NOT qualify for On Business points in the BA small business scheme.

You also do NOT get the 24 hour ‘cooling off period’ for free cancellation that BA offers for flight only booking.

There have been a few reported cases of Avis asking for a ‘no show’ fee of €50 or so if you don’t collect the car. Whether this is legally enforceable or not I don’t know.  This presumably reflects the profits they lost by not being able to sell you overpriced insurance …..

The BA Holidays site is here if you want to find out more.

(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. There was a post about coupons to get Amazon vouchers cheaper, but it seems to have gone.

    Not sure why – but can someone let us know how to get the discount. Thanks 🙂

  2. Is it possible to do Avios upgrades on flights booked via BA holidays?

    • Two readers are saying different things here – one says you can’t, one says you can but only if you’ve paid the full balance.

      • I always book my BA package to get the full cover from the Package Travel Regulations and I always book Premium Economy and then use Avios to upgrade to CW. Did it on my holiday in September and did it for my holiday in December ????

        • And Always di it upfront before paying the balance: but I ALWAYS ring up and do it rather than using the website

      • I’ve ringed them up twice; one time they said not possible, the second time they said it’s possible. I haven’t yet paid the full balance. So I think it is possible to upgrade with avios a BA holidays flight but you have to insist at the call centre or call them again..

      • barnaby100 says:

        Paid mine off a week ago and not appearing as an option,

    • I did this only one month ago did at time of booking (booked over phone) and only paid a deposit upgraded from club to first on a multi city BA holiday for me and my partner.

  3. Interesting article in the holiday section, of Sunday times today, about BA and the new uniform….

    • Shoestring says:

      Can you give the opening sentence pls? Means we can google it for free

      • Lady London says:

        got it and the opening sentence. but still stuck in front of the paywall.

        • The opening sentence loophole has long been closed

        • Shoestring says:

          @Alex Sm it was working last weekend

        • British Airways announced last week that its crew are getting natty new uniforms, designed by the Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng. BA’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, described the move as “a visual representation of investment in our people”.

        • Shoestring says:

          paywall lol

          Probably could use my brain to get behind it – but no, not easy – I accept you’re right, I’m wrong

        • Shoestring says:

          Anyway, give us the gist, Yuffo

        • Can I not just cut and paste?

        • Invest in IT to fend off cyberattacks and prevent your central computer from crashing.

          ■ Bring back free soft drinks, tea and coffee — and gin and tonics — on short-haul flights. You can still charge for the M&S food and wine, if you must.

          ■ Hire enough cabin crew to serve food and drinks on short-haul flights, and make sure you always load enough grub.

          ■ Put back the lavatory you’ve removed from some short-haul jets to squeeze in more seats. One loo for the entire economy cabin is not enough.
          Writers wish list…….
          ■ Hire more cleaners. Your planes are sometimes filthy.

          ■ Accelerate the delivery of the quieter, more environmentally friendly Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s you’ve ordered, and phase out the 747s fast.

          ■ Train your staff to act like hoteliers, not “computer says no” airline employees.

          ■ Install wi-fi, power and USB sockets in every seat in every class.

          ■ The new lounges in Boston and San Francisco are a big improvement. Please upgrade all the others to the same standard.

          ■ Make the new Club World seats bigger and all forward-facing, replacing the current back-to-front pairs.

          ■ Above all, remember BA is not Ryanair. It is a premium brand and must remain premium in every cabin.

        • Shoestring says:

          Yuffo that’s from FT if’Im not mistaken.

          I was hoping for the ST article?

        • That is from the ST article.

        • Shoestring says:

          well, I saw that before – I thought it was FT guff!

          Now I can see it’s ST guff.

    • Is it that the new BA uniforms are almost identical to the old Bank of Scotland uniforms?

  4. So I priced on, LHR-CPT / WDH-JNB-LHR flights in F for £6.5K for 2 people. Trying to do this as a holiday, with 3 days car rental in CPT increased the price to £22K!!! WTF! Any idea what the issue could be?

    • Odd but probably because WDH-JNB is not on BA which will have caused something silly to happen.

    • High levels of carjacking in South Africa?

    • had similar experience when pricing short trip to Russia in F & CW. took screen grabs and rang exec club and they then booked it for me for a far cheaper price. they had no idea re price difference either though

  5. You’ve neglected the main reason for using BA Holidays… you get a 24h call centre which will actually try to help you rearrange your itinerary should you need it. I’ve found they’ve been very accommodating to me when my plans have changed midtrip.

    The massive disadvantage of the holidays tickets is they can’t be upgraded using avios even if the underlying fare class letter in theory could be.

    I do a reasonable number of weekend breaks per year from London. If I can’t get avios redemption due to unavailability, I generally find I can get the hotel free compared to the flight only cash price.

  6. Another advantage is that you increase your chances of getting one of the BA cc offers such as spend £500 get £100 back. This happened to us last year. Would have missed out had we paid in full at the time of booking the flight.

  7. OT_Marriott Travel Package

    Is there a final word on Marriott travel package redeemed before 18-August, being able to upgrade to a higher category? Or is it strict no-no.

    Also the original Category 1-5 is now Category 1-4. no other way to get new Category 5 hotel using the old certificate?

    • Seems to be ‘no’, but I recommend you look at the VERY lengthy Flyertalk thread on the topic in the new merged Marriott / SPG forum.

      • Completely unbelievable response from Marriott, wouldn’t even let me redeem the existing certificate for a category 4 hotel Says the certificate value is only 45K points, so even a category 3 hotel cannot be booked using points.

        What a mess.
        It is more than 2 weeks after their block on booking (between 18-August to 18-September) was lifted but it does not seem to work.
        SPG customer Service does not want to talk about what a Travel Package Certificate is.

        Have they really merged or not? End of rant…

        • ankomonkey says:

          I have successfully converted an old Cat 1-5 certificate to a new Cat 1-4 certificate and attached it to a new Cat property. Did this around 1st Sep using Cork call centre. Some on FT have reported being able to upgrade their new cat certs using points, like you could before. It does seem possible, but just as many have reported being told it can’t be done.

        • Yep, whole this a total mess – very rushed and poorly handled.

          I’d call again – sounds like they’re totally confused and thinking of 45k surrender value.

    • I swapped my OC6 for NC5 for 30k extra – still unable to book SPG properties with it though.

      Complaint submitted weeks ago and only original auto-acknowledgement received so far – all very poorly handled.

  8. OT sorry team. I’ve been looking up LHR to YYZ in BA first next May/June. It’s been 68k avios each way but seems to have jumped to 80k avios this morning. Dates I’m searching are the same (off peak) so not sure what the issue could be. I’m fairly new to the game, is this just a glitch in the matrix or am i missing something simple?

    • Are you avoiding the final week of May? That’s the bank holiday weekend and school half term week which will be peak pricing and for F to Toronto is 80k avios each way.

  9. O/T (sorry no bits today) – just wanted to check if I’m safe to reapply for my own BAPP card now. I closed my account in March, letter from Amex dated 31/03 says account was cancelled from 29/03/2018. If I apply today will I be eligible for the sign up £26k bonus again? Husband referring me from his BAPP.

  10. George Budd says:

    I’ve upgraded BA Holidays J to F and ET to CE on both fully paid and partially paid bookings. They will even work out how much you need to pay to top-up your super-cheap ET fare to a bucket you can UUA from. The Newcastle BA Holidays team are the best, so helpful.

  11. OT – the AMEX CostCo TrueRewards card. Using a referral link, this card doesn’t appear on list, no matter which browser I use. Is it possible for a Platinum card to refer to a CostCo card?

    • Don’t think so. This card is ring fenced for some reason. Amex’s marketing agency also does not promote it.

      • Hey is it no longer possible to refer a friend to BA black card from my Amex Plat (and net 18k MR)?

      • If you see availability in the next class above will you be offered to upgrade in cash if your original class was booked on AVIOS at check in? Or can you enquire at check in about next up, will they offer this from an AVIOS booking and if so can you use cash + points to reduce the price.

      • Deadbeat

      • It seems to come and go these days. It appears it’s currently gone

      • Shoestring says:

        @Chris – I’m all for self improvement, studying, learning, getting yourself ahead.

        Deadbeat – I’m going to cry a little bit.

        All over now.

  12. So after all the gaffs, no one knows the answer then?

  13. BA On Business question:
    Is it enough to add someone as a traveler in company dashboard and enter their avios number?
    Or do they need to enter the company OB number in every booking?

  14. Big dave says:

    Cannot fault BA holidays at all – after having heard a few horror stories about their agencies they use for extras like them park tickets etc I was a bit skeptical – but i needed the ability to pay as late as possible – so booked an almost £10K holiday package paying small deposit and then the balance with my amex 5 weeks prior to holiday. Still they were cheaper than the high street

    All issues I had they answered prompty and sorted out witihin a few hours

    So got the points for paying with amex, got the avios and tier points for the flights and the whole holiday because fo the hotels and extras got us an extra 18000 avios.

  15. It’s also possible to book a hotel foe just one night – even if you don’t stay there. This can lead to some substantial savings.

  16. Re: BA Holidays call centres, they maybe okay if you are in a reasonable time zone but if you’re in Maui at a hotel booked via BA then you’re pretty much stranded with nowhere to turn.

  17. Just saw on the Stansted FB page that Primera Air have gone into administration. Not surprising but still sad to see less competition.

  18. Oxonlad says:

    Recently booked a short break to Dubai with BA in their holiday sale. Not a great saving over same package after sale ended but worth having for five of us and I couldn’t find better by shopping around for flights and hotels separately.

    I was told there was a 24 hour cooling off period if I wanted to cancel and get a full refund.

  19. Graybags says:

    Booked 3 BA all in deals. Can’t fault it. Venice in March 3 nights inc flights and bijou hotel less than £110. Currently in Tobago (with superior room upgrade) 10 days £750.
    The biggie is NYC first class in Intercontinental Barclay 7 nights £under £3000 pp. Admittedly this was flying from Inverness to get it cheaper, but when they altered my return to Inverness they started me off in LBA (40 mins away) no questions asked.

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