Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use British Airways 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.)

Comments (137)

  • Bob says:

    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?

  • 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.

  • Lee H says:

    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.

  • Rivo says:

    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.

  • Jack says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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.