Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Do you know that short-haul Avios redemptions are often cheaper as 2 x one-ways?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

I want to take a look today at a British Airways redemption trick which even old hands can forget.  Before booking a RETURN European redemption with Avios, check out the taxes if you book the trip as two separate one-way trips.  You may save money.

The reason for this is that British Airways removed fuel surcharges from short-haul flights a few years ago.  This had an impact on redemptions.  Despite the fuel price creeping back up – and another £50 or so being whacked on long-haul premium redemptions a few weeks ago – short-haul remains immune.

Without any fuel surcharge to contend with, almost all of the ‘taxes’ you still incur on a short haul redemption are incurred on the London leg of your journey.  This is primarily Air Passenger Duty and Heathrow’s excessive Passenger Service Charge.

Coming home, some overseas airports do not levy any airport charges and there is no APD to pay.

As the Reward Flight Saver fee of £35 in Euro Traveller and £50 in Club Europe is halved on one-way flights, you may be overpaying if you book a return flight from London instead of two one-way tickets.  This is because BA reduces the RFS fee if the actual taxes and charges are less than £17.50 Euro Traveller / £25 Club Europe.

Here is an example.

An economy return to Luxembourg (pictured above, a pleasant place for a lazy weekend break) incurs Reward Flight Saver fees of £35.  If you book it as two one-ways, the fee is only £17.50 outbound plus £3.40 inbound, for a total of £20.90.  You save £14.10 per person.

Dublin, a more common destination, also generates a small saving.  The inbound charge is £10.00.  This means you save £7.50 per person booking as 2 x one-way flights.

This does not always work.  However, it is always worth checking it out.  Even if it doesn’t work for economy trips, it may save you money when booking Club Europe.  One way flights from Hamburg to London cost £17.50 in taxes in economy so you don’t save anything.  In business, however, you pay £20.50 which saves you £4.50 per person.

Even if you thought that you may end up cancelling your trip, in Euro Traveller it is still cheaper to book such a trip as 2 x one-way flights.  The £35 cancellation fee is actually capped at the lower of £35 or the tax paid.  As the tax is never more than £17.50 each way, you cannot be worse off when cancelling.

This doesn’t necessarily work for Club Europe.  If you book as a return flight, your cancellation charge is £35.  If you book 2 x one-way flights, your cancellation fee is capped at £25 x 2 = £50 fee.  You could end up worse off booking Club Europe as 2 x one-ways if you have to cancel.

If you remember the points above, you may save a few pounds on your next short-haul redemption.

Don’t try booking long-haul flights as 2 x one-ways as the fuel surcharges are markedly higher in the majority of cases.

(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 (47)

  • lgflyer says:

    OT: When cancelling a one way long-haul Avios redemption, should the fee be £17.50 or £35?
    Also could I cancel one of the passengers but leave the booking for the other one? If I have to cancel both, would the seat be available for redemption again? The redemption is on CX if it matters.

    • Genghis says:

      Lower of £35 or taxes paid.

    • John says:

      It’s usually possible to cancel 1 of 2 tickets.

      If cancelling a CX redemption very soon after booking, I have observed the CX availability returning after about 6 hours. If it has been some time since booking, CX may have sold out some of the cheaper fare buckets on that flight, so redemption availability may not return.

    • Rob says:

      Always £35 per person unless you paid under £35 in taxes.

    • lgflyer says:

      Great, thanks!

    • Anna says:

      I was always under the impression that with BA, at least, if 2 passengers are on the same PNR you would have to cancel the whole booking and start again. Please tell me if I’m wrong!

      • Genghis says:

        BA can manually split the PNR and then cancel one of the bookings.

        • Anna says:

          Thanks Ghengis, I may be getting it confused with the intricacies of cancelling one leg of a return trip!

  • Lady London says:

    is that the Barista version of Gold Blend that Spar is doing for £4? found this price for it once in a co-op, never seen it so low since. needs to be barista though… is that what Spar is doing?

  • George K says:

    No variation for Munich, with I just booked in one PNR….

  • Alex Sm says:

    I did this trick with LHR-DME bookings – the saving was minimal (£2-3 pounds) but the joy of getting a bargain (and flexibility! – in case you need to change your outbound, your inbound is ringfenced) was a good reward!