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

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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.

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  1. Slight downside of booking separate tickets are that if one leg is cancelled or rescheduled by BA, you will forfeit the money if you want to cancel the other, or pay to change it (or cancel+rebook) and there may be no availability by the time you need to rebook.

    The protection from having only one ticket may be more useful on very short trips.

    Though I feel the savings from booking separate legs outweigh the potential risks.

    • On the other side …. you cannot cancel the return leg for a refund once outbound is flown. With 2 x one ways you can.

    • Mikeact says:

      We always book one ways, particularly for the flexibility of being able to change the return half while away for numerous reasons….extend our stay, sickness etc. We haven’t yet had a problem but then we are fortunate to have the flexibility as retirees. Even coming back from Australia, BA managed to change us for around three weeks later. As Rob says, the savings, while not enermous, can make a difference as we have pleasantly found.

      • Mikeact says:

        Just out of interest, I’ve just had to book a KLM flight out of Dublin to Amsterdam, one way, taxes etc., €11.22.

    • Had this issue flying from lcy to ams during the cold weather snap back feb/March this year. Outbound cancelled, but had to pay to get the return moved. I think we eventually persuaded them to drop the fees but there is a risk

  2. Eg.2: Malaga to Manchester (BA Cityflyer) is just £9.50 in taxes Club class.

  3. Can confirm that Bilbao to London is £8.80 in taxes in both economy and business. It was great as it allowed me to cancel and change to the later flight that I wanted to get for just £8.80 when a seat became available last minute

    • I do this all the time with our DUB flights. Saved us a fortune esp with last minute flights…very very useful bonus to our BAEC. Still think it’s the best family FFP out there.

  4. Docksguy says:

    I have booked 2 singles a few times, but the last time I tried to bookm BA had changed the taxes for the EU to London to exactly half of what the return was. That for a destination I had before the EU to London for only £3. So really convinced it still works.

    • It’s not necessarily every EU departure that’s cheaper. I verified the Bilbao example this morning and it’s still £8.80.

    • BA changed nothing. The government of your destination country increased the taxes for departing from that country, or the airport you flew from increased its user fee.

      The higher tax became exactly half the charges of booking a return, because BA paid the rest! That is the entire point of Reward Flight Saver!

  5. Rachel Everett says:

    How does it work when using the BA 2-4-1 voucher Rob. I just booked outbound flights to Tenerife for 3 of us using the 2-4-1 voucher, £51 cash and 29k miles. When the inbound becomes available is it best to ring up and do the booming so they can link it with the outbound and deduct one of the miles from inbound? Thanks

  6. OT but BA redemptions related. Does anyone know which BA routes from London regularly have more than 2 business class tickets available per flight? I’ve seen it with Moscow, for example. Any others?

    • Roberto says:


      • Spurs Debs says:

        I got 4 return club class seats to New York for next April. I booked as soon as they were available.

    • Most of them, but not 355 days out. You can check in 10 seconds via baredemptionfinder – plug in a route with 4 seats and a whole year shows immediately.

      Give yourself 10 mins and you can do every major long haul route.

    • North East US is always a good bet, I’ve had no issues getting 3 seats for JFK, Newark , Washington DC and Boston.

      • You can get 6F to NYC (very) occasionally.

      • also try west coast

        • Lady London says:

          that would be SFO in particular.

          Where there’s a lot of capacity from competing airlines on the same route, is where you seem to get more seats released for award bookings. Doesn’t always happen at T-35n though, as Rob says

    • Scallder says:

      Use the BA app and search by ‘continent’ – will tell you by city how many dates are available for each across the next 355 days so gives a good indicator…

  7. RussellH says:

    I remember the olden days, when £1 significantly >€1: booking Ryanair to obscure points in Germany in February from PIK. Booked as return, both legs £0.99 incl. taxes. Booked as two singles £0.99 out, €0,99 in.
    Seemed like a result at the time!

    • You can buy cheap stuff from China on Canadian ebay for 99 cents, that would be 99p on UK ebay…

  8. Dumb question: if you cancel all or part of a redemption flight due to unforeseen circumstances – sickness, for example – do you get the Avios reinstated to your BAEC account? Reason for asking – I got caught out recently when I had to cancel all of a “part-pay with Avios” flight booking, and, because of the selling class of the tickets, only the taxes and fees were refunded by BA. (The remaining flight costs, and reinstatement of the Avios, are currently the subjects of a claim on my travel insurance.)

    • Full redemption, yes (less £35). PPWA, no, you are bound by the rules of the original cash ticket.

      • Thanks Rob. I have just reviewed Avios Redemption University – Lesson 4 (Avios and Money) as well. It appears that PPWA is the one booking method using Avios that can jump up and give you a nasty bite if you’re not careful! All part of the learning process …

    • Part pay with Avios is NOT a redemption, it is a revenue booking that involves you selling Avios back to BA for money, then immediately using that money to pay for a flight.

      That said BA occasionally agrees to make a full refund (or provide a free change) when you have unforeseen circumstances, despite what the fare rules say.

      • Lady London says:

        A reminder that if you make a booking completely with avios yes you get more flexibility to change or cancel. But you won’t earn any avios on it.

        If you make a cash booking and use the “part pay with avios” option then you will earn avios on that booking as though it was a fully cash booking. So part pay with Avios can be well worth it. Depending on the “exchange rate of avios for cash reduction” of the price of the booking, that BA offers. Need to do the sums to work out which method of booking works best for you. It also varies according to the cash price which varies all year!

    • Mikeact says:

      ‘Reinstatement of Avios via your travel insurance?’
      How does that work then ?

      • needs Lloyds Platinum account, or maybe packaged accounts.

        • V tricky, long 6 mths fight with plat and axa about that 3 years ago, but got the monetary value back, eventually…

      • Mikeact – apologies for the delay in responding. My domestic Buildings and Contents insurance includes annual worldwide travel insurance. (The policy was originally purchased maybe 10 years ago, and might no longer be available in this form.) The cover for cancellation of a trip before it starts includes the following paragraph: “the cost of replacing used points or miles if
        you booked your flight or accommodation using Avios or a similar promotional scheme, or a cash equivalent.”. My claim is for the cost of re-purchasing the Avios from BA at their current prices, which, of course, is considerably more than the value received against the flight booking. The insurance company might rule against me in that respect – the policy wording shown above is open to interpretation – but I am still waiting for the outcome.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

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

    • lgflyer says:

      Great, thanks!

    • 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.

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

  10. 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?

  11. George K says:

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

  12. 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!

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