Can you book Avios flights without paying huge fees for taxes and charges? It isn’t easy, but there are some options open to you which I want to discuss in this article.
You can’t defend the level of charges on Avios tickets booked on British Airways. A Club World business class ticket on Avios to the United States now comes with taxes of around £650 return. Even worse, as this HFP article shows, taxes on long haul Economy tickets can now be as high as a cash ticket!
This is how to avoid high taxes and charges on Avios flight booking redemptions:
(Click on the links to be taken to longer articles which explain the topic in far more detail than I can give in this summary)
Option 1: stick to short-haul redemptions
British Airways caps the taxes on short-haul flights at £35 return in Economy and £50 return in Club Europe / Business. This makes short haul redemptions one of the best ways to use your Avios points. Learn more about Reward Flight Saver here.
Option 2: start your long-haul flight in Jersey or Inverness
OK, this isn’t convenient for most people. However, there is no UK Government Air Passenger Duty from Jersey or Inverness which means a taxes and charges saving of up to £165 on a long-haul business class flight, connecting in London.
Option 3: book your long-haul redemption on Iberia and not British Airways
BA’s sister airline Iberia offers very low taxes and charges. A business class flight to New York from Madrid will have taxes of around £170 compared to £650 on British Airways from London. You need to book this via Iberia Plus – don’t try to book Iberia via ba.com or you will pay more. This article explains how to redeem Avios on Iberia flights.
Option 4: book your US / Canada flights on Aer Lingus and not BA
Taxes and charges on Aer Lingus Avios redemptions are also very low. Annoyingly you cannot book these online via ba.com which means calling the BA Executive Club call centre to check availability. This article explains how to redeem Avios on Aer Lingus.
Option 5: redeem on a BA partner and start your flight outside the UK
You don’t just have to redeem your Avios on British Airways. You can use any of the partner Avios airlines. Take Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific for example. Fly from Heathrow to Hong Kong on Cathay and taxes are high. Fly from Amsterdam or another European airport served by Cathay and you will save.
The British Airways partner which serves the most European city is Qatar Airways, and you can connect via Doha to pretty much anywhere. This article explains some tricks for reducing the cost of Avios redemption on Qatar Airways.
Option 6: redeem Avios for domestic flights in the USA
American Airlines is a British Airways partner. You will pay virtually no tax on Avios redemptions on American as long as the flights are domestic.
Option 7: redeem Avios for domestic flights in Japan
The same point applies to JAL (Japan Air Lines) and its domestic services in Japan as this article explains. You should also find other Avios partners with low taxes on domestic or regional flights in their home regions. This article shows how to redeem Avios on Alaska Airlines in the US with very low taxes.
I hope this article has given you a few ideas, and convinced you that you don’t need to pay heavy taxes and charges to get good value from your Avios.
(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works. You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )
(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.5 million monthly page views. Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios? Click here to read our latest news stories, click here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.)
Get 20,000 Avios from Amex Gold, or 30,000 Avios from Amex Platinum! (April 2021 offer)
The sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold converts to 20,000 Avios and the card is free for the first year.
You don’t qualify for the Amex Gold bonus if you have a British Airways American Express card. You DO qualify for the bonus on The Platinum Card, which converts into 30,000 Avios – find out more here:
If you have your own small business, the best way of earning Avios is via the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa. It has a sign-up bonus which converts to 10,000 Avios:
You can find out more about ALL UK credit cards which offer travel rewards in this article, updated monthly.