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EXCLUSIVE: British Airways trialling new Avios flight pricing – NO taxes but more Avios

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Here is something very interesting.  British Airways is trialling Avios redemptions with virtually ZERO taxes.

Take a look at the screenshot below.  It shows a one-way Avios redemption on British Airways from London Heathrow to Chania in Greece.

If you look at our full list of Avios redemption pricing by route (click here), you will see that Chania costs 20,000 Avios per person in Club Europe each way.

I would expect to see a price of 20,000 Avios + £25 for a Reward Flight Saver one-way redemption.

Instead, I see this (click to enlarge):

The ‘headline’ price is shown as 25,000 Avios + 50p in taxes and charges.

When you click through to the payment page, you are given this list of options:

The ‘proper’ price of 20,000 Avios + £25 is still there.  However, two additional options are shown:

25,000 Avios + 50p

22,500 Avios + £12.50

These two new options are very poor value.

In the first one, you are using 5,000 additional Avios to save £24.50.  This means you are getting 0.49p per Avios.  This is very poor.

In the second example, you are using 2,500 additional Avios to save £12.50.  This means you are getting 0.5p per Avios.  Again, very weak.

There is one upside.  If your plans were tentative, you would basically have no cancellations fees if you did this, as the fee is the lower of £35 or the cash supplement paid.

British Airways trialling Avios pricing with no taxes

It happens in Economy too

If you try to book an Economy return flight to Chania (picture above), you get these options on a peak day:

27,000 Avios + £1

23,500 Avios + £17.50

20,000 Avios + £35 (the ‘usual’ price)

and then the standard mix of ‘Avios and cash’ combinations.

The maths is the same here.  You are using either 3,500 Avios to save £17.50 or 7,000 Avios to save £34.  Both get you 0.5p per Avios or thereabouts.

Is this a good thing or not?

On the face of it, it is fine.  It gives people more options and that is generally a good thing.

Whilst you’d need to be a little crazy to accept 0.5p per Avios if you earned your points from credit card spending, Tesco Clubcard conversions, Heathrow Rewards conversions etc, you may be happy with this if all your points came from flying.

It could be a sign that BA is planning to add 7,000 Avios return to the cost of Economy redemptions and 10,000 to Club Europe and make this the new baseline, as reflected in the reward charts.  This would make BA better off – because the extra Avios are being redeemed at a poor rate – and, bizarrely, may also make the Avios scheme look better to the casual traveller.

I have only seen this happening on the Chania route which implies that it is a small scale test.  I imagine that if most people choose the 50p or £1 option, even though it is bad value for your points compared to the standard Reward Flight Saver option, it will be extended elsewhere.

PS.  If you are wondering why British Airways has not reduced the taxes to zero, there is a technical reason.  ba.com cannot handle a transaction with no charge attached to it.  Until a few years ago, domestic Japan Airlines redemptions has £0 of taxes but ba.com could not book them – it only worked if you added a £1 donation to Flying Start during the check-out process.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (120)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Rp says:

    Rob, just pricing up a long haul avios journey for next year and it looks like an extra 18,000 avios for the Ncl to lhr connection. Hopefully a glitch, but possibly not….

    • BJ says:

      Louise/Rob/Rp. Just called CS. Technical errors., they are working on it. They are happy to take the booking over the phone fee-free for the correct avios.

      • Rp says:

        That’s good news!!!! Thanks for checking. I’ll probably use the spare avios for a few bottles from laithwaites!

      • Louise says:

        Hopefully. I will call them too in the morning to book.

        • Louise says:

          Just a short update.

          I called BA this morning and they did book me at the normal rates. Took an hour to sort out though as they said they were not aware there was an issue.

  • Harry says:

    Put simply, this is great as any option that increases choice is worth having. I personally would not use it as the rate is so poor. My best BA redemption was last month when I booked a Business ticket London to Manchester for 7,750 Avios when the cash rate was close to £400.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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