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!

(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.)

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  1. Freddy says:

    I’ve got no real issues with this. If it opened up the dire availability on BA flights then I’d start collecting avios points!

  2. Only short haul? What about long haul?

  3. LH ist doing this for years now, you can pay taxes with miles for Short Haul. It’s never a good deal, but you could spend 15.000 Miles on taxes.

  4. Amex 2-4-1 vouchers have to be redeemed for the maximum number of Avios and minimum amount of cash available for the booking being made. This could make for a large change when using the vouchers on short haul as I’d prefer to keep the Avios and spend £35, but it depends how they do it. Has anyone done a dummy 2-4-1 booking to see what comes up? If this spreads to long haul it will require an immense amount of extra Avios to use a 2-4-1.

    • Lady London says:

      I think that is British Airways’s idea. They may mess around with it a bit and it may take a while before it appears on long haul, but I would guess that’s the direction they are heading in.

  5. Qwerty Bertie says:

    Just saw 132k avios + £3, for 2 adults 1 toddler, LHR – ATH – LHR in business.

  6. Yorkieflyer says:

    Also now on Istanbul flights

  7. Louise Kermack says:

    I am trying to redeem a 241 next year MAN/LAX via LHR return in Club.

    Lots of availability and both dates are off peak. I am expecting to pay 125000 plus tax but website is trying to take 140500. Are domestic legs no longer ‘free’?

    Have I missed something ?

    • Domestic legs are free. Go through to the final payment page to look at all the pricing options. It is also possible that the peak and off-peak dates are confused. What are the dates?

      • Rest Assured says:

        Domestic legs are very far from free

        Free of Avios, certainly not free of taxes

      • Louise says:

        Dates are 29th Feb ret 20th March. Lots of availability and definitely off peak.

        Unforch I don’t have 140500 miles, just the 125,00 I think it should cost, so when I click through to book it invites me to purchase miles to make up the 140500.

        Tax looks on the high side too.

        Will call them tomorrow.

    • I’m seeing it too, even when clicking through. Hopefully just a glitch.

  8. 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….

    • 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.

      • 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.

  9. 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.

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