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British Airways drops its trial of ‘no taxes’ short-haul Avios flight redemptions

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Back in April we told you about something very interesting.  British Airways was trialling Avios redemptions with virtually ZERO taxes. 

This was showing on the longer short haul routes such as Greece, the south of Italy, Cyprus, Morocco etc.

Take a look at the screenshot below, taken in April.  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, this is what you saw in April (click to enlarge):

British Airways trialling no taxes Avios redemptions

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 was still there.  However, two additional options were shown:

25,000 Avios + 50p

22,500 Avios + £12.50

These two new options were very poor value.

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

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

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

Similar pricing showed if you looked at Economy redemptions.

Now it has gone

The trial seems to have ended before most people ever found out it existed.

Here is a screenshot of a Chania redemption that I took on Saturday:

British Airways no taxes Avios pricing

The ‘no taxes’ options have gone. The cheapest option is back to what it used to be – 20,000 Avios + £25 one-way in Club Europe.

And if you click through, it is still not there:

British airways trialling no taxes avios pricing

Was this just a test or is BA still planning to roll it out?

British Airways isn’t daft.  It knows that the marketing benefits of ‘no taxes’ short-haul redemptions would be substantial, even though it means the airline handing over its own cash for Air Passenger Duty.

Of course, the trial wasn’t exactly offering you great value.  This is ironic since, on the face of it, removing the RFS fee in return for a large pile of Avios probably makes the scheme look better to the casual traveller.

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.

On the other hand, you may be happy with this if all your points came from flying.  It gives people more options and that is generally a good thing.

Let’s see if this really was a one-off trial or the precursor of a larger change.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2024)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

Huge 30,000 points bonus until 12th May 2024 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (33)

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

  • reds says:

    OT – is the link for upgrade from Amex Gold Charge card to Platinum for bonus spend still working?

  • Mikeact says:

    Lots of OT’s today…. fair enough, no bits !

  • ChrisC says:

    It’s wrong to say these fares have no taxes. The taxes (and airport fees) still need to be paid but BA is paying instead of the passenger but it’s recouping that by charging extra avios – hence the bad rate.

    These are (were!) no cash fares not no tax fares.

  • Clive says:

    OT – Couple of questions which hopefully someone can shed some light on;

    1. Looking at an MH flight for next year. Currently showing availability for 1. Does anyone know if they open availability closer to departure?

    2. Looking for a CX redemption on 15/4/20. I am not seeing any availability on intra Asian destinations even from high traffic locations such as BKK or KUL. I know it’s near Easter but does CX block availability over this time and anyone have experience of them opening availability?

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

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