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When a BA Gold should book a ‘double Avios’ Gold Priority Reward

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A while ago we were with some friends when the conversation turned, as it always does when the other person is a traveller, to miles and points.  The wife was unleashing her frustration about being unable to get the short-haul redemption seats she wanted to fit around her kids school holidays.

“But John is BA Gold and, as he flies to New York every fortnight on BA, is clearly not short of Avios.  Why don’t you just book a Gold ‘double Avios’ ticket?” I said.

This was met with confused looks all around.  For some reason, British Airways does a bad job of communicating Gold Priority Rewards to its Gold members.

British Airways BA

What is an Avios ‘Gold Priority Reward’?

Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios.  The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.

You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.

There is some further information on the BA Gold benefits page here.

Normally, these rewards are poor value for long haul.  Let’s take one of our regular family runs to my sister-in-law in Dubai.  4 Club World tickets on a peak day, including one on an Amex 2-4-1, cost 360,000 Avios.  Using a Priority Reward, it would cost a crazy 960,000 Avios – plus the standard taxes.  You won’t catch me doing that in a hurry.

There is one tiny exclusion

There is one catch.  You can’t use a Gold Priority Reward on a BA CityFlyer service which means all of the short-haul services from London City Airport.  This is because, technically, CityFlyer is a separate business inside British Airways and not treated as part of the ‘mainline’ operation.  Strange but true.

Are Gold Priority Rewards a good deal for short haul?

For short-haul European bookings, these rewards have some use.  Let’s take our standard run to Hamburg to visit the parents in law.

A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day is 9,000 Avios + £35 taxes

A ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 18,000 Avios + £35 taxes

In theory, changes to Gold Priority Rewards are meant to be free although I have had mixed success with that in the past, and it is not written anywhere that this should be the case.  Cancellation is free.

Importantly, I can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as seats open up.

Let’s look at the costs here.  If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight.  This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average.  Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.

You’d be looking at £175 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy.  Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and I am saving £140 for using 18,000 Avios points.

This is not the greatest use of Avios by any means – we are looking at 0.78p per point.. However, I am locking in a hard cash saving and I get to travel on the exact flights I want.  0.78p per point is also not a terrible deal.

The best use of Gold Priority Rewards flights is for ski resorts at February half term.  British Airways likes to push up economy tickets to £500 if you want Saturday to Saturday – which is what the hotels often insist on – and this is an excellent way to avoid that.  It arguably justifies a push for a Gold card on its own if you are getting close.

(In actual fact, the cheapest Economy BA return flight to Salzburg for February 2020 half term, outbound Saturday 15th February and returning Saturday 22nd February, is currently £560 per person.  This involves taking the awkward late flight on the outbound – you pay more for a morning departure.)

If you are Avios rich – and especially if you got most of your points from work-funded business travel and do not need to justify a minimum value when you spend them – the Gold Priority Reward can work well.

(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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Comments

  1. BlueHorizonuk says:
  2. Cheshire Pete says:

    Not sure if even Rob knows this, we only uncovered it when booking the now
    Cancelled 747 Manchester flights using Gold benefit to force open Club seats.

    Only 1 seat was ever for sale at any time. We
    Couldn’t book our reward together as until
    We booked the 1st seat, the next one would not open up.

    Apparently this is to discourage Gold
    Member forcing open multiple seats in one booking……

  3. Shoestring says:

    O/T looks like Orbis is not showing up with the £100 matched bonus on a hobby ISA this year (so far, anyway). If you already did the Virgin ISA for Virgin Miles or don’t fancy their new terms, here’s an alternative. It’s Wealthify – get £40 bonus on a £400 investment after 6 months. The good news is: you don’t have to wrap it in an ISA, there’s a general investment alternative. Google MSE Wealthify and you’ll see it, you have to use their link to get the £40. Set up is relatively painless, about 3 mins. Obvs there are different risk profiles available, on a 1-5 scale and you might want to be 1 Cautious if it’s only a hobby investment, in it for the £40 bonus.

    • Shoestring says:

      @Harry T – entirely up to the investor, but my approach with both Virgin Isa and Orbis was that the generous bonus offered in each case was enough to make you just want to preserve capital & not expect or want anything more from the investment. So going for the most cautious option was logical. Don’t forget these are hobby investments, ie I’d see coming out £40 up (or £80 with the missus’ a/c as well 🙂 ) as being similar to making 4000/ 8000 free Avios.

      • Harry T says:

        Thanks – I’m not experienced with investments so wouldn’t want to risk losing money for a relatively small reward. You can cancel after six months and there’s no fees? If so, looks like a good deal.

    • Shoestring says:

      @Harry T – that £40 would be a 20% return (min 6 months)

  4. Surely the whole point is you can book an economy reward for the same price as a club europe so the short haul strategy would be

    1) regular rewards
    2) club europe reward
    3) gold priority reward

    You’d be mad to pay double points for club europe as a gold if there’s a seat in economy (4000+ avios for an empty seat next to you and some free food and drink) but you might as well go for club europe, unless there’s no availability for your preferred flight.

    I’ve reluctantly booked club europe redemptions in my last 18 months as a silver but i’d never book if a economy seat was available.

    It always seems strange that you hit silver and gold by mainly flying premium cabins but there’s less need to pay extra when you have the status, especially on shorthaul

    • Chris L says:

      I guess the traditional assumption is that most heavy travellers are such because they travel for business, in premium cabins, but wouldn’t consider parting with their own hard-earned for anything more than economy. This is a flawed assumption now as there is a growing market of premium leisure travellers (e.g. retiring baby boomers whose kids have left home) and surely it should be the airline’s strategy to encourage discretionary spending.

      Those who travel for business often don’t have much control over which alliance is used or which cabin they are booked in. I believe Rob has made the point here before that someone who drops £3,600 on a pair of CW tickets in a sale is making a comparatively greater commitment than a business traveller whose ticket may have cost more, but didn’t have full control over its booking.

      So in summary, I agree that there is a big problem here that if you travel in premium cabins anyway, status benefits have much less value. This will be more true with the new Club World, even if BA decide to continue its hateful paid seat selection policy.

      • Doug M says:

        “to continue its hateful paid seat selection policy.”
        That seems an odd thing to say, hateful?

        • Shoestring says:

          gouging?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Really? It’s just a seat. Yes they aren’t equal but that’s why people with status (yes I’ve shown loyalty to get mine and it’s all self funded) have first pick for free.

            If you are on the same booking what are the chances you won’t be sat next to each other somewhere on the plane?

            Or is that the issue?

  5. Some time ago, you did an article on a good flight to gain max. tier points on a flight operated, I think, by Qatar, I’m trying to reach gold before the end of my year in Oct. Can you point me in the right direction please. Many thanks

    Esmé

  6. OT URGENT: IHG status match available, only 2500 Spire for UK and USA residents only. Details on LoyaltyLobby.

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