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.
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.
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.
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