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Intriguing new Avios promo – open virtually ANY seat for Avios, on any flight, if you hit a qualifying target

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Someone has been thinking outside the box over at Waterside.  British Airways has launched a brand new offer for UK Executive Club members with an interesting twist.

If you qualify, you will get an intriguing reward – you can convert ANY seat which is bookable for cash into an Avios seat.

You still need to pay the standard number of Avios for your seats plus taxes and charges.  The seats are not free.  The special benefit is that you can forget about not finding any Avios availability – BA will open up the exact seats you want on the exact flight you want, as long as seats are still available for cash.

And good news: it isn’t restricted to any specific classes and there is no seat cap per flight.  The bad news is that there are a small amount of blackout dates – more on those later.

There is one important qualification for this promotion: you have to book and travel four long-haul return cash bookings in Club World or First before 12th February 2020 before you unlock this ability.  Existing bookings do not count.

If you are a British Airways Gold Guest List member, you will immediately recognise that BA is effectively giving all BAEC members the chance to earn the same ‘joker’ that you receive as a GGL benefit.

Full details and registration are on this page of ba.com.

British Airways unlock Avios seats promo

This isn’t an offer for everyone, and BA recognises that the offer could look quite restrictive. However, there is potentially some real value here.

Many of the people who will be able to qualify for this offer will already be British Airways Executive Club Gold members.

On the face of it, this promotion looks fairly similar to the standard Gold Priority Reward benefit.

(For those unfamiliar with this benefit, a Gold Priority Reward gives you the ability to use double the regular Avios to secure a seat of your choice, providing you book 30 days or more in advance.  Rob is a huge fan of this benefit for snagging ski flights over February half term, when you can easily pay £500+ per person for a Euro Traveller flight to France / Austria / Italy / Germany.)

British Airways unlock Avios seats promo

In comparison, this offer also lets you open any seat that is available for cash, but for the normal Avios price rather than double.

Here are some sample itineraries where you are unlikely to find standard Avios availability:

4 x Club World tickets to Dubai at Easter

Using the Gold Priority Reward – 960,000 Avios + taxes / charges

Using this ‘Unlock’ offer – 480,000 + taxes / charges

You’d save 480,000 Avios if you qualified for this deal.

Closer to home:

4 x Club Europe tickets to Corfu at May half-term

Using the Gold Priority Reward – 320,000 Avios +  taxes / charges

Using this ‘Unlock’ offer – 160,000 Avios + taxes / charges

You would save 160,000 if you qualified for this deal.

These are big savings, even if you do need to take 4 Club World or First flights before 12th February in order to unlock them.

If you are not already a Gold member – although the 4 Club World flights would get you fairly close in themselves – this new offer is even more valuable as you don’t have access to Gold Priority Rewards at all at the moment.

There are blackout dates, but manageable ….

Whilst there are some blackout dates, there are fewer than you might expect.  All of the blackout dates are two-day blocks rather than week or month-long periods.

The small print

For your four qualifying flights in Club World or First:

  • You have to pre-register via this link BEFORE booking any of the qualifying flights
  • Flights must be taken by 12th February 2020
  • Flights booked in Club World or First to the following routes are not eligible to unlock the promotion: Amman, Beirut, Moscow, Tel Aviv.
  • Flights have to be made on British Airways, no codeshares

When redeeming your flights:

  • You can only redeem for up to a maximum of 5 passengers on the same booking.
  • Upon completion of the requirements, BA will contact eligible members via email on 28th February with a reward access voucher, and instructions on how to redeem.
  • Redemption booking to be made by: 30 April 2020
  • Redemptions must be made at least 30 days in advance of travel
  • Redemption travel by: 31 October 2020
  • I have spoken to BA and they confirm that you can use a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher alongside this offer

How to use the offer

Pre-register now using this link. You’ll simply need to click the Register Now button if logged in and that’s it.

I don’t think anyone – including BA – is pretending that this offer is for everyone.  However, if you are taking one long-haul Business Class or First Class flight per month on average, you might want to think about the benefits of moving four of them to British Airways before 12th February.

Remember that this offer would double-up with the current ‘double Avios’ promotion (article here and register here) if you can book your flights by 13th December.

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Comments

  1. But potentially you could spend £15k on flights, force open your avios seats to the Maldives, then get downgraded at check in…

    • Downgraded? Is that a thing?

      Anyway, I hate these promotions, just pushing people to buy tickets they dont want/need

      • ChrisBCN says:

        It happened to somebody once and now people trot it out like it’s a daily occurrence…

        • So how would that work if it did happen?

          I would be very annoyed if I lost Avios and 2-4-1 voucher on a redemption where I would have never booked Econ/PE using Avios. If booking Econ/PE I always use cash.

          I am guessing they would not return all the Avios and voucher so it’s a (small) risk.

          • You’ve been away a long time…! Discussed ad infinitum on HFP if you want to look it up.

          • Yes I know! I usually just read in my inbox. Will look it up

          • There was a time – which seems to have passed – where BA appeared to be deliberately targetting 241’s for downgrades because it believed the 2nd flight was ‘free’ and so it wouldn’t have to pay compensation.

            Enough HFP and Flyertalk readers have now taken BA to arbitration and won (at 75% of the Avios used x 1.6p) that they realise this actually works out rather expensively 🙂

          • Lady London says:

            Serves them right.

        • Excellent! And somewhat reassuring that should the “worst” happen, they will have to pay out at least something.

          • Yep and as I mentioned yesterday it’s the same reason to a get BA to provide an online full cash quote at the time of booking an Avios redemption.

            Proof of evidence of the equivalent monetary value for the Avios seats, could be useful in a court case.

          • Lady London says:

            Surely the value of thé ticket is whatever it would have cost you to buy it on the Day you were offloaded or downgraded? Otherwise highest cost seat was sold in your class.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Oh yes, it happens.
      Check out Trip Reps article on here.

  2. Peter Taysum says:

    Any advice on long haul destinations that arent too expensive; I’d like to open up Maldives (have the HH points). Would they allow a 2:4:1 alongside?!?

    Yes it might be crazy; but for Maldives availability… 😊

    • Rob was looking into the 2 4 1 angle – I presume you mean “not too expensive” destinations for the qualifying flights, not the Maldives!

      • BA now confirms a 241 can be used as well. Not surprising as the Gold Guest List ‘jokers’ work with a 241.

      • Peter Taysum says:

        Yes. To get Maldives on 2:4:1 I’d consider using some Annual Leave if I could get decent prices; I’m guessing the “cheap” CW and First have gone as it close to qualifying period…

        • Why wouldnt you just pay for the flights to the Maldives and forget this offer?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Say you were looking to hit gold anyway? I don’t know if you have 3x business trips planned could this article push you over the edge to book that long weekend away somewhere warm on your own dime?

            Promos have this effect even if it’s not entirely rational

    • Look into buying AA miles then redeeming on etihad for a mich simpler method of getting to the Maldives. 85k return business, 125k first and “taxes” will be much better.

      • Peter Taysum says:

        Oh wow. That’s a brilliant idea. I’m Gold, likely to lapse back to Silver, and then will probably work back to Gold. Could credit my flights to American to start building; buy more and keep 2:4:1 for something else….

        Thanks

  3. Both my wife and I (both BAEC Silver) got this promo and registered just in case. Annoyingly, she just booked flights to Asia in J but on another OW airline (BA was direct but 3x the price).

    Having said that, I am not sure her company would have been too excited at paying 3x more just to hit some target!

  4. Lady London says:

    It’s rewarding corporate flyers for doing the flying a lot of them would be doing anyway. Increases the grip BA have in those accounts.

    This is not about democracy it’s about making use of a slack period. It reveals the DNA of BA. It will make rich middle and upper management happy because it works to take their families on holiday – a compensation for all that corporate flying that will make them feel better about BA. Even if they didn’t chose BA but got told to fly BA because of corporate agreements.

    No it’s not a mass market promotion but it’s well targeted, BA. For those corporate flyers I havent heard of anything this good being done since the 70’s.

  5. Stephano says:

    Off topic – Just tried to use a Lloyds avios upgrade voucher which is expiring 31 dec. Been told by avios, the system is unavailable and they dont know when it will be back up. Just a heads up for anyone looking to use theirs for a last minute flight like i was. Was told they’d been extended until 8 Nov?!

    • I phoned on Tuesday and used my lloyds voucher for a flight departing on 29th Dec. I had no issues at all apart from a 20 minute wait on the phone for the call to be answered. Did you phone? If you did, I would phone again and see what a different agent says.

      • Yes, was on the phone. Very odd. May just be a temporary thing today then.

        Will try tomorrow again as I can cancel my eceonomy redemption I made within 24h with no cancellation fee as i understand it.

  6. Stephen Tan says:

    O/T I just wondered can Morrison’s Gift Vouchers only be used in store or can they be used for fuel as well? I tried looking on their site but there does not seem to be much info about their own gift vouchers!

  7. Lady London says:

    PS Welcome Sinead. Nice article.

  8. So, broadly BA are saying “If you push your very profitable long-haul business travel to BA over the slacker winter season, we’ll make it massively easier to redeem the pile of Avios you earn from us”.

    Niche beneficiaries but a pretty smart promo to run IMO.

  9. After the article on which routes give the best redemption value per minute, Rob could run one on which is the best route to force open for avios – CW to Maldives? F to LAX or Sydney?

  10. Jake Mc says:

    Is it just me that thinks this could work quite well for non corporate flyers as an investment… even for families

    Assuming BA run their CW £1000 deals at end of November (they have done for the past few years)…

    You take 4x CW flights at £1000 each and then book 4x first seats to Sydney or LA or Maldives. Assuming 2x 2-4-1 vouchers are used the total cost will be between £6-8k for a peak time flights in first class + avios.

    I recognise it’s not deal of the century but the “value” of being able to take your whole family whenever is best (not just when avios allows) is significant. Assuming you do fly F the total cost would be max £2k per ticket.

    There will be quite a few people out there willing to spend Avios at a poor rate to travel in school holidays and save some cash.

    Recognise Maldives will not be F but same principle applies.

    • There’s no First class to the Maldives with BA

    • Sydney is a terrible deal even with 241s. With this deal it’s not £2k per ticket, it’s more like £3k per ticket once you include the £940 charges EACH (according to BA Redemption Finder), plus the 800,000 Avios you would need for 2 x 241s in F to SYD.

      Alternatively, just get a Qatar ex EU fare for less than £2k each in the sale. Between the 4 of you, you would also EARN over 100,000 Avios, and arguably Qatar business is better than BA First. In this comparison you’re spending 200k Avios each to save £750 each. You’re getting 0.375p per Avio and that’s with a 241!

      • It’s 4x £1000 for the CW and then 4x £1000 for the fees etc.

        800,000 avios and £8k. Assume you lose 100,000 avios by not going Qatar that’s a total “cost” of 900,000 avios. That’s £0.89 per avios. Granted it’s not the best deal but for a some people there is a significant “cost” to having to position to an eu country- twice- and stop in Doha -twice. Especially with young kids.

        I think there will be quite a lot of people- mainly families- who actually struggle to use their avios and are actually happy to redeem at a poor rate to actually avoid having to pay higher £££ from London or go ex -EU

      • When did Qatar last offer sub £2k fares to Oz?

  11. Rajeev Kanwar says:

    Hello Can I clarify

    If you do the 4 flights in Business? First — Then for life everyone can just convert any cash seats into a reward seat?

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