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More Avios flight booking quirks …. confusion over Gold Priority Reward pricing

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I wrote a piece yesterday covering the confusion that is occuring when readers try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher trip by adding a return flight to an existing one-way booking.

This isn’t the only bit of Avios booking confusion at the moment.

There is also confusion at the British Airways call centre over Gold Priority Rewards.

Booking a Gold Priority Reward

What is a 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.  You cannot book on BA CityFlyer services from London City Airport.  Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.

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

These rewards are poor value for long haul – how does 240,000 Avios + £550ish of tax for a return to Dubai in Club World sound?  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

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.

Assume £175 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy, Friday night to Sunday night, booked six weeks in advance.  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, with flexibility to cancel if a last minute birthday party invite comes in.  0.78p per point is also not a terrible deal.

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

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.

British Airways Gold Priority Reward

But things have changed …..

As we have covered extensively on Head for Points over the Summer, British Airways is currently trialling a new structure for short-haul Avios pricing.

As well as the standard option (9,000 Avios + £35 to Hamburg) you are now offered a series of options requiring as little as £1 in charges.  This is what Hamburg shows on for a peak day:

16,000 Avios + £1
12,500 Avios + £21
9,000 Avios + £31
6,600 Avios + £71
5,600 Avios + £81
5,000 Avios + £91

You’ll note that the ‘original’ price of 9,000 Avios + £35 is not available.

How should a Gold Priority Reward be priced?

This is the million dollar question.

If you try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 redemption on short-haul, you pay the ‘old’ price.  In the case of Hamburg above, this would mean 9,000 Avios + £35 for ticket one and 0 Avios + £35 for ticket two.

The issue comes when trying to book a Gold Priority Reward.

You are paying ‘double Avios’.  But ‘double’ what?

When I booked one on Monday, I paid what I expected to pay.  18,000 Avios (2 x 9,000 Avios) + £35.  This wasn’t the Avios bargain of my life but it was reasonable versus the cash cost.

Reports from other HFP readers, however, suggest that you are often asked to pay double the lowest the cost option above.  This is crazy.  In the example above, I would have been asked to pay 32,000 Avios (2 x 16,000 Avios) + £1 for an economy trip to Hamburg.  Given that you need to book a Gold Priority Reward 30 days in advance, you will rarely find dates where 32,000 Avios + £1 made sense.

Other reader reports suggest that agents are confused over what to charge but, after discussion with supervisors, charge the ‘old’ rate of 9,000 Avios (x 2) + £35.

So …. if you are booking a Gold Priority Reward on short-haul, make sure that you pay the correct amountYou can find the ‘old’ price in this HFP article listing the cost of all Avios reward flights, route by route and class by class.

how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (57)

  • Mikeact says:

    So, is this the beginning of the end of the £35 Reward Flight Saver, if Hamburg is no longer showing it ?

    • John says:

      It seems that the £35 RFS fee (not a “tax charge” whatever that is supposed to mean!!) is now £31 on most routes. And £15.50 instead of £17.50 on one-ways.

    • Rob says:

      The £35 option seems to be pretty much gone now, although oddly still the best value most of the time.

  • Riku says:

    >>As well as the standard option (9,000 Avios + £35 to Hamburg) …You’ll note that the ‘original’ price of 9,000 Avios + £35 is not available<<

    So can you pay 9,000 Avios + £35 yes or no?

    "as well as" means you can choose that price or one from the list below. "instead of" would mean you cannot choose 9,000 Avios + £35 but one from the list below.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, if using a 241 voucher or ‘double Avios’ (as the basis for working out what you actually pay).

  • Antonio says:

    Had this recently with LIS. I wanted to pay double the lowest avios price, but was told that it was only possible to pay double the old price, or double the highest avios price.

  • Shoestring says:

    £500 return in Economy – ski season half term flights?

    Our Xmas/ New Year Economy return flights are already £800 & going up.

    Not that I’ll ever get to Gold again, has to be T-355 or near effort to beat the couple of other early prime slot perfect day points bookers on my regular route.

    • Paul says:

      It crazy, £2000 for a family of 4 to fly to near Europe, no bags, no food, no seats together!
      I recently booked LHR MUC SZG LHR for half term skiing for my son and I. The fare would have been £1800 or £2400 in Club. It’s even higher now. I’d rather not go particularly when for the same money you have the option of long haul business class

      • Shoestring says:

        There are 5 of us! – I did actually manage to get 5x Economy RFS tickets at T-355 – don’t normally see more than 4 – plus 4x RFS Economy, 1x RFS Business (which was cheaper than HBO at T-355!!!) – so you can imagine the cost in £££s right now

        assuming all in Economy – over £4000 🤒🤩🤬👺🤮

      • Lady London says:

        Even train is not impossible on that route. If you’re early enough sometimes you could get a reasonable price on an airline whose home country does not have same school holiday weeks.

    • Anna says:

      And this is why we go to the Caribbean in the summer now – same price as the Med in the school holidays and quieter and better beaches! Also more chance of bagging CW redemption seats at T-355.

      • Rob says:

        Agree. I have always thought Barbados etc are chronically underrated in Summer. Steady 27 degrees, Caribbean vs Spanish beaches (ahem) and no hurricane risk in Barbados. Avios seats not so hard to get either.

        Yes, it’s a long flight but 9 hours flat bed vs 3 hours short haul is not a bad trade off.

        • Jon says:

          Rob/Anna, when you say “summer”, what months do you mean? June, July, August- I thought August was rainy season in Barbados?!
          Also, what locations would you class as having no hurricane risk?

          • Rob says:

            We’ve been in June. It rains like hell for 30 mins per day then it stops and everything is stone dry 15 mins later!

    • Harry T says:

      Last minute Avios redemptions also very helpful. I had to get a domestic flight from Heathrow to Newcastle the other week after returning from Dubai. Economy fares were over 400£ one way and business were over 500£. I paid a handful of thousands of Avios for one of the last remaining business tickets (no economy). Very good value vs cash and I really needed the ticket.

  • Oliv says:

    OT – I’m a new BA Silver. Would they usually allow a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids of 6 and 4 years old) in a BA lounge at Heathrow on a weekend? Only have 1 BA Silver

    • Paul says:

      No chance unless you know someone!

    • Lyn says:

      Which LHR terminal are you flying from?

      If it is T3, it could be worth trying the Qantas lounge. I think they sometimes allow 2 children as well as an adult guest as long as it is one of their own lounges, i.e. London should count, but LA wouldn’t since it is called a OneWorld lounge even though Qantas manage it.

      • Lyn says:

        This may be limited to Qantas frequent flyers though, since it isn’t part of the OneWorld lounge access rules.

  • Ilou says:

    Yes, this also happened to me 2 days ago. They seem to always suggest double points using the 1£ pricing but that it is easily addressed once you ask that you want to pay the 35£ option

  • Paul says:

    I had to book a one way from Milan to LHR as the fares were 400 euro each. I was offered 36000 Avios for 2 people and had to tell the agent she was wrong. “It’s a new policy” she said. I asked her to go away and find a supervisor. Around 5 minutes later she came back on the line and proceeded the booking for 18000 and £70.
    As with yesterday’s issue around BA’s rip off fees any dealings with BA have to be on the basis of caveat emptor.
    They will dance on the head of pin to extract as much from you as they can and I suspect the agents are encouraged and incentivised to maximise returns for the company, even if this means being deliberately misleading.

    The standard £35 plus avios RFS is still available over the phone when booking a gold priority award. It’s days may be numbered, much like my days of being a gold card holder, but for the moment it is still there.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Or it’s just a change to the booking methodology and all agents haven’t come across it yet.

      Sometimes it’s not a major conspiracy it’s just poor training/staff

    • Coc says:

      Aha. You must be a nice person to deal with over the phone. /s

      • Shoestring says:

        he probably *is* a very nice phone person! that’s how you get a decent result/ reversal of agent’s first answer – the more pleasant you are, the easier it gets – yep a tricky thing to preserve pleasantness whilst requesting the agent’s line mgr comes over for a second look at a problem or an answer you don’t want to accept, but can certainly be done

  • David H says:

    My question is more relevant to yesterday’s 2-4-1 discussion. The latest 241 voucher has landed in my wife’s account but I am head of the household account. If I plan to book the return leg of the 241 via a call centre would they speak to me or would they insist on my wife giving the details to make the booking ? She would rather leave it to me ! Anyone have any experience of this ?

    • Eugene says:

      As long as you are one of the named flyers and a BAEC member then shouldn’t be an issue. Hasn’t been for me the last three times I’ve done it for wife’s voucher

    • Nick says:

      Even if it’s not a HHA she can call, pass security, then tell them she gives you permission to continue booking, handing you the phone. As long as there’s positive identification first from the account holder there’s no problem with this (at most companies, not just BA).

      • Lyn says:

        You can also ask BA to add you as an authorised account manager or something like that (have forgotten the exact wording) for your wife’s account. Your wife would have to participate in the first phone call of course to give her permission, but then hopefully not after that or for future calls.

        I do this to help a friend who doesn’t use the internet and just wants to make sure she earns her avios for her annual flight to Cape Town to visit her sister. That way I can check on-line to see if they have been credited and if not call BA to follow up.