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How to save on regular British Airways short-haul trips with Flight Pass

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It’s been 18 months since we looked at British Airways Flight Pass. I thought it was worth checking it out again for the benefit of newer readers and those for whom it wasn’t relevant last time.

Flight Pass allows you to buy route passes for economy travel on flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and City.

It managed on behalf of British Airways via a company called OptionTown –  details are on their website here.  You cannot buy Flight Pass directly from British Airways.

British Airways BA A320neo

It is virtually impossible to give a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ statement about whether Flight Pass is a good deal.  There are a huge number of pricing permutations based on:

  • how many people would share your pass, up to six
  • how many tickets you want to pre-pay
  • what expiry date you are willing to accept and
  • how close to the date of travel you want to book

You can buy a pass for one route or for an entire country.

Flight Pass is ONLY available for Euro Traveller (economy) flights.

The key with Flight Pass is that you are GUARANTEED a seat on the flight you want if cash seats are still available, irrespective of the cash cost at the time you book.  However, as the cheapest Flight Pass variants require 30 to 90 days advance booking, this is less attractive than you may think.

Let’s look at two examples for the Heathrow to Newcastle route.

At one extreme, you can buy 12 one-way flights between Heathrow and Newcastle for £821so £68 each.  This includes taxes.  You must book all the flights within 3 months AND you must book for travel 90 days in advance.  The only person who can use the Flight Pass is the original purchaser.

Taking another example, 12 one-way tickets, shared between two people with 12 months to use them up and booked at least 30 days in advance will cost you £893, so £74 per seat.  If you insist on being able to book 4 hours before departure – instead of 30 days – the price shoots up to £165 per seat each-way.

Note that you can only book return flights with Flight Pass which means that it is less flexible than you may think – you may be able to book your outbound with just four hours notice but you need to lock in the return at the same time (changeable for a fee – although the comments below confirm that the ‘four hours’ tickets can be changed at short notice for free).

You can buy a Flight Pass for a child over two years, but there is no discount.

You have last seat availability.   If there are still seats for sale, irrespective of the price, you can book them – as long as you are inside the booking window of your Flight Pass.  There are no blackout dates or minimum stays.  British Airways also lets you pay in instalments so you do not have to find the full cost upfront.

Given the huge number of pricing options, it is impossible to say if this offers decent savings or not but I know many frequent air commuters use it.

PS.  Amazingly, Flight Pass can make a huge saving on just ONE family trip.  Let’s assume you want to go skiing over February half-term.  Four economy flights to Salzburg, Saturday to Saturday (which is what most ski hotels insist on) will cost you over £3,000 for your family:

Flight Pass example

However, you could have bought a Flight Pass for 12 return flights, shared between four people and booked 60 days in advance, for £1,517:

British Airways Flight Pass

Even if you ended up throwing away the other 8 return flights on your Flight Pass, you have halved the cost of your ski flights.  If you wanted to do this now, however, you’d need to book a 30-day notice pass at a higher price because your Flight Pass would not start until 7th January.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2023)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) 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 £12,000 Read our full review

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

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

30,000 points and unbeatable travel 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 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 a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 (65)

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

  • Ian says:

    *having* to pay £3000 for ecomomy flights to Salzburg for a family of 4 in half term reminds me of the Waitrose “essentials” range

    • Rob says:

      BA only has 400 seats to Salzburg on the Saturday of Feb half term. It doesn’t care if 69,999,600 people in the UK are not prepared to pay that price.

      • Charlieface says:

        Yes but those 400 are not all reading HfP (although I’m not very representative myself so I shouldn’t complain)

  • Alexey says:

    Interesting , is anything like on other airlines ? e.g. would be interesting to compare ba to italy on this pass vs say alitalia on the same if they available

  • Roger says:

    Is there any equivalent flight pass option on Iberia.
    I do lots of frequent trip between LHR and MAD and this will be really useful

  • Lee says:

    OT – Anyone had their avios delayed from BAPP to BA account? Avios left BAPP on 4th as usual and normally took a day to reach BA. Still no sign of it.

    • AJA says:

      Lee mine reached my BAEC today having left BAPP on Saturday. Amex had an issue with transfers to BA last week. Check again tomorrow. If it hasn’t turned up tomorrow I suggest a call to Amex and BAEC.

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T Edinburgh Waverley to Haymarket, £1.25 per child ticket —>500 Nectar points with Avanti West Coast

  • rams1981 says:

    OT no bits. Though not sure anyone apart from secretsquirrel cares…

    Groupon Aer Lingus all posted in one go it though they dated it on the day I submitted the claims. 105,000 (3×35,000) all to my account. So the one type of voucher limit didn’t apply.

    • Harry T says:

      Three separate transactions?

      • rams1981 says:

        Two transactions, hadn’t read the small print when I did the first 2. When I was worried it hadn’t arrived instantly like @Anna had said I did. That’s when I did the 3rd

  • Big Dave says:

    you can tell nobody understands the article when the comments are all OT

  • Donald says:

    Hi Rob, this is interesting. Do you know which fare class these book into? Is it a pre-determined class (eg G) or does it book you into the class that is bookable at the time? Just thinking of TP and Avios earning. Thanks.

    • Shoestring says:

      [ao40 says:
      9 December 2019 at 07:40
      I use flight pass all the time as a regular commuter, find it very good value.

      One point on the article – if you have the ‘book up to 4 hours before freedom option’, then your return flight will also be changeable up to 4 hours before it departs. There is no fee to change as you state – you do not need to lock it in, can change as much as needed (within the dates of the pass).

      I find this option really useful, and if you are buying a large number of flights, then the price difference is not as much as your example. You also earn equivalent of full flex TPs and avios!]

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

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