We have written numerous articles in the last few months about the new trial of ‘£1 taxes and charges’ short-haul Avios redemptions.
In theory, this was a simple idea. As well as offering you (for example) 9,000 Avios + £35 taxes and charges between London and Paris, you would see a number of additional options, dropping down to as low as (for example) 15,500 Avios + £1 of taxes.
These new options are generally a bad deal. In the example above you are saving £34 of taxes and charges in return for spending an additional 6,500 Avios (which I’d usually value at £65). However, the option is there for anyone who is cash poor and Avios rich.
In practice, this has turned out to be a very complex thing for BA to implement:
Initially – although now fixed – domestic UK connections to a long-haul redemption ceased to be free.
We then found out (good thing) that cancellation charges for short-haul Avios redemptions had been cut from £35 to just £1, due to the difficulty of collecting the extra money if the customer had chosen the ‘£1 taxes’ option originally. For clarity, you now pay just £1 to cancel a short-haul Avios redemption irrespective of whether you chose the £1 taxes option or not when booking.
There has been major confusion over how to price Gold Priority Rewards. These are where a Gold member can force open ANY BA seat if they are prepared to use double Avios. Many agents are still – incorrectly – insisting that the ‘lots of Avios and £1 taxes’ price is used as the base cost, which makes the Avios required stupidly high.
Another interesting quirk has now come to light.
Some Avios redemptions are now cheaper when booked on avios.com
A bit of background here for anyone who thinks that avios.com is closed. It isn’t. The Avios Travel Rewards Programme was closed last year, but the avios.com website remains. It is where members of Vueling Club and Aer Lingus AerClub go to book redemptions.
Because it is part of ‘Combine My Avios’, you can log in using a Vueling Club or Aer Lingus AerClub account and pull in Avios from British Airways Executive Club.
The key thing to note is that the new ‘£1 taxes and charges trial’ for BA redemptions is NOT happening at avios.com. It only kicks in if you try to book at ba.com.
When is avios.com cheaper?
Avios redemptions are cheaper at avios.com if you are starting in Europe and connecting in London to a long-haul British Airways flight.
Here is an example, from Frankfurt to New York JFK in Club World, return, on off-peak dates. This is what it cost on avios.com:
You’ll need to click to enlarge, but trust me that the cost is 115,500 Avios plus £516.28 in taxes and charges.
Here are IDENTICAL flights booked on ba.com:
The cost is now 125,500 Avios plus £516.28 in taxes and charges. You are asked to pay an extra 10,000 Avios.
Why is this happening?
The ‘logic’ is simple, although not logical.
Let’s forget about the New York flight for a minute. This is what it costs to book Frankfurt to London on avios.com, Club Europe return on an off-peak date:
It is 15,500 Avios + £50.
Let’s look at exactly the same flight booked at ba.com. 15,000 Avios + £50 is still an option, but the ‘headline’ price which ba.com shows you first is this:
25,500 Avios + £1.
The difference is 10,000 Avios. Now, obviously – when you book the 2nd example above as a stand-alone flight – you are using 10,000 more Avios on ba.com but saving £49 in taxes and charges.
When the short-haul flight is linked to a long-haul flight, the tax differential is ignored. ba.com charges you the full 25,500 Avios but makes no tax adjustment.
This, admittedly, is not an issue which will concern most HFP readers who are starting their redemptions in the UK. It is something to note for our European readers, however, and a reminder that – whilst the £1 trial is ongoing – you need to be on the ball to ensure that you are getting the best deal.
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