When you redeem Avios on a British Airways partner airline, the points cost of your flight is based off a separate pricing chart.
This is it, as from June 2019 (click to enlarge):
It is marginally, but only marginally, more expensive in terms of Avios than redeeming for a British Airways flight.
The zones relate to the distance flown:
- Zone 1: 1 – 650 miles
- Zone 2: 651 – 1,150 miles
- Zone 3: 1,151 – 2,000 miles
- Zone 4: 2,001 – 3,000 miles
- Zone 5: 3,001 – 4,000 miles
- Zone 6: 4,001 – 5,500 miles
- Zone 7: 5,501 – 6,500 miles
- Zone 8: 6,501 – 7,000 miles
- Zone 9: 7,001+ miles
Because it is driven by distance, and because the gap between Avios pricing bands can be substantial, there are often good savings to be made if you leave the UK to start a redemption. As an added bonus, you will save on long-haul premium cabin Air Passenger Duty too.
Before we go on, you should note that – as you won’t be flying British Airways if you start a redemption outside the UK – you hit two problems:
You can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher as that is only valid on BA flights
You will be charged peak Avios pricing every day, as off-peak pricing only applies to BA flights
If these are not problems for you, read on.
I thought I would focus on the Qatar Airways flights to Doha today as an example, in case you are thinking of slotting in a quick break before the weather in Europe improves.
However, even if you have no interest in a Qatar Airways trip to Doha, the same principles can be used with other Avios partners. For example, Cathay Pacific redemptions to Hong Kong require fewer Avios from some European cities because it pushes you into the lower price band.
Going back to my Middle East example, the good news for Avios collectors is that:
Qatar Airways is a British Airways Avios earning and spending partner
Qatar Airways now flies to pretty much everywhere in Europe
Qatar Airways has an excellent reputation for its premium cabins
Qatar Airways releases at least FOUR business class seats per flight
There is, of course, a big downside. Due to the continuing blockade of Qatar by the UAE and others, it is not possible to (easily) connect from Doha to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc. If you follow the tips in this article, you will be holidaying in Doha. It IS still possible to fly to Oman on Qatar Airways from Doha.
Heading to the Middle East, the key cut-off point is 3,000 miles:
3,000 – 4,000 miles (which includes the UK), a Business Class return to Doha is 124,000 Avios return on a partner airline
Below 3,000 miles, a Business Class return to Doha is 77,500 Avios return on a partner airline
Here is a map showing you a 3,000 mile radius from Doha:
Any Avios redemption on Qatar Airways booked from a city inside the red line to Doha will price at 77,500 Avios return instead of the 124,000 Avios it would cost from London.
Here are some Qatar Airways departure cities that are close to the red line and which are in most cases easily accessible from UK regional airports, as well as Heathrow:
Here is an example of business class pricing to Doha, return, using Avios:
Frankfurt to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £448
Copenhagen to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £442
Rome to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £400
If you REALLY want to do it on the cheap, try starting in Turkey. Istanbul to Doha is under 2,000 miles so the Avios pricing is:
Istanbul to Doha, Business Class – 44,000 Avios + £252
It is important to check the aircraft type. Qatar Airways is using short-haul planes on some niche European routes, although most of them still have flat bed seats. From the cities above you will get a long haul aircraft, except for Istanbul where one of the daily services seems to be an A320.
The taxes are not cheap, unfortunately. Whilst you will be saving a lot of Avios, you won’t be saving much on the taxes once you’ve added in the cost of getting to your starting point.
If you are interested in this idea, I suggest doing an open-jaw trip. Fly out of one European city and back to a different one. Tack on a bit of sightseeing in both. This gives you two mini-breaks either side of your Middle East holiday, as well as saving you a lot of Avios.
You can learn more about redeeming Avios on airline partners in our beginner’s guide to spending Avios points here.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)