How to get cheaper Avios flight redemptions to the Middle East by exploiting the 3000 mile rule

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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):

BA reward flight avios redemption prices on partner airlines table

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:

  • Berlin
  • Budapest
  • Copenhagen
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Gothenburg
  • Helsinki
  • Kiev
  • Milan
  • Munich
  • Nice
  • Pisa
  • Prague
  • Rome
  • Vienna
  • Warsaw
  • Zagreb
  • Zurich

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.)

British Airways will no longer voluntarily refund your China or Hong Kong flights due to coronavirus
Use your Marriott Bonvoy top tier status on United Airlines flights (and vice versa) via RewardsPlus

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
AMEX Gold 20,000 bonus points
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Screw Qatar and their ‘taxes’ ripoff.

    • Eh? BA pockets all the money you pay on Avios redemptions. Qatar doesn’t see any of it, beyond airport charges and APD.

      • Charlieface says:

        Do you know that for sure? I’ve always wondered what they do with YQ, bearing in mind it is listed as a charge on cash fares

      • Larnaca to Doha also 44000 + £324

        rip off taxes

  2. Lazy or just shoddy?

    Surely should be surcharges and taxes.

    If it brevity you’re after how about using the word “fees” instead, it’s also likely to be the majority of the cash element.

    Maybe worth breaking it down to YQ/CIS charges, Airport/pax fees and taxes.

    “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.”

  3. Any creative ideas for getting from Manchester to Dubai one-way in March 2021? Emirates fly direct but their cash fare one way is as much as a return and three times that of going via Istanbul with low-cost operator Pegasus. BA’s taxes for a business class redemption are hideous (via Heathrow). I need a creative solution….

    • Inverness to DXB redemption?

    • Do you have any Amex MRs?

      I booked Dubai-Newcastle on KLM last month for 42,500 Delta Skymiles + £37 and it was a very pleasant flight. Horrible departure time though of 2am!

    • Etihad fly from MAN to Abu Dhabi. Taxes and surcharges about £220 for business class. Best to use AA miles (42,500) via Marriott if you have any. Then just get a taxi from AUH which is about 50mins apparently.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Pegasus are perfectly acceptable if you’ll accept an LCC.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      For this march, KLM with virgin miles is 50k and 145 euro for AMS-DXB, MAN-AMS 4k and £27. It’s 50k plus £298 for one booking. Obviously much more expensive, but I didn’t realise they were giving free connections from regional UK to AMS. I must have missed that one. It’s 50k and 660AED the other way, not bad but obviously not as cheap as the Delta example.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        I remember now, it’s based on the distance, not the legs. Of course.

      • Yes, its O&D pricing (as they call it) so the connection is free unless it pushes you into a higher mileage band. You save on APD by having separate tickets though.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Just go to Istanbul which is far more interesting than Dubai

    • 35k M&Ms + GBPc360 at Lufthansa offers multiple routes.
      One less-known possibility is Ethiopian (their Business Class is good) fly MAN-ADD-DXB.
      There is a stop (you don’t get off the ‘plane) in BRU.
      When changing at ADD, Economy and Business go to separate gates (the big boards only mention the former, which you want to avoid).

      ISTR Rob recommending Krisflyer (using transfer from Amex MR points) as the best value for Europe – ME: still 35k miles but less cash?

      • M&M has various options – you can save a bit on taxes by using Egyptair for example via Cairo! Fewer choices from MAN obviously. If transferring from Amex then Singapore is fewer miles.

  4. No bits.

    Norwegian share price in free fall. Plenty of airline stocks suffering due to nCov19

    Be interested to see lots of deals this Spring

  5. Alisont3 says:

    How long has it taken for miles to post to Virgin Atlantic account for Morrison’s offer?
    Had emails saying points pending but none posted to account.

  6. O/T – Can Brighton be paid direct with Creation or Creation via Curve? Thanks 🙂

  7. OT – have just cancelled a trip to Italy planned for tomorrow – 4 nights. Gutted. It may be an overreaction, but with things progressing and responsibilities at home, the risks of getting stuck were too great, even if the risk of bringing something back was tiny.
    Anyway, desperately need 4 nights abroad flying out of London tomorrow. It’s a much needed break. Somewhere like Portugal perhaps.
    Any recommendations for the best place to find a last minute reasonably priced deal? Last minute prices look sky high despite the conditions. We like 4-5* hotels and preferably flying from Heathrow. Thanks in advance

    • Check out Tui/Thomson for last minute offers, BA Flight+Hotel Packages or La Collection by Air France (they are offering £150 off on £1.000+ bookings).

    • Amsterdam is a quick flight and hotel prices aren’t too bad at this time of year. I’d recommend the Amstel if you have IHG points or Ambassador. W Amsterdam is very well located and pleasant, but rooms aren’t great unless you pay for a big room or presumably have Platinum status or above.

      • Using points to travel at this time of year is just, non-sense. Prices are rock-bottom.

        • Agreed, I paid cash for the Amstel in January. Just suggesting options in case OP is cash poor but points rich!

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Would have thought you could do Barcelona at reasonable cost at such short notice. Plenty of flights out of LHR and lots of accommodation options.

      • Yes, Barcelona is a steal this week to the cancellation of the massive mobile phone conference which had filled every single hotel (and so has now left them empty).

    • What were you planning to do? If you were going to Italy for art galleries and so on, Madrid or Pris would seem good alternatives. If for some early spring sunshine, Malaga or the Algarve. If you wanted to go further afield, you could take advantage of the extra award availability and go to New York or Boston (Boston is only 5 1/2 hours to LHR on the return trip). Plenty of hotel availability at this time of year, low season and between school holidays.

      • *Paris!

        • Thanks. We were planning to see the sites, but as a rule would normally avoid cities and get out into nature. Some sunshine would be a big plus. US seems a bit far for the 4 nights, but will check out Algarve/Malaga area

          • Lady London says:

            Bit off the wall and probably not a huge number of flights so no price pressure but someone told me Libya has better Roman ruins than Italy. Guessing TK might fly there via IST which is also always interesting.

            I’d be heading South at this time of year. Can always do Europe in warmer months.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Yeah, my Venice – Florence – Pisa trip isn’t looking great at the moment. For a whole host of reasons, let’s hope things improve soon otherwise I need to weight up a short break costing the family two weeks self-isolation.

    • joe bloggs says:

      Tenerife ? 🙂

  8. O/T £1 one way car hire…i know the offer is for 24 or 48 hour rental (depending on the route) but does anyone have any experience of taking a bit longer to return the car? do they tend to be annoyed if you are 4 hours over/charge you extra?

    • Shoestring says:

      Europcar – only 24hrs – sounds ominous: [If you keep the vehicle longer than the time allowance provided, the public rate will be applied to your rental.]

      I think this means the *whole* rental gets charged to you at rack rate, ie you lose the £1 bit for 24hrs as well

      HertzOne is more generous (48hrs) but also warns: [What is the penalty if I return my car late?
      If you return the car more than 29 minutes late, you will be charged for an extra day’s rental at the prevailing daily rate that applies to the vehicle that you have rented.] – however, if you got 2 days for £1, then maybe paying the 3rd day at rack rate might not be so bad compared to buying a 3 day rental in the first place

      • thanks sounds ominous. i was planning on renting from inverness to edinburgh but they all only seems to offer 24 hours, not 48 for that route. guess i can ask when i pick it up see if theres anything they can do. am happy to pay a bit extra for the extra time but would like to avoid the rack rate 🙂

        • Shoestring says:

          check out for better date availability (same £1 price) on Hertz

          • thanks Shoestring, yes already looking on driiveme. better availability as mentioned but still only 24 hrs rental. guess it is what it is 🙂

        • Lady London says:

          It’s a journey that takes well under a day with quite a bit of room to spare and their objective is to move their car so is the 24 hour restriction surprising

  9. Stuart Evans says:

    Rob – just read of a newly announced Qatar/American Airlines code share agreement. I wonder what you thought the impact of this would be? For example, do you think it would be possible to upgrade cash bookings in Qatar in Business to First using AAdvantage Miles ?

    • Potentially but it would be a fair way down the line. No real impact short term from a UK perspective except that it ensures Qatar remains in oneworld. I am seeing Akbar next week so no doubt he will be on about it.

    • No, you can generally only upgrade using miles from teh airline you booked. The new codeshare will likely let you fly Qatar flights with an AA flight number that you could upgrade using AAdvantage Miles but you won’t be able to use AAdvantage Miles to upgrade the same flight if it is on a QR flight number.

      To be perfectly honest, the codeshare will have no impact on UK flyers as it is US-Qatar. BA already has a codeshare with Qatar ex UK

      • Depends on the program. On StarAlliance you can upgrade with miles/points from any program.

  10. OT: Just cancelled all my hotels (cash via Agoda/Expedia, and points via Hilton/Marriott) for Japan trip in Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Tokyo and my Hiroshima to Tokyo JAL Avios redemption (lost £4). Just have my 2-4-1 J & F booking into Osaka and out of Tokyo to cancel now, just waiting to see if added to UK gov warning list so I get refund on my seat selection c£160 total for 2. It was for end of Mar / early April. Really upset, this was going to be my first flight redemption, all the points I have collected since joining HFP.
    What triggered me was this headline in the FT: “Japan has warned it is on the brink of a rapid expansion of the coronavirus and urged companies to adopt remote working, staggered shifts and online meetings to reduce the spread of the illness.”
    Booked this stuff last June, so a bit annoyed….

    • Shoestring says:

      sounds like you are pretty fed up and last thing you would need is anybody weighing in with their own views on the risks

      hard luck

      FWIW I can’t see the Olympics going ahead in the expected format this year – too many people from all over the world mixing in close contact then going back to their respective countries – not that you were going for the Olympics but with any luck you get my drift, ie avoiding easily avoidable extra risks

    • Madness, I’d never give up such a trip! Each to their own and all that (but I suggest its all manufactured hype…in someone’s interest)

      • Shoestring says:

        the stock markets are down 5% in 2 days

        bonds doing OK, though

        • Shoestring says:

          not entirely sure they manufactured the numbers of people catching & dying from pussycat virus, though 🙂

  11. Secret Squirrel says:

    Can’t see if this has already been mentioned today but Monese GC offer back on, £85.95 for £100 Amazon.

    • Thanks. What’s the magic code?

    • Shoestring says:

      will only work for people who *can* upgrade, ie have the basic free Monese a/c

      I’m still on my free 4 months of Premium

      • I meant the code for the gift card

        • Shoestring says:

          using UPGRADE20 (£5.95) allows you to buy a £100 Amazon voucher for £80

          so you need to have £85.95 in your Monese a/c

          • Ah, I see. Thanks Harry. Won’t work for those of us already on a premium plan then.

          • Wow, they keep eating away at that.
            I’m sure it was:
            £50 for £35
            £100 for £70
            Then £100 for £80
            Then £100 for £80
            Then £100 for £85
            Now £100 for £85.95

            This time I’m out.

          • Shoestring says:

            it’s only a bit better (or is it? if Virgin comes good) than the Amex 10% M’s + 1% MR points + 0.5% More points (+ maybe Virgin points on top)

            plus you can do the M’s in big quantities

            anyway, not going to get het up about £3 🙂

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.