Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How is British Airways Avios reward flight availability for late 2020 and early 2021?

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Now that all British Airways 2-4-1 vouchers have been extended by 6 months (see our article here), you may be wondering what to do with it.

Although it may seem a little early, now may be the time to consider travel for six to twelve month’s time.  You are likely to find better Avios availability on routes if you book now, as many people will not be booking holidays at present.

This is a mistake. Whilst the current restrictions on travel and movement are prohibitive, they will not go on forever. By booking travel for October onwards, you are securing your tickets now.

Which routes have good Avios availability?

If October rolls around and there are still restrictions in place (or you just don’t fancy travelling), you are only on the hook for £35 per person – all your remaining taxes and fees, as well as the Avios cost, are refunded, as we explain here. I’ve just booked a pair of tickets to Bangkok for travel in February 2021.

Whilst I wouldn’t bet on the aircraft types or seats at this stage – the scheduling for the winter timetable, which starts in late October, is yet to be announced – you can be fairly certain that British Airways will get you to your final destination if the route is running.

Late last week I had a quick look at BA’s top destinations on SeatSpy to see which ones had availability in Club World for two people or more. Here is Sao Paulo:


…and New Orleans:

These cities are also showing good availability for later in the year and / or early in 2021.  This is by no means an exhaustive list as I was focusing on mainstream destinations – although you can usually rely on Lagos being available if you want it:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Denver
  • Dubai
  • Johannesburg
  • Los Angeles
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • Mexico City
  • Miami
  • Moscow
  • Montreal
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Rio
  • San Francisco
  • Sao Paulo
  • Seoul
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto

Not all routes are open – there is very little to Bangkok, Barbados, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Maldives, Seychelles for example.

However, here is one thing I noticed.  March 2021 is VERY widely available.  It seems that, once coronavirus struck, everyone gave up jumping in as soon as seats were released.  For example, there are NO DATES AT ALL with two Club World seats to the Seychelles between October and February, but 9th March and 16th March were available yesterday.

The 2021 calendar of British Airways peak and off-peak dates for Avios flight redemptions is in this article. You can see how the British Airways companion voucher works in this article.

You can book on the British Airways website, here.

To maximise your miles when paying the taxes, your best bet is the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which earns double Avios (3 per £1) when you book at or via BA Holidays.  You do not get double Avios if you book with the free British Airways American Express card.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

Comments (142)

  • BJ says:

    If decent fares can be found it could also be the time to lock in BA holidays with a small deposit.

    • BJ says:

      Never booked one myself but Rob occasionally rubs articles on how to use BA Holidays to book flights more cheaply than booking flights alone. That’s what I was getting at, and why I referred to cheap fares as opposed to holidays.

    • LewisB says:

      This isn’t true. You can frequently find a hotel or hire car for less than the cost of the flight. Sometimes it can be the same cost, sometimes slightly more and sometimes there’s a huge increase. Research…research…research…!

      • BJ says:

        Don’t think there was ever any suggestion that it was always add a hotel or a car. It never worked for me personally but based on the examples Rob gave I am sure it worked for some. Besides there is also the flexibility angle, not just the cosit. I just take it for granted that most HFP readers know to bully research opportunities on every booking and don’t need encouragement to do so.

    • sayling says:

      I’ve had great success with BA Holidays, where they were cheaper than going direct with the hotel and using the hotel’s ‘partner’ airline (EasyJet).

      And what industry considers them to be a third party?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I think Freddy means the hotel loyalty schemes

        However, I don’t really see the point of the comment as BJ was correct it can be a way to lock in a really good rate for a minimal deposit.

        BA Holidays can sometimes be cheaper than flight only, most of the time it can be a little more than flight only but you get a hotel for peanuts and the rest of the times when it’s more expensive than both individually obviously you wouldn’t book it.

        • Lady London says:

          TBH in current times I would welcome the opportunity to fix the price of a flight so I’d know it wouldn’t go up. Lots of us don’t want to tie our money up in a fare we have to pay upfront. Usually it’s pretty much nonrefundable as well to get a decent flight only price.

          Any new insurance policy or renewal will probably not cover you for covid now. So a long time to pay a fare now and take that risk that you can’t insure now.

          I’ve never used BA holidays but the idea of only putting a deposit at risk, freezing the flight price so I know what I’ll be paying and only paying all five weeks before….definitely has some appeal.

          For anyone travelling as a couple go for it. I still expect it to only give a decent price to others who don’t travel singly.

    • Nick_C says:

      My brother often finds BA holidays to be cheapest for Egypt and Turkey. He always prices up all the options.

  • Anna says:

    The biggest issue I can see is that coronavirus will still be around but insurance companies are unlikely to cover it, so any foreign travel will carry a big risk. It’s also far from clear at this time whether we’ll still have the reciprocal health arrangement with the EU.

    • BJ says:

      Nationwide stopped providing cover for Covid-19 on bookings made from 18 March so it’s definitely important to check for any new policy exclusions.

    • Andrew says:

      If you pay on a credit card S75 should still cover you provided the airline cancel the flights although not if you just change your mind and decide not to travel

      • Anna says:

        You misunderstand – I am referring to the possibility of catching COVID while abroad and not having medical cover. Doesn’t bear thinking about, especially in the USA.

    • Nige says:

      It will be an issue for anybody who hasn’t had it by then. Given that best measures seem to be seeking only to slow rate of spread (to max medical system can cope with), will many be in that category a year from now (other than vulnerable who have managed to isolate for a year)?

      • Lady London says:

        @Nige you’re assuming having had it gives immunity. Docs so far are unsure and think it could be partial or short term.

    • Charlieface says:

      I don’t think insurance companies can unilaterally not cover it on an existing annual policy. They are just saying that it is known risk at this stage with the FCO advice. If that advice is rescinded and normal flying resumes they would struggle to argue the point. Even on a new policy it is not a known risk that will remain forever.

      • Anna says:

        Let’s hope this is the case, however I suspect that no new policies will cover pandemics in future.

        • Craig says:

          Given everyone has now been reminded how big a problem a pandemic can cause, this would feel like buying car insurance that didn’t cover you on the motorway wouldn’t it?? Something will change though i agree. I suspect pandemics will still be covered but premiums will go up (whether that flows through to packaged accounts fees I don’t know).

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Are we confusing whats covered for medical or for flights/hotels etc?

  • Anna says:

    Linda – they are not usually released till June but you can generally go by the school holiday dates. Be aware though that these differ from one area to another, so BA may class, for example, 4 weeks over the Easter period as peak because of this.

  • Neil Preston says:

    Great article highlighting a very cheap way to lock in lock in refundable flights. I managed to get a couple of tickets in CW out and first back to Joburg next January. This was booked online with my 2 4 1 voucher but it became frustrating when first class seats became available for the day before I was booked to travel and I could not amend on line.

    As you

    The BA call centres are only taking calls about imminent flights and they have closed the dedicated BAEC numbers. I sent them an online message a week ago but no response. So after a couple of days the seats had gone.

    My advice is book the seats, if you can do it online, but don’t assume you can amend them easily in the near future.

    • BJ says:

      Not very cheap given BA extra charges, and frankly the money remains at greater risk than it has ever been. However, various avenues exist to potentially get ii back if the worst comes to pass. This far ahead I think the pros outweigh the cons so I left our Xmas trip in place.

  • BJ says:

    Consider too that there may be a devaluation so paying extra for peak if the dates are much more suitable
    may not feel so painful on the long run should this happen.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I don’t see it. You don’t do devaluations in the rough times as its a way to get bums on seats and fees through the door in the rough times.

  • Wally1976 says:

    Is it still only £1 return charge if you have to cancel a short haul redemption (regardless of the combination of Avios/£ used when booking) ?

    • AG says:

      It has been for me when cancelling avios flights I had booked this summer using the JavaScript workaround.

    • Mikeact says:

      I cancelled one of my bookings this week….originally paid £50. . . £49 back.

  • Frank says:

    What do you think the flexibility rules will be for those of us stuck with a future travel voucher containing avios? They cannot be used at the moment as you need to call to book, but once they can will the rules be the same as for a regular avios booking?

    • Anna says:

      I thought they could be used with a future online booking? However my fear would be that BA will say that they can only be used where there is award availability which would seriously limit their usefulness, which is why I am avoiding them if I can help it.

      • Frank says:

        It says in the FAQ: “You will be able to claim a voucher which can then be used to book another reward flight in the future. Additional Avios, taxes, fees and charges between the existing booking and new booking may be incurred.” Also, if the new booking requires less Avios those will not be refunded, so in combination with the 12 months validity it’s a quite poor deal

      • Lady London says:

        +1 insisting on the reroute option rather than even refund is safest if you do still want to do the trip. Voucher? a mess.

        @charlieface was wondering yesterday whether a voucher could turn out to be stated as not a refund but a goodwill gesture… with a full cash refund still deemed to be due to the passenger on a cancelled flight as well!

        Given BA’s dirty tricks to abuse consumers – rewriting their website specifically to deny access to the refund screen then rewriting it again to make sure after a way to get the refund screen up despite their first recoding was found – I would l o v e to see BA told they have to give both as a punishment and not be allowed to withdraw the ‘goodwill’ voucher.

  • Andrew says:

    I’ve been planning on taking a chance on a late August European holiday. There’s plenty of availability outbound but practically nothing returning to London.

    • Roberto says:

      FWIW I read through some of the Spanish modelling scenarios at the weekend, one of which detailed border restrictions to Spanish nationals into 2021.

      One of many I grant you but booking a Euro jaunt this summer seems pointless currently bearing in mind of the escalation of the virus and where we are currently.

      • Anna says:

        I’m thinking that, got 2 weeks in Mijas booked for late July but Spain is already on its knees. It breaks my heart as I am half Spanish but I’m far from sure that the infrastructure will be able to cope with visitors for some time to come.

        • Craig says:

          I have Madrid in July and Barcelona in August (booked last year) having never been to Spain before. I still have a bit of hope but we will see!

        • Michael C says:

          I’m thinking the same, Anna. Although, at the same time, Spain will do everything possible for its tourism to resume asap.

        • roberto says:

          In Mijas toady and yes without serious Governmental propping up the economy will be crushed if this drags on into the winter.

          Its lockdown day 16 for me and new restrictions are in place across Spain today and only a very limited number of the population will be allowed to work outside their homes as from tomorrow. We have another couple of weeks up to Easter and then the chat is that things will be extended for another period, maybe until the end of May in one form or another.

          Then the modelers are looking at curfews for some to be introduced slowly to give the under 70’s a breather and to (if you can believe it) reintroduce the virus back into the healthier population to build up a workforce of people that have had the virus and recovered. Whilst the death toll is huge, the economic cost will be further reaching and have more of a long term issue for your average Spaniard.

          Spanish news is a little more hard hitting than the British news – the public here are not left wondering, all questions get answered if possible.

          • Lyn says:

            Roberto, I posted this question in the wrong place – what do you recommend as the the best on-line source for news about the current situation in Spain? Thank you.

      • The Original Nick says:

        Hi Roberto, was it this month you were planned on your Cuba trip?