Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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

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:

Montreal:

…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 ba.com 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)

  • Matt says:

    Hope you can help I just looked on seat spy and it shows availability for 2 business class seats to Toronto for most days in jan and feb 2021 however on the BA app no matter what i select there is no business reward seats available for jan feb or March.

    Do you know of any issues or reasons this may happen?

    • paul says:

      seat spy availability is nonsense.
      It states theres First availability to Denver but there isn’t.

      Use reward seat finder or ba.com

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Had the same problems with CW availability recently from Seatspy.

        • Graham says:

          I’ve given up on Seatspy. I was tracking flights to SYD but kept getting endless false alerts.

  • Pug206 says:

    I have EasyJet flights booked for Easter. Am waiting for them to cancel before requesting cash refund but I’ve also spent £140 on luggage and seats. Am I entitled to this amount back too pls?

  • Nick_C says:

    I no longer pay Amex by DD. They take payments far too early. If you pay by debit card, the payment is applied to your account immediately.

  • Graham says:

    I have been looking for March 2021 availability, and agree that it is pretty much wide open.
    Has anyone else noticed the current glitch in the BA website if you are trying to book reward seats from other than London, in my case Glasgow ? The “stopover” page comes up as normal, but when you select no stopover, you get an error message taking you back to the stopover page as though you had selected a stopover. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with it at the moment is to book the reward flights from London online, and add the domestic connection by telephone when things get back to normal.

    • Gregor says:

      Yeah noticed that Graham and has the same thought as you about adding the domestic by phone but not sure how easy that is to do

    • Anna says:

      Choose the stopover option but input the same date for your onward journey.

      • Graham says:

        Tried that, but it just takes me back to the stopover page with the same error message

    • Relaxo says:

      I think this is a long standing issue, which is Glasgow specific. Kept happening to me last year when I was trying to book long haul w/feeder.

    • Sandra Benn says:

      Looking to book Avios return flights with companion voucher for March 2021 in Business Class. Inbound dates not yet released but outbound dates getting booked quickly. We don’t want to miss out. So thinking of booking outbound 8th March (earliest available date) return 19th March (latest available date) today and then doing an online change to the actual return date we want when it’s released in a couple of weeks time. I am having same problem as Graham trying to book from Edinburgh with “Stopover” in London – won’t let me do it – so I’ll need to call at some point to add EDI-LHR return to the booking (I’ve had to do that in the past too). But thinking if I book one way online and try to call to add on the return to the booking, phone lines might still be busy and I will miss the cabin class I want. Thoughts and ideas appreciated. Thanks.

      • Graham says:

        Update to the stopover issue. On the route I’m looking at EZE it works ok on Saturday departures, but not on any other day. Unfortunately, I need to travel on a Friday.

  • Charlie Gray says:

    About to use my 2-4-1 to book LHR – HND in late August; 75k + circa £525 in taxes, is anyone aware if the A350 on this route will be the club suite? Expert Flyer seems to think so but i’m sceptical…

    • meta says:

      I looked for F next year and it seems the earlier flight is 777. There is a message stating First cabin not operating on this flight. The later flight is 787, but also F not operating on the flight.

    • Matthew says:

      The plan was to fly the A350 instead of the B787 for the Olympics. So it might change?

  • Nick_C says:

    As there is currently no vaccine against Covid19, I can’t see any country opening its borders for leisure travellers in the near future. Once countries are achieving no new infections they will want to ensure they are not importing new cases from abroad.

    When international travel resumes, expect to spend two weeks in isolation when you get to your destination.

    This will be eased eventually if you have a recent immunisation or vaccination certificate for Covid19. Or possibly Covid20?

    The new uniform for cabin crew is protective clothing.

    I’m expecting my next holidays, if I survive, to be in the UK. Hopefully using Hilton Honors (if the transfer from Virgin goes through).

    Hope for the best by all means, but plan for the worst. (Of course if the Government had adopted this philosophy, we wouldn’t be where we are now.)

    • meta says:

      I disagree. Prolonged border closures will be unsustainable for many countries that depend heavily on tourism. Once it dies down to very low digits things will return to normal. With any pandemic there is an end.

      However this is not say that there won’t be restrictions. Border procedures will probably be tightened and will take longer. I can see mandatory testing at borders on arrival or even on departure, temperature checks and/or medical declarations in the same way we have to take off shoes, belts, do body scan post 9-11.

      • Riccatti says:

        This will be a deal breaker.

        First, temperature scans on arrival means they will pull you like a cattle together with hundreds of people from other flights in a tight corridor with everyone breathing into each others back.

        Masks will be ineffective in that environment. Does anyone seriously think that majority will follow 2m social distancing at airports at all times? What would be the plane boarding time then, one at a time?

        That, I am sorry, also destroys the benefits of business class separation — because in the end you end up in a tight corridor where thousands passed before any cleaning…

        • Rob says:

          I doubt it would work that way because I’m sure BA doesn’t want to pay the cost of repatriations either. You would have certain airports which are certified as being able to do acceptable tests – which Heathrow would almost certainly qualify for – and they would scan you before you board.

          It’s like you have now with security, when luggage from certain countries is not rescanned during transit and luggage from flights from other countries whose airports are seen as porous is.

          • meta says:

            @ Rob yes, that’s what I was thinking. Similar to pre-entry clearance to US. So at some airports you’ll be able to do it on departure and others you’ll have to do it on arrival. Carriage t&c could be altered, so that the passenger is responsible for repatriation costs. I mean there are ways, but who knows. Though I am certain tourism and travel will not stop for prolonged period and it will be different.

        • Nick_C says:

          Handheld thermal imaging devices can be used to detect passengers with an elevated temperature. I think this is what the Chinese were doing when I moved between HK and Macau in November. We had to take our caps off, but walked past the checkpoints at normal speed and normal distance from the officers who were scanning us.

          There was an interesting piece on Sky News yesterday showing the measures in place when flying from (I think) S Korea to China. Designated seats in the airport departure area. Passengers wearing highly visible seat numbers on their sleeves. People spaced out on the flight . Cabin crew wearing hospital style PPE.

      • Kev 85 says:

        People aren’t getting their temperature scanned at Heathrow at the moment (not hearsay, based on someone I know who came back last week after being briefly stuck abroad) so I can’t see this happening in the UK at least

        • meta says:

          That’s not to say it can’t be done. If it is imposed by other countries, you will see Heathrow quickly complying!

  • Gregor says:

    I’m finding the availability really frustrating. We were originally going Club to Cape Town next week which is obviously now cancelled, so tried to replace that trip but it’s impossible.
    There’s plenty of outbound availability in March 2021 but zero inbound – anyone know why that would be?
    Also checked Sydney and again tons of outbound Feb/Mar 2021 but zero inbound???

    • Lady London says:

      If you have an existing booking and a cancellation or significant change on that booking then as well as your right to a cash refund you also have the right to choose a reroute. This means you have the right to request that your itinerary is rebooked to a later date of your choosing.

      Even though airlines might try to claim this, it is not true that avios / miles seats have to be available for any date you are rebooked to. The airline is supposed to book you into any available seat, in principle in a comparable class, even if that is a reasonable seat.

      Provided you are reasonably sure that from your side you would be willing to travel on the later date you request then this may be a better option than a refund. It also gives you price protection not given by a voucher plus protection against further so-called ‘taxes’ hikes by BA for avios bookings.

      Especially if I had continuing travel insurance as had paid by credit card I would consider invoking my right to a reroute for same trip later date.

      • Lady London says:

        *reasonable seat –>> revenue seat. Bl*sted text editor

        • Gregor says:

          Thanks Lady London. I tried the re-route via the call centre immediately after BA cancelled the flight, but the agent refused to deal with it as I wasn’t due to fly within 72 hrs. Tried to argue back but got nowhere so told them just to refund me. So back to square one unless I can persuade them to open up some seats for me when things settle down and they are handling calls normally.

  • Suzi says:

    Just wanted to ask I have a trip booked for 8 people flights hotels & transfers booked directly with BA as a cash booking through Amex Platinum.
    Our outward flight has been cancelled so far I cannot obviously get through to BA or to Amex insurance …..I’m at a loss as to what to do as I can’t contact anyone ???? If I do nothing with BA will I be automatically refunded??

    • Lady London says:

      Was it a BA Holidays booking?

      If so then some people are reporting automatic refunds however you would be wise to contact them and advise you wish to cancel and refund everything as a result of their flight cancellation.

      In the case of BA Holidays refunds have been reported as given without a struggle -unlike pure flight bookings.

      Call them to make sure.

      • Lady London says:

        *suggest calling the BA Holidays specific numbers probably in your ts and C’s early in their ‘opening’ hours and email any email address you have with your booking details to advise as well.

      • Suzi says:

        Yes it was a BA holiday booking … tried to get through to them but to no avail just get cut off …

    • Paul says:

      If you hold a platinum card as you suggest the call the number on the back and they will deal it. The are working with me over some UA flights and their stupid policy of not refunding, even when they have cancelled.