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:

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)

  • Aliks says:

    I need to book the return leg of 241 voucher. Normally, I would just book a pair of single tickets back to LHR with Avios and then later phone BA to get the return flights merged into my existing outbound 241 booking.
    However, I am short a few avios so I can wait a couple of days for some avios to transfer across from Amex, potentially losing the 2 available avios seats. Or I could phone BA directly to make the booking. Its not clear to me which number is best to use to call BA at the moment.
    Anyone suggest best approach?

  • Lyn says:

    Roberto, what would you recommend as the best on-line news source at the moment to keep up with the situation in Spain?

    • Riku says:

      why are you posting these OT questions on this page? there is a separate page every day for off topic discussions specifically to keep the comments related to the story on the top of the page itself.

      • Lyn says:

        Sorry, this was a mistake of course. I was trying to post it as a reply to Roberto directly under a comment he wrote specifically mentioning Spanish news. I don’t understand how it came out as a separate comment. I’m aware of the chat article each day and think it is an excellent idea.

    • roberto says:

      There is quite a lot of good news sources in local expat papers papers. Near me the “olive press” and “sur in english” have a great twitter feed ( and good web sites ) or if you like you tube videos google “spain speaks”, he is quite useful, easy to follow and covers a broad spectrum posting every couple of days from Madrid in English ( well, Australian actually – but dont let that put you off )

      If you speak Spanish then El Mundo is my go to news paper/portal/channel

      • Lyn says:

        Thanks very much. I will take a look at El Mundo. Sorry, it didn’t occur to me to mention “in Spanish”.

  • 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.

    • Mikeact says:

      I am never sure why, but getting flights out always seems to be easier than the return . Anybody any ideas …. is it a deliberate ploy for some reason ..?

      • John says:

        Maybe APD related as non-UK people fly long-haul to the UK then go home from Paris or Amsterdam etc

      • spinner99 says:

        Depend which direction you are going I think… people want beds over night

    • Andrew says:

      Book them as 2 singles. I do it all the time to CPT as the seats sell very quickly 50 weeks out. No need to merge the booking under one confirmation number

      • Rav says:

        if you book them as 2 singles and you have a 2 for 1 voucher i assume you only get the 2 for 1 on the first flight out

  • Paul says:

    Does the change fee waiver for flights booked now not apply?!

  • Olly says:

    Evening folks,
    A quick bit of advice regarding referring yourself. I’ve got the Amex Plat and am considering referring myself for the BA Plus Amex for the 25,000 sign up points and 2-4-1 after £10k but do not know how to go about doing it. The application form from my account says I can only get the points if I am a new cardmember but is this any AMex, such as my Platinum or just BA?
    Many thanks

    • Genghis says:

      My advice: don’t self refer for risk of Amex shutting you down. I learnt the hard way (over something else). They were (wrongly) draconian in their response but we came to an agreement.

      • Binks says:

        Hi Ghenghis, can you kindly expand on what happened in the example you mentioned, how it came about, what Amex called out and how it was resolved? Thx

      • Olly says:

        I would appreciate what you mean as well please Genghis as I have heard many people in the past talking about referring themselves but can’t remember the details.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Think U.K Amex clients have stopped self referring after Amex in the U.S have been closing accounts for self referrals. Not 100% sure but if they close your account, it results in a bad credit mark against you.

          • Genghis says:

            “ Not 100% sure but if they close your account, it results in a bad credit mark against you.“
            Just marks as “closed and settled”.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          In the USA the accounts were audited and all the points from self referrals were clawed back. If there was persistent self referral the accounts were closed at the end of the day AMEX is free to choose its customers.

          Give a family member, friend or Rob the referral points tbh

          I’m sure Genghis has said before that AMEX shut down his accounts for something else (using small shop too much in AMEXs eyes?)

          • Binks says:

            Thanks for the replies all. Anyone know what drove the decision to undertake an audit?

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            @Binks
            Abuse of the system.

          • Lady London says:

            Amex is well capable of analysing the big data for this in the UK, as they already did in the US, and you will be found. In the US it did not appear to be triggered by any one user’s behaviour – it was clear someone in the US decided to do some analysis. Which these days can be done with a click or three.

            If you don’t value a lifetime relationship with Amex and if you’re certain you won’t need them again then self-refer. Several people have said since it happened in the US, they would miss out on too much if it happened in the UK too, so they stopped smoking long enough ago to clear their lungs if the UK does decide to take a look at this too..

          • Genghis says:

            Spending on shop small, yes. Not “abuse” of the system. It was a lot of fair spend. Amex didn’t like it. and closed all accounts. I went to FOS, pointing out all the terms in my arguments. Amex and I settled prior to judgement and they agreed to take me back.

        • Polly says:

          Categorically told yesterday , just not allowed any more. .. just mentioned it vaguely when closing another card. So no, not worth the risk. They will take your MR points away too.

    • Olly says:

      Thank you folks for your input.

  • JLNF says:

    Thanks – may be silly q but can you use two 2-4-1 Amex vouchers for a family of four booking online? It only let’s me tick one voucher at time.. so perhaps this has to be done as two transactions online, with a parent on each booking (all in the same household acct), or do I need to call up BA? Many thanks.

  • MAY L LIM says:

    Rob: I don’t know when you are flying to BKK in Feb 2021 but may I remind you of the following points.

    It is Chinese New Year on February 12th in 2021.

    Thailand’s biggest tourist comes from China & this is one of the major holidays flooded with Chinese tourists.

    Implications – if visiting tourist sites, the queue will be horrendously long. Traffic jams would be longer. Etc.

    Bear this date & it’s implications in mind for East Asia travel from around 10 to 19 February 2021.

    If you come to KUL, you can contact me for a meet up.

  • Craig says:

    Morning all, if we book outbound flights as one way flights online at -355 using Avios and the 241 voucher, is it correct that when the return leg becomes available in a few weeks time, we can call up BA, add the return leg and the 241 voucher will still be applicable?

    I understand we would just need to pay the additional avios and additional taxes. Is that correct? Are there any other additional fees to pay?

    I’ve never done it before so any guidance would be much appreciated! Thanks.

    • Rhys says:

      yes correct, did this a few weeks ago.

    • Genghis says:

      There are two ways:

      1) Call up BA when availability comes up at 12pm GMT and then add your return leg to the 241. This way you pay the true up amount of the avios and the taxes. However, you may struggle to get through (I did last time)
      Or
      2) Book the return leg as a single online and then call up in the morning to get a refund. How this works now is that you’re left with two PNRs and they refund the avios to make it the same as a proper return but do not refund or charge more on the taxes. This is great for Hong Kong, less so New York. You do need more avios than in method 1 but if it’s a “fastest finger first” type place, e.g. Cape Town / Maldives, this is the best method IMO. (Note that BA used to give you a choice about merging onto one PNR but no longer).

      • Sandra Benn says:

        @Genghis – I was proposing to book outbound 8th March (earliest available date) return 20th 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. Is that an option in addition to the two you’ve suggested? Any downsides?

        • Genghis says:

          I don’t see any advantage over the methods mentioned.
          You don’t want the return date, clearly. Changing to the date you do want will cost you the change fee of £35pp. You’d either need to get through to BA on the phone to do the change (at midnight GMT) or book a single as mentioned if it’s a popular route.

      • John says:

        thanks Genghis, what is the number for bronze exec club, I tried 0800 597 7580 which is only dealing with 72 hours out emergencies?