British Airways offering Avios points as a flight refund option – is it worth it?

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British Airways has added the option to take Avios rather than a cash refund or voucher if your flight is cancelled.

This only applies to normal cash tickets, not the taxes element of Avios redemptions, and it requires your flight to have been cancelled.  It is not available if you voluntarily ask for a refund under the ‘Book With Confidence’ guarantee.

The offer is only available over the telephone, although that doesn’t make a lot of difference at the moment given that online refunds are still unavailable!  It does mean that you won’t be offered it if you are cancelling a travel agent-booked flight, however, as these are cancelled electronically.

This is a one-shot offer – you cannot change your mind once you have accepted.   To be clear, this offer is in addition to your cash refund rights and vouchers which will continue to be offered.

Is this good value?

You need to look at this as buying Avios with cash since that is effectively what you are doing given that the cash alternative is on the table.

You should only go ahead if you would have done the same deal if BA had launched a ‘buy Avios’ deal at the same rate.

That said, the rate is VERY attractive at half the normal ‘buy Avios’ price.  In other words, it is the equivalent of getting a 100% bonus on the usual ‘buy Avios’ price.

Here are some typical examples, assuming that British Airways is using exactly half of the standard ‘buy Avios’ price:

£127 – 15,000 Avios – 0.85p per Avios
£250 – 28,600 Avios – 0.83p per Avios
£567 – 70,000 Avios – 0.81p per Avios
£1607 – 200,000 Avios – 0.8p per Avios

0.8p is better than the 0.92p you would have paid under the 75% buy Avios bonus that British Airways recently offered. This was the most generous bonus we have ever seen.  Even the irregular Groupon Avios offers are generally just above 1.0p per Avios.

At this rate, you should be able to make a ‘profit’ when using the Avios on flight redemptions.  Based on Rob’s spreadsheet of the last 7.7 million Avios he redeemed, he got 1.18p of value.  This is using very conservative valuations for the flights booked, eg valuing a Business Class flight to Dubai at £1,500 because even if BA isn’t charging that there is usually a deal with a secondary airline.

As our core article on ‘What is an Avios worth?’ shows, it is easy to get a lot more than 0.8p.  Rob’s 1.18p real-life valuation is low because he does a lot of Gold Priority Rewards (using double Avios to force open a seat, mainly due to school holiday restrictions) and doesn’t always have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to use.

Conclusion

In the current circumstances, you might be happier to have cash in the bank rather than adding to your Avios collection.  I wouldn’t blame you for that.

However, if you don’t need the money urgently, this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to pick up a lot of Avios VERY cheaply indeed.

Remember that this offer is in addition to existing cash refunds or vouchers, and not a replacement, so no-one is losing out.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Erico1875 says:

    Using XE.com for exchange rate, the Economist Canada digital offer works out at 0.768p per Avios.

    • ChrisA says:

      Malay address wouldn’t be far off this too – 0.81p per avios for the 15k with Economist.

    • GaryC says:

      I don’t see a devaluation on the cards, at least not within a period of at least 12 months. There’s simply too much opportunity for negative PR and sentiment from flying customers, their most important stakeholder group over the coming years as they try to rebuild loads. In some ways it’s a reverse of the period we’ve been in until now, with very high load factors and demand for product making it easier to reduce the customer experience, but harder to make the far-reaching changes to staff contracts they’re trying to push through.

      That said I’m still not a buyer at 0.8p/avios right now. I’m sitting on a lot of them already as a result of some big family cancelled trips, so my exposure is probably already too high. And even if BA don’t go bust (which I think they won’t), get radically restructured by the government taking a stake (possibly, but on the balance of probability perhaps unlikely), the combination of lockdowns (now and future), quarantines, dubious management of the pandemic in countries I would want to visit, and uncertainties around medical cover and applicability of travel insurance, means the future of air travel remains too uncertain for too long in my view, to want to exchange the flexibility of cash for vouchers that I only get value from if redeemed in one particular way.

  2. Steve says:

    Devaluation incoming in 3… 2… 1…

    • I doubt it. BA normally issues millions of Avios a day. With so few people flying it will be close to zero.

    • Agreed. BA is in need of cash desperately, and would like to exchange miles for the cash you own, and then will for sure devalue the miles to minimize their debt to you. This article is really misleading

      • What? BA has just had a massive sale in which it sold Avios for 0.92p, in which MANY HFP readers were happy to participate. It is now ‘selling’ Avios for 0.8p but somehow that is a bad deal?

        I am 99% certain that IAG’s internal account model treats an Avios at 0.5p, since that is was they must pay out if you redeem for wine or hotels. I get a feeling that IAG Loyalty pays the group airlines 0.5p on flight redemptions too.

        This would ONLY be dilutive if you were getting Avios for less than 0.5p, which you’re not. If you accept 100,000 Avios Avios at 0.8p for an £800 refund, IAG will take £300 into profit, immediately, and provision £500 for when those Avios are spent. No devaluation required.

      • No, it’s nothing more than an effort to stop cash leaving the Group. More customers (double) are taking cash refunds rather than vouchers, and this is a way to try to make it seem more generous not to take a refund. Far fewer Avios are being issued than usual – obviously fewer people are flying, and spend on Amex/similar must be down too if you think about all of Rob’s recent articles on this – so it’s not as if the market is being flooded with excess supply. If anything redemptions will become more generous as they try to tempt people back on board.

  3. Harry says:

    has anyone managed to get through to BA to get a refund instead of a voucher for a cancelled flight ?
    My flight was due on the 9th of June. I wonder if I can’t get a refund would I automatically get one on the 9th if I do not accept a voucher ?

    • It seems that nothing happens until you actually ring them up. The refund is not automatically triggered.

      • Harry says:

        thanks,they certainly want to make it difficult to get a refund !

        • If you can’t get through try again at another time. In different occasions I had to wait 10/20 minutes, others no wait at all. It’s completely random, so do not despair, just try at different times of the day.

    • Joseph says:

      Hi I called around 5am one morning (the joys of insomnia)!) and spoke to a very helpful operator . Called me back 2 hours later (as the refund dept was closed apparently until 9 am) and the refund was in my bank 48 hours later. Trick is not to press the button for a refund as that leads to a standard message but press the option for ‘anything else’.

    • I called their office in the Netherlands and my call was answered in 7 mins and the refund was processed after another 3 minutes of a converstaion with a lady with a slightly husky voice. Simples! Even got a small profit because of FX fluctuations

    • Charlie says:

      I failed on the phone, but got quite a quick response via Twitter. Sad that we have to resort to social media but I have the avios and 241 back in my account and the refund on taxes should be on it’s way

    • I rang them as my Turkey flight was moved again and I could not get anything to open on the site. Got through on the first attempt at 0800. I asked about the rules for a voucher and the rep said I couldn’t have a voucher, that the only option was a refund! I chose to move the date to July but was surprised I wasn’t allowed the voucher option at all – I just wanted to know if I used the voucher later in the year but didn’t use the full value if I could use it for something else in the future.

  4. How do BA process refunds for pre booked Avios flights?
    E.g. I have a cancelled flight, that I booked for 38K Avio and £1. If I go for the Voucher refund option, do they simply return my Avios and issue a voucher for £1? Or do they convert the Avios to some form of voucher?

  5. Stephen W says:

    One thing that needs to be considered in this value proposition is the opportunity cost of flying on avios instead of a cash ticket. You will not be earning avios (or tier points) when you redeem the avios. You would have if you had received cash and bought a ticket with it.

    • a good point, which many often forget. Additionally if you’re Ba Gold/OW Emerald…you get bonus avios which you are effectively forfeiting.

    • That is true – indeed is always true when you have these discussions – but as Avios earned varies by class and status, and tier points are either hugely valuable or not valuable at all, it is too complex to factor in.

    • Lady London says:

      And this is also an advantage of booking a revenue ticket and using part pay with avios as the underlying ticket still earns avios in this case. Whereas, avios and avios-with-money tickets dont.

      When things start moving again it’s likely BA will have unused seat capacity still. They might turn out to adjust the reducfion in cash you get by part paying with avios, favorably. They might not publicise it widely (a typical thing they might put in the newsletter to Golds but not to Bronzes) even though if you checked the value on the ticket you’re buying for part paying with avios, you might still benefit from a reduction that’s better than the usual 2/3rds of value someone might get on PPA).

  6. mr_jetlag says:

    Any non cash refund option carries a risk (default risk if the airline goes bust, devaluation risk if it doesn’t). I’ve processed about a dozen covid related refunds and only accepted a voucher on one (TAP, whose call centres are literally worse than a chocolate N95 mask).

  7. Globetrotter says:

    OT: Has anyone been able to get through on the Gold line? Been trying for over a day – keep getting cut off midway through the recorded greeting. INTENTIONAL technical glitch?

  8. What are everyone’s thoughts on the likelihood of UK (or other countries’ for that matter) APD being significantly reduced in the coming months/year or so, as a way to try to stimulate the airline industry?

    Might affect the ‘refund as voucher vs Avios vs cash’ equation? Especially re vouchers – something tells me airlines are unlikely to offer any partial refund if the taxes turn out to be cheaper when you come to redeem your voucher… 😉

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