Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways extends Reward Flight Saver to all long-haul routes

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

Reward Flight Saver now seems to be available on all British Airways long-haul routes.

Back in April, British Airways added a new Avios option on flights between Heathrow and New York JFK.  It reduced the minimum cash component of an economy (and only economy) redemption to £100.

British Airways long haul reward flight saver

The option was marketed as ‘Reward Flight Saver’, which is the term British Airways already used for short haul redemptions.

As a refresher, Reward Flight Saver (or RFS) allows anyone who has earned one Avios in the last year to book a short-haul reward flight with a subsidised level of taxes and charges.  These are fixed at £35 and £50 return for economy and Club Europe, respectively.

Reward Flight Saver is only available on flights operated by British Airways or its franchisees. Codeshares or joint venture flights are not included.

Although in recent years BA has been adding additional balance options for redemptions, the traditional RFS amounts of £35 / £50 have typically offered the most value on a ‘pence per Avios’ basis.

You can read how British Airways Reward Flight Saver works in this article here.

How do you book long-haul Reward Flight Saver?

It appears that Reward Flight Saver is now available on most, if not all, long-haul flights but only in World Traveller and only on flights operated by British Airways.

(So, for clarity, you cannot book this on American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific etc, or in World Traveller Plus, Club World or First.)

When you come to book an economy long-haul flight with Avios, you will see this:

Reward flight saver icon

As you will see on this page of the BA website, the Reward Flight Saver information has not yet been updated.  It still only says that North American routes are available long-haul:

“Reward Flight Savers are our best value reward flights. You pay the Avios and a flat fee in cash while we pay the taxes, fees and carrier charges for you. It’s available on selected return flights in Europe, North America* and on southern Africa wherever you see this symbol.”

It seems to be available in other places, however.  Let’s look at an example.

British Airways long haul reward flight saver

Is Reward Flight Saver with Avios in long-haul economy good value?

Let me spoil the surprise to save you scrolling down – no.

Whilst taxes have gone down, the Avios required have gone up.

Are economy long-haul Avios redemptions ever good value?  No, as this article shows.  Long-haul economy flights are usually so cheap that Avios redemptions are rarely great value.  Adding Reward Flight Saver actually makes the value calculation worse.

Let’s take a look at the new Reward Flight Saver option to Tokyo.

Historically, an off-peak Avios redemption to Tokyo in economy would be 39,000 Avios

You now see the following options:

Reward Flight Saver dummy

The ‘headline’ Reward Flight Saver price of a return economy ticket from London to Tokyo is now 70,000 Avios and £200.

This compares with 39,000 Avios and £360 without RFS.

Taking the 70,000 Avios option is a rubbish deal compared to the ‘old’ – and still bookable – 39,000 Avios + £360.

You are using 31,000 additional Avios to save £160.  This means you’re getting just 0.52p per Avios which is terrible.

British Airways long haul reward flight saver

Which pricing option is best?

There is no definitive answer, except to say that the ‘headine’ lowest fees price will never be the best value.

The easiest way to work it out is to assume a value of 1p per Avios, because this is what you should be trying to achieve.

Let’s look at the Tokyo options:

70,000 Avios + £200 = £900 assuming 1p per Avios of value
55,000 + £290 = £840
39,000 + £360 = £750
29,000 + £440 = £730
15,600 + £530 = £686
13,700 + £550 = £687

If I were booking this, I would be roughly ambivalent between the 13,700 to 39,000 Avios options.  The overall cost, in terms of cash and Avios, is similar and my decision would depend on how many Avios I had or wanted to use.

I certainly wouldn’t be taking the 55,000 or 70,000 Avios options.

IMPORTANT:  If you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, you do NOT get a choice.  You will be charged the ‘old’ price of 39,000 Avios + £360.

You also don’t get a choice if you have not earned 1 Avios in the last 12 months.  Such accounts do not qualify for Reward Flight Saver, so the lowest taxes and charges option offered will be 39,000 Avios + £360.

Economy Avios redemptions still aren’t great value

Of course, you will often find cash tickets in economy to Tokyo for less than £900.  Even £686, the ‘best’ option above, can often be beaten for cash.

However, you should remember that Avios bookings come with low cancellation fees and inclusive of hold luggage, which you would not have on ‘Basic’ economy fares. If neither of these factors are important to you a cash ticket will usually beat an Avios redemption on value on this route.

The ONLY people who benefit substantially from Reward Flight Saver in long-haul economy are those who are Avios rich and/or generate Avios at no cost to themselves (eg. from business travel) and so value them at nothing.  These people will see a starting price of 70,000 Avios + £200 as better than 39,000 Avios + £360.  I hope that most Head for Points readers can clearly understand that the latter is by far the best deal.

In general, I think that British Airways is making a mistake by presenting this pricing as it does.

You only see the 70,000 Avios option unless you click an arrow.  If someone is looking into Avios to see if collecting points is good value, and sees that they need 70,000 Avios to fly to Tokyo in economy, they simply aren’t going to bother.

They will think ‘that’s £70,000 of spend on the free BA Amex credit card’ or ‘that’s £300 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers’ and write off the whole thing as impossible.

Comments (56)

  • Charlieface says:

    Economy is usually good value last minute, or one way long haul.
    You keep making this mistake, I point it out to you again and again (e.g. yesterday). Don’t just copy/pasta when you repost, look back at it and rethink what you wrote.

    • Alex W says:

      It’s good to have some Avios in the bank in case that option is ever needed (and if there is reward availability). Still a fairly niche case though and unlikely to drive lots of people to participate the scheme. Imagine the tag line: “Come and join BAEC in case you ever need a last minute flight or a one-way journey”.
      Also, a lot of destinations have reasonable prices for one-ways, particularly on other airlines e.g. Norwegian which is probably more comfortable than World Traveller as well.

      • Al says:

        Was great when we got abandoned by Virgin earlier this year due to covid. One way economy seats home were around £1200 each, whereas an economy redemption on BA was just over £200 (plus avios). Having an emergency stash is definitely something worth considering (though more for family emergency than pandemics).

    • Josh says:

      Agreed. Especially when one way flights in one direction are much more expensive than in the other direction. Asia to UK is always costly in cash terms.

  • AndyC says:

    “It reduced the minimum cash component of an Economy redemption to £100.” Maximum cash component, surely?!

    • Peter K says:

      No, minimum. The maximum cash component is either the cost of a cash fare or eg. 13,700 avios + £550. That is the option with the maximum cash outlay.
      With the RFS the cash outlay (cash component) is the minimum you can get away with paying on a reward seat.

  • derbs says:

    Last minute value is incredible. January last year had to book a last minute one-way from Chile to UK, cash price was ridiculous, Avios was 22,750 avios + £200 economy. Longest direct flight from BA I believe to SCL-LHR.

  • Novice says:

    A lot of years ago, one of my first solo trips; I organised myself and using Trailfinders booked a £298 return flight in Qatar Economy (which actually was not bad, first row seat) to Singapore.

    I really wasn’t points/miles/cash flights savvy. Credit to the TA but that was an awesome deal and actually an awesome return flight.

    So, from that I did learn that cash tickets are sometimes better. Even now for business fights, 8 times out of 10, I end up booking cash.

    I think for a flexible solo traveller, points are not as beneficial.

    • Andrew says:

      I think the sweet spot of Avios is to upgrade long haul with BA – either a cheap WT+ to CW or CW to First (doesn’t work with economy as you need to buy a more expensive fare in order to upgrade). To get a cheap deal in CW, maybe with BA holidays, to say NY and then spend 20,000 to upgrade to First each way always works well for me. And the other obvious advantage of booking a cash ticket is that you earn TPs to retain/earn your status and a fair chunk of those Avios spent to upgrade back after the flight.

      • Andrew says:

        I should add, as a solo traveller that isn’t interested in the coveted 2for1 voucher, this seems the best use of Avios.

        • Peter K says:

          Assuming you would pay the cash cost for business anyway that makes sense, but not if you wouldn’t.

          • Andrew says:

            But often the difference between the cash price and what is still required as a cash payment for an Avios ticket is way off Rob’s Avios valuation and so also doesn’t represent value for money. A return to NY in CW next summer cash ticket is £1513, Avios is 120,000 and £714. 120,000 for a £800 saving is not a great deal. When two people travel with a 2for1 that changes things – but for a solo traveller it doesn’t make sense.

          • Novice says:

            I personally avoid using BA because I’m a bit picky about product when travelling but I will check this out to check prices next time I travel.

            I have noticed my main avios use has been on one-way flights on other one world carriers.

        • PJJ says:

          Time for BA to follow Virgin and offer a 2 4 1 OR UPGRADE to help the solo traveller.
          That would certainly up my interest in the BAPP

          • Novice says:

            I agree.

          • Andrew says:

            +1 That would make me care more about triggering a credit card voucher. I’m not loyal to spending on my BAPP because I don’t have a use for a 2for1

          • Lady London says:

            Lloyds had that one right. either a return or two separate legs upgradeable for one or half that for two.

    • Harry T says:

      Avios 241 redemptions on long haul in premium cabins are usually pretty rubbish value compared to paying cash, unless you have inflexible dates or need to be able to cancel for £35 each (I value the latter; the former is irrelevant because I don’t have kids).

  • lumma says:

    Just priced this up for Delhi and the cash component is £150 (+60,000) Avios.

    Could only really see this as useful for one way tickets if you have the need (a cheap one way cash ticket perhaps)

  • Barry cutters says:

    When do flights come out – has this changed ? I’m looking for cape town end of July 2021 and can’t see anything from ba or virgin ?

    • Barry cutters says:

      I not specifically looking for a points flight – cash tickets aren’t there either . Used to be 355days I think but we are well below that now and still no flights showing

      • Anna says:

        You’re probably better asking on the chat thread, but it may well be something to do with BA not having finalised its summer schedule, especially to destinations like SA where it’s not known when they will re-open to visitors.

      • AJA says:

        I think I read on FlyerTalk that BA is holding back releasing seats to Cape Town and SA in general due to the Lions Rugby Tour which is scheduled to take place in July / Aug 2021. Also could be related to the Covid-19 situation in SA. The other possibility is that they’ve sold out (I doubt it) due to the rugby and you’ve just missed out.

        • Barry cutters says:

          Nah that’s the exact reason I’m looking – and it hasn’t sold out as iv been looking for months . Japan 2019 was much simpler than this

  • cinereus says:

    This is a huge improvement. For anyone who would never pay insane J/F fares with their own money (why would you when that money will go a LOT further at your destination?!) this is a massive saving compared to the previous options.

    It’s almost tempting me to start using Avios now rather than more liquid options.