A few readers have been in touch in recent weeks to highlight weird pricing behaviour by British Airways. What was confusing is that I assumed there would be a common theme, but there isn’t. This article covers the oddest one.
British Airways is charging lower taxes on long-haul economy Avios redemptions if you are an inactive member of the Executive Club.
An ‘inactive’ member is someone who has not earned or spent 1 Avios in the previous 12 months. You will know if you are ‘inactive’ if you try to make a short-haul redemption and don’t see the usual Reward Flight Saver pricing options of £35 and £50 of taxes and charges.
How does British Airways change long-haul Avios pricing?
Rather than explain what I mean, it is easier to show you.
Here is the Avios pricing I see for an Economy redemption to San Francisco:
As you can see, the options run from 65,000 Avios + £150 through to 14,450 Avios + £555.
Let’s ignore whether this is good value or not for a flight in August – because it probably isn’t – and move on.
My imaginary friend Steve is going to come with me. He has an inactive Avios account – totally inactive, actually, as it has a zero balance because I only opened it 5 minutes ago.
Let’s assume that Steve does really have a lot of Avios but this account has simply become inactive due to no activity over the last year, which is far from impossible at the moment. Here is what he sees:
Apologies for the light grey text above. This is due to ba.com changing the screen colour if you can’t afford the booking you are searching.
As you can just about see, the pricing ranges from 41,250 Avios + £248 to 14,450 Avios + £453.
Steve, as an inactive member, is getting a FAR better deal than me (or you).
I could pay 52,500 Avios + £250, whilst inactive Steve pays 41,250 Avios + £248.
I could pay 14,450 Avios + £555, whilst inactive Steve pays 14,450 + £453.
I am either 10,000 Avios or £100 worse off, depending on which pricing option I choose.
This doesn’t apply to Business Class
Here is my pricing in Club World:
Here is what an inactive member gets (apologies again for the grey text due to the zero Avios balance):
The numbers are identical for both active and inactive members.
I have no idea what is causing this difference in Economy Avios flight pricing. It is also not clear who is ‘right’ – is the inactive member being undercharged, or are active members (the majority of us) being overcharged?
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it, unless you know someone with an inactive Avios account with enough points to book the flight you want.
Once they have booked it, of course, their account will stop being inactive and they won’t be able to get the same deal on their next booking ….
You just need to cough up the extra £100 or 10,000 Avios.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.