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How ba.com overcharges you on Avios redemptions from Brazil

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This is the third part of our series on how British Airways is mispricing tickets.

We have already looked at how inactive Avios members are offered lower prices on redemptions and how the BA app changes flight pricing depending on what class you originally looked at.

Today I want to look to Avios redemption pricing from Brazil.

First, a quick reminder about Hong Kong

It is fairly well known that there are no surcharges on Avios tickets from Hong Kong, when the trip starts in Hong Kong. This is why, if you are booking an Avios flight to Hong Kong without a BA American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher, you should book it as 2 x one-way flights.

The taxes and charges on a Club World redemption to Hong Kong are, for a return flight, £591.

This compares to £393 for a one-way flight to Hong Kong and a nominal £33 for a one-way flight from Hong Kong. The total is £426 and you save £165 per person.

The British Airways website handles such bookings correctly.

ba.com does not handle Brazil bookings correctly

Brazil has similar rules banning charges. ba.com does NOT handle these correctly.

When you try to book a one-way redemption from Sao Paulo, you see this:

This is the correct pricing for a one-way Club World flight to London.

Click through to payment, however, and it adjusts to this:

….. and this is the price you must pay to complete your booking.

Luckily, there is a fix available

It’s possible that you don’t like the idea of paying an extra £188 to British Airways unnecessarily – and indeed legally questionable given Brazilian legislation.

(As I said in my article last week, however, when dealing with BA it is always best to follow the maxim of “never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”.)

There is an easy way to pay just £7 – complete your booking on avios.com.

To do this, you will need to open an Aer Lingus AerClub or Vueling Club account, for free, to allow you to log in to the avios.com website. From there, you can use ‘Combine My Avios’ to pull your Avios across from British Airways Executive Club. This article explains how ‘Combine My Avios’ works.

Try to book the identical flight from Sao Paulo on avios.com and this is what you get – the expected £7 of taxes and charges:

BA / Avios can price it correctly when they want.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (26)

  • Marcin says:

    The fix also works if you book from Iberia! (or at least used to in early 2020). You pay zero in cash. So if you have both accounts, you then transfer right amount of Avios and voila!

    I booked such way redemption flight from GIG to LHR in January 2020.

    You IB Plus card is automatically added in to the booking, but you can easily swap it to BA on the phone to get all the Executive Club benefits (like book seat in advance)

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Aren’t partner bookings on IB non refundable? If so does this include BA?

      • marcw says:

        IB Grupo and BA Avios bookings are changeable and refundable. Everything else, are non-refundable/changeable.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    I think I remember an argument that the you need to buy the ticket in Brazil for the zero surcharge to be legally enforced

    • aDifferentSimon says:

      I wonder if a brazil vpn would work then?

      • mzb says:

        If you’re wondering whether the correct taxes are applied if you purchase from Brazil then my experience is no. I used to be based in Sao Paulo and I would redeem very often on the GRU-LHR route. I would call up to get the taxes appropriately calculated (straight redemptions as well as UUA)

  • Paul Pogba says:

    Do these errors suggest that they’re working on a major revamp of (Avios) pricing in the background that’s being inadvertently implemented?

    • lammy52 says:

      Maybe not we were charged over £300 for flight from Rio to Heathrow in 2019. Queried the amount with CS and was reduced to the correct amount.

  • marcw says:

    They also overcharge on all IB LH Avios redemptions. And on all AA flights to/from Europe.

  • Scanditraveller says:

    I have been booking one-way tickets from Brazil to the UK for at least 3-4 years now, and this has certainly been going on in this entire period. BA is definitely aware of the issue, as I (and probably many others) have told them multiple times over the phone. So it is clearly intentional.

    To book these tickets, I usually just call BA and get it done. I have never been charged the £15 phone booking surcharge since there is a mistake in the system.

    I would really not recommend booking via Iberia. If anything goes wrong, you will have to deal with Iberia customer service…

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