Aer Lingus has launched a major change to its ‘Part Pay With Avios’ model. It is possible that British Airways will follow down the same route at some point.
Effective immediately, you can pay for 100% of your Aer Lingus cash flight ticket using Avios. This includes taxes and charges.
Free really does mean free.
Unfortuately, it also means ‘terrible value’.
How did ‘Part Pay With Avios’ work in the past?
Until this week, Aer Lingus had a similar ‘Part Pay With Avios’ set-up to the one used by British Airways.
After you had selected your cash flight, you would be offered a couple of options for reducing the cost.
For example, last time I checked a typical flight from Dublin to Frankfurt, I was offered:
- €62 off for 10,175 Avios (0.60c per Avios)
- €125 off for 21,925 Avios (0.57c per Avios)
You could not pay for the entire flight with Avios. You were restricted to the options offered to you, and they would never cover the entire base fare, yet alone the taxes and charges element. You always needed to spend some money.
Frankly, I always found this a bit of a joke. Either:
- Aer Lingus is happy with people using Avios to part pay for flights, in which case you should be allowed to pay the full amount, or
- Aer Lingus is not happy with people using Avios to part pay for flights, in which case they should scrap it entirely
The airline has now decided to go with the first option above!
How does ‘Part Pay With Avios’ work now?
Vueling, IAG’s low cost carrier based in Barcelona, has allowed you to pay for 100% of the cost of your flight in Avios for some years. It is odd that it has taken Aer Lingus so long to catch up.
‘Part Pay With Avios’ bookings need to be made at aerlingus.com.
Note that, at present, this doesn’t work for the new Manchester to USA flights because they are legally operated by a different entity, Aer Lingus UK. They will even have their own airline code, EG.
You make your booking as usual. Seat selection and luggage fees are included in the total which can be paid with Avios.
On the final payment screen you now see something like this:
The total of my basket is £125.96. I can settle 100% of this amount, leaving me with absolutely nothing to pay, if I redeem 26,225 Avios.
This works out at a shockingly bad 0.48p per Avios.
You get the same result if you book a flight out of Dublin priced in Euro. In a test, I was offered €113.98 or 20,100 Avios. This is also 0.48p per Avios.
What is the small print?
Here is the small print on using ‘Part Pay With Avios’:
Pay with Avios cannot be used to:
(i) pay for third party ancillaries, for example, DAA Fast Track, DAA Car Parking,
(ii) pay for the addition of other passengers to an existing booking,
(iii) pay for bookings which contain a codeshare segment,
(iv) pay for bookings through one of our customer contact centres,
(v) discount the purchase price of flights or ancillaries in existing bookings, or
(vi) discount any fees related to making changes to an existing booking or discount any booking for 7 or more people (i.e. the maximum number of passengers in one booking that can be paid for using Pay with Avios is six people).
Can you still do ‘standard’ redemptions?
Confusingly, standard redemption flights – priced off the standard Aer Lingus reward chart – are still bookable.
You go to avios.com and log-in. You can select your redemption flights as usual if there is availability, paying taxes and charges.
Isn’t this making me do a lot of work?
Before you book an Aer Lingus ticket with Avios you now need to visit two websites and compare two pricing options:
- aerlingus.com to see what it would cost using ‘Part Pay With Avios’
- avios.com to see what it would cost using the standard redemption chart, plus taxes and charges
And the curse of Nectar strikes again …..
It’s ironic that Aer Lingus has launched this shortly after the launch of the Avios / Nectar partnership.
You get 0.8p per Avios if you convert them into Nectar points at the rate of 1 to 1.6. These can be spent as credit at Sainsbury’s, Argos, eBay.co.uk etc.
If you live in the UK, you would be crazy to redeem for Aer Lingus flights via ‘Part Pay With Avios’ to get 0.48p per Avios. Why wouldn’t you redeem via Nectar and get 0.8p?
In my example above, for example, I am using 26,225 Avios to buy a ticket from London to Dublin costing £125.96.
Why would I do this, when I could convert 26,225 Avios into £209.80 of Nectar points? I could buy the flight ticket for cash and be £83.84 better off.
I accept that, if you live in Ireland with no access to Nectar, it is a different discussion. 0.48p per Avios is still very poor, however.
It never does any harm to give people more redemption options, and Aer Lingus can now claim in its marketing that your flight can be ‘free’. This doesn’t mean it’s a good way to use your points.
You can find our more on the AerClub website here, where you will also find a video on how ‘Part Pay With Avios’ works.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 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:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:
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.)