British Airways has launched a special offer for anyone who wants to use their Avios to pay for seat selection fees.
Using Avios to pay for seat selection is usually terrible value, so British Airways would need to do a very aggressive promotion to make us recommend it. And it has!
The ‘pence per point’ value has been quadrupled but you must book your seats by 30th July.
Why are all BA non-flight redemptions now terrible value?
Back in January 2021, Avios unveiled its partnership with Nectar.
As we wrote at the time, this move has totally destroyed the value in most non-flight Avios redemptions.
1 Avios gets you 1.6 Nectar points which are worth 0.8p at Sainsburys, Argos, ebay.co.uk etc.
However, virtually all ‘non flight’ redemptions at ba.com are worth just under 0.5p per Avios. Whether you redeem for:
- seat selection
- luggage fees
- car hire or
….. you will get around 0.5p per Avios. Under what circumstances would anyone want to do this when you could get 0.8p per Avios via Nectar?
When you quadruple the value, it gets interesting
Here is an example of the value you can get when you redeem Avios for seat selection under this offer. This is based on 2 x one-way Club seats to the Maldives:
As you can see, the choice is £212 or 11,340 Avios. This means you are getting 1.87p per Avios.
And, yes, it can cost £106 per seat, one way, to redeem a Club seat. Here is our last investigation into the escalating cost of reserving seats on British Airways – back in 2019 it was £91 in Club World. In fact, it can cost £115 each way if you want to sit at the front of the Club cabin on a trip to the Maldives:
You can’t do this whilst booking a flight
This special offer is only available if you add seat selection to an existing booking.
Whilst you can pay for seat selection during the booking process, you can’t use Avios. If you are booking a flight today or tomorrow, you need to book the flight without seat selection and then go into ‘Manage My Booking’ afterwards to add it.
Read the small print carefully
There is a huge, huge problem with paying to reserve seats on British Airways. If you cancel your flight, you lose your money.
Let’s assume you pay £460 to reserve a pair of Club World seats to the Maldives for a return flight, but need to cancel due to new covid restrictions. Your £460 is lost. Irrespective of whether your flight is refunded, you lose the seat selection money.
The only way you can get your seat selection cash back is if a) BA cancels your flight or b) you take a Future Travel Voucher instead of a refund, but even then your seat fees are ringfenced and can only be used to reserve more seats.
Irrespective of this offer, should you pay to reserve seats?
Not in my view, no.
Unlike Ryanair, BA will not deliberately split up your group if you don’t pay for seat selection. If you can be sat together, you will be.
By law children cannot be separated from adults, so don’t be concerned about that.
In Club World, you are in your own little space anyway. If you think your partner would be upset if you weren’t sat next to each other, think how upset they’d be when they find out you’ve spent £460 …..
In Club Suite, the new business class product, there is literally no reason to pay for seating. All of the suites are identical. All have direct aisle access. All are private with closing doors. Spend your £460 on a decent meal or three instead.
If you were seriously considering paying cash to reserve seats on an upcoming British Airways flight, you may want to jump in today or tomorrow and use Avios instead.
1.87p per Avios is an excellent return per point.
That said, please think very carefully before using cash or Avios for seat selection. It is not a great deal in most cases, and if you voluntarily cancel your booking you are not getting a refund.
PS. It is not clear if this offer is open to everyone (well, all non-status members who don’t get free selection automatically) or not. Before you book a seat, check the maths to ensure that you are getting nearer 2p – and not nearer 0.5p – per Avios redeemed.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
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:
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:
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.)