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GOOD DEAL: Get almost 2p per Avios using them for British Airways seat selection fees

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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.

british airways cost to reserve a seat

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
  • wine
  • ‘experiences’
  • car hire or
  • hotels

….. 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:

cost of reserving british airways seat

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:

cost of british airways seat reservation

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.

Conclusion

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.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

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:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 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

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel 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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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

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:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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 (58)

  • JDB says:

    Rob, I notice you usually avoid using “sat” in this context as in “If you can be sat together, you will be”. It has unfortunately become quite commonplace but…

    • Sandra B says:

      +1.

    • WaynedP says:

      Acceptable for use in a British publication, I think, if Rob’s influence was Northern English regional dialect that uses past participle in constructs like this. (I believe that came from archaically correct use that became corrupted over time.)

      More jarring, I agree, if the influence is the lazy linguistic Americanism that misuses the past imperfect (as in “he will lay there”).

      Only Rob will know which influence prevented him from reaching for the grammatically pure “seated”, but the fact that the past imperfect conjugation and the past participle is identical for the verb to sit might possibly be clouding your instinctive discomfort, JDB.

      • RussellH says:

        Most dialect usages do not bother me much – I certainly have no problem with Rob’s English here.

        One that does annoy me is the americanism that you quote, but I now think that that is (a very annoying) dialect difference. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that in American English the verb “to lie” only has the one meaning, to tell a deliberate untruth.
        Americans are quite happy to lay in bed, get laid in bed, discuss the lay of the land as well as to see hens laying eggs or laying the table. So “to lay” in American can be transitive or intransitive, unlike UK versions of English.

  • Jonathan says:

    I think you’d only pay these daylight robbery seat selection fees if you had to have a window seat, if you were paying a fee to reserves seat that’s one the centre of the plane, what’s the point ?

    • Andrew says:

      Perhaps some people prefer an aisle seat? I certainly do on overnight flights at the back of the plane.

      My favourite is the faux outrage from the cheapskates, who ask if you will move so they can sit together, and you agree if they’ll give you the cash you paid for the allocated seat.

  • Rose says:

    Total waste of money reserving a seat imo.

  • Doug M says:

    Seat selection fees have value to status passengers. So much depends on the cabin. In economy it’s nice to avoid middle seats, nicer still to get an exit row, and best of all to not be in economy. In business it gets much more complicated. With CW they’re are many better seats, on the now gone 747s 64A/K and 62A/K were great spaces, aisle access window seats, flying backwards, loads of storage space. Rob has commented on getting a block of 4 middle seats which gave a virtual private area when his children were younger. However with CS there remains some better seats, but everything is so much more equal, paying for a seat seems very odd.

  • N says:

    Can we read more into this promo? Are BA trying to take some Avios liabilities off their books, etc? Or am I overthinking it?

  • TM says:

    Hell will freeze over before I pay these fees. I have lost track of the number of times I have been able to choose the seats I wanted anyway by checking in exactly 24hrs before.

    • CarpalTravel says:

      I have been monitoring my booking since I made it in November last year – by February on the inbound flight, all but 2 of the acceptable (side pair) seats in CW have been showing as unavailable – presumably booked. If I knew 100% I would be flying I might have sucked up the cost by now to avoid the risk of climbing over people (or having them climb over me) as I think by the time the 24hrs comes round they will be gone.

  • Pol says:

    I assume there is no need to take up this offer if flying in Club Europe, LHR-INV. Took part in the Olympics offer that ended on Sunday.

    Have never ever flown BA ever before but I have Bronze via codeshare long-haul flights taken previously.

    • Rob says:

      Not unless you are obsessed by window vs aisle.

      • Andrew says:

        “Passengers on the Port side of the plane will be able to see Blackpool Tower. (Some might say that this is the best view of Blackpool).”

        “Passenges on the Starboard side of the plane will be able to see Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. (Freedom!)”

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