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British Airways has killed the value in the ‘double Avios’ Gold Priority Reward

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If you have British Airways Executive Club Gold status, the ‘Gold Priority Reward’ was one of the most valuable but least known perks.

I have now had enough reports from readers to seemingly confirm, unfortunately, that the value in this reward has now officially gone. You will struggle to find situations where you would want to use it, although there is the odd exception.

Let me explain …..

British Airways Gold Priority Rewards Avios

What is an Avios ‘Gold Priority Reward’?

British Airways always did a bad job of communicating Gold Priority Rewards to its Gold members.

Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios.  The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.

You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.

There is some further information on the BA Gold benefits page here.

There is one other rule.  You can’t use a Gold Priority Reward on a BA CityFlyer service which means all of the short-haul services from London City Airport.  This is because, technically, CityFlyer is a separate business inside British Airways and not treated as part of the ‘mainline’ operation.  I would guess that the new BA EuroFlyer operation from Gatwick will also be excluded.

There never was any value in using a Gold Priority Reward for a long haul flight. Let’s take one of my regular family runs to my sister-in-law in Dubai.  Four Club World tickets on a peak day, including one on an Amex 2-4-1, cost 360,000 Avios.  Using a Priority Reward, it would cost a crazy 960,000 Avios for four people – plus the standard taxesYou wouldn’t have caught me doing that in a hurry.

Gold Priority Rewards could be a good deal for short haul

For short-haul European bookings, these rewards did have some use.  Let’s take my standard run to Hamburg to visit my parents in law.

  • A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day is 9,750 Avios + £35 taxes
  • A ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 19,500 Avios + £35 taxes

Importantly, you can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as standard Avios seats open up.

Let’s look at the costs here.  If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight.  This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average.  Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.

You’d be looking at £250 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy.  Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and you would be saving £215 by using 19,500 Avios to book a Gold Priority Reward.

You are getting over 1p per Avios in this scenario, which is our target. More importantly, you are locking in a hard cash saving and you get to travel on the exact flights you want.

British Airways Executive Club status cards

What has gone wrong with Gold Priority Rewards?

A couple of years ago, British Airways added the option to use lots more Avios but pay only £1 of taxes. This is the default pricing option that ba.com now gives you.

This is a truly terrible deal. My personal view is that BA is making a mistake here, because most people are more Avios constrained than they are cash constrained. There is no point saying how wonderful it is to pay just £1 in taxes and charges when the Avios component is ludicrous.

Using the Hamburg example above, you can – for Economy – choose to pay for a return flight:

  • 19,500 Avios + £1 or
  • 9,750 Avios + £35

…. or various other options inbetween.

Gold Priority Rewards are now priced off the £1 rate

When BA introduced flights with £1 of taxes, some agents in the call centre would use the higher pricing when you tried to book a Gold Priority Reward. Others would use the ‘standard’ rate with £35 of taxes.

It now seems clear that BA policy for Gold Priority Rewards is to base it off the £1 price. There are still occasional stories of agents being persuaded to use the £35 price but these are rare.

This means, if we stick with the Hamburg example, a Gold Priority Reward in Economy would cost you 39,000 Avios + £1 per person.

You can’t use a British Airways American Express companion voucher, so you’d need 78,000 Avios for two people. To Hamburg, in Economy.

You’d need a pretty big microscope to see the value in that deal.

What is the best use of Gold Priority Rewards?

The Gold Priority Reward is dead, but the corpse is still twitching slightly.

The best use of Gold Priority Reward flights is for ski resorts at February half term.  We have done this a number of times over the years.

This is what is costs to fly to Salzburg for February half-term in 2022, assuming you want well-timed flights travelling Saturday to Saturday which is what ski hotels usually insist on:

It’s still a great deal to pay 39,000 Avios plus £1 in taxes and charges to avoid paying £997. It arguably justifies a push for a Gold card on its own if you are getting close.

With this rare exception, for most people, most of the time, the value in the Gold Priority Reward seems to have gone.

Comments (45)

  • Nordic_Moose says:

    Also recently booked on the £35, having pushed back hard on the £1 variant. Agent had to get this manually processed but was successfully done.

    My assumption is BA are just trying to get away with it, but haven’t yet enforced as policy.

    • Dace says:

      I really hate how companies play games like this. If they want to do that then just take the option away and/or make it abundantly clear that is the option.

      For me, BA can do what they want, it is there reward programme. However, don’t sneak things through the back door and/or lie about the promotion as all they’re going to achieve is resentment.

      • Gavin says:

        BA is the worst company I’ve dealt with as a customer for playing games and being sneaky. It should never be necessary to “hang up and call again” but it’s routine advice when contacting BA – not great when waiting times are 1 hour plus!

    • Dave Pope says:

      The whole of the BA reward system is a joke…not worth the plastic they are printed on. So limited in their application which is why I have changed my allegiance. Sadly, no longer the World’s favourite airline.

      • Mikeact says:

        You guys…..do you not see the way United, American and Marriott ETC are going ?

        • Sam says:

          @Mileact no, because airline mileage programmes never work this way. The award chart system still dominates majority of the FFP in the world as opposed to the hotel industry.

      • Babyg says:

        funnily enough they have stopped printing plastic BAEC cards and tags unless your are GOLD – seems youre right!

  • Gabriel Cirilo says:

    Do you know when BA release availability of avios flights for november 2022? its less than 355 days but seems to be that their winter schedule is not released. Managed to book the out trip with avios during half term but not the return as it still does not show.

  • Track says:

    The fare above begs an obvious question, why don’t BA (or LH) or someone else put one more flight to Salzburg?

    • John T says:

      I was wondering that too – why not run 10 flights a day on those weekends if there is that much demand?

    • Rob says:

      For a start, it would be flying back empty (and the following Saturday, it would be going out empty) which impacts the attractiveness. I am also guessing that the airport, which is not exactly huge, has capacity constraints.

    • Marcin says:

      they kind of do some days on some destinations. have you checked LON-> GVA: 13 departure on 13th Feb 2022 (i think there were even more before LGW got cut). 3 to Grenoble (that airport is a mayhem over any winter Saturday!)

  • Neil says:

    I can confirm I booked flights last week to Crete for Easter 2022 at the old price! The agent had to put me on hold when I asked but the pricing was all done manually and without too much hassle. If you don’t ask, you won’t get

  • Babyg says:

    data point:- nobody said datapoint on their successes with the old pricing… in all seriousness i had forgotten about this option (gold priority rewards) but the fact you need to book them 30+ out makes it less useful to me… i would have typically snagged a reward flight or other option that far out… but its good to reminded of forgotten benefits and hearing others success stories etc…

  • Marek says:

    Classic BA run by people who don’t know what they’re doing.

    The RFS was introduced when BA had high YQ on short haul redemptions, so flat RFS fee of £35 instead of taxes worked well. Where taxes were lower than RFS fee, you’d pay just the taxes and not higher RFS fee.

    Then at some point, to compete with the LCCs BA has decided to scrap the YQ on short haul flights – thus making the RFS fee kind of pointless. At this stage RFS should be scrapped, but BA’s forgotten to do that.

    Instead they decided to introduce the avios for RFS deal, where you’d pay inflated avios value for the RFS. Because it was a “trial”, they haven’t implemented it correctly. To overcome system limitations BA decided to adjust avios+cash prices and lower the RFS fee to £1 (£0.50 per segment). This on a paper looks innocent, but it introduced a number of issues: lower than RFS taxes were no longer offered (since RFS was £1); GPR redemptions become more expensive (priced at £1 RFS); short haul feeders to long haul flights (eg. ex-EU) now price short haul at full avios; 2-for-1s were affected too, but that got fixed promptly.

    Recent update introduced more mess – where non-RFS avios redemption prices were increased to match £1 RFS avios redemptions… so long haul avios prices are lower than short haul redemptions. What a mess.

    Other side note here is – in the past, any changes to avios and the executive club would be announced with 3-6 months notice, so customers had an opportunity to spend their avios at old rates, before new rates. Today, BA makes changes without notice, we learn it from a FlyerTalk post where someone spotted a new, increased prices.

    I wish the ongoing platform upgrade would fix most of that mess, but I’m afraid it will likely introduce more issues.

    • His Holyness says:

      Except for London Airways pax, RFS was a waste of time for regional folks when they dropped the free domestic. The issue was pax putting a stopover, adding to further APD and charge liability. Rather than remove stopovers, BA dumped the free domestic altogether.

      You ended up with (peak) 18k Avios Zone 1 plus £70. Club 36k plus £100. Completely mad.

      Free domestic worked well for this so-called competition with a LCC, but for most regional based pax, a LCC is better than wasting Avios on redemptions.

  • Felix says:

    For those who has been sucessful in getting an agent to put in a request – how did you ask for it? I just went through it with an agent and he/she said there is no option to manually request different pricing. Is there a technical term to let them know what exactly they need to do?

    I would HUCA but I literally waited on hold for 50 minutes before someone answered so I was hoping to be able to get in done on the next call!

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