Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Six Avios secrets you probably don’t know

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There is a lot more – a heck of a lot more – to the Avios frequent flyer scheme than most people think.

If you are a new reader who came to HfP today as part of your 2022 holiday planning, this article runs through seven interesting Avios quirks which you may not know about.

So …. did you know …..?

Seven Avios secrets you don't know

…. that the Iberia Plus redemption chart has certain quirks which make some redemptions exceptionally cheap?

The Iberia Plus redemption chart is in this article.  It is ALMOST the same as the BA chart, but not quite.

The difference is most pronounced in Band 5.  Business Class flights on Iberia to Band 5 (which includes New York) are 68,000 Avios return off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak.  British Airways redemptions in Band 5 are 100,000 Avios return off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak.

Would you buy a separate ticket to Madrid if you could use 68,000 Avios and £205 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £685 on tax with British Airways from London?

…. that British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia have different off-peak dates which leads to arbitrage opportunities?

British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub and Iberia Plus do NOT share the same table of peak and off-peak dates, especially around half-term school holidays in the UK.

Aer Lingus, for example, doesn’t have an October and February peak season during the UK half terms.  The April peak season is also one week shorter and there’s also no peak season towards the end of May / early June.

You can see the 2022 and 2023 peak and off-peak dates for British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia in this article.

This means that New York in Business Class can be as low as 68,000 Avios return on Iberia from Madrid (on an off-peak date) on the same day that British Airways wants 120,000 Avios return from London (because BA treats it as a peak day).

And that is before you factor in the difference in taxes between Madrid-NYC (£205) and London-NYC (£685) …..

Avios secrets

…. that you can earn Avios when you fly on Emirates as long as you book a Qantas codeshare service?

Qantas is the only British Airways partner where you earn Avios and British Airways tier points on codeshare flights on non-oneworld partners.

(A codeshare is when your flight has a Qantas flight number but is actually operated by a different airline.)

I got my wife to test this out and it works fine as this article on earning Avios on Emirates shows.

The same trick also lets you earn Avios when you fly KLM between Amsterdam and Singapore on the Qantas codeshare.  Whilst not covered in that article, the same applies to Air France services between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Singapore or Hong Kong on Qantas codeshare services.

…. that you can earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – even though it is a Star Alliance member – by crediting your flights to Aer Lingus AerClub?

I genuinely expected this feature to go away when Aer Lingus AerClub was launched but, for now, it is still there.  This article explains how to earn Avios when flying United Airlines.

We may see the end of this arrangement in 2022 because Aer Lingus has received approval to join the British Airways and American Airlines transatlantic joint venture.

…. that there is more Avios Economy availability on Iberia flights if you move your points to Iberia Plus and book from there?

There is always better Economy availability for Avios flights on Iberia if you book via iberia.com.  This is because Iberia Plus has two levels of Economy reward pricing and ba.com only shows the cheapest level. Don’t rely on what ba.com shows you if you want seats on Iberia.

This article explains how Iberia ‘Blue Class’ Avios pricing works.

…. that Aer Lingus redemptions have lower taxes if booked via avios.com than via ba.com?

You can book Aer Lingus redemptions online via avios.com (avios.com is still ‘open’ for anyone who opens an Avios account via AerClub or Vueling Club) or via ba.com.

There is some jiggery pokery going on with the taxes, however.  British Airways is adding additional surcharges if you book its site than via avios.com.

You can learn more about booking Aer Lingus redemptions with Avios in this article.

Make sure you read Head for Points regularly if you want to keep up to speed with tips like these.  You can subscribe to our daily or weekly newsletters via the links at the top and bottom of this page.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

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

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable 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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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.

Comments (24)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mikeact says:

    And of course, it can be less expensive, sometimes, to book two one-ways as apposed to a round trip , this can also give you flexibility to change your booking, going out or coming back…assuming Avios seats are available.

  • John says:

    LHR-MAD is like 773 nautical miles and MAD-JFK is 3,589 mi vs. 3,451 mi for LHR-JFK.

    And the issue of the longer route and the time required for the transfer isn’t the only problem.

    I find IB to be consistently inferior to BA when it comes to IRROPS handling. Their staff simply does not care. Not even if you’re gold or silver and flying business class.

    Of course, no objections to the informative article as such. It is always good to know all options. But IB is not for me. I’d take a transfer in congested Heathrow any time over a connection involving IB.

    • Mikeact says:

      I think you must have been unlucky..we’ve had no problems at all on three runs to the US via Madrid, and using Heathrow as the first flight of the day to get to Madrid. Only one issue getting back when the flight was cancelled, so we were put on BA straight back to London, which was even better for us.

  • SP says:

    Just tried to use the BAEC call centre for Aer Lingus flights and the taxes, fees, charges was higher £1250 compared with £1080 via avoid.com. Not sure if BA have shut this loophole now but it didn’t work in my case.

    • Rob says:

      Did the Avios website actually have business class seats? It has been very thin recently.

    • Mikeact says:

      Tells us nothing, what, where, when, class ?….not too good at mind reading .

    • ADS says:

      I’ve been telling Rob for about a year that BAEC call centre are more expensive than using Avios.com for Aer Lingus reward flights

      Hopefully the number of people confirming this in today’s comments will finally lay this ghost to rest !

      • Rob says:

        It’s a moot point at the moment since business class long haul is effectively not available via avios.com but is via BA ….

  • Shane says:

    Are there still Emirates flights with Qantas code-shares?

    I can’t find any using Google Flights

    • u07ch says:

      There are but they are usually where QF aren’t running the flight e.g.osl-mel in may, in F, the QF ticket is actually 200 pounds cheaper than the EK paper. Though with the QF 380s grounded the double transit option OSL-DXB-SIN-SYD isn’t an option at the moment.

    • Richie says:

      Qantas . com may answer your question.

      • ECR says:

        I don’t know if it is still the case, but I found in recent years that the Qantas.com website often did not display all the codeshare options. I assume this is so they could push their own metal flights. I often found the QF coded Emirates flights available on other Online Travel Agent websites but not on Qantas.com.

      • Shane says:

        The Qantas site indicates there are still code shares, but is of little help in finding them; however further digging reveals that code shares are now only available on AUS-DXB-EUR flights. A few years ago I was able to fly Emirates from Heathrow to Bangkok with Qantas code shares on all 4 legs.

    • ECR says:

      You used to be able to book a standalone Emirates flight from London to Dubai under the QF codeshare without any onward connection. That continued for a while even after Qantas stopped their own metal flights to Dubai. Unfortunately now though I think you may have to be connecting to a flight to Austrailia to be able to get the QF codeshare.

  • Bumper says:

    Anyone know how much I should pay in taxes for an Aer Lingus economy flight? I am looking for MANDUB and it is coming up at 16k avios and 90 pounds on avios.com. Is there a benefit in calling BA in this scenario?

    • ECR says:

      When I searched on a random date on avios.com it was 4000 avios each way and about £41 for the taxes, fees and charges ex MAN and £7 ex DUB. I assume this 16000 avios plus £90 is for two people return. When I looked at the cash fare on aerlingus.com the taxes, fees and charges were the same, so I doubt it will be any cheaper booking via BA Exec Club.

    • ADS says:

      Aer Lingus reward flight ex London mostly have crazy taxes these days

      I’m not surprised that ex MAN flights are similarly mad

      And as other people have commented, taxes/fees on the phone are usually higher these days than on Avios.com

  • Isherwood says:

    The airline industry and the dark arts of “jiggery pokery“ go hand in hand.

    My ongoing thanks to HFP for articles such as this so I avoid being jiggered or poked – or worse both.

  • Borderman says:

    BA taxes now appears to be more expensive when redeeming Aer Lingus flights. Just booked DUB to MCO in economy. £114.80 on Avios.com and £122.40 via BA on the phone. No business class available.

    16,250 Avios off peak for Halloween is good value.

  • Geoff 1977 says:

    Happy Boxing Day!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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