Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What do you do if British Airways suspects you of selling Avios and closes your account?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Like virtually all other frequent flyer schemes, British Airways Executive Club lets you issue tickets for other people using your Avios.

Unless you are in a BA Household Account, there are no restrictions on this.  Some airlines take a harder line – Singapore Airlines, for example, will only let you issue tickets for people on your ‘friends and family’ list and restricts how often you can amend this.

A couple of years ago (I am updating an old article today as the cool offer we had planned to launch – not Barclaycard related before you ask! – was delayed late on Sunday evening) I got the following email from a Head for Points reader.  I have edited it for clarity:

British Airways has closed my Avios account

“As a long time subscriber to your blog I wanted to know if there is any way you can help me.  I am a British Airways Executive Club Gold member, or least I was until Friday.

I received a email from BA last Tuesday telling me that my account was being suspended and investigated.  I am suspected of not keeping with the terms and conditions.  Basically BA suspects me of selling mileage tickets and asked me to email them with my response.

I emailed them to say that I have never violated the terms and conditions.  On Friday I received another email from them telling me that my account has been closed “due to Brokeridge activity” that contravenes their terms and conditions.

I tried to contact them by telephone but couldn’t get a response.  Obviously this is not the case – I have never sold tickets in my life.  I have been a BAEC Gold member for over 13 years and, yes, I have bought tickets for family and friends but I thought that’s what the mileage was there for. 

I’m asking you if there’s any way that you can help me with this as I have over 150,000 Avios and companion tickets and over 20,000 accumulated tier points.  I’m completely devastated and I don’t understand why they would treat their loyal customers like this.”

For clarity, I am not taking sides in this case.  Executive Club has an aggressive anti-fraud programme, and rightly so.  In general, when I receive an email like this there is often something else going on which has raised suspicions.

I know – having personally issued tickets for many friends and family members over the years – that British Airways does not come after you automatically.

What should you do if British Airways closes your Executive Club account?

Why would British Airways threaten to close your Executive Club account?

If British Airways does close or threaten to close your account, it will have looked at your Avios redemptions over the medium term and spotted patterns which are deemed suspicious:

Were all flights booked to depart from the UK?  If you were booking flights which either did not touch the UK or were flying TO the UK and then back, this looks more suspicious than booking tickets FROM the UK which are likely to be for genuine friends and family.

Were you using your own credit card to pay the taxes?  Not paying the taxes yourself raises a flag.

Were the surnames of the passengers different to yours? 

Obviously there are honest reasons why you could give Avios tickets to friends and family which would still trigger the fraud alerts above.

There is also one other fact that British Airways knows and which you don’t know:

Have any of these passengers travelled on tickets issued by OTHER BAEC members?

If British Airways sees a person flying on tickets issued from a number of different BA accounts then this clearly looks like someone who has been buying tickets from other members.

If you were thinking of selling Avios by booking tickets for random people, the one above is where you are most likely to come unstuck.

If your account is flagged, British Airways may put a marker on certain tickets to question the passenger at check-in.  It is easy for the check-in desk to casually ask how they earned so many Avios, or to ask if the passenger gave a nice gift to the person whose Avios were used.

What should you do if British Airways closes your Executive Club account?

What should you do if BA closes your Executive Club account?

This was my advice to the reader who contacted me (who, remember, had lost around £1,500-worth of Avios and his chance of hitting ‘Gold for Life’ status):

Make a list of all tickets you have issued for third parties in the last couple of years

For each ticket, explain how you know this person and why you would want to voluntarily issue an Avios ticket for them without any money or reward in return

Where the surname differs from yours, get each person to send you an email confirming how they know you and that they did not pay you, either in cash or gifts, for the Avios

Whilst British Airways can, in theory, do what it wants, they are likely to act responsibly in the face of evidence.

Irrespective of the Executive Club T&Cs, it would also be possible to go to Money Claim Online and claim against BA if you believe that your account is totally clean – but you’d be foolish to do this if there is any chance that they have real evidence.  After all, it only takes British Airways to show that one person you issued a ticket to has previously bought tickets via a known ‘mileage broker’ and your case will be thrown out.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 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 £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 (69)

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

  • Scott says:

    Off topic but i cant get into the forums at the moment

    I havent been contacted by BA about refunding my future travel certificates . I thought i read on here that this was happening , is it a case of just waiting ?
    I have one on my account , used a 2 for 1 voucher in biz that got cancelled and same with my missus ?
    Neither of us have been contacted about the refunds

    • Rob says:

      They are working through them slowly, but high value ones may not get done – BA wants to keep your cash.

  • Alex Sm says:

    Who/what is Brockeridge?

  • Mikeact says:

    Within the last half hour I’ve just had notice that my oldest voucher will be returned etc. Within the next 4 weeks. (Around £500 involved. )

  • Guy Incognito says:

    I booked a flight for a friend last year (added him to my list of friends & family) to come and join me in Portugal for a long weekend. Didn’t think twice about it as we have so many Avios / AmEx points. No money changed hands, but he did bring over some very nice wine (not requested!) as a thank you. Could I have got in trouble for that?!

    • NorthernLass says:

      I very much doubt it, but isn’t taking wine to Portugal a bit like the whole coals and Newcastle thing?

      • Guy Incognito says:

        Not this wine – certainly worth far far more than the Avios!

    • Babyg says:

      that depends on whether you can handle your drink or not i guess?

  • ADS says:

    Rob you mentioned this was an update (I vaguely remember the original post a year or more ago) … did you ever find out what happened in this particular instance ?

    Did this guy get his account un-deleted ?

  • ACK says:

    I have booked flights for friends and family multiple times, both avios and cash flights as well. I don’t think this would be an issue though, given that the amount of avios used for these transactions are small relative to the avios i used for my own tickets, so clearly difficult to prove the malicious intent. It would be easy to prove otherwise, but given I have spent cca 200k avios on myself and cca 50k avios on others, this is clearly not the wrong intent. Also, I think it also confirms my credibility that I also bought cash tickets for those same passengers other times, so clearly, there must be a long term connection between these individuals and myself, and it’s not a one off avios selling transaction. All in all: I don’t think this is about one outstanding transaction, its your history and context visible from your account which clearly can tell a story.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.