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The British Airways ‘double Avios’ Gold Priority Reward saga continues

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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.

Last November we ran an article proclaiming the death of the Gold Priority Reward, because of changes in the way BA was pricing them.

After publication we were told that this wasn’t true, and that it was down to badly trained agents. Even BA CEO Sean Doyle got involved, bizarrely, when a HfP reader challenged him about this at a ‘meet the manager’ session.

Based on reader feedback last week, however, it seems that BA has now doubled down and issued a memo to call centre agents to stop them booking Gold Priority Rewards at the favourable rate.

British Airways Gold Priority Rewards Avios

If confirmed, this would mean 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 …..

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 or a Barclays Upgrade 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.  It isn’t clear if the new Euroflyer operation from Gatwick is included.

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 Gold 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.

Under the old pricing system:

  • A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day was 9,750 Avios + £35 taxes
  • A Gold 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 went 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 when booking a reward flight. 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.

Why would you use an extra 9,750 Avios to save £34 when – in the worse case scenario – those 9,750 Avios are worth (x 0.8p) £78 of Nectar points to spend at Sainsburys, Argos or at eBay.co.uk?

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.

Last November we had a run of readers claiming that, however much they begged, BA was insisting on pricing a Gold Priority Reward off the £1 price.

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.

Are these deals actually dead?

We’ve been wrong about this before, of course. After our November article, I continued to hear about people who had managed to get an agent to book one, albeit after a lot of wrangling.

In the last week, however, two readers have told me that – despite speaking to multiple people and getting supervisors involved – it couldn’t be done.

Importantly, one reader was told that a memo had been circulated to call centre agents forbidding them from booking Gold Priority Rewards at the old £17.50 / £25 rate for short haul.

What is the best use of Gold Priority Rewards now?

The Gold Priority Reward may be 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 2023, assuming you want well-timed flights travelling Saturday to Saturday which is what ski hotels usually insist on:

British Airways Gold Priority Reward

It’s still a great deal to pay 39,000 Avios plus £1 in taxes and charges to avoid paying £1,001 per person for an Economy flight. 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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) 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 BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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 BA Amex American Express card

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 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, 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 card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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.

(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 (62)

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

  • TimM says:

    Surely you would go to Salzburg for the music festival, not skiing?

  • Alex says:

    I’m not surprised, the writing was on the wall for this one. GPR was only useful when fares are ludicrous. I got 2 for a return from Berlin at the end of the Jubilee weekend when fares were 500 euros one way and that still makes sense.

  • Paul says:

    Ah good old BA! To paraphrase a BA 1990’s marketing slogan

    It’s the way we make You feel that’s makes Us the World’ least favourite airline.

    You can always rely on BA to disappoint and isn’t it telling that Doyle has become invisible since the IT meltdowns and faux apologies

  • Matt says:

    The unforgiveable thing from BA is that they won’t let you use the £1 option with a 241 voucher. If they insist on full fees with a companion voucher it should at least be an option with a GPR

    • Guy Incognito says:

      Agree with this, we collect a large amount of Avios through our business so typically would like to reduce the cash component. You can do that through American Express travel, but the amount of points required is not remotely justifiable. Australia over Christmas is showing as £6,186.36 or 1,374,747 points for business in Cathay (BA / Qatar / Qantas all £8k for comparison so comparatively more points as well).

      • Alan says:

        Yikes! Probably worth looking at SQ availability and transferring some MR to them instead…

        • Guy Incognito says:

          Yes, we’re very points rich but availability is the issue… Hence why double Avios is not the end of the world (we could just about justify 600,000 Avios per person) but double Avios plus more Avios for the taxes would make the number significantly higher…

  • NorthernLass says:

    This is the same situation as with the Barclays upgrade voucher – for RFS seats only the maximum avios plus £1 option is available. Is this BA beginning to strip out the value of RFS flights (together with that of long haul, due to the ever-increasing surcharges)?

    • Paul says:

      I had to check this and was shocked to see its true. There is nothing in the T&Cs that state this and this so called free upgrade is nothing of the sort. A random date in January to Glasgow results in a fare of 18500 avios plus £1 that is the same price in avios if you didnt use the voucher.

      • Joe says:

        So for our £180/240 fee, we end up with a £35 saving on a short haul flight plus 0.5 avios extra for whatever we’d spend? I doubt I’d use mine for long haul given the amex vouchers. Seriously considering downgrading the BC…

        • NorthernLass says:

          I’ve been highlighting this for a few weeks now!

      • jeff77 says:

        Shockingly bad

      • pauldb says:

        The distinction is that you can only go for the standard redemption (not avios& money). We might quote 9000 avios as the standard rate but, since BA now say the standard RFS fee is now £1 not £35, it follow that 18500 is the standard/only option.

  • sigma421 says:

    It does increasingly feel like the principal change of the Sean Doyle regime is slightly nicer words and better comms wrapped around all the issues that have defined BA for the last decade.

    Either their customer service department is completely out of control (see also: ‘accidentally’ declining compensation that is due) or this is all deliberate but they can’t bring themselves to fess up to it

    • ADS says:

      I guess we can’t expect Sean to change the BA culture within a few months.

      This does sound like the CSD is out of control. The question is whether anybody will be able to persuade Sean or one of his Directors to reverse it.

  • Guy Incognito says:

    What would a return to Sydney cost (in business / first) miles wise under this scenario?

    My only incentive to get gold was to be able to force specific seats open for family flights to Australia at busy times, now it looks like I’d need to get gold guest list to be able to do it at a “normal” Avios level?

    • Rob says:

      600k to Sydney on double Avios for Club.

      Why on earth you would do this, when Qatar Airways is 180k Avios business class and very low taxes to multiple Oz and NZ cities, defeats me though. Loads of seats too.

      You can usually buy business class tickets to Oz from somewhere in Europe for under £2k, although admittedly the old China Eastern / China Southern deals from Amsterdam are unlikely to return for a bit.

      • Alan says:

        Or fly SQ for a far better experience and better reward availability 🙂

      • Guy Incognito says:

        It’s not 600,000 Avios though, is it? Because we now have to pay the taxes as well using Avios?

        Ex-EU is not really feasible with 3 kids under 8. Have had difficulties finding Qatar availability for the dates we want but yes this would obviously be hugely preferable.

      • Harry T says:

        Star alliance recently offered £1250 ish business class returns from Dublin to most major airports in Australia, including Sydney, Perth and Melbourne – I booked two. It’s honestly batty to use points on this route – extremely poor value, especially when you consider how high BA taxes and charges are.

  • Ben says:

    You also can’t use GPR to book onto one of the many wet lease Finnair / Iberia express etc flights BA are using this summer.

    • Sarah says:

      I was initially told that but when I raised it with customer relations they said the agent was wrong and they can be booked on wet leases and they created a booking for me. Unfortunately when I then called to pay I was told that they were no longer allowed to manually alter the booking to change it from the £1 option

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

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