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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.

  • Alex W says:

    If BA is so intent on fleecing its most loyal gold members, it seems only a matter of time before the old £17.50 / 25.00 RFS rates are removed altogether. That would be a very bad day for Avios.

    • Dace says:

      For certain, the RFS is going sometime soon. I give it 12 months max before it is scraped.

      • Dace says:

        *it is increased.

      • Rob says:

        There are some routes where the cost would drop if RFS was scrapped, especially on one way flights to London. Luxembourg to the UK used to £2 taxes and charges before RFS.

        • lumma says:

          Booked a luxair flight recently and the invoice said taxes were €10

    • Alan says:

      TBH it lost its value for me when it doubled in cost from EDI – pretty pointless now for short-haul trips when you can fly direct via an LCC cf 18k + £70…

    • NorthernLass says:

      Agree, as per my point earlier about the Barclays voucher!

  • Sarah says:

    I was told about the memo when trying to do a GPR last week and customer relations have also confirmed that they can only be booked at the ‘standard rate’. I’ve put in a complaint as it’s an eradication of GCH benefits – they now effectively require quadruple miles rather than double. It had definitely been possible for staff to override the system before this as I’d done it several times.

  • Rob S says:

    Same experience here. Rang to book a GPR on Friday and was told the memo was issued and enforced on Thursday.

    It is a real shame as I have used it to good effect from time to time.

  • Wee paul says:

    On a different but related note, I often fly belfast to london at short notice. Often there was additional economy redemption availability for golds. I have not seen any extra gold availability for months now.

    • mzb says:

      Extra availability is based simply on fares up to V class being available for sale. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that fares are so high that the V class fare bucket is simply sold out.

  • R01 says:

    I thought of this as probably the most useful gold benefit and means I’ll probably drop back to silver next year. Tier points and status benefits often make me choose BA or AA over non-oneworld airlines when booking flights but I’ll think twice now before paying slightly extra or choosing a slightly less convenient time. Using the first wing or sitting in the slightly better lounge is something I don’t mind losing

  • Gavin says:

    Surely you’d be better off flying into Munich rather than paying that crazy price to Salzburg – it’s only a couple of hours drive.

    • ADS says:

      Munich Airport to St Anton (for example) – 3 hours 4 minutes
      Innsbruck Airport to St Anton – 1 hour 9 minutes

      I got a late night taxi from MUC to ski resort years ago, and the B&B owner wouldn’t open the door on arrival at 1am – so I ended up staying the first night in an expensive hotel, and spending a lot of money!

    • Paul says:

      To be honest I have flown into Frankfurt before now and used the train to get to St Johanne im Pongue.

      I would leave on the last Flight on the Friday using Avios, stay at the Hilton Frankfurt airport and take First class on the train. Due to the kids travelling free I could easily get a family of 4 to and from a ski resort at half term for around £350 and even today, if your kids are 14 or younger, the train is still less than 200 euro for a family of 4 in First class. Just book early and you can be in the in the resort by 3pm!!
      The return was doable in a day with a 9am train back arriving in comfortable time for the last flight to LHR. If you treat the journey as part of the experience it can be fun, and the kids (now young adults) have no fear of navigating foreign airports and railway stations on their own in later life.

      This year my wife and I did Vienna for 2 days before taking the Austrian train to St Johanne. BA cancelled the Vienna return and put us on to a direct SZG LHR service. This was an avios booking from 2 years before which they then cancelled on the day along with the subsequent rebooked flight. This lead to 2 x EU261 compensation for both of us, a £210 taxi fare and £550 in new flights.

  • Sarah says:

    I’d suggest that anyone impacted sends a complaint to Customer Relations, I’m sure it won’t achieve anything, but does at least send a message that customers aren’t happy

  • TT says:

    I agree no one would realistically pay the £1000 cash price and it is not a fair comparison.
    You’d fly elsewhere, grin and bear Ryanair (at £500 for those dates!) or fly indirect for £270. Still a terrible use of points.

    • qrfan says:

      I think a lot of people drive. When this £1000 fare was referenced last time I checked Eurotunnel fares for the same date and it was about £250 return for a car. You spend a day traveling each way regardless and if you have your own skis then it’s some hassle removed. Not very popular with a certain central London set, I appreciate!

    • qrfan says:

      I think a lot of people drive. When this £1000 fare was referenced last time I checked Eurotunnel fares for the same date and it was about £250 return for a car. You spend a day traveling each way regardless and if you have your own skis then it’s some hassle removed. Not very popular with a certain central London set, I appreciate! My car is a lot more comfortable than euro traveler!

    • Rob says:

      You seriously don’t think there are 40 family groups (all it takes to fill a 150 seat aircraft) in London who will pay £1,000 per head for a return 2-hour flight over half term?

      • lumma says:

        Of course there is, or BA wouldn’t be able to charge £1000 return for those dates.

        However, it’s still extremely niche compared to how often it’s mentioned on this site…

        • Rob says:

          Going skiing at February half term is not a niche activity for well paid London professionals with kids (ie our readers).

      • qrfan says:

        I once heard from a reasonably well placed source (who would have access to the relevant data) that almost all the seats on these planes are filled with GPR and not cash buyers. I have just an easy a time imagining there are 40 gold family groups who regularly use this perk as I do 40 family groups paying £1k per head. There are probably more than 40 private jets heading to the alps from london that week…

        • Rob says:

          Very possibly – may well all be our readers given that I’ve been banging on about this for years.

        • jeff77 says:

          At them prices, I’m glad I have no interest in skiing!

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

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