I thought it was worth digging out an interesting story which we first ran a couple of years ago and which highlights a quirk when it comes to cancelling Avios reward flights.
A reader had flown to Australia with his girlfriend for an extended trip. They decided to stay for an even longer period and no longer needed their return flight.
The couple had paid 250,000 Avios for a Club World redemption to Sydney, using a British Airways American Express 241 voucher.
Don’t ask how he managed to snag the seats, given how tough Sydney is to get. He didn’t say!
The outbound had been flown. They wanted to cancel the return flight and get 125,000 Avios back. The BA agent said ‘No’.
Was this correct?
My first thought was that the call centre agent was wrong.
Return Avios tickets used to be notoriously inflexible once the outbound was flown, which was silly as there were rarely savings to be made booking 2 x one-way versus a return.
About ten years ago, however, BA changed its policy. You can now CHANGE the date or time of your return Avios flight after the outbound has been flown. I have done this myself. It is a handy feature if a better-timed flight opens up at the last minute, or your trip is going very well or very badly.
It seemed logical to me that full cancellation would also be possible. I was wrong.
You cannot CANCEL the return leg of an Avios ticket, after the outbound has been flown, for a refund.
One reason you may need to cancel – apart from if you decide not to return at all! – is if you want to change dates but there is no BA Avios availability. In such a scenario you may decide to pay cash for a return ticket on a different date and refund your existing Avios return.
When should you book an Avios flight as a return?
So, you may well ask, what is the point of booking Avios flights as returns, given that I have less flexibility? Here are a few reasons:
- Because you’re using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher
- Because you are flying to a country where British Airways charges higher surcharges than the UK – the USA is a prime example. Booking 2 x one-way flights means that you pay a mix of the UK and US fuel surcharges and, overall, you pay more than booking a return starting in the UK.
In other cases, consider booking 2 x one-ways – you may even save money
Booking a trip as 2 x one-ways gives you added flexibility to cancel or change the return leg.
It can, in some cities, also save you a substantial amount of money. Sao Paulo and Hong Kong are cities where local rules on surcharges should make 2 x one-way tickets cheaper.
You cannot do this with an American Express voucher, however, which means that there would have been no way for our readers in the example above to get around their problem.
But don’t forget ….
Booking a redemption as 2 x one-way flights has one snag.
If you need to cancel, you will be hit with double the cancellation fees. It would cost £70 per person to cancel rather than £35, as each person is taking two separate flights on separate bookings.
You need to take a gamble on whether the saving in surcharges – or the ability to cancel your return flight without having to fix a return date – is worth the risk of doubling your cancellation fee.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.