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How British Airways killed the value of the ‘double Avios’ Gold Priority Reward

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If you had British Airways Executive Club Gold status, the ‘Gold Priority Reward’ was one of the most valuable but least known perks.

For a couple of years it wasn’t clear whether British Airways had de facto killed it or not. Some call centre agents would still book them in a way that made sense, whilst others would not.

With staff training now presumably complete, since I haven’t heard of anyone getting around the new rules for at least six months, the value in this reward has now officially gone – with one exception.

Let me explain …..

British Airways Gold Priority Rewards Avios

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 British Airways 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, a Barclays Avios upgrade voucher or a Gold Upgrade for One or Gold Upgrade for Two 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.  The new BA Euroflyer operation from Gatwick IS included so push back if an agent refuses to book one.

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.

  • A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day used to cost 10,500 Avios + £35 taxes and charges, which means ….
  • ….. a ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 21,000 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 Reward Flight Saver charge and you would be saving £215 by using 21,000 Avios to book a Gold Priority Reward.

You are getting 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 has gone wrong with Gold Priority Rewards?

A few years ago, British Airways added the option to use lots more Avios but pay only £1 of taxes for short haul flights. This is the default pricing option that now gives you.

This is a truly terrible deal. My personal view is that British Airways made 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
  • 10,500 Avios + £35

…. or various other options inbetween.

Gold Priority Rewards now price off the £1 rate

When British Airways 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.

Those days are now gone. All call centre agents will now price 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.

Want to push the boat out and fly Club Europe? A Gold Priority Reward to Hamburg will now cost you 65,000 Avios plus £1, return. Bargain.

British Airways Gold Priority Reward

Don’t even think about using a Gold Priority Reward for long haul

There never was any value in using a Gold Priority Reward for a long haul flight but now it has just got silly.

In late 2022, British Airways extended ‘Reward Flight Saver’ to long haul too. The ‘taxes and charges’ element was reduced to fixed rates, starting at £350 return in Club World.

Let’s take one of my regular family runs to my sister-in-law in Dubai. The base rate for a Business Class seat on Avios is now 180,000 Avios plus £350.

Want to use a Gold Priority Reward? You are looking at 360,000 Avios plus £350, return. For one person.

A family of four would be looking at 1,440,000 Avios + £1,400 to fly to Dubai in Club World, return.

Is there any value, at all, left in Gold Priority Rewards?

The Gold Priority Reward is 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 2024, 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 £730. It arguably justifies a push for a British Airways Executive Club Gold card on its own if you are getting close.

With this rare exception, however, for most people most of the time, the value in the Gold Priority Reward has gone.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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 £15,000 Read our full review

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.

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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (53)

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

  • Erico1875 says:

    Never mind ski flights.
    Even school holiday flights, eg
    1 to 7 July, EDI to BCN with Ryanair or Vueling are hitting over £700 pp economy.

    • NorthernLass says:

      Well it was a ski flight in Feb half term, but yes, all school holiday prices over all airlines have hit even greater levels of insanity post-pandemic. I’m using a Barclays voucher to fly to AGP at October half term – current CE price is £843!

      • Andrew says:

        Interestingly Feb 2024 half terms vary – much of the east of England and (if I remember correctly) NW England have different dates (ie the week after) compared to London and the midlands. Seems much of the East of England week is priced as off-peak for redemption

    • GeoffreyB says:

      Flights to Berlin for example, for a non school holiday week in May were also around £700 with BA. I’ve seen loads of other similar prices for other short haul destinations over the last year or so.

  • Thegasman says:

    I think this was a very deliberate move by BA rather than unintended consequences. One of the other benefits of GPR is no cancellation fees. A small minority used this to take the p@33 & book multiple flights in advance then just cancel the ones they didn’t need 24 hours out. I understand that “commuter” flights like LHR/LGW-EDI/GLA/ABZ were a particular problem.

    • Mikeact says:

      Not taking the p@33 at all….just playing the system….nice weather in the Canaries …”Let’s stay a bit longer.” Or, “If it works out, let’s get back from CPT next week.” No problem for me.

      • babyg says:

        This is why we cant have nice things..

        • Rob says:

          It was a bigger problem when BA Golds got free cancellation on all rewards – people really were booking (say) every weekend to Mallorca and then cancelling 5/6 as Summer approached.

          What you’re suggesting doesn’t actually work due to the 30 days rule – you’d need to have booked all of these potential return trips beforehand. What you suggest is also unnecessary as BA is good for last minute Avios availability on most routes.

  • Peter says:

    BA didn’t communicate ANY benefits when I reached gold or any other level before that. No email, letter, nothing!
    I was gonna use the seat reservation benefit for people in separate bookings but was told that each person would have to call BA separately to add me as an authorised person to their booking (even though I made all the bookings from my account and credit card) and only then I could call again to get a seat reservation for everyone together… Seems like they really have stopped bothering about their members.
    Just look at the state of the Heathrow “First” lounge with more cutbacks every single week.

    • jjoohhnn says:

      You could probably get yourself added as a 3rd party nominee on their accounts, and it should let you deal with BA on their behalf. The website lets you do this.

  • Lewis says:

    Just another thing BA are purposely running into the ground.

    The brand, product and service are now a disgrace.

    • Alex Sm says:

      It has been a travesty of an airline for a LOOOOONG time already.

    • dougzz99 says:

      Purposely running into the ground? What is the end game with that?
      BA are currently constrained by airframes and crew, they seem to be doing the exact opposite of what you say.

    • Jack says:

      they are not purposely running into the ground at all many issues they currently face are outside of their control. The brand and service is good as is the product

  • John H says:

    So there is value, as you rightly point out. Click bait.

    • Rob says:

      Actually, no. Because, as the comments elsewhere point out, it does seem you can’t use them on Euroflyer – and that’s where most of the ski flights, inc the £800 one I show you, depart from.

      • VALittleRed says:

        So when BA say everything about euroflyer will be the same, apart from crew wages that’s not actually true is it? Likely as you say what’s left of this sort of benefit will be unavailable on euroflyer. And also multiple stories of people not being able to use overseas lounges due to euroflyer being a legally separate operation (unintended of course) they’ve been denied access as their contract covers mainline BA.

        • Jack says:

          Euroflyer is BA in everything and status holders can aces lounges as such nothing differs in that respect and I believe BA sorted the temporary issue of no access to the 1 or 2 lounges who refused people for a short time. It is true that other than staff only doing point to point on lower pay Euroflyer is BA

  • jj says:

    The thing about that flight to Salzburg is that you could fly to Denver, Vancouver, Calgary, Jackson, Salt Lake City, Kelowna, Bozeman, Boise, Telluride or any number of less well known destinations in the Rockies on those dates for about the same price. Even Premium Economy isn’t much more. I know – I was pricing them up a couple of weeks ago.

    Of course, prices in the USA on arrival are much higher than in Austria. But Canada is better value, and interior BC is considerably cheaper than Europe for most things.

    And the skiing is better; much, much better. But, I agree, the food is terrible. At least the beer is great.

    • Froggee says:

      It’s a long way to go for one week! Then a rubbish overnight flight coming home with knackered jet-lagged kids to present at school a day later.

      • Tracey says:

        I have a preference for night flights on long haul. Time goes faster when you are asleep!

      • jj says:

        @Froggee, no further than Florida or the Caribbean where many people take their kids for a week. We always ask/asked our kids where to go, and the skiing is so much more interesting in North America that they have never always thought the journey worthwhile.

      • Paul says:

        Not really! Vermont is a day away. Salzburg area is similarly a day away! Few people ski on day of arrival.
        I have skied Stowe, Heavenly, Mammoth, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Whistler Blackcomb on one week trips and with kids. Apres is not great but the skiing and weather superb. If you buy a season pass before end of May for the following year it’s not much more than costs to ski in much of Europe now. Buying once in resort can be painful on the wallet though.
        Both mine at Uni now so it’s been a while and $ was at £1.5 or more. It’s pitiful value now doesn’t help

    • Nate1309 says:

      I looked into skiing that side of the Atlantic this year. ski passes were ridiculous!

      any advise on good value resorts let me know.

      • jj says:

        @Nate1309, most US resorts are part of Epic/Ikon and prices are extortionate unless you buy a season pass very early (and are still very high even then). Canada’s not so bad, though. Lift passes in Panorama, where we’re all going, are £244 when booked with accommodation through AmericanSkiClassics. Panorama isn’t suitable for mileage-hungry intermediates, though. Banff/Lake Louise might be better for that. Note that prices in all these places tend to be lower if you book early.

        • Brian P says:

          here is the kicker: 3 valleys (val thorens) and 4 valleys (verbier) are also part of ikon, so if you are doing a week in the states you can cover another week in Europe (or two!) .

    • Paul says:

      Costs in the USA are beyond parody now! Just back from two weeks in Hawaii. Steak dinner anywhere $100 plus, small granary loaf on Big Island $12. In Costco a pineapple was $3.50 and grown there. Tesco it is 95p from Costa Rica. The USA is to be avoided by anyone who values their money

      • Gordon says:

        @Paul, Agreed, Arrived back from Las Vegas and Los Angelas a couple of weeks ago and the prices were ridiculous,
        LAS most hotels have $50 Resort fee pn which is a big increase from what I can remember a few years ago, And the tipping is becoming more and more expected. I purchased a club sandwich in LAX Airport which was $16.50. Taking our two granddaughters to Florida in November and Yesterday I booked tickets for the Disney parks in Florida for £4.5k for 3 adults and 2 children for 14 days, That was a shock. looking at the car hire prices and parking at each park at $50 premium or $25 a day with a walk I’m contemplating using Uber. I’ve heard that people are taking kids snacks out in suitcases as the prices of them at Asda and Costco is sky high,That will be the last visit to the US until it has returned to some normality.

  • Dean says:

    I called yesterday they say you can’t use it on euroflyer either (from Gatwick)

  • Stephen says:

    There is the same problem with the barclays upgrade voucher unless i am going mad which makes it pretty much pointless. The free avios instead looks a no brainer.

    • Mark says:

      Except that approximately halves the Avios required for business class whereas a Gold Priority reward doubles it.

      For long haul with an upgrade voucher that works out pretty well so long as you have the Avios. Given the choice I would opt for that combination in most cases anyway.

      Short haul, not so much. We opted to pay maximum cash on a booking for this summer, CE outbound. Could have used an upgrade voucher on that but it would have saved very little at 1p/Avios.

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