Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club Dropping BA Amex for a few years ….

  • Not Long Now... 98 posts

    Having just returned from our latest 2-4-1 flight to JNB, I found myself doing some light arithmetic to fill the time waiting for a delayed departure. With my ‘new style’ 2-4-1, the same trip in January 2023 will be a total of 137,500 Avios + £1492.52 + voucher from London, or 155,750 Avios + £993.56 + voucher form AMS. I price this, with 1 Avios @ 0.8p, an alternative of a 1% CB card, to be a grand total of £2822 from London, and £2469 from AMS (including the outbound positioning to AMS).
    Being fairly flexible in our dates, and indeed destinations, I can’t help but conclude that if, as we do frequently, we book flights whenever we find an attractive sales price, aiming for an Amex 2-4-1 each year makes no financial sense. Closing and reapplying will change this equation due to the bonus Avios, but even then the financial difference is marginal.
    I fully agree that especially ongoing, the flexibility of Avios bookings is a plus, but we generally don’t need to change our plans.
    So my point? How many people actually cost up their ‘reward’ tickets, and does anyone actually make a tangible saving using them? Presumably someone who nabs a peak school holiday flight to a hugely popular destination, but people with more flexibility, where is it an actual saving?

    Cranzle 280 posts

    Without meaning to offend anyone, I think very few people are financially literate. It does take effort and skill. I am by no means claiming to be such.

    Perhaps off topic, but a ‘friend’ who is generally of the ‘I know it all’ type attitude spent 115,000 Avios to save £500 off the cash price of tickets with BA last week. He owns a flat because he can’t apparently can’t afford a house, both him and his wife are high earning professionals and have a young son. He can however afford monthly investments in what he calls ‘assets that increase in value’ such as designer clothing and sunglasses. Burberry, Gucci, LV etc.

    JDB 4,680 posts

    Having just returned from our latest 2-4-1 flight to JNB, I found myself doing some light arithmetic to fill the time waiting for a delayed departure. With my ‘new style’ 2-4-1, the same trip in January 2023 will be a total of 137,500 Avios + £1492.52 + voucher from London, or 155,750 Avios + £993.56 + voucher form AMS. I price this, with 1 Avios @ 0.8p, an alternative of a 1% CB card, to be a grand total of £2822 from London, and £2469 from AMS (including the outbound positioning to AMS).
    Being fairly flexible in our dates, and indeed destinations, I can’t help but conclude that if, as we do frequently, we book flights whenever we find an attractive sales price, aiming for an Amex 2-4-1 each year makes no financial sense. Closing and reapplying will change this equation due to the bonus Avios, but even then the financial difference is marginal.
    I fully agree that especially ongoing, the flexibility of Avios bookings is a plus, but we generally don’t need to change our plans.
    So my point? How many people actually cost up their ‘reward’ tickets, and does anyone actually make a tangible saving using them? Presumably someone who nabs a peak school holiday flight to a hugely popular destination, but people with more flexibility, where is it an actual saving?

    On this route, for £350 or so I would rather go direct on the BA A380, rather than the hassle of changing in AMS (with two tickets (or 24hr gap) if you don’t want to pay APD and the risks that entails) vs the KLM 777 where the cheaper flight is usually the daytime one which means dep from London at about 06.30 and thus paying for a hotel in JNB as well as a day wasted in transit.

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    JDB, the AMS price was just to lower the ‘taxes and fees’, it’s still on the BA A380, just starting in AMS.

    JDB 4,680 posts

    JDB, the AMS price was just to lower the ‘taxes and fees’, it’s still on the BA A380, just starting in AMS.

    OK, that’s a bit better then, but the saving of £350 total for two people and having to take four flights instead of two (and that’s assuming you will accidentally drop the return to AMS) doesn’t seem all that big. The journey time AMS-LHR-JNB is, on the very best connection, is four hours longer, plus of course the positioning flight, so make that six+; I think I might struggle to persuade my wife this was a good idea!

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    JDB, I don’t disagree, it’s more that if you’re in a position to see what comes up in sales, you can nearly always get cheaper options. I know past actions are no guarantee of future intent etc., etc., but as an example, there are generally at least a couple of sales a year where JNB would be less than £1000 each from LON. I understand we may be in the minority with our flexibility, but I have never paid more than £1800 for a flight, but have done Hawaii, NZ, Australia, most of the far east, lots of USA and a fair bit of South America, all in business class, and without exception, never felt the offerings to be worse than BA, indeed, almost always better… I think there’s a large amount of inertia with the 2-4-1s, once you’re on the path, it’s difficult to change the mindset and look elsewhere. Yes, they have their good points, but overall I think those days are now behind me.

    Amy C 389 posts

    I am numerically thick as mince and would massively struggle if I ever bothered to attempt the sort of calculations some of you guys here are capable of. Working out value of a point and certain deals doesn’t come naturally and I am genuinely in awe as I wouldn’t know where to start. Interested in your post though as using a 2-4-1 in May to Jo’berg. Was 125k so am assuming yours was peak, mine is off peak.
    Have never seen Jo’berg business sub £1000 from London. Surely that would be a flight taking 34 hours, circumnavigating the planet via 3 different airlines?

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    The example was out peak and back off peak. Mid January Swiss were offering LON-JNB for around £930, via ZRH, and around 14 hours total.

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    Although that was for 2 travelling together, but comparable to the 2-4-1 obviously. Current Swiss sale, which doesn’t require 2 travellers, has it at around £1800, definitely not a bargain, but still better than BA without the 2-4-1

    NorthernLass 8,281 posts

    Mid-January is very much low season, though, schools have gone back and a lot of people aren’t travelling until half term/Valentine’s in mid-Feb. Cash prices in school holidays mean that we currently get outsize redemption value, especially when using a 241. We’re off to GCM in July after 3 years of not being able to visit, and have always had tremendous value from avios – this year OH and son are going on the 241, my cash ticket in CW was £2800 (and is currently £3200)! Once we’re more flexible with travel dates, I’ll be enjoying looking for bargain cash fares.

    Lady London 2,149 posts

    Seen Joburg for £8nn. Capetown seems harder to get.

    Amy C 389 posts

    The example was out peak and back off peak. Mid January Swiss were offering LON-JNB for around £930, via ZRH, and around 14 hours total.

    That’s really very good. Yes that would tempt me.

    jj 537 posts

    Having just returned from our latest 2-4-1 flight to JNB, I found myself doing some light arithmetic to fill the time waiting for a delayed departure. With my ‘new style’ 2-4-1, the same trip in January 2023 will be a total of 137,500 Avios + £1492.52 + voucher from London, or 155,750 Avios + £993.56 + voucher form AMS. I price this, with 1 Avios @ 0.8p, an alternative of a 1% CB card, to be a grand total of £2822 from London, and £2469 from AMS (including the outbound positioning to AMS).

    I am afraid that the maths is somewhat worse than you have calculated, as you have not accounted for the Avios earned on a revenue fare (between 33,840 for Blue to 56,400 for Gold) or the Credit Card Avios had you paid the same price for a cash flight. I have a little spreadsheet that sorts these things out for me, and I calculate cash equivalent prices per person for JNB as:

    – £1,398 (with 241, Avios valued at 0.8p, Blue, off peak)
    – £1,810 (with 241, Avios valued at 1p, Gold, peak)
    – £1,910 (without 241, Avios valued at 0.8p, Blue, off peak)
    – £2,582 (without 241, Avios valued at 1p, Gold, peak)

    Having said that, we are currently in a sale and the cheapest BA fare is a whopping £2,680, a fare that is available only on a small number of dates and never on a weekend. Although Avios availability may initially look sparse, searching using a 241 voucher shows very widespread availability including many weekends.

    So the real-world choice is between a very expensive cash BA fare, an Avios fare that has been hiked in price but which offers a big saving over the cash fare, or an indirect routing that saves money but wastes time and comes with a heightened risk of missed connections or delayed baggage.

    Personally, I would prefer travel in Premium Economy on a direct flight than in Business on a connecting flight. So, for me, the Avios option still wins.

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    It’s highly unlikely I’d be earning Avios on a revenue fare, as I’ve never seen a JNB fare I’d be prepared to pay cash for on Oneworld.
    Having done premium economy a few times, in many ways I actually find it a worse option than economy if the flight is not full, due to not being able to spread into the seat next to me, presuming it’s empty obviously, but then apparently I’m unnaturally tall.
    I’d prefer business on an EU start back to LON then onwards over a premium economy direct, but as I say, we’re richer in time than money, and now the ‘new’ vouchers allow that and it still works out cheaper, the ‘hassle’ is worth it. However, my point was, I’d prefer even more a 4 hour longer indirect business flight that costs less than all the 2-4-1 options.

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 6 months ago by .
    masaccio 790 posts

    Having just returned from our latest 2-4-1 flight to JNB, I found myself doing some light arithmetic to fill the time waiting for a delayed departure. With my ‘new style’ 2-4-1, the same trip in January 2023 will be a total of 137,500 Avios + £1492.52 + voucher from London, or 155,750 Avios + £993.56 + voucher form AMS. I price this, with 1 Avios @ 0.8p, an alternative of a 1% CB card, to be a grand total of £2822 from London, and £2469 from AMS (including the outbound positioning to AMS).

    2.5k for 2 long-haul business class seats is expensive? Oh how I envy you off-peakers. Caribbean is double that normally with BA and double again in school holidays. 241 is the only thing that keeps me even though I have been looking around for alternatives quite a bit.

    NorthernLass 8,281 posts

    @massacio – same here! Though 2 x avios seats plus 1 cash seat plus accommodation and car hire is similar to what you’d pay for the same fortnight in the Med these days, so insane have school holiday prices in Europe become in recent years.

    Charles Martel 124 posts

    Having just returned from our latest 2-4-1 flight to JNB, I found myself doing some light arithmetic to fill the time waiting for a delayed departure. With my ‘new style’ 2-4-1, the same trip in January 2023 will be a total of 137,500 Avios + £1492.52 + voucher from London, or 155,750 Avios + £993.56 + voucher form AMS. I price this, with 1 Avios @ 0.8p, an alternative of a 1% CB card, to be a grand total of £2822 from London, and £2469 from AMS (including the outbound positioning to AMS).
    Being fairly flexible in our dates, and indeed destinations, I can’t help but conclude that if, as we do frequently, we book flights whenever we find an attractive sales price, aiming for an Amex 2-4-1 each year makes no financial sense. Closing and reapplying will change this equation due to the bonus Avios, but even then the financial difference is marginal.
    I fully agree that especially ongoing, the flexibility of Avios bookings is a plus, but we generally don’t need to change our plans.
    So my point? How many people actually cost up their ‘reward’ tickets, and does anyone actually make a tangible saving using them? Presumably someone who nabs a peak school holiday flight to a hugely popular destination, but people with more flexibility, where is it an actual saving?

    Notwithstanding any news on Qatar redemptions today the other option is Upgrade with Avios: LHR-JNB in PE (13/09-10/09) is currently on Momondo for £1127, the upgrade peak would be 25k Avios ew, so 50,000×0.8= £400.00 giving a total of £1527 per ticket, you’d earn 5,640×2 Avios on the PE ticket giving a rebate of £90.24 for a net price of £1437.

    Avios still have value but it’s getting harder to see where it is and theres a big risk as we all pile into the last worthwhile uses BA close the window. The real question is, is there a better 2 year strategy than Barclaycard Avios Free + Amex Nectar?

    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    I agree UUA can be reasonable, and have done it a couple of times, but still more expensive than the indirect business sale alternatives, plus of course the ‘unaccounted’ earnings on those tickets, although I’ve not really researched the cost equivalent in other schemes, but probably should now BAs charges are so high. My real ‘feel good value’ mileage use was Norwegian premium cash outbound to USA and Virgin miles Delta One redemption return to Europe for about $6 fees.

    jj 537 posts

    Not Long Now… you are, of course, correct that increased fees can make Avios redemptions poor value for some people, and I wasn’t trying to disagree with you in my lengthy earlier post.

    It seems that all of the Avios disadvantages apply to you but few of the advantages. You are very flexible with dates, have no need to travel on weekends to optimise use of annual leave, are unwilling to pay a premium for a direct routing, have a particular destination in mind, and are able to plan up to a year in advance.

    But don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone is like you. Many of my priorities are the reverse of yours, for example: I will pay a big premium for weekend travel, would usually take a direct economy flight over a business class indirect routing (I still have nightmares over a missed Board Meeting caused by a 36-hour delay in Amsterdam…), and I am often very flexible on destinations as the world is a big, interesting place and I want to see it all before I die.

    My Avios strike-price is 1p; below that, I pay in cash. My next three Avios trips are cycling in the Dolomites, island hopping in Greece and skiing in Colorado. In all cases, I would have been willing to pay the then-current cash fare, and my Avios value has never fallen below my strike price including all the components I described earlier.

    So there is substantial value in the premium BA Amex card for some – but maybe not for you.

    NorthernLass 8,281 posts

    A real time (as they say) example of where avios can really save the day. My parents have tested positive for Covid so we have to take our teenager to BOS with us next week. He doesn’t want to come so I can’t lure him with a free trip as long as he sits down the back. Am avios rich so have grudgingly forked out the surcharges for a CW seat for him. But here’s the thing – the cash price of that CW seat is currently £7890.00 😲
    Deducting the (admittedly stupid) surcharges, I make it that I’m getting 6.4p per avios here.

    Charles Martel 124 posts

    A real time (as they say) example of where avios can really save the day. My parents have tested positive for Covid so we have to take our teenager to BOS with us next week. He doesn’t want to come so I can’t lure him with a free trip as long as he sits down the back. Am avios rich so have grudgingly forked out the surcharges for a CW seat for him. But here’s the thing – the cash price of that CW seat is currently £7890.00 😲
    Deducting the (admittedly stupid) surcharges, I make it that I’m getting 6.4p per avios here.

    I’m lost, is he a child or an adult? Why would a child be able to dictate whether they go on holiday (or where they sit)?

    NorthernLass 8,281 posts

    Not old enough to leave at home, not young enough to dictate these things to him.
    *And special needs, so only those with experience can comment!

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 6 months ago by .
    Not Long Now... 98 posts

    Yes, there are the odd useful occasions, but let’s be honest, who, not on an expense account, is going to pay BA £7890 when Are Lingus will do it for less than £2000, admittedly having to get to DUB to start, but for nearly £6000, I’m happy with a little inconvenience…

    jj 537 posts

    Yes, there are the odd useful occasions, but let’s be honest, who, not on an expense account, is going to pay BA £7890 when Are Lingus will do it for less than £2000, admittedly having to get to DUB to start, but for nearly £6000, I’m happy with a little inconvenience…

    Not many would pay that fare from their own wallet, although some undoubtedly would. But Avios certainly saved the day in this case, as it’s unlikely that NorthernLass would have sent her son on a separate aircraft via Dublin.

    But, for many of us, Avios redemptions offer good value for far more than ‘the odd useful occasion’. As I said before, don’t assume that because it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for anyone: I have three upcoming Avios redemption flights where I would have willingly paid the cash price but which have saved me substantial sums if I value my Avios at 1p. That’s more than an odd occasion – it’s more holidays than most of the UK population has in an entire year.

    Harry T 101 posts

    For people who can run numbers properly and aren’t tied to arbitrary dates, it’s almost pointless using the 241 vouchers most of the time, largely because of the extortionate associated taxes and charges. To be honest, I don’t even buy the argument that the vouchers are useful during peak times, as I’ve recently booked LAX for August in business for £1250 return from DUB and SYD for £1250 business return from DUB next January. I also flew to Dubai during December for around £1000 per person from CDG – again, a good price at a peak time. People just enjoy finding some crazy fully flexible business class fares during half term or whatever, and then pretending they’ve gotten huge values per Avios, when they would never have paid the actual cash prices and could probably have found an ExEU that was good value with little effort.

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