Best use of Avios & Award Tickets
British Airways/Iberia Avios is one of the most popular and easy to earn air miles for many people. This has been an area (miles & points in general) I’ve personally not paid a great deal of attention to. Until recently. While Avios may not be the most sought after mileage currency out there, there are a lot of ways you can get great value out of it. British Airways has a distance based award pricing, where the longer routes fall into higher rate award brackets. Then there is also peak and off-peak pricing to consider.
Update 2023: You can now use your Avios for Qatar award flights too !
First and foremost..
What is an Avios worth?
This is a very imprecise science here, as that largely depends on how you acquired those avios, whether through flying, hotels, shopping, special promotions, credit sign up bonuses etc. I will cover this in a separate post, it really calls for it!
For now, my standard working assumption would be that 1 avios is worth roughly 1 pence. There are some cases where you can get over 3p for your avios, so read on 🙂
Furthermore, beyond the monetary value, avios “award” bookings provide far more flexibility to a ticket than most cash fares. You can change/cancel flights for a small fee and get a full refund provided 24 hour notice given.
Below are a breakdown of what I would consider the best ways to spend them.
Less than 20k
Between 20 to 60k
Between 60 to 150k
Within these ranges, you can consider some of the above options both ways. Maybe more than one trip even 🙂
If you are flying further out like West Coast or South East Asia, you can do all of these in business class one way. Hong Kong? 75k avios. Again taxes are high going out, but if you were just booking a one way back from Hong Kong to London, the taxes are just £95.80 per person (one-way). Not bad eh?
Fancy trying out First Class for 68k? Yep this is off-peak one-way for destinations up to 4000 miles. You can score a First redemption for less than that, but I’d say anything less than 3500 miles is just not worth flying First Class. You simply wont have time to enjoy it or fully appreciate it. Its one thing if you happen to be travelling First or Business class on a regular basis. But for those once in a while treats, you really want to enjoy it to the max right?
2023 addition: You can book London/Europe – Australia for 90k Avios in Qatar Airways Business Class, in the comfort of the amazing QSuites
Another way to fly First class using same concept above is to book Business class return in cash, and upgrade the sector you want to First 🙂 This again could work out better value.
200k plus Avios
Now we’re talking! This gives you enough for a First class return to most far flug locations.
Here you can even think about doing round the world trips in business class luxury for 200k? or make it 300k for First class! You can even do this once in a lifetime trip with multiple airlines. This can require some effort to book though! But it sure is worth the while.
Use 2-4-1 Vouchers
Travelling with a partner with limited avios? Enter 2-4-1 vouchers to the rescue!
If you have like the BA branded Amex, 2-4-1 companion voucher is earned once you hit £20,000 spent on the card for the standard card, or £10,000 on the Premium version of the card. Once you get the voucher, you have 2 years to plan and take that dream trip!
Some award sweet-spots
Miami – Caribbean Islands for 7,500 Eco or 15,000 avios Business with American
Miami – Quito/Bogota for 11,000 avios with American
A side trip to Hawaii from West Coast for 12,500 avios
Ireland – US East Coast for 13,000 avios No Fuel Surcharges (Aer Lingus)
Off-peak Madrid – New York/Chicago for just 34,000 avios in Business Class ( Iberia )
Off-peak Madrid – Miami for just 34,000 avios in Business Class ( Iberia )
Santiago – Lima for just 22,000 avios in Business Class ( LATAM )
Melbourne – Perth for just 22,000 avios in Business Class ( Qantas )
Things to note
- One thing to bear in mind, airlines routinely devalue their air miles. Which is something that has put me off in the past. But one thing I have found is how reasonable they are at BA compared to other airlines, where out of nowhere your airlines can almost double the amount of miles for a booking. Therefore I would always advise, if you have a flight redemption in mind and have the avios already, book it sooner rather than later to make sure you get current rates 🙂
- BA have recently introduced a variable/flexible prices for short haul reward saver flights. It works on a scale where you can either reduce this down to just 50p and pay more in avios or pay more in cash and less in avios, see below..
3. When booking flights in cash, BA always offer money off for a certain amount of avios. This can either represent anything from an ok value, to most cases a shockingly bad value per avios. I’d therefore generally recommend not opting for this, unless you are very avios rich and cash poor.
4. One down side to BA, unlike some programs; unless you are using the round the world pricing, each sector is priced individually. So if you live Manchester for example, a ticket would be priced separately for Manchester – London, and London – your final destination.
5. Always, always check cash prices for the routes you are about to book, you just never know when the stars are aligning for you with an insane deal!
6. You can move your avios very easily between British Airways and Iberia via “Combine my avios”
Hope you have found this guide useful. I will update with any changes as they happen. Next time I will cover more about the British Airways Executive program and the benefits to frequent flyers.
2 thoughts on “Best use of Avios & Award Tickets”
Misleading use of the word “taxes” to describe the insane co-pays when using Avios. Most of it is BA’s ludicrous carrier charges, although ex-UK APD is a big chunk.
To describe the US as having high taxes is plain wrong, most of the time you’ll just be paying $5.60 security fee – the whole of the rest is YQ and other spurious things BA deem it fit to charge.
Thanks for pointing this out. Yes I have referred to taxes here as an umbrella to cover all such charges, and therefore taxes back from US include those charges, at least where BA is concerned.
Will update to make this distinction.
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