Let’s start with a couple important truths about British Airways Avios. First, it’s easier than ever to collect Avios, wherever you live.

From new earning partnerships with Uber to 50,000+ welcome bonuses on great credit cards in the UK and the continually thriving 100,000 point bonuses in the US, Avios are everywhere. The addition of an amazing new points earning wine store doesn’t hurt.

The second truth, surcharges and fees were simply too high on any long haul flights booked with Avios. There were times when it was quite literally cheaper to book a paid cash fare than to just pay for the surcharges for a flight like London to New York.

And that brings a third and exciting truth upon us today: British Airways is massively reducing the surcharges attached to Avios.

The changes are to the tune of circa £500 in savings for long haul business class out of the UK, and up to $1200 in savings for those originating from the USA — with important savings in other markets too. Albeit, with an increase in the number of Avios points needed to book. Points up, cash costs down.

A business class ticket from New York to London now carries surcharges of just £350 round trip, or $700 round trip for those departing the USA! Half, for one ways. It’s a dramatic and wonderful improvement for the most part, so here’s all the details.

ba_new_club_world_suite_a3505

British Airways New “Reward Flight Saver”

Charges from London to the USA had crept up to £842 round trip in business per person, plus Avios. Starting from the USA it was even worse, with up to $1972 in fees and surcharges plus the Avios for a round trip ticket in business class or above.

The same creeping fees were evident in other markets, making it really difficult to justify making redemptions, whenever there were decent cash prices. Short haul flights in economy remained tremendous value with Avios, but for many people, they were less aspirational than a bed in the sky for a long flight.

As of today, that rule book is being torn up.

“Reward Flight Saver” Avios prices are changing, with a moderate increase in points required, but a tremendous decrease in the cash price. With so many new ways to earn Avios easily, I personally don’t mind! Plus, the same credit card perks in the US and UK apply, even with the changes.

A companion voucher halves the number of points people need for two tickets, and the Chase British Airways Card retains its amazing fee credits, reducing cash charges even further on award tickets using Avios, in addition to the two-for-one opportunity.

This makes engaging further with these credit card products make more sense. Two people from the UK would fly to New York for 160,000 and £700 round trip, compared to £1700 + up to 120,000 points for two, before. The US originating equation is more drastically improved.

Cards & Vouchers For The Win!

These changes instantly make things like companion vouchers and credit card perks far more valuable, and I’m grabbing a new British Airways card today, as a result.

In a surprise twist, UK Amex Companion Vouchers can also now be used on Iberia and Aer Lingus flights, opening up many new options and pricing joys!

The Chase British Airways Card “Travel Together” perk would now allow to people to fly business class to London for 160,000 points round trip and $600 per person, since you get $200 per booking off premium cabin surcharges, up to 3X a year.

That’s the equivalent of $600 and 80,000 points per person round trip in flat beds to Europe. These days, that’s pretty stunning, considering airlines like Delta charge over 240,000 points per person each way.

New Reward Table For Avios Pricing

Here’s the new reward table reflecting some of the new pricing across the most popular cabins. Don’t forget that BA guarantees at least 8 economy seats, 2 premium seats and 4 business class seats will be available using Avios on every long haul flight.

Keep in mind that these are round trip “off peak” prices. One ways would be half the points and exactly half the cash. The “off peak” calendar is very generous.

Destination (from London, return)CabinAvios requiredCash required
New YorkWorld Traveller50,000£100

World Traveller Plus85,000£280

Club World160,000£350
Los AngelesWorld Traveller60,000£150

World Traveller Plus95,000£330

Club World180,000£450
BarbadosWorld Traveller60,000£150

World Traveller Plus95,000£330

Club World180,000£450
DubaiWorld Traveller50,000£100

World Traveller Plus85,000£280

Club World160,000£350
Cape TownWorld Traveller60,000£150

World Traveller Plus95,000£330

Club World180,000£450
SingaporeWorld Traveller80,000£250

World Traveller Plus110,000£430

Club World220,000£600
SydneyWorld Traveller100,000£300

World Traveller Plus160,000£480

Club World290,000£750
Origin (to London, return)


New York to London HeathrowWorld Traveller50,000$200

World Traveller Plus85,000$560

Club World160,000$700
Los Angeles to London HeathrowWorld Traveller60,000$300

World Traveller Plus95,000$660

Club World180,000$900

Is it all positive?

To me, given the added ability to earn Avios, mostly yes.

Synthesizing it down, are you happier with 60,000 Avios in your pocket, or $1200? Latter for me, thanks. That’s the fundamental trade off here for business class from the USA. 60,000 more Avios, but $1200 back in the wallet, not going to surcharges. In the UK, it’s around £500 back in the wallet.

Some might say the increase in Avios prices is a “devaluation”, but looking at the changes holistically and the massive reduction in cash costs — versus modest increase in points prices — I find everything about earning and spending Avios more attractive, as a result of today.

It’s a circa 33%-50% rise in cost for the “Avios” points part of these options, but more than a 60% reduction in cash costs. US surcharges are dropping from highs of $1900 to just $700 round trip. Points are easy to earn more of, cash, less so.

That’s a trade I’ll make all day, though of course no addition to points would be nice in dreamland. In 2022, I don’t think anyone is living in dreamland.

Old Pricing Still Exists, If You Want It

Keep in mind, British Airways continues to offer options for people to spend more points and less cash, or more cash and fewer points, once you reach the redemption page on British Airways.

If you liked the old pricing points with more cash, you can probably pay more cash still, just like the days of old. I personally like my cash more than my points.

Reward Flight Saver Rules

These new prices apply to flights on “BA Metal” which is the fancy airline way of saying flights which are actually operated by British Airways. Partner pricing on airlines like a Qatar Airways, or American, isn’t instantly changed here beyond earlier changes.

To be eligible for the exciting new pricing above, you need to have earned at least one Avios point in the last year. Credit card spend, wine store spend and e-store spending all count — as does flying, obviously. This is open to US and UK accounts. Easy enough!

If you haven’t done any of the above, you can instantly change that by transferring credit card points into Avios. A transfer from Amex, Chase, Capital One or Bilt instantly makes you eligible, since at the time of booking you’ll have earned at least a point.

When Do New Avios Prices Start

If you’re reading this, the new prices are probably already in effect. British Airways and IAG Loyalty rolled out these new changes on Wednesday, December 7th of 2022 and they will be a fixture of the program going forward.

In my opinion, reward flights with Avios are instantly more attractive in the US market now with around $1200 in premium cabin surcharges lopped off, and the reduction of up to circa £500 in the UK makes for huge savings there too.

That’s £1000 saved for a UK companion voucher booking for two!

Big Benefits From These Changes

It got to a point where unless I was in a real pinch, I wouldn’t use Avios for long haul flights. The surcharges were too high, and I was too good at finding cash deals. I didn’t prioritize spend on British Airways cards accordingly.

But with this huge reduction in surcharges, these changes have me diving in. I can get two people to New York in business class for £700 out of pocket, less than the cost of just one premium economy ticket, all by investing time in Avios.

It’s hard to pass up on the welcome bonus on the Chase British Airways Card in the USA now, and the same is true for UK products.

For that selfish reason, I’m very bullish about these changes. My personal situation and interest is greatly improved — and British Airways will win more wallet share as a result.

What do you make of these new changes for you?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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32 Comments

  1. Feels like the classic slowly jack prices up so you can look good when you reduce them type tactic, which then helps you hide the Avios devaluation which was always coming (everybody called that when the Avios subscriptions started). Just feels like FEES have gone back to 2021 levels whilst avios costs have been raised. Can see why this would feel like a win for people who can generate loads of avios (MS, bloggers, people putting lots of £££ through their cards, churners etc, people paying £££ for avios subscriptions). Anyway its welcome to see the FEES drop, but lets see how long before QATAR changes their pricing too. Think for most people finding cash deals is the way forward.

    1. Exactly my reaction. It looks good but is it really. 90k for a one way biz class redemption to/from the US is a big devaluation for the majority of people who don’t earn hundreds of thousands of miles a year. And when Iberia (part of IAG) redemptions remain a fundamentally better deal at 35-45k one way biz class on transatlantic routes from the US and still even lower surcharges, I’m still gonna take that option over flying BA.

      1. But as noted in the post — old pricing still exists. If you want to pay the old avios prices you can, with crazy high surcharges. For most people, cash earning is more static and far less elastic than points earning. By offering the ability to save cash, people can exercise the more flexible option to earn more points.

        1. “old pricing still exists” is this the pricing before BA massively hiked the Surcharges which they directly pocket?

          If this is not the case then you should have the integrity to call it what it is, a bait and switch to devalue Avios.

          1. The gripe is that people who spend Avios on flights with BA are being done over.

            Below is a timeline of BA hiking their surcharges, which you and i know go directly to BA. These are often called taxes by BA employees on the phone which I’m fairly confident you will have experienced when calling BA.

            https://www.headforpoints.com/…/british-airways-avios…/ – As you can clearly see, April 2017 Taxes and surcharges rtn to New York were £480. that then INCREASED to £529 June 2017.

            https://www.headforpoints.com/…/british-airways…/ – As you can clearly see, 2021 Taxes and surcharges RTN to New York were INCREASED to £675. They INCREASED again to £788 in February 2022.

            https://www.headforpoints.com/…/british-airways-taxes…/ – As you can clearly see, March 2022 Taxes and surcharges RTN to New York were INCREASED to £842.

            I stated it was a bait and switch by BA, this is based on BA steadily increasing their surcharges and then presenting an option to pay to decrease them using Avios as a deal that is better for the customer.

            A deal would have been the old taxes and surcharges with the RFS.

            I read a lot of what you write because you do have the inside track on a lot of stuff. I do wish you would hold airlines to account when they pull BS stuff like this rather than giving them a digital pat on the back.

          2. So you’re angry because they’ve progressively hiked the taxes, but have now cut them back? I back these changes as a better direction than things were going. The echo-chamber of HFP readers is not the general public or what the broader market cares about. Most people, given cost of living crisis and static income would prefer to have more choice to save their cash, and approach new avenues to earn more points.

            I wish all programs would just stay at the levels they were in 2010, but it just hasn’t happened. It’s hard to find a program which hasn’t made some sort of change. And one thing BA has held onto, which others haven’t, is flexibility. You get everything back but £35 for a cxl. Most programs charge more miles now if you want that flex.

          3. “The echo-chamber of HFP readers is not the general public or what the broader market cares about.”

            The echo-chamber of bloggers who get millions of miles and points by referring credit cards is also not the general public.
            To “us”, miles and points aren’t worthless numbers. Actually we have to accumulate them for years and years until we see a redemption on horizon.

            And then it’s just like Charles writes: It becamse insanely unattractive to redeem avios for BA long haul flight in the first place due to high surcharges. Now it is still unattractive due to either high surchages or high avios numbers.
            From a “general public view” there is no real change to the better.

            But, I give that to you, having a choice is better than not having a choice.

            Btw, most people outside UK and US don’t have the possibility to get credit cards like you do, so there is no way to get 2-4-1 vouchers or accumulate avios as easy as you do.
            So for everyone else (ok, thats the minority), BAEC does get more and more unattractive. Thats why 2023 will be the first year in quite a long time I’m no more BAEC Gold but Finnair Platinum.

          4. I’d also like you to know that I’ve earned zero miles in the last three years by referring people to cards. I earn miles through organic spend, flying, engaging with online airline shopping portals and taking advantage of well time points promotions and sales.

          5. It’s already done. I already made Finnair Platinum 2 weeks ago and have like 20 TPs at BAEC and will soft land (I guess) at silver tier.
            I used to think I will go for lifetime gold at BAEC, but that won’t happen as long as the programm is not attractive anymore.

            Thank you for the clarification and I hope the glimpse into the “normal guy bubble” was helpful for you too 😉

            I’d still like to use my avios for a multi carrier award next year and just hope that there is not that much of a devaluation ongoing.
            Maybe you have some insights on the changes here.

  2. Great article! I have an open jaw ticket from London to Austin and then NYC to London in Club World that I booked using avios and a Barclaycard upgrade voucher – do you think it’s worth me calling up and asking BA to rebook at the new rates? Thanks.

    1. Good question, and important one. Cancelling a booking doesn’t automatically guarantee that seats get re-released. So, unless there are still more seats open in the cabins you’d like, you’d carry a risk of losing the flights if you cancel.

      1. Was the same question I was going to ask..

        Is there anyway of knowing if it will reappear before you make the change? Would the agent be able to see it for example?

        1. Well that’s just it — there’s no guarantee it will reappear, since the make up of the cabin will inevitably have changed since you booked. If you booked when the cabin had 5 seats sold, but there’s now 45/50 sold, the seats are unlikely to come back. The only time it makes sense to cancel is if there are still the number of seats you need available, in the same cabin, on the same date or others you’d use. If there are, buy the new flights then cancel the old ones. If not, it’s a risk you’re knowingly taking.

    2. People starting to recognise the excessive profiteering is finally resulting in some +ve change. Now *IF* they can fix; cabin maintenance, their insecure, clockwork IT, catering and most of all ground and customer service. They may be able to stop haemorrhaging customers to brands that deliver something recognisable from the advertising.

  3. Many fliers would never purchase any of those Avios flights with the crazy taxes in the first place. I always uncheck the box that says “British Airways” when searching for flights because the taxes were so high.
    If all flights, even the previously good ones (low taxes) now cost more Avios, then this is a devaluation pure and simple for those of us who solely use Avios for the non-crazy flights.

    1. “All” flights don’t cost more, and now there’s reason to not “tick” that box, since fees aren’t out of line? I’m just not quite following the logic here.

      1. I use BA miles to fly from Asia to Europe, typically on Finn Air. Most other flights where I fly (between US and Europe or between Asia and Europe) include very high taxes and when searching, because the BA flights and their taxes dominate the search results, I uncheck the box so that if there are no low-tax flights, the search turns up nothing instead of a bunch of poor BA choices.
        Right now, ICN to FCO, a semi-regular flight for me, is 36750 Avios + $45.70, which is typical. However, I am seeing US domestic on AA at 13000 vs the 8750 or so they used to be, plus the same taxes of $5.60. I am also seeing PHX-FCO for 41750 Avios plus $151 if booked on BA. Same flight same day with AA miles is 22500 plus $251.50, so around $100 for just under 20000 Avios. If the taxes drop on the AA site, that would be a better deal. Wondering if they will in fact drop.

  4. As a regular user of the companion vouchers those is good news for me. Even before this the companion voucher made long haul Business/First flights a good deal. It’s a fair point that given the recent hikes in surcharges this is in effect an avios devaluation over time. But even so it’s an additional option with nothing taken away which has got to be a good thing. Would be interested to hear more about what the ability to use the companion voucher on Iberia and Aer Lingus will mean.

  5. Generally great news, especially when using a BA Amex companion voucher as these club seats are now very well priced. Having just done some searching though, it looks like booking a return with one-way in First and the other in Club, means that you don’t get the new lower charges on the Club direction which seems odd

  6. Wow… finally some improvement. Like you and many others, when I fly to Europe/LHR I stopped using Avios and never used the Companion Pass because the fees were absurd. Now I can use it again.

  7. So it’s now a choice between increased Avios or increased surcharges. I don’t see the benefit. Booking Singapore to London Asia Miles on Finnair for example is 140,000 return versus 220,000 on BA and the taxes are still lower.

    This only works with companion vouchers. Even then Asia miles are still only 60,000 adios more for two passengers and still less taxes. If Gibert prefers to have the money in his pocket then he needs to stay away from Avios all together for long haul. Like the majority of us already do.

    1. Where are the increased surcharges on BA metal? Surcharges went down by £3 on most routes. Per your examples, there will always be arbitrage for partner airlines and currencies. AsiaMiles clearly wants you to use their currency to fly Finnair more than BA does. That’s a commercial choice only they can understand.

  8. Given that the deal for US travellers is vastly enhanced, does this mean that Avios flight availability will be snapped up more quickly as US travellers will now seek to book flights with Avios whereas, previously, they may have been put off by the large surcharges?

  9. I’m confused. It seems every avios award i have booked or was watching as of first week December is up 25-45% in miles at a fixed fee. This is for the same on/off peak flights this is a huge devaluation on BA metal.

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