British Airways have expanded a trial into offering people ways to use their Avios points which require less in cash. The trial was initially launched in May and has now been extended to cover all of Europe and the UK. This is an interesting new option for those looking to save cash, who may be Avios rich, so here’s everything you need to know…
British Airways has levied surcharges and mandatory taxes on reward tickets for as long as anyone can remember, and sadly these rates always seemed to be on the up and up. For many, it was reason to not participate in the loyalty program at all, given that you’d still end up forking over £30ish and some points for a return ticket within the UK and Europe.
This new trial program allows you to apply more Avios Points to cover those charges entirely, leaving just £1 to pay. Basically – you pay more in points, but less in taxes. A return flight to Venice would cost 22,000 Avios and £1 rather than the current 15,000 and £35. Whether or not using 7,000 additional Avios to cover that £34 of difference is a good value is entirely up to you.
The Old Options Remain
If you want to hoard your Avios and don’t mind the £35ish surcharges to most European destinations then the old options still exist. This is essentially being brought in as additional choice for consumers, many of which are happy to travel as close to free as possible, with no long term points goal other than to save money on travel.
That’s absolutely fine, and for many, this will make points a more approachable arena.
It will be interesting to see if British Airways expands this further abroad to cover long haul routes to the USA, Asia, South America, Africa, Middle East and Pacific. Presently, the taxes and surcharges on these flights can be higher than the cost of just buying a ticket, which has made Avios a relatively ineffective currency to collect for long haul travel departing the UK, unless you’re combining your earning with the Amex 2 for 1 voucher.
If an option existed to spend more Avios but pay just £1 in cash to go to New York, surely there would be wider interest. This is a move which clearly could lead to more dynamic pricing using Avios being introduced over time, which has plusses and minuses. In other words rather than having a set bar for how many Avios you’d need to fly to New York, the price in Avios could fluctuate based on actual cash prices, which makes it harder to plan, but does present travel periods where bargains could be had, especially if you could cover the tax component with more points.
For now, this is a welcome change which hopefully brings more people into the rewards game, thanks to the greater flexibility and ease of spending. It’s easier to be Avios rich than cash rich!