Introduction to Avios
Avios is a points scheme formed from Air Miles and BA Miles in 2011. Many mistake it for a frequent-flyer scheme. Actually it’s a points scheme like Nectar and Clubcard, earnable in Shell, Tesco and by spending on reward credit cards, though its rewards are travel-focused.
Just to confuse people the main Avios, BA Executive Club, and Iberia Plus points are all called Avios. Points are usually worth the same, regardless of the scheme.
Avios says the main Avios scheme’s better for irregular travellers while the BA Executive Club’s best for frequent flyers, offering benefits such as free airport lounge access for members in certain tiers. You can move or pool Avios and BA Executive Club points at any time, so if you change your mind later, it doesn’t matter.
As this is a travel blog, I shall concentrate on providing some information and tips about the BA Executive club.
You Pay Taxes when using Avios
Avios charges passengers taxes and fees on flights, wiping some of the gain. These can be up to £100 for British Airways return flights in Europe.
Yet under its Reward Flight Saver scheme, you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights, as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book.
Remember you don’t get Avios for Nothing
Don’t think Avios is giving you something for nothing. Loyalty points schemes are incorporated into pricing policies. So if you are flying with British Airways (or another Openworld airline), sign up to the BA Executive Club so that you can collect the Avios points that you are paying for!
Avios are not just for Flights – You pay no taxes if you use Avios for Eurostar
Swap Avios points for Eurostar return tickets and you don’t pay taxes or charges, which makes it an excellent value exchange. Plus it’s rare to find hefty discounts on Eurostar fares.
Return tickets to Paris, Lille or Brussels all start from 9,000 Avios points (redeem this way and 1,000 Avios points are worth £8ish). You need to book ahead for peak times, as Eurostar only releases a limited number of 9,000 returns for each day – once those have gone, the price in points goes up.
Collect Avios when buying Milk
When you convert Clubcard vouchers into Avios points, £10 becomes 2,400 Avios points. This means £37.50 of Tesco vouchers buys a Eurostar return to Paris. It could also get you to Prague or Milan (plus £35 fee).
But it occasionally boosts this to 4,000 Avios for every £10. So if you’ve no plans to use your points yet, hold your horses until Tesco runs one of these promotions
Using Avios for Business Class Flights is Relatively Good Value
Using your points for long-haul business flights gives you a better cash equivalent return than economy. Plus, while you pay taxes on long-haul flights, on pricey first class tickets these make up a smaller proportion of the overall ticket price.
Check Availability Using Multiple Sources
Confusingly flight availability sometimes varies between the main Avios site and the British Airways Executive Club’s. If you’re struggling to find the flight you want, check availability on both sites and move your points into the scheme with flights available.
You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on Flights or Eurostar
But think twice before you do! As spending Avios points on hotels or car hire. In my research, seemed to give poor value for points – you’re usually better off redeeming on other rewards.
You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on BA or OpenWorld Flights – Aer Lingus
The best British Airways Avios redemption remains for travel on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin. That’s because British Airways has a distance based award chart, and Boston to Dublin is just under 3,000 miles one-way, making it just 12,500 Avios in economy or 25,000 Avios in business class.
There’s no way to search award availability for Aer Lingus using Avios online, so you do have to call British Airways’ Executive Club call center, though they can pull up availability in a matter of seconds. Boston to Dublin using Avios is the cheapest transatlantic award redemption there is (with any airline) in both economy and business class.
Aer Lingus announced that they’ll be launching service to San Francisco and Toronto — their fifth and sixth North American destinations this April.
If booking using British Airways Avios, the service between Dublin and San Francisco will cost 25,000 Avios in coach or 50,000 Avios in business class one-way, while the service between Dublin and Toronto will cost 20,000 Avios in coach or 40,000 Avios in business class one-way. Given that American Express Membership Rewards frequently has transfer bonuses to British Airways, that can be quite a steal.
Aer Lingus North America Destinations
- San Francisco
I believe that for the UK based traveller, that Avios & hence OpenWorld along with Aer Lingus offers is the best airline loyalty scheme to join.
I hope to be taking a trip to the USA this year and trying out the Aer Lingus product & service so please stay tuned!