British Airways Makes Booking Reward Flight Saver-Awards Ever More Confusing

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British Airways started a trial today that allows Executive Club members to book rewards flights with minimal fees for travel in the UK and Europe.

to G-XLEC . Taken at Airbus Airbus Finkenwerder, XFW

British Airways, however, had already had a fee cap in place for Rewards Flight Savers (RFS) for the same destinations.

Note that these changes only affect BA flights. Iberia and Finnair awards are not affected (these didn’t have RFS fee cap in place to begin with).

Here are some searches:

London – Madrid

British Airways

The standard number of miles required for RFS would be 15,000 per the Iberia search below. You can, however, redeem 20,000 Avios with 1 euro fees that would be quite a bad value.

If we take the old requirement of 15,000 Avios with 31 euros in fees that would value the 5,000 Avios at 30 euros (0.6 cents each).

Iberia

Here BA basically allow members to purchase Avios at roughly 1.2 euro cents each.

London – Helsinki

British Airways (off-peak)

This would be during off-peak days and the most sensible option for most would be to choose the 12.750 Avios and pay 31 euros.

Finnair

Finnair’s base fees are quite high due to carrier surcharge. The fee to “buy” Avios is again around 1.2 euro cents.

Here’s the announcement from BA:

Tuesday 16 July, London – British Airways Executive Club Members can now book a reward flight using Avios and pay as little as £1 return.  With the trial starting today, the new Avios pricing options can be redeemed on flights in the UK and Europe.

The additional Avios options follows a successful trial in May on select European destinations.  With the new option, Members can fly* to destinations such as Edinburgh or Venice for only £1 and 16,000 and 22,000 Avios respectively.  For these same destinations, flying return, customers with a lower Avios balance have the option to use 9,000 Avios and pay £31 to Edinburgh and 15,000 Avios and £35 to Venice.

Niall Rooney, British Airways’ Loyalty Manager said: “We’re always looking for ways to give our Executive Club customers more options to redeem their Avios.  Trialing £1 Reward Flight Saver prices means Members can explore the UK and Europe on very little cash and use more Avios.  It’s easy to join Executive Club, sign up for free and start collecting Avios.”

To book a Reward Flight Saver ticket, customers need to have collected at least one Avios in the last 12 months.  British Airways is testing this pricing option in addition to the previous flat rate of £35 for taxes, fees and carrier charges along with the Avios needed for their destination.

Avios can be collected on flights with British Airways and its oneworld® partner airlines. Customers can then spend Avios on flights, upgrades, hotels, car hire and other travel rewards.  As well as reward flights customer can choose Avios Part Payment – reducing the cash amount paid on flights. When using Avios Part Payment, customers can pick from a range of savings by destination and cabin. Members will still collect Avios and Tier Points on these bookings.  Avios can also be collected on a range of travel, shopping and lifestyle partners including hotels, car hire, parking and currency exchange.

Conclusion

British Airways has made the 1 euro option the default one, hoping that passengers wouldn’t expand the pricing options to find out what would be the best choice for them. Unless you are extremely Avios rich, I would go with the former RFS fees that appear still to give the best valuation.

It is certainly good that BA gives number of options for passengers wishing to burn their miles. This is, however, quite confusing and requires you to have calculator in hand.

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