I read your answer about frequent-flyer points and how to extract maximum value from Emirates Skywards.
I have about 25,000 British Airways Avios. What should I do to get the most from them?
As with other frequent-flyer schemes, it is possible to get terrible value from Avios — the currency for British Airways and Iberia of Spain.
I have just looked two weeks ahead for a Heathrow-New York JFK return.
A “reward” flight could be all mine for 26,000 Avios and £372 in “taxes, fees and carrier charges”.
Of these levies, the largest chunk is BA’s “carrier imposed charge” of £200.
The ancestry of this is a fuel surcharge introduced about a decade ago.
After fuel prices went into decline, British Airways (and other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic) decided to keep the surcharge in place — mainly to extract more cash from people redeeming frequent-flyer points.
The price on the same flights, same dates, if I pay with cash? £321. In other words, every Avios on this transaction is worth minus 1.24 pence!
Yet I am an avid collector of Avios with British Airways, buying them, when I can, for 1.25 pence each.
I use them only for two things: cheap one-way transatlantic flights (BA, like other “legacy” airlines, has punitive single fares when you pay with cash); and very short notice European flights.
For example, a one-way British Airways flight from Heathrow to New York on a peak summer day, July 27, 2019, will cost me 20,000 Avios plus £250. Call it £500 in total — one third of the one-way fare on British Airways for cash.
At the other extreme, in terms of timing: on this afternoon’s flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam, I see I could pay £353 in cash — or just £17.50 plus 4,000 Avios for a redemption flight.
This case values each point at 8.4 pence, nearly seven times better than the price I buy them for.