TRAVEL CLINIC

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL - SIMONCALDER’S

Ques­tion:

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?

An­swer:

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.

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