British Airways Now Offers Award Tickets for Just £1 in Taxes/Fees

In April I wrote that British Airways was testing the elimination of fuel surcharges on reward tickets, where you’d pay more miles than usual but less cash.

BA has announced this now as a trial, effective immediately:

  • Today, customers whose British Airways accounts are ‘active’ – collected at least 1 point in the past 12 months – pay reduced charges on European flights.

  • Those customers will receive an even lower priced option — 1 British pound.

However this is not a good deal. For instance,

  • Instead of London – Edinburgh for 9000 points and $38.53, they’re offering to charge 12,000 points and $1.24. That’s 3000 more points and you’re getting just 1.24 cents per point in value.

  • Instead of London – Venice for 15,000 points and $43.50, they’re offering to charge 22,000 points and $1.24. That’s 7000 more points and you’re getting just 6/10ths of a cent per point in value.

The option to pay reduced fees with award redemption is akin to lighting Avios on fire. And it’s also focused on the wrong redemptions. The problem with the British Airways program isn’t $38 fees for using your points within Europe. It’s that they don’t cap surcharges on long haul redemptions. Last year BA increased what they charge on long haul premium redemptions and you now may be asked to pay over $1800 roundtrip.

British Airways is doing you no favors, letting you spend Avios at a low value to pay the taxes and fees they impose on award tickets. This isn’t a case of lowering fees, it’s just offering the option to spend points as cash (poorly) to cover the fees. And they’re focused on markets where those fees are barely an issue to begin with.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t mind the fees. The surcharge, compared to the full fare, is minor. I’m referencing business and first here. And there’s usually availability, when and where I need to go. Usually long haul.

  2. Why would anyone use British Airways for long haul international travel with such outrageous fees?

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