This article aims to help you understand what Avios points are, and the multitude of benefits from collecting them.
Why Collect Avios Points?
What is Avios?
Avios is one of the largest UK airmile rewards schemes. Once registered with one of the Avios programs (avios.com, British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub or Iberia Plus), you can begin earning. What makes Avios one of the stronger airmilage schemes, is the ease at which the UK consumer can collect Avios points. Flights, hotel stays, car hire and shopping, can all earn vast numbers of Avios points. These can then be spent with a host of airlines to give you discounted flights (you will at the very least, have to pay taxes).
What are Avios worth, and how can you redeem them?
As always the best value (ie. Maximum 'pence per Avios') stems from long haul business / first class redemptions. Doing so can make your points worth as much as 1.7p each.
However, if you aim for redemptions that will equate to about 1p per Avios, you won't go wrong.
Personally I avoid economy long-haul redemptions. With the high taxes, combined with the relatively low cost of an economy ticket on these flights, offers a relatively low 'pence per Avios'. Instead consider using your Avios points for a European flight. With the fixed taxes offered by BA, and relatively low numbers of points, these redemptions often offer excellent value at over 1p per Avios.
Non-flight redemptions typically offer the poorest value at 0.5p per Avios.
Remember that the best redemption is the one that gets you what you want; Avios points are extremely easy collect!
More information regarding the value of Avios points can be found here.
Earning Points Quickly
All 4 Avios programs are free to join and offer different avenues for earning and spending. Points can be moved between each scheme using the 'Combine My Avios' function (just ensure your details match when signing up) to allow you to take full advantage of each scheme. It therefore doesn't matter which scheme you leave your Avios points in, as you can readily transfer them, when making your redemption.
Here I will focus on British Airways and Avios.com, as it is rare you will use Aer Lingus AerClub and Iberia Plus.
Both British Airways Executive Club and avios.com let you earn Avios points from:
- British Airways flights
- Tesco Clubcard transfers
- Heathrow Rewards transfers
- Shell Drivers Club transfers
- American Express Membership Rewards transfers
- Market research firms e-rewards and Rewards for Thoughts
- Purchasing Heathrow Express tickets
- Purchasing foreign currency
- Airport parking
- Online purchases with selected retailers
- High street purchases (adding your payment card, to allow the card provider to notify for qualifying purchases)
British Airways Executive Club also lets you earn miles when you:
- Fly any of the 15 airlines in the oneworld alliance
- Fly with Aer Lingus or Alaska
- Stay with one of their hotel partners
- Rent a car with Avis
- Book with British Airways Holidays
Additionally points can be earnt when taking out one of the BA American Express credit cards, or the Avios credit card.
Finally, points may also be purchased from avios.com and British Airways Executive Club.
How many Avios points do British Airways flights earn?
Economy flights earn 0.25 Avios per mile flown, with a minimum of 125 per flight. Substantially more points are earnt in higher classes and for having a Bronze, Silver or Gold BA Executive Club card.
Flights on other oneworld partner airlines, earn at a similar level.
Which Airlines can Avios be redeemed on?
Each Avios schemes has different airline partners. Giving a total of 33 airlines Avios points can be redeemed at.
British Airways Executive Club lets you redeem for all 15 airlines in the oneworld alliance. You can additionally redeem on Aer Lingus (by telephone only), Comair, Flybe and Alaska (by telephone only).
avios.com (which is also used by AerClub for redemptions) lets you redeem for BA, Aer Lingus, Flybe and Iberia.
Iberia Plus lets you redeem for all 15 airlines in the oneworld alliance plus Vueling, Royal Air Maroc and others which you cannot book at ba.com.
How many Avios are required for a flight?
As ba.com explains, flight redemptions start at just 4,000 Avios for an off peak, one-way ticket in Economy to Paris.
Long-haul Economy (World Traveller) redemptions start at 13,000 Avios for a one-way seat to Boston.
Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) seats cost 2x Economy points. Business Class is 3x and First Class is 4x.
Domestic connections to or from London do not require any additional Avios points when redeeming for a long-haul flight.
The 'Avios Calculator' on ba.com shows how many points are required for any particular flight.
Finding an Avios reward seat
The easiest way of redeeming seats, is by being flexible. However, by booking early it is possible to get reward flights in school holidays and at peak times.
It is worthwhile looking on the BA website at the availability of reward seats for your desired route before committing yourself. ba.com lets you do this, even if your Avios balance is zero.
For popular routes, booking early is best (often as soon as the flights are released - the return flight can always be added to the booking separately)
How early can Avios redemption flights be booked?
British Airways guarantees to make at least two business class and four economy class seats available on every flight. There are no guarantees over World Traveller Plus or First Class redemption levels.
All BA flights open for booking at 355 days prior to departure, between midnight and 1am. It is at this point that BA releases the guaranteed two business class and four economy seats per flight.
Further seats are usually made available from time to time depending on how well the flight is selling. In general, BA is fairly generous in the number of seats made available.
It is important to remember that British Airways imposes high surcharges on long-haul Avios airmiles redemptions - around £350 per person, for a return in Economy and £500 in World Traveller Plus, Business and First.
Redemptions in Europe have their taxes capped at £35 for Economy flights via the 'Reward Flight Saver' scheme.
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