AVIOS AGONY AUNT • September 2021
If you’re new to the wonderful world of Avios, you may well have some questions, chief among them: ‘What’s Reward Flight Saver?’, ‘How do I get a companion voucher?’ or ‘Why should I choose Avios part payment?’ Never fear, The Club’s Avios Agony Aunt is on hand to guide you through the essential Avios glossary
This is a nice easy one. You’ve collected the Avios, and now it’s time to spend them with one of the most (you guessed it) rewarding ways to do so. As long as you’re using your Avios to book with British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines or any of the oneworld® partners, you’ll be booking a Reward Flight – which comes with full flexibility. You’ll still need a bit of cash to cover the taxes, fees and carrier charges. This cash amount fluctuates depending on the route, date and class of travel, as does that core chunk of Avios needed to spend on a flight.
So, these are the cherries on top of the delicious cake that is the Avios scheme. Made up of a low fixed cash price (to cover those taxes, fees and carrier charges) and a fixed Avios amount, Reward Flight Saver offers great value. It’s available on all short-haul and some long-haul routes. As with Reward Flights, these are subject to availability, so book early and you could be flying to Madeira for as little as 27,500 Avios and £1 (off-peak return), or Milan for just 18,500 Avios and £1 (off-peak return). That’s right – a short-haul Reward Flight Saver requires just £1 in cash to accompany the Avios, which vary depending on the destination, cabin and whether you fly peak or off-peak. To qualify, you need to have collected at least one Avios in the last 12 months. Look out for the blue ticket logo next to flights when booking to secure a bargain.
A Companion Voucher is one of the primary benefits of holding a British Airways American Express® Credit Card, and – put plainly – amounts (excluding taxes, fees and charges) to a free flight for a pal. Yes, you read that right. To qualify, you need to be the main account holder of a participating British Airways American Express Credit Card that gives you Avios on your every pound spent and hit the designated spending target within a 12-month period. The voucher then appears in your Executive Club account and voilà! You can use it alongside any other Avios flight, booking in the same cabin. The voucher covers the Avios, while taxes, fees and carrier charges per person are surplus, and there are some restrictions on redemption.
Waiting on pay day for that short-haul escape or some long-distance luxury? Avios part payment can bridge the gap, allowing you to use Avios towards the price of a flight and thus reducing the overall cash cost. Contributions start from 1,000 Avios and increase by varying intervals depending on the destination. For a World Traveller (long-haul economy) return to New York, for example, you could reduce the cash amount by £20 for 2,000 Avios or £120 with 25,600 Avios – and still collect Avios and Tier Points on that journey once you’ve taken it.
We’ve mentioned these already, but essentially these three costs are included in the price of every British Airways ticket and visible in the breakdown at checkout. They’re an amalgamation of taxes and fees that vary depending on where you’re travelling to and from. Made up of various items, they can include things such as government taxes, customs and/or immigration fees and air passenger duty fees. It’s worth noting that some are refundable, so if you miss your flight you may be able to claim some money back.
Much as with other modes of transport, flights operate within two different price brackets: peak and off-peak. Generally, peak tickets refer to a popular time of year (think school half-terms and Christmas), while off-peak covers the rest. When booking a Reward Flight, you can choose a mixture of peak and off-peak dates. When you have put in your date and destination, it will show whether it’s a peak or off-peak flight. Which dates qualify as peak or off-peak change every year and affect how much Avios it costs to take a particular flight. In some cases, for example, when flying to Antigua, Barbados or Miami, it can be as much as 25,000 Avios cheaper to fly off-peak, so the more flexible you can be with your dates, the more Avios you can save.