Given the large volume of new readers visiting the site in the last couple of weeks, I figured it was a good time to revisit the basics somewhat. Today I am going to look at the British Airways Reward Flight Saver scheme and why it offers excellent value for your Avios.
Prior to the introduction of Reward Flight Saver (RFS) in late 2011, people would only really consider redeeming their BA miles on short-haul flights for last-minute bookings or the added cancellation flexibility. This was because given the choice of paying cash or having to use at least 9,000 miles plus about £100 of taxes; mileage redemptions were not a very attractive proposition.
Reward Flight Saver introduced a cap on the taxes BA would charge. The equation now looks much better:
- Economy – Starting at 8,000 Avios return + a fixed £35
- Club Europe – Starting at 15,500 Avios return + a fixed £50.
What are the best times to utilise RFS?
One of the best ways to use RFS is at the start/during school holidays or half-term. Pricing on these dates even with Low-Cost Carriers such as Ryanair can be sky-high given the popularity of some of these routes.
Take a family of 2 adults and 2 children wanting to head to Salzburg for a skiing break over February half-term:
Cash cost – The cheapest Ryanair direct flights come in at roughly £1500.
Cost using Avios – 36,000 Avios plus £140.
Remember BA promises to release a minimum of 4 Economy seats for redemption on every flight at 355 days before departure.
How many Avios do I need to use RFS?
RFS is available for flights under 2,000 miles.
The following prices are for a one-way journey in economy. For reference, Club Europe pricing is double the economy price during peak periods and just under double on off-peak dates.
|ECONOMY (EURO TRAVELLER)||OFF PEAK||PEAK|
|Up to 650 miles||4,000||4,500|
|Up to 1150 miles||6,500||7,500|
|Up to 2,000 miles||8,500||10,000|
What are the best sweet spots?
- An interesting anomaly is Moscow – BA operates a proper long-haul aircraft on this route daily. Since Moscow is less than 2000 miles from London you can even use RFS on these flights to experience First Class while paying less than £60 in taxes.
- One way upgrade – You can decide to treat yourself to an upgrade and get Club Europe service and lounge access. Doing this to Bordeaux or Lyon, for example, would cost just 3,750 Avios and £7.50.
- Comair (BA franchise) in South Africa – Cape Town can be one of the trickiest destinations to find award availability on given BA’s monopoly on the route. You could fly to Johannesburg instead and use Comair to Cape Town. RFS pricing is used on these routes. The taxes are slightly higher than normal though, costing £64 for business and £56 for economy.
- Use to the Mauritius – As above Comair flies to the Mauritius from Johannesburg. Availability is often tough to find direct from London to the Mauritius. Stopping in Johannesburg and using RFS to Mauritius is a good alternative.
- Fifth freedom routes – These are flights where the plane makes a stop en-route to its primary destination and drops off/picks up passengers at the stop. This is an excellent way to try BA’s First Class or Club World cabins at a more reasonable cost, as all of these routes are priced using RFS pricing.
Examples of these routes are:
ANU (Antigua) – SKB (St Kitts)
POS (Port of Spain) – UVF (St Lucia)
AUH (Abu Dhabi) – MCT (Muscat)
For these flights, Club World costs 18,000 Avios plus just £50 return.
Can everyone access Reward Flight Saver?
Provided you have earned at least 1 Avios point in the last 12 months, you will be able to view and book RFS prices.
Every time someone complains to me saying they can never find a decent way to use their Avios, I point them in the direction of Reward Flight Saver. It is hard to argue with paying £35 for a return journey anywhere within Europe. However, where RFS really comes into its own, is at peak holiday times or when there is an event that is causing cash prices to skyrocket.
Another positive factor is that the Avios required are easily attainable. Simply signing up for an American Express Gold card or BA Premium Plus card would secure you sufficient Avios for two people to book a return journey to Paris or Amsterdam for example.
You can find more details on this page at ba.com