British Airways has introduced some new pricing options for Reward Flight Saver redemptions, with the ‘cheapest’ option requiring just £1 in taxes and fees.
One of the best ways to get maximum value from your Avios is by using Reward Flight Saver. Reward Flight Saver puts a cap on the taxes that BA charge on short-haul flights. Economy flights are capped at £35 return and business class costs just £50 return. Plus Avios of course.
This new trial allows you to reduce the cash element even further but in most cases, this is a poor deal, as I’ll explain.
Pay more cash to save Avios, not the other way round
Typically speaking, you’ll look to redeem Avios as a way of saving money, which is why paying more cash to save Avios might seem an odd notion. But it’s not.
Let’s look at Reward Flight Saver flights in economy from London to Rome:
As you can see the ‘cheapest’ option cash-wise is 21,000 Avios + £1. However, you could save 7,000 Avios by paying £34.50. Or to look at it another way, BA is effectively offering you the chance to buy 7,000 Avios for £33.50. I make that 0.47p per Avios – a pretty good price!
Taking another price point, the maths is still good but not quite as compelling. If you chose to pay the maximum amount of cash using the fewest Avios, you’d be using £116 to save 16,350 Avios. Or effectively buying Avios at 0.7p each. But even that is still a good deal in many people’s books.
When you should pick the £1 option
There are some scenarios however when the £1 option is the one you should pick. Primarily, when you don’t actually expect to fly at all.
When you cancel an Avios redemption, you generally can expect to pay a £35 cancellation fee per person. However, what actually happens is that you’ll pay £35, unless the taxes paid are less than that amount. Certain destinations such as Faro, Luxembourg and others cost less than the £35 cap. By booking two one-way tickets, you could, therefore, save on the taxes.
When it comes to cancelling, the maximum amount you pay is the taxes, whatever they might have been. It seems the BA system is just not set up to collect an additional payment to make up the rest of that £35 cancellation fee. On long-haul flights, this is rarely a consideration but for short-haul travel it is far more relevant. Especially, it seems, with this new £1 pricing.
If the odds are pretty strong that you’ll end up cancelling your booking at some point between now and (more than) 24 hours before your flight, you should book the £1 flight option. When cancelling you should* only be charged that £1 of tax, instead of the full £35 cancellation fee.
* This information was correct at the time of writing
£1 Club Europe fares aren’t more attractive either
Club Europe tickets are much the same. Here’s an example of a return trip from London to Faro on peak dates in December:
The option to pick here would be the ‘original’ pricing of 30,000 Avios + £50. Once again, you are paying £49 to save 10,000 Avios over the cheapest £1 quote. That’s 0.49p per Avios – a very good price.
While Tricks of the Trade readers can now see beyond the ‘£1 taxes’ headline, BA will no doubt have plenty of people delighted at the thought of not paying unnecessary cash and opting for the £1 option.
I’ll personally be steering clear unless of course, I want to lock in a very speculative redemption. In that case, the nominal cancellation fee – while it lasts – may well appeal.