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Old Aug 20, 12, 5:49 pm
Grand Union
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 100
Arrow Your guide to spending Avios [Beta]

images: flickr: hilltopper, WorldofArun, Addu, NymphoBrainiac, kk+, chachahavana, d.r.i.p., Canadian Pacific, jonrawlinson, brendan

01 Introduction and overview

So you’ve collected a mountain of Avios Points, how do you spend them?

Well, being an airline, flights would be the logical thing, but you can also spend them on hotel stays or for car rentals or alternatively transfer them to another member if you wish.

Availability varies considerably and it can be a challenge pairing available seats with specific routes on specific dates. Even if you book 11 months in advance, you will often find that certain days of the week are permanently blocked for reward flights. In practice though reward seats often open up closer to the date of travel.

We strongly recommend redeeming for Club or First seats as this is by far the best way to get the best value for your miles. You should also ensure that you get a BA affiliated credit card as many card issuers will award you with a companion voucher after you crossed a certain sped threshold.

If you only have a modest number of Avios, the best value redemption is probably a 20,000 Avios Upgrade with Avios from World Traveller Plus to Club World between London and the East Coast USA (or another equivalent ‘zone’ at that redemption rate).

When spending Avios for flights, there are several options and we’ll cover each of those in turn.

It is worth beginning with a cautionary note. BAEC redemption tickets are calculated as a sum of the individual flights contained in your itinerary. So instead of the normal method of categorising destinations into geographical zones or bands, BAEC has adopted a tariff based on individual flight distance, where each zone is calculated relative to the real distance of each flight. Some may find it bewildering that a network carrier replaced what was an easily understood and widely accepted system of calculation with such a complicated one but BA makes the rules and the purpose of this thread is to help you understand them and maximise the value of your Avios points.

02 Redemption types

Executive Club members are presented with six redemption types:

  • Standard redemptions
  • Multi-partner redemptions
  • Reward Flight Saver
  • Upgrade using Avios
  • Hotel redemptions
  • Car rental redemptions

All flight redemptions are flexible, subject to availability, are valid for 12 months from the date of ticketing, and are pulled from specific inventory:

  • X class*: Economy
  • P class: Premium economy
  • U class: Business
  • Z class: First

* When X class seats have been depleted, Gold members are given access to V class inventory

With all redemptions tickets, you will be charged all applicable taxes. fees, and surcharges in addition to the Avios points used to fund the ticket. These extras do add up to a significant sum. When estimating the cash extras, the general rule of thumb is your Avios points are used in place of the equivalent net fare, and so the airport fees, government taxes, fuel surcharges are all assessed as extras and must be paid in cash when you book your redemption.

The ITA Matrix Airfare Search ( is an excellent online tool for estimating the amount of taxes, fees, and surcharges that apply to your chosen routing.

03 Travel planning

We'll begin with a few headline points covering the basics:

  • Redemption inventory usually opens up 355 days prior to departure. Bookings can be made up to 24 hours before departure. On routes where old fashioned paper tickets are still required, the latest you can book your redemption ticket is 10 days before departure.

    Note, Japanese domestic only redemptions on Japan Airlines cannot be booked more than two months in advance. When booking a domestic return, this applies to the date of the inbound flight.

  • Tickets can be issued to any name you request but you, the BAEC member retain control of the booking and must pay all the taxes, fees, and surcharges assessed against the ticket. So if you have booked a ticket for someone other than yourself to travel and that person wishes to make a change to the booking, you’ll need to contact your local BAEC service centre to request the change. In many cases, the change can be done online.

    Members belonging to a Household Account (HHA) may only use book redemptions for themselves and other members in their HHA.

  • Infants (aged less than 2 years) can travel with you, priced at 10% of the adult rate. In this case, the infant isn’t given a seat. If you need a seat for your infant, you can book one but at the full adult redemption rate. Children aged 2 and over are charged the full redemption rate (they do get a seat though!).

    Note, when travelling on LAN, infants are priced at the full redemption rate, and have their own seat.

  • Stop-overs are permitted and there is no charge for this

  • Tickets can be booked as either a one-way, an open jaw and/or a return. Presently, open jaw tickets (eg, where the inbound arrival city differs from the outbound departure city, or where the outbound departure city differs from the inbound arrival city) can only be booked via your local service centre. Since there is no online functionality, unless you are a Gold card holder, you should expect to be charged a booking fee for an open jaw redemption.

  • Redemption bookings are subject to availability and cannot be waitlisted.

  • Redemption tickets are subject to IATA fare construction rules. These rules only ever come into the equation with complex multi-sector bookings.

  • All redemption tickets are valid for 12 months so the final ticketed sector must be completed within 12 months of the ticket issue date.

Once you’ve figured out where you’re travelling to, who to take along with you, and when to go, the next task is to find available seats. Flexibility is the key. If you find seats on the flights you want on your first attempt, you are very fortunate. Pat yourself on your back. Usually, this part of the planning process involves a little lateral thinking and often quite a lot of time researching.

Having the right tools at your disposal is essential. is good at displaying flight availability but it is not great. Luckily, there are many other online tools that reach the parts cannot reach. struggles with multi sector requests. The easy way around this is to search flights individually and tick off your flights in turn. Searching for partner flights on can be patchy. Some third party tools will display partner flight availability per the respective booking codes, so you need to know what codes to look out for. The following table lists these booking codes by individual carrier. As you can see they are not all the same.

  • For American airline flights, go the to search for availability. Remember though, only MilesAAver seats can be booked with Avios.

  • For oneworld carriers, we recommend Awardnexus. It is very clever, it’s free and is an incredible time saver.

  • For oneworld carriers excluding BA, we recommend Expert Flyer. It is a subscription service and as an online tool it offers universal functionality. Expert Flyer is especially good for finding Aer Lingus and Alaska Airlines seats.

  • For oneworld carriers, KVS provides a further option. Like Expert Flyer it is service you have to pay for but unlike Expert Flyer, it is a desktop tool and is coded to work on Windows only.

  • Finally, and probably most important of all is’s award calculator. This will help you cut through the complexity determining individual sector distances. Without this information, you are not able to assess the exact number of Avios Points you need to book your flights. Karl L Swartz’s Great Circle Mapper tool is a great alternative and is particularly useful for calculated multiple sectors distances at one go.

Once you have constructed your itinerary, the next step is to contact your local service centre to place the booking. If your booking is relatively straight forward, book it online. This will save you the offline booking fee (15/€15/US$25). Gold card holders are exempt from the booking fee and other service fees.

Note, currently only flights on BA and oneworld carriers may be booked online. You need to call BA to book redemptions on Aer Lingus or Alaska Airlines.

04 Ticket changes and cancellations

Date or time changes are permitted up to 24 hours prior to the departure of the first flight sector on your ticket. There is a change fee (25/€25/US$40) plus an additional offline fee (15/€15/US$25) which applies when the change is made via your local BAEC service centre

Cancellations are also permitted. So long as you cancel your ticket no later than 24 hours prior to the departure of the first flight sector on your ticket, you will receive a full refund of Avios Points as well as the taxes, fees, and surcharges paid minus a nominal redeposit fee (25/€25/US$40). The additional offline fee also applies to redeposits.

For the complete fee table, see

Introduction | Standard reward flights | Multi-Partner reward flights | Reward Flight Saver | Avios & Money | Upgrading using Avios | Using your companion vouchers | Additional Gold benefits | Hotel and car rental redemptions

Last edited by Prospero; Aug 4, 13 at 7:00 am Reason: Update booking code matrix
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