Many people in the UK join AVIOS rewards with the mistaken belief that they will be able to book free flights or save a fortune on economy fares. This is a myth which may cost you dearly. There is no such thing as a free reward flight in the UK. Furthermore, British Airways and the oneworld airline partners rarely offer the cheapest economy fares. As taxes and fees make up the bulk of an economy price ticket, your hard-earned AVIOS might save you very little compared to the cheapest economy ticket elsewhere. This post outlines three rules which you should ignore at your peril when you join AVIOS rewards.
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Ok, so let’s dive into the three rules you must not ignore if you want to get value from collecting AVIOS
Rule one – do not join AVIOS rewards without a clear goal
You may be itching to join AVIOS rewards and start collecting AVIOS but let’s take a step back. Why are you here? What made you check out this post?
The most important step for beginners is to decide why you want to travel hack (the posh term for collecting airmiles or AVIOS). This is especially important in the UK, as travel hacking requires effort. Yes, I am going to help make it easier for you, but you will need to be prepared to invest some time and effort. For this reason, it is essential you have a clear goal. Otherwise, you will waste time, effort and ultimately money.
Why I joined AVIOS rewards
I didn’t want to fly long-haul in economy class when I could fly business class for less. Whilst I have always loved flying, flying business class is sheer, foot-hopping excitement for me. It’s the best way to start your journey (other than travelling in First of course!).
You can skip the queues, and relax in peaceful surroundings with a glass of champagne before your flight. Maybe even partake in a spa treatment before you board and sink into your seat which converts into a flatbed for the long flight ahead. You can feast on beautifully presented food and high-end wines during the flight AND be first off the plane. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to fly business if it didn’t cost them more than the price of an economy seat?
With a clear goal, you will have a compelling reason to complete the regular challenges that I propose. It is these small steps that will help you reach your goal.
Your Travel Hacking Goals
So let’s start with YOUR goal. Maybe you aren’t sure what your goal is yet but that’s awesome. That means you get to have lots of fun thinking of one. Maybe a trip to Buenos Aires to learn the tango, or to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro?
So stop what you are doing and complete the following goal statement.
‘I want to travel hack because I want to go to [enter destination] for [enter reason] in [enter date and year]. If I do not travel hack, it will cost me [enter cost].
‘I want to travel hack because I want to fly to Sydney in first-class for my honeymoon in 2020. If I do not travel hack, it will cost me £8,000.’
Goal setting rules when you join AVIOS rewards
I’m not going to go into the psychology of goal setting but there are a few important things to note. Your goal must be specific and it must be time-bound. It’s no good saying I want to go somewhere, sometime as that is not going to focus your mind. You can see from this example that to achieve this goal would cost £8,000 but what if you could do it for just over £1,000? That would be pretty compelling, right? That cost-saving might be all you need to remain motivated on days when you are wading through credit card receipts and paying bills (yes, I am afraid you do have to pay them off!).
Think big! Get your thinking cap on and start dreaming. Maybe you are getting married and want to kick off your honeymoon in style. Maybe you wish to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary somewhere exotic. Be clear and your motivation will be high!
But also be realistic. If you are just getting started, you need to be planning a trip at least a year out. It will take time to earn the AVIOS and you will need enough time to redeem them.
You may need to do a quick search on Skyscanner to find out how much your goal is going to cost you before you can complete the last box but don’t move on until you have figured out what your goal is.
If you aren’t sure yet, feel free to jot down some ideas or get chatting on the From Miles To Smiles Facebook page. Be sure to use #MilestosmilesAVIOSchallenge to tag your queries and comments.
Also, why not let everyone know that you are taking part in the #MilestosmilesAVIOSchallenge by sharing a tweet like the one below?
|‘I’m taking the #MilestosmilesAVIOSchallenge’ Via @milestosmiles1|
Rule 2 – do not join AVIOS rewards to fly economy
Seriously, do not even bother joining AVIOS if your sole aim is to fly economy. This post considers how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to collecting AVIOS. If you use AVIOS to fly economy or short-haul, it is a sure-fire way to waste time and money.
You will save thousands if you pick a long haul destination in Business or First class as your goal. You might save a meagre £100 if you choose to fly economy.
Rule 3 – do not join multiple rewards programmes
AVIOS is the reward currency for the British Airways Executive Club rewards scheme. However, British Airways is part of oneworld, an airline alliance which brings together 13 world-class airlines. Oneworld brings together 3,500 planes, 1,000 airports, and 650 lounges giving you plenty of options to use those hard-earned AVIOS.
You can use your AVIOS to book flights with all the airlines in the alliance using just one rewards scheme. This free airline alliance infographic highlights which airlines are part of which alliance.
All you need to do therefore is:
- Pick your preferred airline within the oneworld alliance
- Sign up for only that Loyalty Programme
- Repeat for other members of your family
- Sign up for a household account if your airline alliance has one. For instance, providing you all live at the same address, you can add up to six people to your British Airways household account. This allows you to combine all your points and ramp up your balance.
Check out the airline alliance
Oneworld alliance, which includes Finnair, Qatar airlines, Berlin Airlines, Iberia, Qantas and many more. Whether you join AVIOS rewards (via the British Airways Executive Club) loyalty scheme or another scheme, whenever you fly with any other oneworld airline simply quote your membership number and earn AVIOS once the flight has been taken.
In the UK, you really should join AVIOS rewards. This happens automatically when you sign up for a British Airways Executive club membership. The reason I say this is because British Airways are the only oneworld airline to offer a branded credit card in the U.K. This card allows you to earn 1.5 points per £1 spent. You also earn a companion voucher for any year in which you spend £10,000 on the British Airways Premium AMEX card. The airline also offer lots of long and short-haul routes which gives you more chance of finding flights.
Now, please don’t do what I did and join multiple reward schemes. You will end up with small amounts in each and it is not possible to combine them to book a flight. You need absolute clarity and focus if you want to build a balance quickly.
Two steps to success when you join AVIOS rewards
Commit to the AVIOS challenge
The AVIOS challenge is for those people who want to indulge in a little luxury without paying the luxury price tag to do so. Over the course of the challenge, you will learn lots of different ways to earn AVIOS which you can redeem for BA reward flights in business class for less than the cost of economy.
I cover the UK aspects of travel hacking, but for US based wannabe hackers, Jackie from The Globetrotting Teacher shares her extensive travel hacking knowledge on her blog. LeAnna, of Economical Excursionists, also offers tons of expertise on the US and Europe.
The challenge will provide you with step by step templates to assist you in achieving your goals, whether it be a once in a lifetime trip for your wedding, honeymoon or anniversary, or an annual long-haul trip in style. You will also gain access to handy infographics covering key topics which you will be able to return to again and again.
Join the conversation
You can join the conversation on social media. Simply follow the Miles to Smiles page and start chatting. Think of the #From Miles To Smiles Facebook page as your support group. Much in the same way that people join Weightwatchers to benefit from the support and knowledge of others in their quest to lose weight, you will be able to share your experience and knowledge with others wanting to become expert travel hackers.
Although this may seem like a lot of work, please don’t skip this step as doing this thoroughly at the outset will mean you achieve your dream quicker.
Your tasks this week
So here’s a recap of your tasks for the week:
- Identify your preferred airline within that alliance
- Sign up you and your partner and children for their loyalty program
- Record all the details of your frequent flyer programs
- Share your progress on the Miles to Smiles page
If you have any queries, you can get in touch below or on the Facebook group. Don’t be shy as I really want to help you on your way to more miles. No question is foolish and I will aim to reply as quickly as humanly possible.
How about a freebie?
As a thank you for visiting #From Miles To Smiles today, how would you like a FREE copy of my E-book? This taster copy gives you some great insight into getting started with airmiles so you will be on your way to business class travel in no time.
Thanks Anne, I will try giving them a call as you suggest. What do you think about purchasing avios at this time?
hi Ian, I haven’t looked at the costs lately but did cover buying AVIOS previously. I personally wouldn’t just in case a number of airlines collapse and leave them worthless. I actually spent a bunch of mine yesterday on 🍷 so I can be sure to get some value! That said I have almost a million so it is worthwhile!
I have just received my first BA companion voucher and have two years to use it. I currently have 61,415 avios points and am considering using the current offer through AMEX (+75%) to increase my points for a return business class flight to Sydney from September next year through 2022 – the AMEX offer finishes on 18 May. Financially it seems to make sense: cost of 262,500 avios is £2,415 + BA taxes for the flight, I am guessing at £1500 – which at c£4000 is nearly half the price quoted for return BA flight for two in Feb 2021.
My concern is actually being able to book seats having read various reviews over the last 48 hours. I would value your advice before committing to a purchase of additional avios points.
Many thanks, Ian
Hi Ian, you can only book seats usually with BA 355 days in advance so for September 2021 in theory it would be October this year before you could book flights. For AVIOS bookings once booked you can cancel for a full refund of your AVIOS and taxes and fees less an admin fee which I think is £35 each flight from memory. You could try calling them as I’m guessing they will be desperate for cash in but they likely won’t be able to commit to flight schedules so far in advance