Long Haul v Short Haul AVIOS Redemptions: Challenged by Adventurous Kate

A Challenge from Adventurous Kate

When Adventurous Kate suggested that we had been conducting our British Airways AVIOS redemptions incorrectly by using them to book long haul flights, I decided to investigate further. I have to confess I was a teeny bit annoyed, as I feel I have well and truly done my research on this subject, but there’s no harm in checking right? After all, she is definitely no novice traveller, and maybe she has spotted something I haven’t!

Long Haul vS hort Haul AVIOS redemptions

She suggested that short haul AVIOS redemptions were better value because of the flat rate tax charge of £35 for economy and £50 for business class. There’s no denying that tax and charges make redemptions far from free, but is it this simple?

AVIOS Redemptions: Economy Class Flights

For economy class, prior to undertaking this research, I would have been inclined to agree. After all, taxes and charges account for the larger part of the fare, making savings minimal.

The figures however say different.  Taking a variety of long and short haul destinations and calculating the AVIOS and tax charges required to fly to them, then comparing this with the cash price for both British Airways and the cheapest fare available, shows it is not that cut and dried.

Flight Route AVIOS Taxes BA Cash Price Skyscanner Cash Price Saving if Book BA Saving if Book Cheapest Flight AVIOS Value (if book BA) AVIOS Value (If book cheapest flight)
London – Mexico City 32,500 £345 £903 £903 £558 £558 0.0172 0.0172
London – Shanghai 39,000 £312 £758 £563 £446 £251 0.0114 0.0064
London – Berlin 8000 £35 £88 £62 £53 £27 0.0066 0.0034
London – Oslo 13,000 £35 £110 £98 £75 £63 0.0058 0.0048
London – Delhi 32,500 £317 £480 £459 £163 £142 0.0050 0.0044
London – Kiev 17,000 £35 £111 £108 £76 £73 0.0045 0.0043
London – Madrid 13,000 £35 £92 £74 £57 £39 0.0044 0.0030
London – New York 26,000 £318 £408 £360 £90 £42 0.0035 0.0016

All fares calculated at 18/11/15 and based on flights departing 29/4/16 and returning 3/5/16

Fares are listed in order of AVIOS value, where value has been calculated taking the relevant saving and dividing by the number of AVIOS used to work out a value in pence for each AVIOS.

For example, to fly to Mexico City, you can pay £345 and 32,500 AVIOS. The cash price for the same flights on British Airways is £903 so your AVIOS have saved you £558.

Mexico City

£558/32,500 is equivalent to a value of just under two pence per AVIOS. The best rate for the short haul flights is less than a penny per AVIOS, whilst New York offers the least value.

To be fair, I have always maintained that using points to fly economy is a waste of time. Your savings are minimal and you are not getting great value from your points.

Yes you can bag cheap European flights (and indeed I have) but when you do the maths, the AVIOS redemptions rate is poor. Do you really want to use 17,000 AVIOS to fly to Kiev to make a paltry saving of £76?

Verdict for Economy: No clear winner

AVIOS Redemptions: Business Class Flights

Lets see what happens if you decide to upgrade and fly business. Using the same dates and destinations, here are the relevant figures for business class, again listed in order of best value at the top.

Flight Route AVIOS Taxes BA Cash Price Skyscanner Cash Price Saving if Book BA Saving if Book Cheapest Flight AVIOS Value (if book BA) AVIOS Value (If book cheapest flight)
London – New York 100,000 £497 £2,739 £2,739 £2,242 £2,242 0.0224 0.0224
London – Mexico City 125,000 £538 £3,100 £3,100 £2,562 £2,562 0.0205 0.0205
London – Shanghai 150,000 £505 £3,459 £2,096 £2,954 £1,591 0.0197 0.0106
London – Berlin 15,500 £50 £341 £288 £291 £238 0.0188 0.0154
London – Kiev 34,000 £50 £509 £439 £459 £389 0.0135 0.0114
London – Delhi 125,000 £496 £2,173 £1,408 £1,677 £912 0.0134 0.0073
London – Madrid 25,500 £50 £269 £240 £219 £190 0.0086 0.0075
London – Oslo 25,500 £50 £242 £409 £192 £359 0.0075 0.0141

It’s still not a slam dunk but as you can see, the rate for business class fares favours long haul flights. Three of the top four flights based on AVIOS value are now long haul flights.

New York AVIOS redemptions
Source: Pixabay

Business Class Verdict: Long Haul Edges Into The Lead

Why stop there though? British Airways offer a credit card which allows you to earn a companion voucher after spending £10,000 in a calendar year. Yes it has a fee of £150 but wait until you see how this changes the table.

Assuming you have managed to bag yourself a voucher, those same flights now work out as follows:

AVIOS Redemptions: Business Class Flights Using A Companion Voucher

Points are used in conjunction with a companion voucher so have been halved to reflect the cost per individual to allow comparison. Obviously, you need two people to be travelling to benefit, but you can use a voucher with a friend or family member, so you simply need to figure out who you are travelling with and get them onboard. Obviously, if you are travelling solo, you are out of luck. Sorry!

Flight Route AVIOS Taxes BA Cash Price Skyscanner Cash Price Saving if Book BA Saving if Book Cheapest Flight AVIOS Value (if book BA) AVIOS Value (If book cheapest flight)
London – New York 50,000 £497 £2,739 £2,739 £2,242 £2,242 0.0448 0.0448
London – Mexico City 62,500 £538 £3,100 £3,100 £2,562 £2,562 0.0410 0.0410
London – Shanghai 75,000 £505 £3,459 £2,096 £2,954 £1,591 0.0394 0.0212
London – Berlin 7,750 £50 £341 £288 £291 £238 0.0375 0.0307
London – Kiev 17,000 £50 £509 £439 £459 £389 0.0270 0.0229
London – Delhi 62,500 £496 £2,173 £1,408 £1,677 £912 0.0268 0.0146
London – Madrid 12,750 £50 £269 £240 £219 £190 0.0172 0.0149
London – Oslo 12,750 £50 £242 £409 £192 £359 0.0151 0.0282

Clearly the order remains the same, but the value of your AVIOS points double! I much prefer the idea of paying £994 in taxes for my husband and I to fly to New York knowing I have saved over £4,000, than using my points to go to Oslo or Berlin, paying £70 in taxes and saving just £106.

Berlin AVIOS Redemptions
Source: Pixabay

Business Class Verdict With a Companion Voucher: Long Haul Wins

This is something of a matter of personal preference as clearly some of the short haul flights offer better AVIOS pence value, however when you look at this in monetary terms, I feel like I am getting a much better deal flying long haul and business class.

Obviously it costs me more money to fly business using AVIOS than it would to fly economy, but that is a price I am prepared to pay. That doesn’t mean you have to.

Overall Verdict

So I’m sorry Adventurous Kate, but I beg to differ with your view that my friends and I are using AVIOS incorrectly. Whilst the short haul flights cost less money, they often offer less AVIOS value.

Furthermore, if I can fly business, for less than the cost of a standard economy ticket, then that is an offer I am not going to refuse.

What Do You Think?

Perhaps you have redeemed AVIOS yourself. Did you use them for long or short haul and what value did you receive?

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. Amazing website. Amazing content with suggestions.
    Thanks for sharing this information.

  2. I hate Avios- I live in Canada and find there is never availability to go anywhere with them. SO frustrating- I’m struggling to try and use my points before they expire in 2017!

  3. Still wondering how to really use avios on capetown to london direct. Realise you cannot upgrade with them unless you buy the highest price ticket so what is the gain.

    • How many AVIOS do you have as I would recommend using them to book your flight if you have enough of them? That said, that route is one that is particularly difficult to find award flights for as it is very popular.

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