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How To Get The Best Value From British Airways Rewards

British Airways redemptions using AVIOS

Getting the best value from your British Airways rewards

Ok so the hard work is out of the way. You now have enough points to book a British Airways reward flight so let the fun commence! New York, Hong Kong or Singapore here I come, I hear you cry!

Or sometimes this can be when the frustration sets in and spending AVIOS becomes a struggle to find the British Airways rewards you seek. You then question why you ever took out all those credit cards, dedicated your life to changing your spending habits and collecting points like a zealot only to get screwed at the final hurdle.

Well today, I am going to provide a bunch of tips to help you get the best value from your British Airways AVIOS, with and without the British Airways companion ticket, then next week I will consider general redemption tips which you can use for British Airways and other airlines.

Do your research

Before redeeming your AVIOS points, it pays to do a little research. I highly recommend using FlyerMiler, a flight mileage calculator tool, to identify the best AVIOS flights based on your available points (you can use this airline alliance infographic to remind you which airlines belong to which alliance).

Manchester to Beijing deals

For instance, British Airways return, off peak business class to Beijing from London requires 125,000 points per person (if you are not using a companion voucher).

A recent sale with Lufthansa allowed bookings in business class for only 70,000 round trip meaning you would get better value from booking two seats with Lufthansa (assuming you have the points) than you would for redeeming a companion pass with British Airways.

The search below on FlyerMiler reveals the current best deal for this fare to be with American Airlines at 52,500 points per person per leg, meaning 105,000 points would be required for a return trip. In this case, we know that 125,000 points (plus £568 in taxes and fees each) for two flying business using the British Airways companion pass is a good deal.

FlyerMiler flight mileage calculator
Manchester to Beijing awards comparison

However if you don’t have a companion voucher, then flying British Airways would not be a good deal, as it will cost you 250,000 points versus 210,000 on American Airlines.

Beijing AVIOS redemption
Beijing AVIOS redemption

The power of an airline alliance

It may also pay to check different sites within the airline’s alliance before proceeding to book, as other airlines may be offering flight rewards for less points or fees. (Note, these flights should be visible on the British Airways website but this isn’t always the case. Also this will not work if you plan to use a companion voucher as these can only be redeemed for flights with British Airways.)

As British Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance, I can fly on any of the partner airlines within the alliance using my AVIOS points. For instance, flights with Qatar (another Oneworld partner) are bookable through the British Airways site for a whopping 240,000 points each but only £377 in taxes and fees. Japan Airlines on the other hand charge 110,000 for their business class flights.

Qatar airlines AVIOS redemption
Qatar airlines AVIOS redemption

Call British Airways

If you manage to find flights on an airline alliance’s site or FlyerMiler which do not show up when you search on the British Airways website, then you can make a note of your preferred flights and call British Airways to attempt to book the flights using AVIOS.

You may find that even the agents themselves cannot find the flights you seek however, so it may be worth giving it a few attempts if you have no joy at outset. Also, don’t forget to ask them to waive the phone booking fee if you cannot find the flights online.

Ready to book (and using a companion voucher)

So having done your research, log into your BA Executive club account and use one of the following three options to determine how many British Airways AVIOS you will need for your flights.

Explorer Map

If you do not know where you are going but have a set amount of AVIOS to use, you can use the Explorer map to indicate which destinations you could visit for your chosen dates. This is ideal if you are flexible on destination and limited by available points.

Follow Executive Club > Spending AVIOS >Reward Availability > Explorer Map

Explorer Map
Use the Explorer Map to decide where you want to go

Reward Flight finder

This option allows you to search for all flights, including a wide variety of alliance partners, and compare up to three destinations in one search. This is useful if you have not decided on your final destination but have an idea of the region you would like to visit and want to speed up your search to show results for more than one destination at a time.

You can only use your companion voucher for British Airways flights but if you do not have one, you can select from any of the airlines shown. Points required vary substantially, as do fees depending on which airline is shown.

For instance, a search for the Beijing flights above returns a cost of 180,000 points plus £294 per person in taxes with Finnair, 172,500 plus £308 with a Cathay/BA/Qatar combo and 125,000 plus £568 with British Airways.

Follow Executive Club > Spending AVIOS >Reward Availability > Reward Flight Finder

Search and book

This operates similiar to reward flight finder in that you can view options from a number of airlines but you can only check for one specific destination and then you can go ahead and book.

Follow Executive Club > Spending AVIOS >Reward Availability > Reward Flight Finder

Using a companion voucher is always going to offer the best value for using your AVIOS although you do need to spend either £20,000 on the British Airways Standard AMEX or £10,000 on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card (if you sign up using this link, you will earn an extra 1,000 points on sign up).

NOT using a companion voucher?

If you don’t plan to use a companion pass then in addition to the search options above, you have some further options for using your AVIOS.

Part payments with AVIOS

As you can see on the BA website, you have the option to pay for your flights with part cash and part AVIOS.

AVIOS redemptions using cash and AVIOS
AVIOS redemptions using cash and AVIOS

However this does not look particularly great value as the options show.

AVIOS and cash Beijing options
AVIOS and cash Beijing options

If I divide the saving by the number of points used, you can see that the value of the points used diminishes the more money I contribute towards the fare. Or to look at it another way, it would perhaps not be unreasonable to conclude that using half the points would increase your cost by two but in fact it increases your cost more than 3 times so I personally would be highly unlikely to ever do this (unless I simply did not have enough points to book what I wanted!).

Full Fare Payment Points Used Taxes and Fees Saving Value per point
£2,330.95 125,000 £506.95 £1,824.00 £0.015
£2,330.95 112,500 £756.95 £1,574.00 £0.014
£2,330.95 93,800 £1,086.95 £1,244.00 £0.013
£2,330.95 75,000 £1,406.95 £924.00 £0.012
£2,330.95 70,000 £1,536.95 £794.00 £0.011
£2,330.95 62,500 £1,636.95 £694.00 £0.011

Upgrading with AVIOS

You also have the option to book flights in premium economy and then upgrade them to business (or economy and upgrade to world traveller plus). This is much more interesting as the figures work out as follows:

Full Fare Payment Points Used Taxes and Fees Saving Value per point
£2,330.95 60000 1022.95 £1,308.00 £0.022
Using AVIOS to upgrade
Using AVIOS to upgrade

You can see that using 60,000 and paying £1022.95 per person results in a saving of £1308 per person giving a value per point of £0.022. See how this compares with the example above combining cash and points where 62,500 points only results in a saving of £694.00, a points value of just £0.011.

You can use this AVIOS value calculator to work out the value of your AVIOS dependent on what the points and taxes and fees are for your chosen flight.

Other considerations

  1. If you want to know whether long haul or short haul offers the best value, the post long haul v short haul considers this very question and may be of interest in helping you to decide.
  2. To ensure the best chances of success in securing your flights, try to book as far as possible in advance.
  3. You can also sign up for an account with ExpertFlyer and set up a seat award alert. That way, if the seats become available that you would like, you will receive an email notifying you.

Hopefully this way, you won’t be disappointed.

Your tasks

So here is a summary of your tasks for the week.

  1. Experiment on the British Airways site to see how many AVIOS you will need to visit your chosen destination
  2. Share the number in the #From Miles To Smiles 90 day challenge group. There is a poll created especially for this which you can access with this link directly.
  3. Compare the points needed with British Airways to those you might need with alternative airlines (although this may be a mute point if you have no miles in other programs) and share any observations in the group.
  4. Pin the picture below to any Pinterest boards you may have so you can find this post when you need it.

Have your say

Have you got any awesome tips you would love to share as we always like to hear from people who have great ideas. Just pop them in the comments below.

Pin this:

AVIOS Redemptions Pinterest

This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a small commission should you click on them and make a purchase. These help towards the cost of running the site, and the occasional glass of wine, but you are under no obligation to use them.

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. Ah this is so great! I’ve got a million Avios and I can never seem to find ways to use them, so very handy indeed. Hopefully I can put them to good use sooner rather than later 🙂

    • Well if you ever get stuck you can always gift them to a deserving party lol!! Personally I think I would be using them to fly First Class to Australia!! LOl

  2. What a detailed and informative post! I don’t have enough miles on British Airways for a reward yet but I do love to fly with them. They once upgraded me to business class on a flight from London to NYC–such a treat!

  3. These are great tips! We’re moving to London in a couple of weeks so I guess we’d be using BA more for our travels. I haven’t tried it yet though well in fact, I haven’t tried any other airline except for Emirates and Qatar Airways which are both really very good. How does BA compare to the GCC carriers?

    • If I am being honest I would say not particularly well to Emirates whereas I think their service is very similiar to Qantas. The only carrier in the Gulf I love is Emirates whereas I find the others pretty average. What is your view?

  4. This is so great – it all seemed so complicated but you really cleared up some of my questions. I haven’t flown BA too many times but I love it whenever I do 🙂

  5. This is an excellent post! I haven’t flown with BA, but my friend had to cancel her entire holiday vacation home last year for Christmas because they cancelled her flight from Seoul, Korea to London without any warning or good reason. After seeing how upset she was and reading the emails to her on behalf of BA, I’ve been skeptical! Good to know you’re able to save so much though. Thanks for sharing!

  6. This is brilliant timing Anne. We just signed up for AVIOS having moved the UK. I am a lifetime QANTAS silver member also so I was really keen to see how the BA program worked. You have cleared the fog. Thanks

  7. My gosh the world of points can be complicated and once you think you know the rules they change on you. For BA I find my best value is on short haul flights because they charge so much in fees for international travel. You have provided some great tips to do searches and compares but like everything it takes practice and patience and in some cases good luck. Thanks for sharing all these tips with us and helping us all travel more for less. Happy Roving!!!

    • The fees definitely are a killer which is why I use my points less to save money on my economy flights (although I do) and more to travel business for less than economy

  8. Yes and BA has some great upgrade options! Keeping up with each airlines rules is tedious, thanks for sharing.

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