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Three travel hacks you absolutely must not ignore when you redeem AVIOS

This post considers Club Class redemptions on long haul flights only. With the ridiculous UK airport taxes and the increased Avios cost of redemptions, the savings you achieve on economy class redemptions do not justify the effort required to accumulate the Avios. Airport taxes and fees account for most of an economy fare in the UK, and unfortunately you still have to pay these when you book a reward flight. If you redeem AVIOS for seats in economy, you might save a few hundred pounds at most. In Club Class however, that saving will likely be thousands of pounds. So, here are three top travel hacks you cannot afford to ignore when you redeem AVIOS for a Club Class reward flight.

saving money on overseas travel
Save lots of money on your Club Class flights

Book early

I frequently hear complaints from people who struggle to find reward flights. It soon becomes apparent however that they have not planned sufficiently in advance. As British Airways only guarantee four Club Class reward seats on every flight, a couple’s chances of success reduces as the departure date looms. Well, that is unless you plan to book a reward seat to a destination that is seriously UNPOPULAR!

If you want to ensure the highest chance of success you need to plan ahead. British Airways release reward flights 355 days ahead of departure. Select your departure date, minus 355 days and then diarise that date. (This handy calculator allows you to do this quickly!) On that date, do not delay. Jump on the phone or laptop and redeem AVIOS for your Club Class flights.

In the last six months, I have booked flights to both Cancun and Dominican Republic using this exact approach. Which brings me neatly onto hack two.

Diary the date in your calendar
Save the date somewhere you will see it!

Booking beyond the system range

What the hell is a booking beyond the system range I hear you ask? This is essentially any flight that you cannot book online because the system cannot accommodate it. This includes;

  1. Open jaw tickets. For instance, if you want to fly from London to Las Vegas but return to London from Miami this would be an open jaw ticket.
  2. Single fares that you plan to amend to convert into a return fare.

Convertible single fares

Remember I mentioned the 355-day rule above? Well, that 355 days applies to both inbound and outbound flights. If you want to travel out to the Dominican Republic on the 23rd December and return on the 8th January 2024, you can book outbound flights on the 3rd January 2023. You cannot however book inbound flights until the 18th January 2023 (355 days in advance of the 8th January 2024).

The problem is that if you wait until the 18th January to book both outbound and inbound flights, then the two seats in Club Class on the 23rd December may have been snatched up. We travel to Argentina next month and have seats in World Traveller Plus on the outbound leg for this exact reason!!

Frustrated passenger travelling during a pandemic

Book your flights in two steps

Instead, use a companion voucher to book a single outbound fare online or by phone.

If you opt for the latter option, you need to explain your plans to British Airways to ensure they do not attempt to levy service fees or change fees when you call back to add the inbound flight. They should waive some or all of the service fees if you emphasize that you are only calling because it is not possible to make this booking online.

Laptop and flight booking page

The other option is to make the booking online but before you do send a Twitter DM to British Airways and explain your plans. They should be able to put a note on your booking to waive the change fees once the inbound flights become available. This is how I booked my Cancun flights, and it avoids all service charges. The added benefit is that it saves a long wait on the phone to get through to British Airways. I am sure you have better things to do with your time.

Note, when it comes time to book your inbound flight, this is only possible by phone.

Use a Companion voucher

I mentioned a companion voucher earlier. The American Express website indicates that American Express Premium Plus cardholders have access to additional reward flight seats within Club Class. Holding this card may therefore be another way to help redeem Avios in Club Class. Furthermore, the companion voucher helps to ensure that you do not wipe out your entire Avios balance on one long haul flight. This is even more important given the Avios cost has increased substantially for long haul flights in recent years.

Holders of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card earn a companion voucher when they spend £10,000 in a policy year. If you have yet to get a card, use this referral link to secure 26,000 AVIOS when you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. If you go direct to the American Express website you will earn a lower sign up bonus of 25,000 AVIOS.

Avoid the free British Airways American Express card

Do not make the mistake of opting for the free British Airways American Express card as you must spend £12,000 in a policy year to earn a companion voucher and the voucher only allows you to travel in economy class. Remember what I said earlier about the pitiful saving you make if you redeem Avios for seats in economy?

Also, this companion voucher is only valid for 1 year rather than 2 years for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus companion voucher which you can redeem in any class.

A couple travelling with a suitcase

The companion voucher travel hack

If you use a companion voucher, you pay airport fees and taxes for two people but only half the Avios (or if you are a solo traveller you pay taxes and fees for one and 50% of the Avios cost). Our Dominican Republic outbound flights cost a whopping 100,000 Avios as we travel at Christmas time. Without a companion voucher it would cost 200,000. Unless you are a frequent flyer with British Airways, that is a lot of extra spend to earn another 100,000 Avios.

buying goods online

Three travel hacks to redeem Avios for Club Class

As you can see it is not always easy to redeem Avios for Club Class seats. However, these hacks will help you achieve a stress free redemption. Let me know how you get on as I’d love to know where you decide to go when you redeem your Avios. Happy travelling.

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

One comment

  1. 4 guaranteed seats in Club 🙂

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