British Airways Reward Flights: A Beginner’s Guide

Today’s blog post in the LondonSpotter Miles and Points series has been requested a huge amount of times by my UK readers who still find lots of complicated posts online about cashing in miles for reward flights on British Airways but no simple guide which lays out the basics – look no further as here is your A-Z guide with everything you need to know.

Still not 100% sure what miles and points really are and how to generate them? No problem, I have you covered. Go to Miles and Points and click on the lessons for dummies then come back here for your exclusive lesson in British Airways award flights.

The British Airways executive club is a great place to cash in all those hard earned points you’ve generated through flying or on your British Airways credit cards in return for cheap travel.

To start your search for award bookings and flights, go to BA.com and log into your executive club account. Once you’re logged in, go to ‘Spending Avios’ and select ‘Reward Flights’ to pull up the search page.

The search page will give you two options. You can either book a revenue flight (a full fare ticket) and upgrade using your miles (this option is more expensive as you still have to shell out for the flight but makes sense if you still want to generate airmiles on the flight as you will earn miles based on the cabin you purchased) or you can simply search for award flights under ‘Book with Avios’. Let’s go ahead and look at booking a flight with avios.

How many Avios do I need?

The amount of Avios you will need to pay for a British Airways Reward ticket is based on two things: The region you’re flying to (based on miles) and the cabin you’re flying in. Here is the British Airways chart which should be your go-to table when booking award flights.

Examples: So if you’re flying from London to Amsterdam you are obviously still in zone 1 so you’ll pay 4,500 avios (4,000 in off-peak times) and 9,000 in business class (7,750 in off-peak times). Next week, I will be flying to Athens in Greece in business class which falls into zone 3. I, therefore, paid 20,000 miles as it is peak season. Simple.

Booking process:

While booking revenue tickets with airlines, I’m sure you will have noticed that buying a return ticket drastically brings prices down. This is not the case with reward flights. Reward flights are one way tickets and buying a return is simply double the price of a one-way. This is great as it gives you much more flexibility when booking trips.

As an example booking, I’m going to search for London – Moscow on a one-way ticket on March 8th in economy class.

Straight away you can see that it says ‘off-peak’ so we know that we will be paying the reduced number of avios on the above chart. Seeing as Moscow falls into zone 3, that number is 8,500 avios. In the below picture, you will see that their is also an amount to be paid in cash – these fees are taxes, airline charges and government charges which are thrown into every ticket and HAVE to be paid. While flying within Europe, these fees are not huge. As you can see, we only have to pay £17.50 for this flight to Moscow but as soon as we start to book other tickets to further destinations, prices begin to ROCKET.

For example, if you book a business class flight to New York, you’ll be set back £372 in fees. I’ll come on to how to avoid these charges later on in the article.

Once you have selected your flight, you will then be given the option to reduce the amount of Avios you use in favour of using more money. Once you select the ratio you want to use, continue like you would with any other ticket, confirm your details, pay the necessary charges (I suggest paying using the British Airways Premium Plus Card as it gives you 3x bonus for transactions on BA.com) and submit.

So there is your brief overview on HOW to book British Airways flights on BA.com but what makes the system with executive club worthwhile is the fact that you can book flights with other airlines too and what is even better is that the charges on those flights are rarely as high.

Booking tickets on other airlines through BA:

If you’re a keen reader, you’ll know that I booked to fly on Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 for £27 and 9,000 Avios. Unfortunately the aircraft was swapped to a Cathay Dragon A330-300 but nonetheless, I was very happy with the deal.

I have booked several tickets on American Airlines using BA.com, too. Zone 1 fares have no been scrapped within the USA but you can still get some amazing deals. My favourite redemption has to be West Coast to Hawaii for 12,500 Avios and a killing $5.60.

Zone 1 fares may not be available within American anymore, but they are within Japan with Japan Airlines.

Avios can be used to book flights on any of BA’s oneworld partners as well as their non-alliance partners such as Alaska and Aer Lingus.

Avoiding hefty fees on British Airways flights:

As I mentioned above, booking flights with British Airways may not seem worth it because of the hefty charges they lay on. There are a couple of ways to reduce these costs such as: avoid flying British Airways and use your executive club to book flights on other carriers or don’t fly out of London. By routing your flight out of Dublin you can reduce the fees of that £372 New York flight to £163. Now obviously you have to start your trip from Dublin but it is easy enough to position there on a Ryanair flight eh?

I will make a much more in depth article on avoiding hefty BA fees soon but for now, play around with avoiding London and see just how big of a discount you can get yourself!

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AMEX Preferred Gold Credit Card | Full Review

Over the last few months I have found that once you start using American Express credit cards it becomes pretty hard to stop. Last month I explained how you could book Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class for £30.10 with an American Express card that cost £195 – today I am going to explain how you can do it with a card which is free.

While explaining the benefits of my new American Express Preferred Gold Credit Card to a friend a few days ago it actually dawned on me that there is quite simply no good reason to say no to this card.

I bet you’ve never pulled a gold credit card out before!

I’m going to make this article very brief and start explaining why you cannot say no to having this card in your wallet.

1.  As I mentioned above – THIS CARD IS FREE – now although this is only true for the first year of membership, American Express allows you to cancel your card at any time which means if you are clever, you won’t pay a single penny. Every year after this will cost you £140.

2. The second reason you have to get this card is flexibility, the miles you earn on this card are available to transfer to a whopping 17 airline partners and three hotel partners. This means that you can keep your points in your AMEX account and when you have decided who you want to fly with, you can transfer your miles to the necessary partner airline.

3. The third reason is the solid sign-up bonus. You will receive 20,000 miles FOR FREE if you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months of having the card.

4. Having this card will allow you FREE LOUNGE ACCESS at any Lounge Club partner lounges around the world 2 times a year and after you have used these two passes you’ll be able to enter these lounges for only £15.

5. If you’re staying in one of AMEX’s 500 hotel partner chains then you will receive $75 room credit to spend on food, drink and more as well as FREE UPGRADES where available at check in.

6. Finally having this card will enable you to earn 1 American Express Membership point for every £1 you spend as well as 2 points for every £1 spent with airlines or in foreign currencies. Furthermore, you can earn yourself 3 points for every £1 spent on AMEX’s official travel agency site.

7. If you’re a big spender who will spend £15,000 in a year then it is worth holding on to your card as you’ll receive an extra 10,000 points as a bonus.

On top of all of these benefits you are also subject to lots of travel protection, be eligible for American Express Invites events and more.

Photo: AMEX

So, after I’ve listed all of those perks of having the American Express Gold Card – what reason could you possibly have to say no? Feel free to drop me a message and explain your reasoning to me as I am yet to hear a good answer! 

If you’re still hesitant then let me give you one more perk: If you sign up using the link below then you will receive a bonus 2,000 membership points on sign up meaning your bonus is 22,000 instead of the ordinary 20,000!

To sign up for the American Express Gold Preferred Credit Card then click here!

Happy Spending and Happy Flying!

featured image found on Luxury Travel Diary – source unknown.

I Am Flying Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class for £30.10 – Here is How I Did It.

I’m always looking for the best flight deals around and while I usually book revenue fares, I also try and look for some good deals that can be redeemed with air miles.

While looking at airlines that I wanted to review this summer, it struck me that while I have flown many times on a Boeing 787, I have hardly ever flown on an Airbus A350 so I decided to have a hunt for Cathay Pacific A350 flights to review.

Photo by Zach Honig from thepointsguy.com

Now many of you will know that my newest credit card is the American Express British Airways Premium Plus card which I want to talk to you about today and show you how you can use it to get some incredible deals like the one I just booked.

What is great about this card is the sign-up bonus it will give you. Now although the sign-up bonus is lower than lots of cards you will see advertised for the US market, its the best you’re going to get for British Airways cards in the UK.

Anyway, now onto the perks:

1.  If you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months, you will be awarded a generous 25,000 Avios points.

2. Every time you make a purchase you will receive 1.5 Avios points for every £1 you spend.

3. Every time you buy a flight on BA.com, you will get 3 Avios points per £1 you spend.

4. If you spend £10,000 in your first year, you will receive a companion voucher which enables you to buy one flight and receive a second ticket on the same flight in the same cabin for free!

5. If you refer a friend you will receive an extra 9,000 Avios points and they will receive a welcome 1,000.

So, with that said, here is how I made use of my new card. As I said above, I knew that I wanted a new business class product on an A350 to review for you guys so while browsing on Kayak I found that Cathay Pacific operates the Hong Kong – Taipei leg on one of their new Airbus A350-900 series so I looked to buy a revenue ticket but prices were pretty expensive.

Now, Cathay Pacific are part of the OneWorld alliance which means I can use Avios (which I got as part of my American Express deal) to book flights with them through partner airline British Airways and to my surprise it was incredibly cheap.

And just like that I am paying £30.10 to sit in the business class of one of the best airlines in the world and only making a dent of 9,000 Avios into my 25,000 start-up bonus. On this occasion I actually went a bit further and purchased a Cathay Dragon A321 business class flight and then a return flight on the Cathay Pacific A350-900 in Premium Economy which meant that I paid a total of 24,000 Avios and £57 – a huge saving from the £1,000+ I would have paid as a normal revenue passenger.

So, if you haven’t already then sign up for the American Express Card here (plus if you use my link you’ll get a bonus 1,000 after signing up), spend £3,000 in the first three months (far easier than you’d originally think if you get a supplementary card for family members) and spend those Avios on awesome flights like me!

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featured image by Zach Honig from thepointsguy.com