Here is a simple guide to how to put your hard-earnt Avios points to good use by redeeming them for reward flights on British Airways.
If you’re new to this site, or to the world of Avios, you’ll first want to read our recent article on how to collect British Airways Avios Points. First and foremost, you need to join the British Airways Executive Club. The BA Executive Club acts as a ‘wallet’ for your Avios, which you can collect in a number of ways. These include flights, online shopping, day-to-day credit card spend and shopping at Tesco. How to collect Avios through these methods are explained in our recent post here.
Now that you’ve earnt a pile of Avios points, read on to find out all about how to redeem them, including how to find Avios redemption availability, and how many Avios points you need for a British Airways reward flight.
What are BA Reward Flights?
A ‘reward flight’ is one of the best things you can redeem your Avios points for. It’s a flight that is paid for primarily using Avios (rather than money), with only taxes, fees and airline charges payable in cash. Given that these taxes generally cost a fixed £17.50 each way in Europe, starting your holiday off with a reward flight paid for using Avios will surely pave the way for a rewarding trip indeed…
Can I get a Reward Flight to anywhere?
Yes. BA redemption flights are possible on any BA route. BA release a certain number of Avios redemption seats for every flight operated by themselves, in economy and business (and almost certainly First) class cabins. However, these can go quickly (especially on the more popular and seasonal routes), sometimes as soon as the flights are loaded on the booking system (355 days prior to the day of departure)! If you have a particular destination in mind, it’s therefore worth planning your BA redemption in advance, and asking yourself questions like ‘how many Avios do I need?’, especially if it’s a popular destination.
How many Avios points do I need for a flight?
British Airways uses a distance-based redemption chart for Avios reward flights. The longer the distance, the more Avios you need. Avios redemptions start at 4,000 Avios plus taxes each way. The BA website offers an Avios Reward Flight calculator which allows you to see how many Avios you need for a particular route.
Note that BA have their own ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ dates. The ‘peak’ dates are generally centred around school and public holidays, which cost more Avios than the same flights on ‘off-peak’ dates. It’s worth noting that ‘off-peak’ dates comprise around two-thirds of the year, so you’ll hopefully be able to find good value redemptions even if you have a limited number of Avios.
What if I don’t have enough Avios for a particular redemption?
For those who are a little bit short of the requisite number of Avios, or if you don’t want to blow all your Avios in one go, British Airways offers a neat feature called ‘Avios and Money’ which allows you to contribute cash in place of some the Avios points you need for a particular flight.
You can also top up your Avios balance by buying Avios (although you can do this through the BA Executive Club, it often works out cheaper to buy Avios through Iberia’s Groupon offer rather than the BA website). Additionally, you can open a household account to make use of the Avios balance of your partner or other family members.
How do I find BA Reward Flights?
There are a number of ways to find availability of Reward Flights which can be booked Avios:
British Airways Executive Club website
British Airways App
Third party tools including BA Redemption Finder
1. British Airways Executive Club website
First, login to your BA Executive Club account. Then choose ‘Book with Avios’ and search for your desired flights. If there are Reward Flights available for your selected date and destination, a screen like this will come up.
At the bottom you’ll see the price in Avios, plus applicable taxes, fees and charges. You’ll also see the ‘Avios & Money’ options. These options range from maximum avios and minimum cash, to minimum avios and maximum cash. In this case the price ranges from 4,000 avios plus £17.50, to 2,200 avios plus £42.50
The subsequent screens ask you to enter passenger details and payment information to get your flight booked.
This option for finding BA reward flights is probably the most straightforward. However, it requires you to know your specific destination and date (although the search results do give an idea of availability a few days either side of your selected date, as demonstrated in the screenshot above).
2. British Airways App
This is my favourite way of finding Avios redemption availability on British Airways. In addition to the standard Avios search feature described above, its Reward Flight Finder option is very useful indeed.
It lets you quickly find availability according to:
For example, If I wanted two return flights in economy class to one of the many European Christmas markets in December, I would simply conduct a search like this.
Without much effort at all, I’ve found a pair of economy tickets to Berlin, departing on 20th December and returning on 24th December. These are ‘peak’ flights which cost 4,500 Avios each way. So the total cost would be 18,000 Avios plus £70 in taxes, fees and charges. And as above, you can use ‘Avios and Money’ to use less Avios and more cash if you so wish.
I think this highlights the fantastic value of some Avios redemptions, considering that similar cash flights on British Airways on the same date are currently priced at over £400.
In this example, you’re getting almost 2p per Avios in value. In many cases, the Avios could be earnt cheaply or even free through credit card bonuses, everyday spend and converting Tesco Clubcard vouchers. For example, the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card which I recently reviewed gives you 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points (convertible 1:1 to Avios) after spending £2,000 within the first three months. You could redeem those points for those two Christmas flights with some change left over!
3. Third party tools including BA Redemption Finder
I recently came across a third party tool which allows you to quickly search for redemption flights. It’s called BA Redemption Finder. I believe it pulls data from the same BA database used by the BA app, but presents the availability in a more user-friendly way, and it also allows you to sign up to email alerts for when seats become available for your desired dates and destination. The BA app does not have this functionality.
There’s a free service, but I’ve signed up to the elite service for £3 monthly. It helped me recently grab a one-way business class flight that had become available from Tokyo to London for a reasonable avios + money price, when cash prices were astronomical. It’s worth checking it out here.
It’s relatively easy to book British Airways Reward Flights using Avios. It would be worthwhile to try using the Avios flight calculator on the BA website, and having a play with some example dates and destinations whilst logged into the BA website. You can also take your Avios reward flight finding to the next level by using the BA app which offers a quick way of checking availability for multiple destinations at once.
If you have any tips to offer about finding BA Reward Flight availability, do let us know in the comments section. If you found it useful, please consider sharing this post with your colleagues, friends and family!