Get a 40% Discount on Select BA Avios Redemptions

Sep 14, 2015

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British Airways redemptions are rarely a good deal on flights from the US to Europe, thanks to incredibly high fuel surcharges, taxes and fees, however you’ll get a bit more value for your Avios under the airline’s current promo.

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If you book award flights by September 27 for travel from October 1 through March 31, 2016, you can get a 40% discount on many BA, Iberia and OpenSkies routes. The easiest way to earn Avios is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points instantly. You can currently earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Because of the cash co-pay required, these awards often don’t make sense at regular rates. For example, you can expect to pay at least $652 in addition to miles for British Airways flights from the US to London, $586 for Iberia flights to Madrid, or $636 for OpenSkies flights to Paris. Those fees are sometimes more costly than the all-in cash price for sale tickets.

Let’s take a look at a couple examples:

JFK to London for 15,600 Avios + $697.
JFK to London for 15,600 Avios + $695.

On the surface, a 15,600-Avios round-trip redemption seems like a steal. The regular off-peak rate for this trip is 26,000 Avios, which also sounds reasonable. However, when you factor in the $695 co-pay, you really aren’t saving much over the cash price.

New York to London for $847.
New York to London for $847.

The same flights will run you $847 round-trip, including taxes and fees, giving you 0.97 cents in value for your Avios. TPG values Avios at 1.6 cents apiece, so this is a terrible deal.

Los Angeles to London for 24,750 Avios + $695.
Los Angeles to London for 24,750 Avios + $695.

Let’s take a look at LAX to London. You’ll pay the same $695 co-pay, but the Avios amount jumps up to 24,750, marked down from 41,250.

Los Angeles to London for $1,085.
Los Angeles to London for $1,085.

Paying cash, the same flights cost $1,085 round-trip, giving you a value of 1.58 cents per Avios, which is just under TPG’s valuation. Ultimately, if you’re flying from the West Coast, this could make sense, though keep in mind that you’ll earn miles on paid flights, while you won’t on redemptions.

If British Airways was offering the same 40% discount on business and first-class awards, this promo could be worthwhile, but due to sky-high cash co-pays, you’ll often get a better deal by booking your economy flight with cold hard cash.

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