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How to Reinstate Expired British Airways Avios

Aug. 05, 2016
5 min read
How to Reinstate Expired British Airways Avios
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Especially if you collect points and miles across several programs, it can be difficult to keep track of your award travel balances. While ideally you never let your miles expire, TPG Contributor Akash Gupta explains how you can recoup lost rewards in the British Airways Executive Program.

British Airways Avios are among the most valuable airline mileage currencies out there — not necessarily for long-haul redemptions, but rather for short- to mid-haul options on Oneworld airlines. Despite the most recent devaluation, British Airways remains one of the most popular transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. But a well-balanced award travel strategy requires activity across a variety of frequent flyer programs, which, in turn, demands a good deal of management. If you don’t hold the British Airways Visa Signature Card to earn Avios through spending, an unfortunate slip in memory or a miscalculation may very well lead to the expiration of your precious Avios despite several transfer options. In such cases, is there a way to get them back? There sure is — just call the right number and ask!

In the midst of a points and miles discussion with my dad, we discovered that almost 50,000 Avios in his Executive Club account had expired almost a year ago after three years of inactivity (and some forgetfulness). Remembering TPG's advice that it never hurts to ask, I called the Executive Club's US customer service number on his behalf to ask if something could be done about it. I was apparently transferred to a call center in India, from where the agent confirmed some account details and then politely told me that these Avios were gone for good. I called again to try my luck with a different agent and the rep denied my request as well. I tried one last time and the exact same thing happened yet again.

British Airways’ US helpline isn't as helpful as its British counterpart.

Not ready to give up, I took to frequent flyer forums and blogs, and discovered quite a few testimonials that demonstrated a consistent generosity on BA’s part to reinstate expired Avios on request — if you could reach a customer service representative based in the UK. Deciding against trial and error with the US number, I dialed the British digits and was connected with a delightfully pleasant agent.

I explained the mistake to him, and said that I regretted my oversight of any reminder emails that may have been sent. In an extremely understanding tone, he apologized that I didn’t get the reminder email and offered to submit a request to reinstate the expired Avios. Even though he referred to this as a request, he indirectly assured me that it was a done deal and I would see the points a day or two after the weekend. However, the condition for restoration was to display activity of at least 1 Avios within the next three months to protect them for the following three years.

The expired and reinstated Avios transactions — safe for another three years!

The following Saturday morning, despite it being a weekend, the expired Avios were back in the account! I also received a detailed and courteous email confirming the reinstitution as well as tips on how to keep them from expiring again. We immediately transferred a few Avios from my dad’s Membership Rewards account to satisfy the three-month condition given over the phone to be on the safe side – even though the email quoted that timeline as three years instead. A brilliant outcome for just 10-15 minutes of work over the phone!

BA Email
British Airways Executive Club’s kind follow-up email.

Lastly, upon closer inspection it seems that British Airways extends the life of expiring Avios by three months by default. For example, my father’s Avios were supposed to expire in September in accordance with the three-year period. But instead they expired in December – three months later without any intervention on our part. Same thing with my mother’s Executive Club account; they expired in November rather than August. However, in her case, even agents from the UK were initially unable to recover the expired miles, since their systems showed that she had received two extensions already. However, when I called back again a UK rep didn't mention the two "grace extensions," and they put in a request that led to her Avios being redeposited within four hours! Like my dad, she received a follow-up email with the condition that she display activity of at least 1 Avios within the next three months.

Bottom Line

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It's easy to keep your points and miles from expiring — simply travel with the airline or hotel brand, use a shopping portal, make a purchase through a dining program or even donate some travel rewards. However, if you lose track of time or simply forget about your Executive Club account, it's good to know that reaching the right customer service desk can help you get your Avios back. Just remember to ask nicely!

Have you had any luck reinstating expired Avios or other loyalty currencies?

Featured image by Save on British Airway redemptions from London. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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