How we got expired British Airways Avios back for no fee

Nov 11, 2019

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Your points are only worth what you get out of them and if you let them expire, they aren’t worth anything at all. That recently happened to my mom.

Years ago, a little over three years ago to be exact, my mom (Grandma Points) earned some British Airways Avios both by flying and perhaps using a good transfer bonus. I don’t really remember the specifics, but she had about 26,000 Avios. Then, life moved on and we kinda forgot about them. She dabbles in miles and points, but doesn’t live, breathe and eat them like I do, so it happens.

I had it filed in the back of my head that she had those Avios, but I certainly didn’t think about it all the time. However, we are now planning a return to Europe for next summer and she may join for part of the trip. Knowing she had some Avios, I went to see how many. Current balance: zero. Uh-oh.

Grandma Points flying home in style from Europe last year (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Grandma Points flying home in style from Europe last year (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Apparently just last month, her Avios had expired. All 26,235 of them.

British Airways Avios expire after three years with no earning or burning activity. It’s really easy to keep them alive by earning or using them, but apparently, it’s also possible to let them go to waste when you don’t  utilize the BA program every so often.

Related: Guide to keeping your British Airways Avios from expiring

Before telling her the bad news, I picked up the phone and called the British Airways Executive Club. I’d read that they might reinstate the Avios as a one-time courtesy, so I rolled the dice. As an aside, I’d also read that the U.K. call center was more likely to do this than the U.S. call center, especially if you were routed to India via the U.S. number. But again, I just rolled the dice with the U.S. center as a starting place. (But file that away in case your first request doesn’t work out.)

After explaining that my mom had accidentally lost track of the expiration date, and establishing I was an authorized party on the account, I was told they would request the Avios be reinstated at no fee. This was not a guarantee, but rather a request that would be pushed forward.

The next day, the Avios were all back.

I was told on the phone we’d only have 30 days to use them if they were reinstated. It is hard to know when exactly they expire this time, as BA doesn’t list a clear Avios expiration date. However, we won’t risk anything, and will make an award booking in the next 30 days to be safe. With Avios, you can change or cancel your bookings without a ton of risk.

Related: How to maximize the British Airways distance-based award chart

Yes, using Avios can come with big fees if flying British Airways, but it can also still be a really good deal. It’s hard to scoff at the possibility of using 6,500 Avios plus $93.70 to fly NYC to London. Regardless of how you use them, getting some value is much better than having them disappear. If you lose track of time and your Avios expire, make a call to British Airways before giving up on them.

Have you ever had points disappear on you, only to successfully have them put back into your account? Of course, the best plan of all is have your points balances tracked by a service like Award Wallet, so this doesn’t happen to you.

Featured image courtesy of British Airways

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