Rate my redemption: New York to London in British Airways economy, using Avios

May 15, 2022

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a new series to help you redeem your miles and points for maximum value. If you would like our loyalty experts to rate your redemption, please email  ben.smithson@thepointsguy.co.uk with a description of what you redeemed your airline, hotel or credit card points or miles for, and why. Please do not include any personally identifying information like passenger name records or passport details.


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Today, TPG UK’s own social media superstar Liam Spencer shares his most recent redemption:

In July I’m flying to New York to film a very special video for TPG UK’s YouTube channel (stayed tuned!) with a few other members of the team. It will be the first time I’ve visited the Big Apple since COVID-19 halted travel all the way back in March 2020, so I wanted to give myself a good amount of time to become reacquainted with the city.

I booked a week’s vacation in the city following the work trip, with plans for another friend to fly out of London and meet me in NYC. This meant I needed to book a flight back home to London in early August.

After a quick scan on Google Flights, the cheapest nonstop one-way economy fare available was a 422 euro [$519.53] ticket with Delta, and a British Airways flight would have cost 515 euros [$634.03].

Neither of these options was particularly appealing, especially given that I’d built up a fairly hefty balance of over 200,000 points across various programs during the last couple of years, with little chance to use them thanks to the pandemic.

I found excellent award availability with British Airways, and decided to book a one-way ticket from JFK to London Heathrow in World Traveller economy for 30,000 Avios and 46 euros [$56.63] in taxes and fees. This to me felt like a great savings on the cheapest cash price, and also gave me a chance to dip into my points balance for the first time in a couple of years.

How do you rate my redemption?

Ordinarily, I don’t recommend redeeming any airline points or miles for long-haul economy flights. This is because the fees, taxes and surcharges can be close to the cost of a normal cash fare. For example, I can see round-trip nonstop flights from London to New York from as low as $453 in off-peak periods.

You could alternatively redeem 13,000 Avios plus $492.45 in fees, taxes and surcharges. This would not be a good redemption as you would be paying more in fees, taxes and surcharges than the cost of a cash fare, plus be parting with 13,000 Avios.

British Airways offers a sliding scale for Avios redemptions like this — you can reduce the cost of your fees, taxes and surcharges by paying with more Avios — this is what Liam did to pay only 46 euros ($56.63) on top of his Avios for his one-way flight.

(Screenshot from British Airways)

Related: Why are the fees, taxes and surcharges on Avios redemptions so high?

A quirk of transatlantic flights is that one-way fares are often more expensive than a round-trip flight on the same route and dates. Liam found a one-way BA flight for 515 euros ($634.03), though the price would have dropped to as low as 431 euros ($530.61) if he had booked a New York-to-London round trip, rather than a one-way flight.

Even compared to the $530.61 price, Liam is getting good value from his Avios redeeming the way he did. Using our current valuation of Avios of 1.5 cents each, his 30,000 Avios plus $56.63 in fees, taxes and surcharges would be worth $506.63. Using this to save $530.61, he’s getting around 1.7 cents in value per Avios.

He would have achieved slightly better value by paying less Avios and more fees, taxes and surcharges on the sliding scale above, but I recognize Liam is keen to use more Avios as he has a large balance.

Related: The best flights to ease jet lag when traveling to or from London

So, I rate this redemption a smart use of Avios. Just remember to check the price of round-trip cash fares across the Atlantic next time, as you may find them cheaper than one-way.

Featured photo by J.T. Genter/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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