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British Airways is no newbie to the airline industry, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
While most American travelers may stick with a domestic airline as their preferred option, BA is a member of the oneworld alliance which makes it easy to use Avios with partners like Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, as well as international airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and more.
British Airways is focused on helping passengers with accessibility, which can make traveling a lot easier for many who may otherwise find it challenging. Recently, British Airways was awarded the prestigious Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society, becoming the first recognized autism-friendly airline in the UK. The airline continues to put substantial investment in accessibility training for all of its customer service staff.
British Airways’ Executive Club Rewards Program for frequent flyers uses points called Avios. Here are some details:
In addition to Avios, British Airways uses Tier Points, which you earn on BA flights and flights on partner airlines. Tier Points are only used to help you move up through the membership tiers. Avios are for cashing in rewards, like for award flights, and Tier Points are just for increasing your member status. Unlike Avios, your Tier Points reset to zero each membership year.
The main way to earn Avios is by booking flights with British Airways or airline partners. You’ll earn a minimum of 125 Avios on any flight, with the Avios earned increasing by fare class and tier level in the Executive Club program. Almost all BA flights are eligible for Avios and Tier Points. The only flights you don’t earn them on are reward flights, agency discounted fares, and industry discounted fares.
Here’s are some example fare classes and the Avios you’ll earn with each:
|Fare Class||Avios Awarded||Minimum Avios Earned||Tier Points Earned|
|Economy (K, L, M, N, S, V)||50% of miles flown||250||50%|
|Business Class (R, I)||150% of miles flown||750||100%|
|First Class (A)||250% of miles flown||1,250||100%|
British Airways also has a calculator on its website to determine the Avios you’ll earn for specific routes and tiers, so you can see what you’ll get for any particular flight. Take note that if you book flights on airlines other than BA, you’ll earn Avios at different rates.
Here’s what a sample flight from New York City (JFK) to London (LHR) would cost:
And here’s how many Avios and Tier Points you’d earn on that flight, for each flight class:
So, you’d earn 3,458 Avios and 70 Tier Points for a flexible economy seat on this flight. But you could actually earn more Avios with the BA credit card — keep reading to learn how.
There are four tiers in the Executive Club rewards program (or “programme,” as they say over there): Blue, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Like most airlines, as the tier increases so do the benefits and Avios earned. Here are some of the differences laid out by tier:
|Eligibility||Join Executive Club frequent flyer program||Fly BA at least twice and earn 300 Tier Points, or take a total of 25 BA flights||Fly BA at least 4 times and earn 600 Tier Points, or take a total of 50 BA flights||Fly BA at least 4 times and earn 1,500 Tier Points|
|Bonus Avios on BA flights||None||25%||50%||100%|
|Household Program for pooling Avios||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Priority check-in and boarding||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free seat selection||No||7 days before departure||At booking||At booking|
|Two free checked bags (Except on basic fares)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
Most of the offerings are fairly standard as airline member programs go, but there are some special perks including:
Like most other airlines, the exact number of Avios needed for a free flight depends on the departure and arrival locations, time of year, and if any promotions are happening.
For example, an award flight from London to Belfast, which might normally cost $174 one way, would use 4,500 Avios and cost approximately $36 in fees:
So, this flight would be a fairly good deal because you’d be getting a bit over 3 cents per Avios, although you can probably find even better options throughout the U.S. and Europe.
One frequent Executive Club traveler, R.J. Weiss of The Ways to Wealth, shares some insights on making the most of BA’s points: “Unlike many other airlines, British Airways’ Executive Club program uses a distance-based award chart. This can create some unique opportunities to get a great value on your Avios points, especially for short-haul domestic flights.”
Weiss explains, “As an example, I fly between Chicago and Florida a lot to visit family. A ticket from Chicago to Fort Myers can cost as low as 7,500 Avios, which is booked through American Airlines (a British Airways partner). If I were to book that same flight through American Airlines’ AAdvantage loyalty program, it would cost 12,500 points.”
Of course, award flight values can vary depending on any special promotions running. So, if you’re booking with an airline partner, you’ll want to check both that partner and British Airways to see which value is best.
In the meantime, we’ve put together tables to help you get an idea of what you’ll have to pay for the typical British Airways award flight.
This table displays prices for flights booked with British Airways.
|Zone (Distance)||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
|1 (1–650 miles)||4,000||4,500||5,750||6,750||7,750||9,000||15,500||18,000|
|2 (651–1,151 miles)||6,500||7,500||9,500||11,250||12,750||15,000||25,500||30,000|
|3 (1,152–2,000 miles)||8,500||10,000||12,750||15,000||17,000||20,000||34,000||40,000|
|4 (2,001–3,000 miles)||10,000||12,500||20,000||25,000||31,250||37,500||42,500||50,000|
|5 (3,001–4,000 miles)||13,000||20,000||26,000||40,000||50,000||60,000||68,000||80,000|
|6 (4,001–5,500 miles)||16,250||25,000||32,500||50,000||62,500||75,000||85,000||100,000|
|7 (5,501–6,500 miles)||19,500||30,000||39,000||60,000||75,000||90,000||102,000||120,000|
|8 (6,501–7,000 miles)||22,750||35,000||45,500||70,000||87,500||105,000||119,000||140,000|
|9 (7,001+ miles)||32,500||50,000||65,000||100,000||125,000||150,000||170,000||200,000|
Award flights with partner airlines cost a bit more. You can find these prices below thanks to Flyertalk user KARFA, who originally constructed a similar table on the Flyertalk forum.
|Zone (Distance)||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
|1 (1–650 miles)||6,000||9,000||12,500||24,000|
|2 (650–1,151 miles)||9,000||12,500||16,500||33,000|
|3 (1,152–2,000 miles)||11,000||16,500||22,000||44,000|
|4 (2,001–3,000 miles)||13,000||25,250||38,750||51,500|
|5 (3,001–4,000 miles)||20,750||41,250||62,000||82,500|
|6 (4,001–5,500 miles)||25,750||51,500||77,250||103,000|
|7 (5,501–6,500 miles)||31,000||62,000||92,750||123,750|
|8 (6,501–7,000 miles)||36,250||72,250||108,250||144,250|
|9 (7,001+ miles)||51,500||103,000||154,500||206,000|
Here’s a snapshot of the rewards and benefits you can expect from the BA credit card.
Previously you had to spend about $30,000 to take full advantage of the intro bonus, but now it’s more like $20,000 and you still earn 100,000 Avios. That’s better, but some other reward cards have signup bonuses that can provide 80,000 points for spending just $5,000 in the first three months, for example. You don’t get a full year in those cases, but you’ll get a way bigger return on your spending than the British Airways Visa card provides.
Read more in our Review of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.
Using the previous example of JFK – LHR, if you pay with your British Airways Visa Signature you’ll earn 5270.69 Avios as a new cardholder (in the first year). That assumes you’re taking a flexible economy flight.
The flight costs about $604 and you’d earn 3X Avios per dollar, for a total of 1812.69 additional Avios from the card.
This is at least 50% more Avios than you’d earn as a basic Blue Executive Club member, showing just how valuable this card can be for each trip you take.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your card and every Avios you earn:
If you’re a frequent BA traveler, you may find the British Airways Visa Signature card a good fit for maximizing Avios. But if you don’t fly BA often it won’t do you much good, and if you’ll spend a lot with other airlines and hotels as well you may want a general-use travel credit card like one of these:
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
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