Using Avios for a last-minute flight saved me over £200: Staff success story

Nov 8, 2020

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We’ve been asking to hear your travel success and mistake stories to both celebrate and help our TPG U.K. community — even if you’re not travelling right now. This week, however, I’m showcasing an example of how using Avios for a last-minute trip saved me lots of cash.

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I planned my outbound trip on a Thursday evening from Teesside (MME) to London (LHR) with Eastern Airways, as the timing was perfect and it was a new airline on the route for me. It cost just £55 for a booking two days before the flight, which I thought was great.

Booking the return leg wasn’t as cheap and easy.

I wanted to come back on Sunday, as I had plans in the North East and didn’t want to come back on Saturday evening. This left with me two British Airways options, as Eastern doesn’t currently operate its London (LHR) to Teesside (MME) route on Sundays.

I had to take the morning option — a 9:45 a.m. flight that would get me to Newcastle (NCL) just after 11 a.m. One small problem was that BA was charging £308 for the one-way flight.

Related: How to spend 48-hours in Newcastle

For this a one-way flight of less than an hour, £308 is eye-wateringly expensive. It would have been more than £53 cheaper to fly via Amsterdam (AMS) with KLM.

Curiously, I checked to see what my options would be if I left on Saturday. The indirect option with Air France via Paris would have been £263 cheaper than the direct option with British Airways on the same day.

Bearing in mind these one-way flights between the capital and Newcastle can cost as little as £36, this seemed unreasonably overpriced.

Then I realised it was the school holidays, and the high prices made more sense. As a rule of thumb, most airlines sell batches of tickets in booking classes. When one booking class sells out, the next becomes available and is usually more expensive. This is why flying at popular times of the year like school holidays can be more expensive.

I decided to investigate this further. When checking ExpertFlyer, I saw that more than half of the seats were still empty. This is where Avios saved the day.

Reward availability was wide open, and thanks to BA’s Reward Flight Saver booking option, I was able to choose which combination of Avios and cash I wanted to pay for my ticket. I went with the 4,000 Avios + £17.50 option, as this is the best value based on TPG’s current valuation of 1.1p per Avios.

In other words, I paid the equivalent of £61.50 (4,000 Avios + £17.50) for a ticket that British Airways was charging £308 for.

Moral of the story is that there’s real value in getting a plan in place to earn yourself Avios through your normal spending, but also by using shopping portals. You might not think you’d earn enough Avios or be able to spend enough in a year to make it worth your time, but just 4,000 Avios in this instance saved me over £200 — and you could benefit from these savings easily, too.

If you’re not sure which air miles earning credit card would be best for you, here are some guides that should help you make up your mind:

Featured image by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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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