British Airways trials long-haul Reward Flight Savers, but don’t expect to get good value

Apr 30, 2020

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British Airways has introduced its first long-haul Reward Flight Saver redemption option to New York (JFK). The move gives Executive Club members the option of paying more Avios in exchange for reducing the total amount of fees, charges and taxes required, as with the popular short-haul Reward Flight Saver redemptions, available to European destinations. While it may seem like a good option on the service to pay less cash in taxes and fees, ultimately, you won’t be getting great value for your Avios.

So far, this change only applies to World Traveller (economy) flights between London (LHR) and New York (JFK) flights. All other services between the cities (such as Gatwick and Newark flights), as well as all other classes of service, are excluded, as are all other long-haul destinations.

As an example, on a return London to New York World Traveller off-peak redemption you would usually be offered the following payment options:

  • 26,000 Avios + £ 200.66
  • 20,800 Avios + £ 250.66
  • 16,900 Avios + £ 280.66
  • 13,000 Avios + £ 300.66
  • 10,400 Avios + £ 320.66
  • 9,100 Avios + £ 330.66

Whereas if you now search for a Heathrow to New York JFK return off-peak redemption, as a new Reward Flight Saver destination, you will be presented with the following payment options:

  • 50,000 Avios + £ 100.00
  • 38,000 Avios + £ 170.00
  • 26,000 Avios + £ 230.00
  • 19,500 Avios + £ 280.00
  • 13,000 Avios + £ 330.00
  • 9,100 Avios + £ 360.00

As you can see, the new payment options are marginally more expensive in fees and taxes for the same number of Avios amounts, but you can reduce the cash amount of fees and taxes by paying more Avios, up to 50,000 Avios with fees and taxes of only £100.

It’s worth noting that TPG U.K. values Avios at 1.1p each, so 50,000 Avios + £100 in fees and taxes is worth £650. London to New York is one of the busiest and most competitive international routes in the world, with six different airlines offering dozens of total flights on a normal day. This means in economy, cash fares are usually very good value — it’s normal to see off-peak sale fares for less than £300 return with British Airways and other full-service carriers.

Image from Google Flights

Related: Watch as TPG U.K. reviews 5 different airlines on day flights from New York to London

Note that these sale fares may be hand luggage only and have restrictive change fees, whereas Avios redemptions come with one checked bag and can be changed or cancelled until 24 hours before departure.

We are big fans of Reward Flight Savers here at TPG U.K., however, for New York City, you’re unlikely to obtain the sort of amazing value you would with a short-haul Reward Flight Savers to Europe. It’s always great to give travellers more choice, and if you are looking at last-minute, expensive cash fares especially one-way over the summer to New York, this could make sense. Unfortunately, for most travellers, using more Avios to pay less in fees and taxes to New York is a bad idea — check cash fares instead.

It remains to be seen if BA plans to roll this RFS option out to more long-haul routes, but that could be likely given the airline’s recent expansion in the RFS market.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

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