Why You Shouldn’t Redeem Avios to Select Your Seat on British Airways

May 9, 2018

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When redeeming miles for an award ticket, you usually have the chance to pick your seat during the booking process. Granted, we’ve started to see that perk go away with the rise of budget carriers and basic economy fares.

British Airways has been one of the more restrictive airlines when it comes to the seat selection process. You have to be either a first-class passenger, traveling on a flexible ticket, have Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status or British Airways Executive Club elite status to choose your seat for free. Yes, even if you pay thousands of dollars for business class you still have to shell out extra cash to select your seat. Cost can range, but on a transatlantic flight you’re going to be paying from $30 in economy to $93 in business. Customers can still choose their seat for free when check-in begins 24 hours before departure.

Now, the airline is introducing the ability to pay with Avios to select your seat. The carrier also allows you to pay for other products on board, like coffee or food, with its mileage currency. Some users see the option during check-out but it doesn’t appear to be rolled out to every Executive Club member, at least as of publish time.

You can pay for the whole seat with points or with a combination of cash and points. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty horrible redemption — you’ll be getting just about 0.7 cents per point, according to One Mile At A Time and FlyerTalk. We value Avios at 1.5 cents each, meaning you’re getting about half the value you could be (on average) when using them to select your seat.

One of your best bets is using Avios for domestic American Airlines flights — a TPG reader recently got 9 cents per Avios in value on AA metal. There are quite a few other sweet spots in the airline’s award chart and we’ve seen redemptions where flyers have received 12 cents per Avios on an Iberia Premium Economy flight or over 10 cents per point on flights in the Caribbean.

If you’re interested in accumulating more Avios, the British Airways Visa Signature card is currently offering a 120,000-point sign-up bonus. You’ll earn 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000. That’s up to 120,000 bonus Avios.

Although it’s always nice to see airlines offer more redemption options, using Avios to pay for seat selection isn ‘t a high-value option. It really only makes sense to use your Avios like this if you really want to burn them and have no other use for them, but that shouldn’t be the case.

H/T: One Mile At A Time

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