As frequent flyers, on a short hop to Europe or exploring the far East and West of the Globe, we’re always in search of a bargain to travel in style! The joy of travelling should start from getting to the airport, and we got hooked on the trappings of business class travel and everything that comes with it; lounges, lie-flat beds, food & wine, and free-flowing champagne! We’ve come to realise that traveling in style doesn’t have to break the bank.

Neither of us are millionaires and we’re continually looking to achieve our flying dreams by spending as little cash as we can. Be it a seat sale or miles redemption for reward flights, we tend to let our wallets tell us where we’re going next rather than having a fixed agenda...

So, if you’re looking for flight & accommodation reviews, flight deals, and budget luxury travel tips & tricks then you have come to the right place. Welcome to BoardingGroup.One

BA A350-1000 premium economy cabin

If you’ve been looking at British Airways’ European reward flights lately, you’ll have noticed some changes around the pricing structure. Return flights are now being offered with cash charges as low as £1 and this might seem like a great deal, when compared to the previous £35 Reward Flight Saver (RFS) flat rate. Has BA really slashed the cost redeeming Avios on European flights, or have other changes accompanied this “offer” that might leave a distinctly sour taste for some? We’ve done the analysis to answer: is the BA £1 reward flight good value?

There was a time when British Airways reward flights in Europe started at around 9,000 Avios, plus £35 taxes, on the RFS programme. These same routes are now being offered at 15,000 Avios and £1 cash, such as this return flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam:

So, should we be giving up more Avios to reduce the cash element of the fare? The short answer is: not if the cash spend will take us below the threshold where RFS used to be. Crunching the numbers, there’s a sweet spot where we think we get the most value for our cash and Avios spend, and it most certainly isn’t by spending 15,000 Avios on an economy flight to Amsterdam.
A 1p Avios valuation prices the flight as follows:

  • At 15,000 Avios, the flight is valued at £150 + £1 = £151 return.
  • At 11,500 Avios, it’s valued at £115 + £21 = £136 return.
  • At 8,000 Avios, it’s valued at £80 + £31 = £111 return.
  • At 5,900 Avios, it’s valued at £80 + £61 = £120 return.
  • At 5,000 Avios, it’s valued at £50 + £71 = £121 return.
  • At 4,400 Avios, it’s valued at £50 + £81 = £125 return.

See what happened there? The overall price of the flight reduced until 8,000 Avios, then slowly started to increase again. The inflexion point is around where the £35 Reward Flight Saver scheme once would have priced the flight. So, we have to ask ourselves, do we want to pay £40 more for the privilege of using Avios instead of cash? No, we absolutely do not.

A similar story plays out for business class redemptions, where cash charges used to be £50 on the old RFS programme. Here’s London to Amsterdam in Club Europe:

  • At 25,500 Avios, the flight is valued at £255 + £1 = £251 return.
  • At 19,000 Avios, it’s valued at £190 + £31 = £221 return.
  • At 15,500 Avios, it’s valued at £155 + £51 = £206 return.
  • At 11,200 Avios, it’s valued at £112 + £81 = £193 return.
  • At 9,600 Avios, it’s valued at £96 + £101 = £197 return.
  • At 8,600 Avios, it’s valued at £86 + £121 = £207 return.

Here, we find the sweet spot is 11,200 Avios, which gives the flight the lowest possible valuation.

But, there’s more. When discussing these results, we concluded we also needed to look at the relative valuation of Avios at each increment, when using cash to lower the Avios spend on the flight. Let’s look that business class fare again, but valuing the Avios “saved” at each tier.

  • At 25,500 Avios, the flight is valued at £255 + £1 = £251 return.
    • Base fare
  • At 19,000 Avios, it’s valued at £190 + £31 = £221 return.
    • Cash difference £30
    • Avios saved 6,500
    • 3000/6500 = 0.46p/Avios
  • At 15,500 Avios, it’s valued at £155 + £51 = £206 return.
    • Cash difference £52
    • Avios saved 10,000
    • 5200/10000 = 0.52p/Avios
  • At 11,200 Avios, it’s valued at £112 + £81 = £193 return.
    • Cash difference £81
    • Avios saved 14,300
    • 8100/14300 = 0.36p/Avios
  • At 9,600 Avios, it’s valued at £96 + £101 = £197 return.
    • Cash difference £101
    • Avios saved 15,900
    • 10100/15900 = 0.63p/Avios
  • At 8,600 Avios, it’s valued at £86 + £121 = £207 return.
    • Cash difference £121
    • Avios saved 16,900
    • 12100/16900 = 0.71p/Avios

Looking at the cost of saving the Avios, it becomes clear that we spend the least per Avios where we’re effectively paying 0.36p/Avios to save 14,300. This is the same sweet spot we identified in finding the best value redemption Avios/cash price. We’d be paying double this figure to save 16,900 Avios, forking out a whopping £121. It’s just not worth it.

So, is the Is the BA £1 reward flight good value? No.
If we were Avios-rich, we may care less about the Avios spend and use surplus Avios to minimise the cash element of a redemption. We, however, are always looking for the best bang for our buck, so we’ll ensure we always book economy/business redemptions at the Avios/cash sweet spots we’ve identified in this post.

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