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british airways avios value 12/29/19

British Airways Avios Value

Updated December 29th, 2019

Trying to value British Airways Avios is a bit like riding a points ad miles roller coaster. BA offers some absolutely fantastic award opportunities, contrasted with some truly abysmal ones. Taking a look at the distribution curve below, we see that it’s quite a bit flatter than say, Southwest’s. In other words, this means that you have a greater chance to score a fantastic deal, AND a greater chance to score a terrible one. This month, we’re assigning an ACRV of 0.62¢ per British Airways Avios. Unfortunately, this represents a 29% decline in value since last year.

Current Previous Period $ Change % Change
Intra-Europe Value 0.76¢ 0.85¢ -0.09¢ -11%
International Value 0.48¢ 0.91¢ -0.43¢ -47%
Overall ACRV 0.62¢ 0.88¢ -0.26¢ -29%
Intra-Europe Non-Zero Average 1.07¢ 1.47¢ -0.40¢ -27%
International Non-Zero Average 1.93¢ 1.96¢ -0.03¢ -2%
Non-Zero Average 1.50¢ 1.72¢ -0.22¢ -13%
Award Availability 62% 68% n/a -7%
Average Fees $121.65 $191.46 -$69.81 -36%

british airways avios value normal distribution/29/19

Oh those Fees!

Despite finding several very lucrative award opportunities, two things absolutely eviscerate British Airways Avios’ value: availability and fees. Let’s start with the latter.

Carrier imposed fees, taxes, fuel surcharges; call them whatever you want. British Airways has a metric ton of them. On the domestic(intra-Europe) side of our equations, they weren’t outlandish at $44.02. In fact, that’s actually a decrease of a few dollars since last year. However, move over to the international side, and get this, we’re averaging a gut-wrenching $246.03 per ticket! Ouch. As I deduct fees from the lowest available cash price, it can really wreck a value. Just for comparison’s sake, US competitor Delta is currently averaging just $14.48.

British Airways Award Booking Fees
British Airways’ ABSURD Award Booking Fees

To make matters worse, there were several data points in which fees British Airways charged for an award ticket EXCEEDED the lowest price cash alternative. In these cases, I simply recorded a finding of no-availability, or a redemption value of zero dollars. Had I not done this, it would have actually resulted in a finding of negative value.

No Award Availability = $0 Redemption Value

Since November 2017, I’ve been averaging in a zero every time I could not find an award ticket for one of our hypothetical city pairs. Unfortunately, a few zero’s can bring down an average very quickly. The rational being, that if a carrier does not offer award availability on a given route, the underlying award currency is essentially worthless. At least at that given data point.

Redemption Count
Exceptional >6¢ 1
Great 4-5.99¢ 0
Good 3-3.99¢ 2
Respectable 2-2.99¢ 7
Acceptable 1-1.99¢ 15
Terrible <1¢ 23
No Availability 30
Award Availability 61.54%

As the chart above illustrates, I was able to find award availability on 61.54% or 48 out of my 78 hypothetical city pairs/dates/fare classes. Though not the worst I’ve seen, it’s far from the best. Most US domestic carriers maintain near 100% availability.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

As mentioned above, we were on a roller coaster. Take a look at the spread between the best and worst redemption values below. You’ll notice a near-worthless redemption of 0.04¢ and a phenomenal one of 6.02¢. In case anyone’s curious, the latter was from a premium economy seat on Iberia from Madrid to Miami. It was offered for just 31,750 Avios + $197.02 in fees. The lowest priced cash alternative was $2,107. That is a great redemption.

british airways avios best and worst value 12/29/19

Our Take

Ultimately, British Airways Avios are an award currency that is nice to have available as an option. However, I don’t consider them worth primarily accumulating via card spend. The backup date to the prom if you will. That said, opportunities for high value, premium-cabin international award flights do exist, especially if you’re willing to be a little bit flexible with your dates. To standardize valuations, I always look for availability on Fridays. That said, there were plenty of Thursdays and Saturdays that did show award availability.

Compared to Industry Peers

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For more information about how we value airline/hotel and other award currencies, please visit our valuation method and changelog pages.