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 Non-Zero Average||1.07¢||1.47¢||-0.40¢||-27%|
|International Non-Zero Average||1.93¢||1.96¢||-0.03¢||-2%|
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.
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.
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.
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.