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BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

Westminster, CO
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BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

I've been wanting to fly to London from Denver in the US for some time. About 3 years ago, I received an offer for a BA card that would collect executive club miles. I signed up for it, received a bunch of bonus miles, and for the past three years now have collected almost 175,000 miles. I also received a "free companion ticket" for some of my spending efforts.

Imagine my surprise when I go to actually book a flight and find that it is still at least $600 per ticket! They say it is because of taxes and "fuel surcharges". So in reality, I am only saving about $400 per flight, even with all the Avios I have collected. I thought, well, maybe I'll do better off buying Business class - and imagine my surprise, for Business class there is an even higher "fuel surcharge" for the flight - over $1k per ticket. Is Business Class heavier, so it takes more fuel? I just don't see how this is right, or how they can get away with this.

I am soooo disappointed in BA right now. I love their flights. But I feel like I've been ripped off. If I would have spent all those dollars on any other travel card, I would have already scored at least two FREE tickets (and I do mean Free - not $600). I don't get it. Am I missing something somewhere? Are there tricks / advice people have on how to make better use of my miles? Thanks for any help you can give.

253 replies to this topic
Ayr, Scotland
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1. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

It is all really clearly explained in the terms and conditions that you have to pay the fees. I personally think it's a great deal.

Me and the other half are flying to San Francisco Club World (Business class) for 100,000 miles and a companion ticket and about £1100. This also includes an internal flight. The flights would have cost us about £2500 each - unaffordable on our salaries.

Oh and got another companion ticket so going to Cancun in July. Good times!

Liverpool, UK
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2. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

The higher cost of the business class is probably not due to only a fuel surcharge but the UK government imposed Air Passenger Duty (APD) which is payable by every passenger departing from a UK airport.

The rate paid by business class passengers is double the rate paid by those in economy.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

The fuel surcharge in business/first is slightly higher but the APD (govt. tax) for premium cabins is much higher.

The miles haven't really cost you anything if it's all credit card spend (no doubt with a massive introductory bonus) and in fact with the companion voucher they're a bloody good deal.

....and economy class redemptions are normally horrible value.

Westminster, CO
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4. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

All helpful but I will also say I had to pay $95/year for the credit card... so I don't think for economy class I'm getting a very good deal. If I had put these miles on Capital One Miles card, I would have paid for probably two economy class tickets in full by now. :-(

Since economy tickets don't seem to be a good thing to spend Avios on, If anyone has any suggestions on proper usage for these then (should I pay for tickets up front, then upgrade to Business class with them?), I'd love to hear them.

Scotland
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5. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

*yawn* is this yet another US-based poster who signed up for the Chase deal without either a) reading the T&Cs, or b) spending 10 minutes researching the best way to use Exec Club miles?

Y redemptions on BA = bad, J/F/MFU = good.

Ayr, Scotland
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6. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

Normally it would be recommended that you should but a World Traveller plus ticket and use miles to upgrade. However because you have a companion ticket (which effectively doubles your miles) you should get the highest class of ticket you can - probably Clubworld although you must be almost close to enough miles for first class.

Since you have had your card for 3 years then you will earn a companion ticket each year if you spent enough. How did you use them before?

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

>>If I would have spent all those dollars on any other travel card, I would have already scored at least two FREE tickets (and I do mean Free - not $600)<<

No they wouldn't be free. You'd still have to pay other taxes and fees including APD, though the overall fees would be lower.

That said, it's well documented on here that using BA miles to book award tickets is not good value, mainly because BA breaks out the fuel surcharge as an extra. Upgrading from World Traveller Plus to Club World is considered the best use.

Have you considered using BA award miles on American Airlines operated flights? US carriers, by law, cannot break out the fuel surcharge (or now any non government imposed tax/fee) from the base fare. This means that the taxes and fees - including on award tickets - turn out to be much lower. It may be that you can book flights on AA operated flights for much lower fees*, though for DEN it would require a stop.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

All helpful but I will also say I had to pay $95/year for the credit card... so I don't think for economy class I'm getting a very good deal. If I had put these miles on Capital One Miles card, I would have paid for probably two economy class tickets in full by now. :-(

___________

I'm assuming you got either a 50,000 or 100,000 BA miles for signing up for the Chase card. Don't Capital One offer 2 miles/points per $1?

Assuming it was only a 50,000 mile bonus you got at signup and you're earning 2 points per dollar your $100,000 spend (1.25 BA miles per dollar) has earned you 200,000 points which I believe equates to a $2000 travel credit on the Capital One deal. That's about on the money for 2 economy class tickets to the UK from Denver but probably not enough for a high season fare.

Your BA miles have cost you nothing besides the annual fee and taxes. So for $2000 in taxes and $190 in credit card fees you've got two BUSINESS class tickets instead.

Still failing to see how the Capital One card would be a better deal unless they socked you with an equally massive bonus, but then I doubt you'd get anywhere near enough for two business class tickets with a back of the envelope price of $3000 each.

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

BA's fuel surcharges are egregious, and I suspect that many of those who claim that it's still a "great deal" are unaccustomed to mileage redemption trips where they WEREN'T charged big bucks for fuel fines.

I'm personally not pleased with the switch to Avios since BA now charges separately for each leg of a multi-leg trip, so that if you want to take BA from New York to, say, Rome via London, you pay separately for the NY > London and London > Rome legs, which can really bump up the number of points needed.

The good news, for what it's worth, is that you can redeem Avios on trips not flown by BA or Iberia, in which case the fuel surcharges MIGHT be lower or nil. And on many short-haul routes, it requires fewer (sometimes a lot fewer) Avios than it would take using other programs. For example, in a couple of weeks I'm flying from Seattle to JFK to London, in first class to JFK and business class to London, all using American Airlines miles. The trip required 50,000 miles altogether, and my taxes came to something like $100. Had I used Avios instead, I would have needed 77,500 Avios and around $400 in BA fuel surcharges on top of the taxes collected by AA. Coming back, it would have been higher counting the UK APD.

On the other hand, from London I'm flying (just one way) in business class to Milan. Using AA miles I would have been charged 20,000 miles for the one-way trip, plus BA's fuel fines on a "pass-through" basis. Using Avios, I was only charged 9000 Avios and total taxes and fuel charges came to US$100.

So it's a case of studying the redemption tables and doing some dummy bookings, and finding where the Avios are a good deal and where they're not. Short-haul they tend to be valuable, long-haul, not so much.

Bangkok
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10. Re: BA executive club / Avios a rip-off?

Hi,

To me, there's two issues here: a) what or how much is the non-airline controlled costs and b) what or how much IS the airlines control.

As far as "a" goes, to a point, I can't fault BA for imposing any and all government mandated taxes and fees.. While the ticket may be free or advertised as free, if the taxing authority has the rule/law set up such that even free tickets must pay the taxes, then that's not BA's controllable issue and I don't think it's accurate nor fair to place that part of the equation on BA or the airline in question.

In my mind, it's somewhat like if I win a free prize-- while the prize itself may be free, IF the national government imposes taxes on such winnings, and mandates that the paying/awarding entity (business) collect said taxes at the time the prize is given to me; I can't fault the business for that-- they're only going and doing what's prescribed by law.

As to part "b".. This to me is a bit different.. I'd say that SO LONG AS the airline disclosed up front that while the ticket may be free from a base fare, that there will still be (non-government imposed) airline fees-- call me fuel surcharge, baggage, seat selection, etc, then I think the they've played fair.

Now, I may dislike the fact that free, now means only base fare, but again, SO LONG AS they disclosed this upfront, or via some other means provided for in the program rules, (and I took the time to read the fine print or notices) then I can't really say much as; 1) they told me, and 2) I read it-- and with that, I still decided to move forward in the program.

Travel Safe,

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