BA airmiles program is a total con

(71 Posts)
eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 08:02:28

i have been loyal for years. saved up loads of avios (ooer what a clever name).

i have NEVER been able to book a flight using them. they magically never have flights on the dates that i need or for the route that i need.

so this time i bought economy seats for the 5 of us, longhaul. cost an arm and a leg to visit my elderly ailing mum (sob story blub etc.) and thought i'd upgrade us.

oh no. apparently i can't upgrade because i have the wrong fare class. i just booked them through their website! i didn't choose a specific 'fare class'. one that didn't allow upgrades using avois.

it's such a con. and i will not be flying ba by choice ever again.

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 08:13:37

YANBU. The old Airlines site was great. Adios is rubbish. I have over 37000 Aboutand simply can't find a flight I want or need.

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 08:14:10

Air miles I mean.

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 08:14:58

And Avios. Bloody phone.

The trick is do the purchase and upgrade at same time, over the phone with Avios.

But I agree, it is almost impossible to use, at least on popular flights. We planned a fab trip last year, but bought the tickets waaaaay in advance and fit our trip around the dates we could get upgrades.

I was United Airlines Mileage Plus frequent flyer 10-15 years ago. That was really good, I got many many free flights from that program. And upgrading was easy to do.
I lived abroad at the time, so this meant a lot to me.
Of course, that was a long time ago now, things may have changed for the worse there too...

mrknowitall Wed 26-Mar-14 08:34:10

I'm on the fence with this one, on one hand I agree it seems difficult to book a flight because normally you have set days you would like to travel, you can however use them very wisely if you are in a position to be a bit more flexible, or know a long way in advance when and where you would like to go !

If anyone has loads of miles and doesnt want to use them I would be happy to buy them from you !

deXavia Wed 26-Mar-14 08:35:58

I agree website is your problem. I also call any airline when I want to use miles - a thousand times more likely to get something that works for you. but I hate BA and am very grateful to have moved abroad and rarely have to fly with them these days

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 08:52:37

my brother gets amazing long haul deals on air miles and he's in the us.

i'm just annoyed that i can't use them - i've got about 80 000!!!!

i will phone them. see if i can do something.

but next time i book i will definitely phone.arghghghg that means another ba flight. their food is so crap i buy supper in the airport.

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 08:54:41

Watching your thread with interest as I'm new to BA miles - but this doesn't sound totally outrageous to be honest. I'd be irritated if I had miles that I couldn't use to buy a ticket within a reasonable time frame, but upgrading long-haul is a whole different kettle of fish.

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 08:55:28

Eddielizard, does your brother have status on the airline? If so it's a lot easier to redeem miles.

eurochick Wed 26-Mar-14 08:55:40

I agree. I have been a member for years and have thousands upon thousands of points. I have never managed to use them even once. I've been trying really hard lately as I have 4 long haul flights in the next month and I'm pregnant. No luck. It's so frustrating.

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 09:06:19

I've never had a problem booking, but maybe that just means that I don't go on the most popular routes - don't know.

If you have a look here:-

You will see all the flights that are currently available.

I just checked a couple of random places and, for example, they have availability to Miami in July and a couple of flights available in August as well.

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 09:06:44
mrknowitall Wed 26-Mar-14 09:08:05

Does anyone want to sell me their mailes if they dont want to use them !?!

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 09:10:57

you see if i were just booking a holiday and it didn't really matter where to that would be one thing.

but i fly long haul to visit family in a popular tourist destination so i have to book a long time in advance and the ticket prices are ludicrous. hence my loyalty to ba in the hope that one day i'll be able to redeem the air miles. i've been saving up for over a DECADE! and the annoying thing is that the airmiles expire before i've had a chance to use them.

i pretty much only fly long haul to see my family. otherwise we stay in the uk. i don't want to use the airmiles for a holiday really.

truffle oil - don't know the details of my brother's scheme, but he does seem to get some good deals.

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 09:11:10

Mrknowit all I like your style

Nickymanchester, Miami in July makes me think the OP is on to something, because no one would want to go to Florida in July! I'm going to go and check out your link.

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 09:11:31

mrknowitall - if i can't use mine on this trip or the next, i'll sell them to you!

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 09:13:11

In July you can fly to Dubrovnik for 15K miles. That seems pretty good.


I think the problem with BA's airmiles scheme is that it has become a victim of its own success. I have used their scheme and it has become increasingly harder over the last 5 years to secure flights; many routes to the US for instance are not available in peak summer months to use points/miles at all. Also these things usually get sold out around a year to ten months in advance of departure date.

Its almost nigh on impossible to secure an upgrade at time of booking; for five of you as well this was not going to happen anyway. They tend now to only release 2 seats for such upgrades on each flight.

mrknowitall Wed 26-Mar-14 09:20:08

eddielizzard - sold !


They do not make it easy to transfer such avios points either.

Do the rest of the family have avios points as well, 80,000 sounds like the amount that you alone have built up.

itshotinperth Wed 26-Mar-14 09:23:38

I too have the same problem - loads of airmiles. if you buy a discount ticket, which is usually quite expensive anyway - think houston to london, then you cant upgrade with points as not in correct fare code. If you choose a higher fare so you can upgrade, its prohibitively expensive, plus massive taxes for flying into UK. I dont live in UK, not in USA anymore and they have been a waste of time since we have been overseas from Oz for the last 5 years. If I have to fly BA or affiliates, I just put in my qantas number and get qf points instead. Just have to hope they dont go out of business! My poor mum cant afford an expensive flight plus upgrade charges and taxes, hers are a waste of time too. she doesn't want to go to florida in July, just upgrade so she can be a bit more comfortable on a flight. Total con.

itshotinperth Wed 26-Mar-14 09:24:28

Do you still have to pay to transfer miles? That is a total rip off too.

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 09:26:47

I just got a gold Amex, free - it is totally flexible for transferring points into a huge number of airlines. I would highly recommend it. What is the source of your BA miles - credit card or travel?

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 09:37:43

the annoying thing is that the airmiles expire before i've had a chance to use them.

I was faced with this situation at one point as well. So I transferred them from BA to Avios. Doing this means that they don't expire. You can then also use them for things other than flights.

But you do have to get a separate Avios account on their website first before you do this.

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 09:53:51

that's interesting nickymanchester - i didn't realise avios were not just british airways. i will definitely look into that.

truffleoil - it's from travel alone. i have a credit card airmile scheme too but i haven't checked it out yet. last time i tried to book i only had enough airmiles to cover half the fare so didn't bother trying this time. they wouldn't let me use the airmiles i had and money to top up. the airmiles had to cover the whole trip.

attila - most of that was me alone before i somehow managed against all odds to join dh's account and mine into a household account. that's something else i need to check. i've put my airmile number on the kids' tickets so i have no idea if we'll actually get them.

Applespearsorangesandlemons Wed 26-Mar-14 09:57:56

I agree that is impossible to book flights but I have just used them to book all our hotels meaning or entire holiday long haul for 5 people over xmas is costing less than 2 weeks in Europe in August.

PrimalLass Wed 26-Mar-14 10:06:01

You can stop them expiring by converting a £2.50 Tesco CC voucher to avios. That starts the 3 years all over again.

grabaspoon Wed 26-Mar-14 10:07:02

We've managed to use them for short haul return flights - twice in the past couple of months.

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 10:11:49


I was bored so just had a quick check on a random date in May for your Houston to London flights. BA came in at £708 return which is the same price as United and cheaper than all the other American carriers.

If you use Avios to book that return flight then it's £421 and 50,000 Avios.

If you go for World Traveller Plus then it's £670 and 52,500 Avios.

Or in Club World it's £1,640 and 50,000 Avios.

Those prices don't seem to bad to me.

sparechange Wed 26-Mar-14 10:12:46

They are best used for their short haul routes where they do the fixed rate fees and tax charge

If you try and use them for long haul flights, or upgrading long haul flights, you normally just save yourself a small amount compared to buying them for cash, plus use a huge amount of miles at the same time.

But the fees for Europe are really reasonable - Domestic flights are £35 return and France/close Europe at £45

itshotinperth Wed 26-Mar-14 10:18:42

Thanks Nickymanchester - thats a good example. I did use mine to fly from Houston to UK at short notice in Jan when my father died and I took my 2 boys with me - it cost $3000 and nearly all my points to fly premium economy - my choice though. I guess advance planning is the key. And not travelling in school hols - thats the expensive time!

LostMySocks Wed 26-Mar-14 10:22:14

We useavois a lot. Had some great deals but you do have to be a bit flexible on flight dates. keep checking the availability. my sister managed to get return to Australia in business but couldn't pick the date

Creamycoolerwithcream Wed 26-Mar-14 10:28:39

I managed to book 4 flights to Rio with points so got some money of, I did book the day the flights were released. Since then I have had no luck with flights so have been using points for hotels.

UserNameDenied Wed 26-Mar-14 10:29:42

Oh dear, there has been two threads this week with the words British Airways and CON in them.

I find air miles brilliant for Euroupean flights for one or two people but tricky to use for the whole family. Now my DH and I go away without our kids they are amazing.

MaidOfStars Wed 26-Mar-14 12:21:02

Long haul and Avios is a wasted combination, unless you're using them for a fantastic upgrade (which is impossible without shelling out a lot to start with). Use them short haul in Europe to maximise their value.

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Mar-14 13:04:15

Shorthaul to Europe there is loads of availability.

Long-haul economy is a poor deal, it only works if you would normally pay for business class (£2k+++) and then you can save by buying £1k flights and upgrading with miles.

HopelessDei Wed 26-Mar-14 13:20:35

You have to book very far in advance. We've successfully used them several times. I agree it's not the great deal they make it out to be. Especially as you pay so much in tax.

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Mar-14 13:29:39

No you really don't.
I just checked, for a family of 4 there are 7 outbound and 13 inbound dates available in April from London to Malaga.

For example, the 23rd to the 30th. And the taxes are £35 per person, which isn't bad at all.

Shenanagins Wed 26-Mar-14 13:36:30

We haven't had any problems using ours but we book the flight and upgrade together as soon as they become available. That said we are quite flexible with dates.

lyndie Wed 26-Mar-14 13:38:15

You can book hotels with them.

Flights to Europe booked in advance are generally easy to book.

If you have a BA gold card things open up to the extent that you have access to a lot more flights or you can use double points to get onto any flight. I think they are probably trying to limit the big perks to their very very frequent flyers.

wobblyweebles Wed 26-Mar-14 13:49:27

We use airmiles a lot to get cheap flights (DH did 120+ work flights last year and he also has a corporate Amex so we have a lot).

BA is a terrible deal compared to US Airways when it comes to airmiles. I can do US Airways Boston to London for fees of $120. To do a similar BA flight the fees are more like $800.

However now US Airways has merged with American I imagine their deals will go downhill.

We have had some amazing deals on airmiles though. Flying to Mexico next month, five of us, going business class one way, total cost of $900. We're flying different airlines and routes each way, and using Amex points as well as airmiles from various airlines.

We fly the family somewhere within the US for very little each year using airmiles. We still have a stack of miles to use up and we're thinking about a family trip to Seattle later this year.

Onsera3 Wed 26-Mar-14 16:38:25

Yes BA is known for the highest fees add on. Some if it London airports. That's why the flat fee for European flights is quite good.

You have to play around with dates. There are plenty when they are first released and then they only have random availability til very close to the time. My BIL has a lot of luck booking long haul as a single person who is flexible and makes last minute bookings.

I was really pissed of at Xmas. Had to fly long haul and had booked premium with the hope of upgrading at least the night flight to business. Checked pretty much every bloody day and they were NEVER allowing upgrades with avios. Checked 48, 24, 12 hrs before and no joy. Because they wanted you to BUY the upgrades. Total con. And you can't upgrade with points at the last min at the airport so these seats go empty.

Was hoping to book to LAX but pretty much no availability. However there were plenty of seats to NYC airports in Business so booked that. The taxes were hefty but worked out for us because we are flying through the States one way and one way tickets are really exp to buy.

Also have a few Malaysia Enrich miles from last year but I don't think I will be using them anytime soon...

LaGuardia Wed 26-Mar-14 16:42:25

I am never going to fly again after reading about planes dropping out of the sky. Never, never, never.

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 17:16:42

i wish i had posted this before i bought the tickets!

i think i will still phone them and see what they say but not holding my breath.

perhaps i will blow them all on a short haul flight! now do you think i'll get a deal in august???

Mentalpsychiatrist Wed 26-Mar-14 18:12:09

I have a BA gold card and over 300,000 miles that I can't bloody get rid of. Not one business class seat to San Francisco to be had in all of September. I like the lounge access etc but I'd like to be able to cash in too. Hmph.

UserNameDenied Wed 26-Mar-14 19:32:00

What you need is a gold lifetime card grin

frisson Wed 26-Mar-14 19:38:39

The best use of Avios in terms of long haul on BA flights is upgrading premium economy (World Traveller Plus) to Business (Club World). Among the greater benefits of this is a lie-flat seat/bed and lounge access. It only counts as a 'half-cabin' upgrade and is 15,000 Avios. Obviously you need to buy the PE fare seat in the first place, so it's not for everyone.

We managed to book three of us business class to the states last summer. Had to be flexible though and booked the day the flights came out. We did it over the phone but that does cost more. We wanted California and ended up flying into Las Vegas but had to go out of Heathrow and back into Gatwick. Also just had to take the dates that were available.

EurotrashGirl Wed 26-Mar-14 19:57:36

I got a free round trip from London to Sydney with my United Airlines airmiles grin
But a lot of airlines are changing their programs so that airmiles are basically worthless to casual fliers.

EurotrashGirl Wed 26-Mar-14 20:02:04

LaGuardia it funny that you swear you will never fly again, but your user name is the name of an airport. For what its worth, I felt the same way after 9/11, but was flying again by Christmas with the help of some anti-anxiety medication.

EurotrashGirl Wed 26-Mar-14 20:13:09

Wobbly US Airways has been owned by American Airlines for a long time so its program might not change very much.

ihatethecold Wed 26-Mar-14 20:14:32

I spent my points on wine at Christmas.
It was lovely.

candycrushhater Wed 26-Mar-14 20:32:17

My DH does approx 250 flights a year for work, so the miles rack up pretty quickly. We must've been lucky because we've managed to get flights wherever and whenever we've wanted booking with Avios. We've also used Avios to book hotel accommodation and car hire - it's saved us loads.

TruffleOil Wed 26-Mar-14 20:39:15

My DH does approx 250 flights a year for work

Good grief. How is this possible? Does he make a connecting flight to work every week?

In this case he's undoubtably super-elite status on the airline. Back when I was flying every week for work in the US they had a separate pool of awards flights for elite members, so I was almost always able to fly whenever I wished. I really wish someone knew if it was easier once you make status on BA to book award travel...?

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 26-Mar-14 20:42:42

I've got about 3800 BA miles that I'd sell. I'm never going to use them.

candycrushhater Wed 26-Mar-14 20:44:05

I wish he was super elite! Sadly no - just a silver card holder.

We stay in Scotland and he flys to London for work stuff. He can be back and forth 3 or 4 days a week, so 6/8 flights. We've just booked our Avios flights on the BA website, maybe we've been lucky with our dates.

wobblyweebles Wed 26-Mar-14 20:53:16

Wobbly US Airways has been owned by American Airlines for a long time so its program might not change very much.

No idea where you got that info from? They merged December 2013 and the global alliance (oneworld) begins March 31st 2014.

eddielizzard Wed 26-Mar-14 22:06:07

candycrushhater, it might be that you've got SO MANY avios that they would give you your own aeroplane!

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 22:21:55

I take it back. I've got a nice trip to Amsterdam over Christmas. grin

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 22:23:29

I mean I've used up all my Avios and paid £90 for flight and hotel combined for 4 nights.

magicberry Wed 26-Mar-14 22:24:09

We've been first and business to India and all over the US, even with the kids. Yes I'd prefer more availability (esp to the Far East and beyond) and I sometimes have to be flexible on dates but I'm pretty happy with it. Yabu.

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 22:39:52

I have a BA gold card and over 300,000 miles that I can't bloody get rid of. Not one business class seat to San Francisco to be had in all of September

So, just because there aren't any seats in Club World in one particular month to one particular destination you are annoyed?

There will always be fewer or no seats available on routes that are very popular - are you surprised about this?

There are economy seats available to San Francisco in September.

Otherwise you can get plenty of business class flights to New York, Houston or Austin with Avios and then get a cheap onward flight from these cities to San Francisco.

There are always ways to spend your Avios

Lighthousekeeping Wed 26-Mar-14 22:44:33

I was going to top mine up with the offer they have on. Is it not worth buying any extra then?

nickymanchester Wed 26-Mar-14 22:45:04


Sign up with the Avios website:-

and you can transfer your points for free and use them for other things like days out or cases of wine wine

Want2bSupermum Wed 26-Mar-14 22:52:06

United airlines has a better program but I expect it will change because DH, who has their top tier status, was #9 on the upgrade list when flying from Houston to Newark for an upgrade to business. They are part of the star alliance too so you can use the points with quite a few airlines.

ilovesooty Wed 26-Mar-14 22:52:21

And only one day needed of annual leave from work. Result.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 26-Mar-14 22:54:47

Thanks Nicky! Wine is always good.

Shimmyshimmy Wed 26-Mar-14 23:01:09

Never been able to use ours for flights, because we need them for school holidays, so over the years we've used them for car hire with Avis. We try not to save in these schemes, they could become worthless overnight!

Dianne007 Tue 01-Jul-14 09:31:03

Let me just say what a huge con BA avios are!! I have done the exercise many different ways and no matter how you look at them they are the biggest con!
I looked at booking flights to Dubai, the first thing I did was log in through my BA account and I currently have in excess of 90 000 avios. This what they came back with: for 4 people 50 000 avios and £1895.00. I then went on and tried to book the exact same flights without logging in to my account in other words not using any of my air miles and they came back with a total of £1650.00!!!! Why on earth then would I want to use air miles and pay more!!!! It is the biggest sham, we especially got a credit card affiliated with BA and it has been a huge con!!

intheenddotcom Tue 01-Jul-14 19:50:17

I've never had an issue using them.

Best to buy over the phone by phoning executive club.

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