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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.

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.

CiderwithBuda Wed 26-Mar-14 19:43:34

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.

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