Wow: British Airways Offering 50% Off Award Tickets (Last Chance)

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A week ago British Airways launched its most lucrative award sale ever, though it goes without saying that this isn’t exactly an easy time to travel internationally.

Well, if you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet booked a flight, this is your last chance to do so (you need to book by Tuesday).

British Airways offering 25-50% off awards

British Airways’ Avios award sale is valid for bookings through October 13, 2020, and for travel through June 30, 2021:

  • You can save 50% off on long haul redemptions in all cabins
  • You can save 25% off short haul redemptions in all cabins

Here are some further things to be aware of:

  • The promotion is open to all Executive Club members
  • There’s no registration required
  • You must travel on British Airways metal
  • The discounted price should automatically appear when searching for awards, assuming your flight is eligible
  • Only the Avios requirement is discounted, and not the taxes, fees, and surcharges
  • Both peak and off-peak travel dates are eligible
  • Amazingly enough, this promotion can be combined with a British Airways companion voucher


Save 50% on British Airways long haul awards

For context, here’s the normal award chart for travel on British Airways (not factoring in the discounts):

Zone // Flight Distance Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,500 5,750 // 6,750 7,750 // 9,000 15,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,500 9,500 // 11,250 12,750 // 15,000 25,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,000 12,750 // 15,000 17,000 // 20,000 34,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,500 20,000 // 25,000 31,250 // 37,500 42,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,000 26,000 // 40,000 50,000 // 60,000 68,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,000 32,500 // 50,000 62,500 // 75,000 85,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,000 39,000 // 60,000 75,000 // 90,000 102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,000 45,500 // 70,000 87,500 // 105,000 119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,000 65,000 // 100,000 125,000 // 150,000 170,000 // 200,000

For example, with this promotion an off-peak one-way first class award from New York to London would require just 34,000 Avios.


Meanwhile a one-way business class award from London to Los Angeles would require just 31,250 Avios.


This is a great deal, but expect high fees

We’ve never seen British Airways offer 50% off all long haul award tickets before, especially when you consider that you can travel over a period of roughly nine months. On the surface that’s incredible.

However, do keep in mind that British Airways is known for its ridiculously high carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as “fuel surcharges”), so you’re likely going to be paying a lot of cash as well for these tickets.

I’ll take it a step further — I’d bet that’s British Airways’ primary motivation for running this promotion. Sure there’s value to getting some Avios liability off the books, but this is also a quick way to get cash, since carrier imposed surcharges go directly into British Airways’ pockets.

This might be worth a speculative booking

I’m guessing many will be tempted by this promotion — while there’s a lot of uncertainty right now, this is also a really long booking window.

One strategy here could be to just make a speculative booking:

  • If your flight ends up being canceled or has a significant schedule change, you can always cancel it and redeposit the Avios for free
  • Worst case scenario British Airways Executive Club has reasonable redeposit fees, of just $55 per ticket

Of course let’s see how long it takes British Airways to refund fuel surcharges in the event of cancelations. 😉



It might be worth making a speculative booking with this promotion

Save on surcharges with the BA credit card

If you have the British Airways Visa Signature® Card then you can potentially save on the carrier imposed surcharges you’d be paying on award tickets. The card offers up to $600 per year in statement credits. You can earn up to three statement credits, as follows:

  • Earn a $100 statement credit for an economy or premium economy booking
  • Earn a $200 statement credit for a business class or first class booking

These are valid for transatlantic flights originating in the US, and the credit should post within 45 days. Earning a $100-200 statement credit for these bookings potentially makes this an even better deal.

Here’s everything you need to know about the British Airways Visa.



Save on carrier imposed surcharges with the BA Visa

How to earn British Airways Avios

British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can transfer over points from those programs at a 1:1 ratio. On top of that, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a great way to earn Avios.

Service on British Airways is limited right now

Speaking of the passenger experience, it’s probably also worth pointing out that service on British Airways is extremely limited at the moment, and we don’t know when that will end.

Even in first class you can expect your meal to be served in a box, with plastic cups, etc. I’m not opposed to airlines limiting service during the pandemic, but British Airways is also known for being cheap, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see few changes to the current catering for a long time.



British Airways’ current first class catering

Bottom Line

British Airways is currently running its best-ever promotion on redeeming Avios. If you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, this is your last chance to do so.

You can save 50% on all long haul awards, including in first class. This is a great offer on the surface, given that you can book nine months out.

Fortunately for British Airways, award tickets can be quite profitable as well, thanks to the high fees and surcharges. I suspect that’s a primary motivation for British Airways running this promo.

Many may find it worthwhile to make a speculative booking, since worst case scenario you’ll be on the hook for a $55 cancelation fee. It’s an especially great deal if you have a companion voucher, since you can stack the 50% off with a companion voucher to get a heck of a value.

Anyone plan to take advantage of this British Airways Avios award sale?