Despite switching a lot of my flying from British Airways and oneworld to Lufthansa and Star Alliance, being based in London, there are still times when I want to fly BA for the convenience factor.
That also means being invested in the Executive Club and Avios. With the high fuel surcharges, plus the availability of discounted long-haul business class, I find the value of redeeming for long-haul business class travel has been substantially reduced. Even when you throw in an Amex 2-for-1 voucher, it’s not the value it was.
Reward Flight Savers for travel within Europe remain excellent value – spending 9,000 Avios or even less on a return within Europe is a great use of Avios.
However there is still value to be had in the programme for long-haul travel. One of the least used and least known award types is the multi-carrier award. This is a distance based chart that comes into play when you travel on British Airways plus two carriers, or when you’re travelling on two carriers that aren’t BA.
The prices listed are for travel in economy, with a 1.5x multiplier for premium economy, 2x for business and 3x for first. This is also lower than the regular chart, which is 2x for Premium Economy, 3x for business and 4x for first class, when travelling on flights over 2,000 miles.
You’re allowed up to eight sectors in a booking.
There is one very important caveat for this type of award – it is priced as per the longest sector (by distance) in the booking.
What that means is that if the longest sector in the booking is in economy class, every other sector could be in business and first class, and the entire award is still charged at the economy class rate.
For example, I’ve booked an award with the following routing:
- London to Doha, British Airways, First Class
- Doha to Singapore, Qatar Airways, Business Class
- Singapore to Sydney, British Airways, Economy Class
- Honolulu to Los Angeles, American Airlines, First Class
- Los Angeles to New York, Alaska Airlines, First Class
- New York to London, British Airways, Business Class
As you can see, I have one sector in economy, which is the relatively short overnight flight from Singapore to Sydney, but by distance it is the longest single sector in that booking, roughly 50 miles further than Doha to Singapore.
I use the Great Circle mapper to find the distances between two points, which should be within a mile or two of what BA use.
The total distance for these flights is roughly 19,500 miles, which prices at 100,000 Avios, plus about £1,000 in taxes.
For two thirds of the way around the world in mostly premium cabins, I think that’s pretty good value.
To put this in context, the first flight alone from London to Doha, off-peak, would cost 68,000 Avios. The second sector from Doha to Singapore when booked by itself would have cost 62,000 Avios. Everything else is therefore almost free.
So there is value to be had in Avios. The multi-carrier award chart for longer journeys can be very useful indeed, but of course you’re subject to partner availability being there which can be hit-or-miss. With some careful planning and research, you can put together a very good value redemption.