British Airways Avios are one of my favorite mileage currencies because of how cheap I can get short-distance trips. Southern California (where I live) to San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Phoenix is only 4,500 Avios and $2.50 each way flying on American Airlines or US Airways, for example. They’re also extremely useful on international itineraries, although some carriers charge a fuel surcharge or have other taxes/fees added in on top of the Avios price. Intra-Australia flights can be a great value, as can flights around any other Oneworld Airline hub (Madrid, Doha, and Hong Kong to name a few). Check my Guide to Avios for more info about the program and how to use it.
The British Airways website isn’t the best for searching award availability. While they show space for several partners and the space they show is generally accurate, you can only search one week at a time and view one day at a time when searching for partner awards. A few months ago they added the ability to see the price of an award (the Avios and cash portion) without having to click through to the next screen. I thought this was a great enhancement as it saved a couple of clicks.
But don’t always trust the price that you’re quoted! I’m speaking specifically for the taxes/fees portion of the ticket, which in some cases can and does change when you click to the confirmation screen. For example, let’s look at a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo.
The search will show 10K Avios plus $19 in taxes and fees. It even says right above that it includes all taxes, fees, and carrier charges. But let’s see what happens when we click the Continue button.
When you get to the confirmation page, I’m displayed an Error message that shows the taxes/fees portion has tripled. British Airways basically added a $50 charge to the booking, so a flight that looked very cheap before suddenly became a bit more expensive.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t happen with all awards and I’ve noticed it mainly with Sri Lankan Airlines but have experienced it in the past as well with other carriers. If you’re really trying to focus on limiting the cash portion of your travel when using Avios, be sure to click through to the confirmation page to see the final price!