Amol and I have spoken at length about the benefits of British Airways’ Avios program, which uses a distance-based award chart that is often cheaper than most other award booking options. For example, you can book non-stop flights on partners like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines for as little as 4,500 points (instead of 12,500 miles). Avios is also one of the cheapest ways to get to Hawaii at only 25,000 points round-trip in economy class.
Another benefit of Avios is the ability to form a Household Account to pool points from more than one individual. Megan and I have each applied for the British Airways Visa Signature card I discussed yesterday, and after meeting the spend requirements to earn the maximum bonus amount we will each have 125,000 Avios points. Rather than book pricy awards individually or try to balance the withdrawal of points from one account at a time, we have created a Household Account that will — eventually — reflect the combined balance of 250,000 points. More points in one pot are always easier to work with. (And parents could more easily take advantage of the points their children earned to book their own weekend escapes.)
Household Accounts used to come with a potentially serious limitation. As an individual I could book awards for myself or any other person. But by creating a Household Account we limited ourselves to only bookings awards for the people who joined the account and living at the same address. Even if I fudged the details and made our parents and siblings change their addresses, that still means I couldn’t book an award, say, for my college friends. And I couldn’t change the names listed on the account more than once every six months. In exchange for the flexibility of pooling points, British Airways effectively said those were the only people for whom you could book tickets.
Now, the rules of Household Accounts have been loosened to allow you to book Avios awards for other individuals who don’t live at the same address. They don’t even have to have an Avios account. This is not the same as adding new people to the Household Account and including their points in the pot. Rather it is a separate “Family and Friends” list of people who may benefit from the accumulated points in the shared account. You can add up to five additional people to this list. You are still limited to booking awards for people who are either (1) a member of the Household Account or (2) on the Family and Friends list.
There are still several limits on the flexibility of the Family and Friends list that, like the Household Account, and meant to prevent you from booking tickets for more than these five people. Most significantly, you cannot remove a person from the list until they have been on it for six months.
The change makes it possible to book tickets for that college friend, additional family members beyond the original seven, or someone who was previously unwilling to skirt the rules by changing his or her address. If you face a situation with more family members than slots for your Household Account, I’d recommend adding to the Household Account only people who are actively earning Avios points. The “freeloaders” who mainly benefit from the redemption side of the equation should be added to the Family and Friends list.