Avios and Air Miles - please help!

Discussion in 'UK Trip Planning Forum' started by BlueGiraffe, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    Anyone have experience of these?

    We've been eagerly collecting our Tesco Clubcard Points since Christmas to pay towards our flights for next year.

    We won't be booking flights until January or February, but I've been looking into options. I know we can either convert them to Avios to spend with BA, or into AirMiles to spend with Virgin.

    Virgin are currently asking in excess of £5000(!!) for 2 adults and 2 children, and have the option to pay with miles and money combined on their site.

    BA were asking for around £3800, and offering an earlier flight (which we would prefer), but no mention of paying with Avios. When I looked into 'reward flights' they said they didn't have any for the dates I wanted.

    Help!! Should it really be this confusing or is it just me?

    Ideally we'd rather go with BA, but it depends if we can use the vouchers for the flights we want. We have paid a deposit for our Disney resort and our villa, so our flights are not flexible.

    Thanks for any suggestions or advice.

    PS - we're looking to fly direct from Gatwick to Orlando July 2014, if that makes a difference.
     
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  3. wilma-bride

    wilma-bride <<This space intentionally blank>> Moderator

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    I couldn't find any reward flights available through Avios for the whole of July - sorry! In my experience, it can be pretty difficult getting reward flights with Avios. Even flights in less popular times are so expensive in terms of the number of points required, it's hardly worth it.
     
  4. 2Tiggies

    2Tiggies DIS Veteran

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    I looked for June/July and could find nothing. Is there anything Avios points are useful for? (That's a serious question in case it reads as sarcastic). We have managed to fly with a different airline/airlines every trip over the last 5 years, each with their own reward system and as a result I have useless miles expiring left, right and center on an ongoing basis. Avios will be next :lmao: If only they didn't charge to transfer them I could have spread some pixie dust to some folk by now but it's hardly worth the cost of doing so
     
  5. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    I know, they do seem useless! The whole British Airways/Avios option seems to have gone out of the window now. I thought it may have just been me not understanding it.

    We had preferred to fly with BA, as at the moment their flights are earlier and cheaper, but the whole Avios thing confuses me.

    I know that we can change our Clubcard points into Virgin air miles, which we can use towards the flights we want, it's just the current price putting me off!!
     
  6. stkf

    stkf Earning My Ears

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    I used them for car hire then found out that I did not have the required insurance, by the time I paid that it was hardly worth having used them.
     
  7. 2Tiggies

    2Tiggies DIS Veteran

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    I have Virgin miles about to expire. I'm very unlikely to fly VA again in the forseeable future; their prices have been almost double what I've paid over the last few years at any given time. As for Avios, i agree about the confusion and it's comforting to know I'm not alone. I joint the BA Executive club. The emails come from BA Executive club and refer to my Avios miles. When I booked a codeshare through AA on BA flights they asked me to choose my reward scheme and gave Avios and BA Exec Club as two separate options. None of them would take my number so I left it blank at the time. They have since very kindly registered me with AA Advantage. So it looks like there is yet one more source for useless miles. I'm trying to see how to save my United ones from expiring because if I can keep them live for another year, there are actually enough to do something decent with them. It just wasnt' going to work for me this year though
     
  8. zippy99

    zippy99 DIS Veteran

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    VA Miles - we changed ours 12500 for £50 of Virgin Vouchers and used them to pay for park tickets one year

    BA Avios - we have 55k as a household account - I had wanted to buy Merlin passes but this can only be done with regular Avios which means transferring our points from one to the other but we cannot include the 20k collected by the kids - so again like 2Tiggies says - useless.

    However... I have discovered that for 9000 BA avios +£35 you can fly to most places in the UK and Western Europe - so perhaps we will have a city break over the next year instead. Or use them as a starting flight for our next trip - we have found it more expensive to fly from London - perhaps we can fly elsewhere to catch a cheaper flight!
     
  9. 2Tiggies

    2Tiggies DIS Veteran

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    Now that is very useful information to me!! When looking at flights last month, for some reason, for a period of time, flights to MCO from Belfast were coming out at just on £400 per person. My challenge was to find flights from here to there and back for little enough to make the round trip still a good deal. Had I known about that option ........ Now I know for the future. Thanks for that!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  10. Disneynutinlondon

    Disneynutinlondon <font color=blue>It's been such a blast with all t

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    I just had a quick look on the VA website and got return fares of 3.5K for 2 adults and 2 children for July dates. Obviously I don't know your exact dates or the age of your children but depending on how many VA points you have you could always look at getting one of your tickets with miles or miles + money
     
  11. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    Thank you!

    Everyone's so helpful here :thumbsup2 I guess we'll just have to wait and see what prices are like near Christmas.

    I've emailed BA to ask if I can spend vouchers on any flight I want, so I'll see what they come back with (if anything). And if Virgin's prices are still ridiculous for our dates then maybe we can book with BA and use our Avios to upgrade on the way home or something.

    Why can't things be so simple? I think Disney need to start up their own transatlantic airline!! ;)
     
  12. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    Scrap that!

    They want 13,500 Avios to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy (one way), compared to 25,000 to pay for an adult flight from London to Orlando. We were just going to use the Avios (we should have 25,000 by then) to pay towards the flights, but in order to upgrade all 4 of us instead we'll need 50,000!

    Who invented this system? It's ridiculous! :confused3:mad:
     
  13. 2Tiggies

    2Tiggies DIS Veteran

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    I think if you book the 'free' flight you still have to pay taxes on top of the miles so it's not exactly a half and half. But as you say, it seems a ridiculous system. I think part of the problem for many of us here is that we don't fly often enough. There is no doubt that airlines have been offering less and less with their reward schemes and made it harder to use them over the years. If you fly more frequently it seems to be a bit easier to collect a decently useful amount of miles. But I don't fly half as much as I used to - not even close - and my trips are now limited pretty much to our annual Orlando visits which, although in total, cost a lot of money, aren't really that much in air miles if you see what I'm getting at. Also by going with the best prices/routes etc, as stated in my previous post there is no loyalty with me now toward any airline in particular so the miles are expiring through being dormant as we use a different carrier every year. It's a game. I want to play and I want to win but I don't like the rules :lmao:
     
  14. Hipster Meg

    Hipster Meg Mouseketeer

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    We're in the process of saving for a WDW trip in 2015 and having done the maths have come to the conclusion that for us using Tesco points for flights is just not going to work. Instead we're using our points to pay for things that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford due to saving - for example we used them to take our DS to Chessington for his birthday, a trip that if we'd paid cash would have cost us best part of £100! Next year rather than going on holiday we're going to use them to get Merlin annual passes.
     
  15. irenep

    irenep DIS Veteran

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    It is extremely difficult finding reward flights with Avios but we have been lucky enough to do so the past couple of years.

    I managed to get flights from London to Orlando 6-26 July 2013 for 2 on part avios/part cash but I was looking every day as soon as the flights were released.

    I have also just booked 2 flights to LAX for next summer from Aberdeen via LHR Club world using my Amex 2-4-1 voucher, 100,000 miles and £1200. (Still trying to work out if that's a good deal, lol) That's part of a trip to Aulani and Hawaii but couldn't get flights all the way. I couldn't get the exact dates I wanted though and will have to take DS out of school 2 days early.

    My DD is at uni in London and often books flights back to Aberdeen using Avios (not sure that's such a good use of points but we only use them if it's last minute and easy jet prices are no good)

    And as others have said they can be good for Europe.


    Just a sugestion, but if you have any Tesco vouchers- why not convert just one of them to Virgin miles to keep the account active.
    And I recently had an email from United about my airmiles expiring. I went on their website and donated 500 miles to their charity thereby extending the expiry to end of 2014. I don't have enough United miles even for a hotel stay but thought it worth keeping the account alive just in case I use them again sometime.
     
  16. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    I've given up now. I've spoken to a Virgin rep (live chat) and she basically said that if I want to go in the school holidays then it's very unlikely that we'll be able to use air miles on those flights.

    I haven't heard back from BA but they are bound to say the same thing. We could use them to upgrade our seats, but again, by the time we have enough vouchers for all of us there may be no seats available to upgrade to - and I don't want to risk converting them and then not being able to use them.

    We are not frequent fliers, so they'll expire before they were able to be used.

    I think I'll just double them up later this year and spend them on Christmas presents. It was worth a try, but I think it was very misleading.

    :confused3
     
  17. 2Tiggies

    2Tiggies DIS Veteran

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    It's all part of a big marketing strategy and I think so many folk get caught up in the loyalty scheme under the impression that they will get something for staying brand loyal. I see a lot of it with Virgin on these boards in particular. Yes, they do have good deals from time to time for those lucky enough to snag them, but there is a vast number of folk who fly with the same airline out of sheer habit because that's what they have always done. By the time they look into it like you are here and realize that there is little value in the program, VA has already snagged thousands from them in business.

    I have even struggled to use Tesco points for airport hotels over the years and not for want of trying, but there are terms and conditions that sort of force you to work your airport overnight date around the terms of the club card points, thereby losing out on what are often the better deals in flights.

    irenep, your suggestion for United miles and the donation is an excellent one and I am going to use this to keep mine active. I did try see if I could book a hotel with them but the participating hotels didn't help me. I didn't realize that a small charity donation would extend the life of the remaining miles so a big thumbs up to you for pointing that out :thumbsup2
     
  18. Disneynutinlondon

    Disneynutinlondon <font color=blue>It's been such a blast with all t

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    It is possible to get reward flights but very often they are not available in the school holidays.

    We've flown pretty much exclusively with VA for the last 10 years and over the years we've been able to do miles+ money return flights at least 3 times from London to Orlando for the 4 of us during the Easter break. Last year I used them to upgrade DH and I from PE to UC on our return flight from Hong Kong and fingers crossed I'm going to be able get 3 PE return flights for my sister, her partner and her son for their trip to WDW in Oct 2014 but again this wont be during school holidays.
     
  19. Elise79

    Elise79 Moderator Moderator

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    As others have said reward flights are available but airlines aren't going to give flights away to popular destinations in school holiday times as it just doesn't make good business sense.

    We are looking for a trip to New York next Easter and I can get reward flights in PE with Virgin. I am probably going to book E fares and upgrade with miles to UC as we have around 175k miles between us and just can't use them on our MCO flights.

    I would also add if you are looking to fly direct in the school holidays that the prices generally only go up for direct flights :headache:
     
  20. ABZDisneyFan

    ABZDisneyFan Mouseketeer

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    I can only comment on the BA Avios scheme so hopefully I can shed some light on it.
    First of all you have to be a member of the BA Executive Club to book avios flights with them, it’s free to join & you can sign the whole family up & create a house hold account which means that you “pool” your miles / avios, you can also transfer your miles direct to your Exec Club account from your avios account.
    As other people have said, booking any kind of reward flight with BA during school holiday or other popular holiday times is difficult & requires a fair degree of planning & persistence but it can be done.
    What BA or any other airline for that matter do not do is offer unlimited reward flights, if they did they would soon be out of business.

    If I am being honest you have probably left it too late to book economy reward seats for July next year but keep looking & you may be lucky.
    BA tend to release reward seats one year in advance & then drip feed more into the system depending on passenger load, time of year & other factors, they also release reward seats closer to the flight date.
    From what I know, there is no hard & fast rule as how many seats they release per flight but anecdotally the figure of two seats per flight per class keeps getting mentioned. N.B. Do not quote me on this as I may be wrong.

    By far the best use of Avios miles is to use them to upgrade to the next cabin i.e. World Traveller to World Traveller+, World Traveller+ to Club World or CW to First.
    You can if you are quick grab reward seats when they are released but you will probably find yourself with the same dilemma that we did when we booked for Florida last November.
    We had collected enough miles, via BA domestic flights, a few business class flights with Aer Lingus, Tesco Club Card points & our American Express cards to go for the WT+ to CW upgrade option which means you pay for WT+ & if available you upgrade to CW for 25,000 miles each.
    One year out & I had two flights ready to book but then the stinger, the return flights had not been loaded yet, of course two weeks later when they were added, the outbound flights had gone.
    I kept an eye on the flights on & off for the next couple of months & then in mid-January they came up & I booked them there & then, the old adage of you snooze you lose is very, very true when it comes to booking BA flights with avios.

    Another trick with getting flights is to be flexible when & where you fly to, we ended up flying to Miami which worked for us as we had a few days in South Beach before driving up to Orlando, there is no better feeling than paying for WT+ & then flying out & back in CW & trust me once you have reclined that seat into bed mode you will not want to fly across the atlantic down the back of the plane again.

    You can also use BA avios on partner airlines, i.e. American & Aer Lingus.
    We’ve only flown business class with Aer Lingus so can’t comment on what their economy service is like but pre clearing US immigration & customs in Dublin is brilliant & the immigration guys are also way nicer, you land in the States as if it’s a domestic flight so don’t rule them out as I am sure they charge less in avios & taxes, you have to call the BA Exec club who can check on availability for you.

    My advice would be to keep collecting avios & they will soon mount up, if you are short of avios for a trip you can buy them from BA which we did once when we were novices at collecting them, there is a deal on at the moment which offers you a bonus depending on how many you buy, BA also offer miles plus money as an option

    I have seen quite a few people on hear complaining about the charges that you have to pay when booking avios flights, the charges do not go to the airline, they are the taxes & security charges that you would pay anyway if you were paying cash for your flight.

    I have to admit that I used to do a lot of flying with BA when in a previous job & it was nearly always in CW or First & as a result of that wild horses couldn’t make me fly long haul economy again, Mrs ABZDisneyFan is of the same mind, which is why we have become expert at collecting avios as they allow us to fly at the front of the plane without paying the eye wateringly expensive fares. We also do not have kids so are free to travel outside of school holidays but I know plenty of people who regularly book reward flights in WT, WT+, CW & First for their whole family during school holidays so it can be done.
    Apologies for the long rambling nature of this post, if you have any more questions about using avios with BA please feel free to PM me.
     
  21. BlueGiraffe

    BlueGiraffe DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for your help, everyone. I've never used air miles before, but my sister has and she never had any trouble, she just phoned up and paid towards the final cost with whatever miles she had. But it hadn't occurred to me until now that it was because she flew during term time.

    As a teacher, however, I don't have that luxury. We haven't actually changed up our Tesco vouchers yet as I was weighing up which airline to go with, so we will keep them as they are and spend them in Tesco.

    I guess I was a bit naive due to the excitement of booking and planning our holiday - really can't wait!!

    But, again, thank you all for your suggestions and advice, but we aren't going to bother with miles and rewards, just plain old simple cash.

    :)
     

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