Ask any miles aficionado in Singapore which Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP) they redeemed their last holiday extravaganza with, and more often than not you’ll hear either one of these FFPs:
- Asia Miles (the programme of Cathay Pacific)
However, these programs are not always the best to use when it comes to reward flights on short and medium haul flights. For instance, when you’re flying to the more popular Asian holiday destinations (i.e Hong Kong, Tokyo , flights Down Under or intra-Europe even)
Side Track : Although Aaron is definitely against redeeming miles for intra-Europe travels. In my opinion, there are some cases when it would make mileage sense (is this a thing) to be redeeming flights in Business or even Economy (gasps!) when flying intra-Europe.
As I sat at McDonald’s sipping on some tea with milk, reminiscing holidays past, I got reminded of the British Airways Executive Club. (who wouldn’t feel British sipping some tea in the afternoon) In which I personally used to redeem an intra-Europe flight to visit the French Riviera earlier in the year.
For the uninitiated, Executive Club is the Frequent Flyer Programme run by British Airways in which you could collect miles, or rather Avios as they call it over in the United Kingdom. (Maybe SQ should consider renaming Krisflyer miles to to just ‘Kris’)
Oh Lord Barrington III Jr, how doth I get my hands on these Avios of which you speaketh of?
Glad you asked.
Avios can be earned from flights on :
- British Airways
- Iberia (its ‘sister’ airline)
- Vueling (its low cost subsidiary)
- Partner oneworld airlines
As well as obtained from points transfers from the following banks in Singapore :
- 10,000 Citi Miles to 10,000 Avios (if you’re transferring from the Citibank PremierMiles card)
- 25,000 Citi Dollars to 10,000 Avios (if transferring from Citibank Rewards card and Citibank Prestige card)
- American Express
- 450 Membership Rewards points to 250 Avios ( i.e earned via the American Express Rewards card and American Express Platinum range)
Avios are also transferable from select hotel loyalty programmes, of which you can find out more via this page on their website. As an example, every 20,000 Starpoints converts to 25,000 Avios from Starwood Preffered Guest.
Avios are easily redeemable for flights via the British Airways Website using their online search engine (which has no trouble finding award space on its alliance partners). It’s fairly intuitive to use and also gives you the options upfront to use part payment (i.e Avios + Cash) immediately after you select your preferred flights.
Now before we go on, I must mention that British Airways in recent times introduced the concept of Off Peak and Peak redemption rates for redemptions on British Airways flights. Basically, they have designated certain periods of the year which they deem to be “high-demand” for them where the cost of redeeming a flight on British Airways would be higher compared to their “Off-Peak” periods. (After all the service cuts by Alex Cruz, I’m not sure if there’s still “high demand” for British Airways flights actually)
For example, an Off-Peak return flight from London Heathrow to Nice in France on BA would cost 8,000 Avios in Economy and 15,500 Avios in Business while a Peak period redemption would cost you 9,000 Avios and 18,000 Avios in Economy and Business respectively. So while there’s some sort of ‘dynamic pricing’ going on, it wouldn’t take too much of a toll on your mileage balance for redemption during Peak vs Off-Peak.
The Case for Avios
I personally find Avios to be a better programme for redemption of flights within Europe, as well as on certain routes within the region.
Note that Long Haul redemptions with BA are crazily priced and incur a TON of taxes. So for the interest of everyone who wishes to maximize their miles, they shall not be spoken about.
For a simple comparison, I’ve compiled some data in the below table showing the different award rates on certain routes using Avios, Krisflyer and Asia Miles and have put the carrier in which you’d be flying in are in brackets.
(Flights shown are for Business Class redemptions unless otherwise stated)
(all Taxes are in Singapore Dollars and do fluctuate)
Singapore to Regional Destinations
|Singapore to Tokyo Narita|
|Asia Miles (CX)||80000||~195.60|
Winner : Tie between Avios (CX) & Asia Miles (CX)
For some reason, pricing of Avios on a direct JL flight costs more than 2 segments on CX.
|Singapore to Hong Kong|
|Asia Miles (CX)||50000||120.25|
Winner : Avios (CX)
|Singapore to Bangkok|
|Asia Miles (CX)||40000||~100.87|
Winner : Avios (CX)
|Singapore to Melbourne||(Economy)|
|Asia Miles (QF)||25000||~171.81|
Winner : Avios (QF)
Note : I wasn’t able to generate a quotation on the BA Search Engine for flights on J class on QF, hence the comparison is done for One-Way Economy only, some strange things are happening.
Redemption rates with Avios are obviously better than both Krisflyer and Asia Miles to these popular holiday destinations, where it can cost up to 10,000 Avios lesser in the case of a redemption to nearby Bangkok.
(Please don’t kick me out of guest writing for suggesting a J Class redemption to Bangkok)
Flights within Europe
Let’s say you’re heading to Europe for your holidays and intend to travel intra-Europe (in the examples below, we’ll assume you’ll only be flying from one city to another and back), here’s where redeeming flights on British Airways Executive Club with Avios is a definitely the way to go than using Krisflyer and Asia Miles.
|London to Athens||Business|
|Asia Miles (BA)||50000||~164.63|
Winner : Avios (BA)
|London to Nice||Business|
|Asia Miles (BA)||40000||168.61|
Winner : Avios (BA)
(Singapore Airlines website didn’t let me perform an online search for flights to Nice from London, so I couldn’t price out the taxes, hopefully their search engine would be fixed soon)
|London to Frankfurt||Business||Economy|
|Asia Miles (BA)||30000||(not shown)||15000||(not shown)|
Winner : Avios (BA)
(For short flights below 2 hours, redeeming an Economy Ticket would make mile-sense as it only costs 8500 Avios + 64.00 in taxes and sometimes intra-Europe flights are expensive, hence this is why I included it in my analysis)
|London to Moscow||Business|
|Asia Miles (BA)||50000||~ 164.63|
Winner : Avios (BA)
(On BA you could be flying on their lie flat 777s to Moscow, compared to domestic J on Austrian)
From this we can see that redemption of Avios for flights within Europe (even for flights as far as Moscow) would save you a substantial amount of miles and sometimes even taxes when redeeming with Avios.
Time for change?
I agree that accruing Avios is hard for us here in Singapore, especially so when only two banks provide the opportunity to perform a points transfer over to the Executive Club programme. Personally, I would recommend putting some spend on the cards which allows the conversion to Avios as there is indeed some potential in the British Airways redemption charts. (i.e instead of using DBS WWMC for online shopping i.e Lazada/Qoo10/Zalora/Asos, use Citi Rewards instead)
Now, who else wants some fish and chips?
Just to add on, Avios allow pooling of points into a family account so you can use points from family members who fly occasionally.
Yup i used that function personally! But I wrote this purely in a transfer from CC point of view. Thanks CK!
Given that most intra-Europe “business class” flights are essentially economy class with a blocked middle seat, the winner intra-Europe should be Ryanair/Easyjet etc where a ticket would cost the price of your redemption taxes.
I agree. I flew LHR FCO this year in Club Europe. I valued the fast track security at Heathrow and priority baggage (as I’m not a OW elite). BA galleries wasn’t much to shout about. Plus it depends actually. For instance flying from Europe into the UK on Ryanair /Easyjet lands you at Stansted or even Luton. Which is quite a distance from Central London. I value flying out of Heathrow due to the connectivity to central London via the Tube/HX/Heathrow Connect. Also, after hearing from my friends their experiences with Easyjet/Ryanair, I wouldn’t mind paying the premium for BA… Read more »
i think another consideration you can discuss for avios is intra japan domestic flights. 4500 miles one way (economy of course) for most routes on JAL with taxes <$10.
Agreed. I have an intra Japan flight booked for next year. Loads of availability too!
Hi Phil, have u booked this JAL flight successfully online with avios points? I recently have tried many time with my BA points booking for JAL, it always failed. However, there is no any problem for online booking of CX flight. I called the agent, they don’t know why is that.
Yes it was done on ba.com
I had loads of non-descriptive errors too but eventually it just worked. It was a few months ago and I cannot remember doing anything special to finally get it to work!
Yup basically domestic super short flights are around 4500 Avios + very low taxes
For BA flights, in addition to the taxes, you need to factor in the seat selection fees. Yes, even on business class, you are charged to select your (2-4-2) seat in BA. And furthermore, 2-4-2!?!
If you’re BA Bronze you get to select seats for free 1 week before, and if you’re BA Silver you’ll get to select them for free at the time of purchase.
I may have missed this point, but are one-way redemptions on partner airlines aloowed, and are they priced at half of a return trip? Eg. can we redeem SIN-HKG on Cathay for 20,000 miles one-way on business class? If so, this could really be advantageous over Asiamiles or KF.
Yes one way are allowed
The reason why SIN-HKG-NRT is cheaper than SIN-NRT is because of the way bands are priced.
SIN-NRT is 3333 miles (nice number!) and falls into band 5, which is 60k one way. But SIN-HKG-NRT is 1595 + 1893 miles, which is band 3 + band 3, which is 20k miles each way for a total of 40k one way.
See this post for greater detail and more ways to game the system:
I was exploring to fly SIN – HND via BA online redemption and was shown as 20k avios (one way) required however fulfilled by JAL. Is this correct? Seems conflicting if using JAL redemption will be 40k instead?
[…] You can use wheretocredit.com to check which frequent flyer program will earn you the most miles for crediting your Qatar Airways flights to them based on the booking class of your flight. I’ll personally credit flights on Qatar Airways to the British Airways Executive Club program as I find it a very useful program. […]
[…] If you are planning to fly on British Airways for your upcoming holidays and have not booked your tickets yet, remember to register for this promotion first before booking your flights. Avios can come in particularly handy for flights around the region and for short haul to medium haul flights too. […]