Points Mean Prizes

James Beagrie
James Beagrie
Last Updated: 10 January 2023

Points, as they used to say on TV, make prizes, and right now is a very good time to examine how you play the frequent flier game.

Why? Well because soaring airfares caused by tight capacity and rising oil prices currently mean those reward miles are worth a hell of a lot more than they were, plus there are some major changes to how you earn Avios points.

You’re missing out if you’re not earning and burning or if you’ve somehow forgotten to sign up to a loyalty scheme. We calculated that Avios points, for example, were worth 5% on a £100,000 spend; now it’s worth that on £70,000, so it really is the time to collect and redeem them.

A look at November’s calculations by thepointsguy.com reveals some schemes to target if you want to maximise your points redemption. American AAdvantage, for example, offered 1.4 miles per point a year ago, but this is now 1.77. Delta is another winner for fliers, moving from 1.1 miles in November 2021 to 1.41 now, while United has dropped from 1.3 to 1.21. 

Avios remains constant at 1.5 miles per point, but who knows what it will be next year when British Airways makes changes to how you earn miles? There’s a hint of what’s to come from Iberia, which last month changed its scheme to a revenue-based system. This will reward frequent fliers based on the amount spent and programme status, not the distance travelled.

Following the change, Iberia now offers between five and eight Avios points per euro depending on tier status. There will be some grumbling about this, as earning is based on net spend, excluding taxes and charges, so if you are an SME that flies long-haul in economy, you’ll see the number of Avios points you earn fall.

We don’t know what BA has planned, but meanwhile, there’s some good news from the carrier for those with Avios to spend – and it might pay to spend them quickly. In May, BA doubled the number of guaranteed reward seat availability and for the first time, World Traveller Plus came into the equation, with two seats on every flight now available. You can also now bid for the four Club World seats on each flight.

BA customers have the added benefit of companion tickets if they reach certain spending thresholds and despite the name, those who use the Avios Amex card can redeem companion tickets for a 50% discount if flying solo.

Virgin Atlantic is another carrier that’s tweaked its frequent flier scheme. Since September 2021 – and unlike BA – Virgin reward flights now count towards your tier status in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

With Lufthansa’s PartnetPlus, not only can you exchange your points for free flights, hotels, and car rentals, but you can also redeem them for Gift Cards or spend them in their WorldShop.

It pays to keep track of what the airlines are doing. Generally, when redeeming miles, watch out for taxes, charges and carrier-imposed surcharges, as often these stack up so much that using points can be more expensive than buying the ticket outright. So do the maths – and reap the rewards.

(in pence)*
BA On BusinessAmerican Airlines, British Airways, Iberia3.3p
BluebizAir France, Delta, KLM, Virgin Atlantic1.0p
Emirates Business RewardsEmirates0.9p
Etihad Business ConnectEtihad1.1p
Lufthansa PartnerPlusAir Canada, All Nippon Airways, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, TAP Portugal, United, Eurowings, Germanwings1.1p
*December 2022 data from https://thepointsguy.co.uk/guide/uk-monthly-valuations/

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