Reward Flight Saver is now available on all British Airways flights, but is it the best value for money every time?

British Airways Airbus A350
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

British Airways Executive Club members have long known the frustration of going in to cash tens of thousands of miles only to be hit with hundreds in taxes and airline surcharges. To tackle this on short-haul European routes, the carrier unveiled Reward Flights Saver, allowing members to increase their mileage spend to offset fees.

In December 2022, Reward Flight Saver (RFS) was expanded to all BA flights, with only government-imposed taxes required to be paid on each route. To be eligible, you need to have earned at least 1 Avios point in the last 12 months, so an old stash of miles can’t be used until some activity is completed. So, how does RFS work and is it good value for money every time?

Short-haul flights

In principle, the proposition of more miles for less cash payment is a tempting proposition. Shelling out more money after spending to accrue points is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when carriers across the pond don’t have to do so. The Executive Club’s RFS is here to level the playing field, somewhat.

We’ll value each Avios (Executive Club’s currency shared by several carriers) at roughly 1p/1.3c (£0.01/$0.013) each, per The Points Insider. On short-haul flights, the difference in dollar or pound value is almost negligible, so even the £0.5 ($0.63) fees option is fine, although there is better value at paying a slightly high amount of £9 ($11.25), being the sweet spot for short-haul flights.

Screenshot 2023-04-04 at 23.26.27

Photo: British Airways

Paying the higher fee ($10.6) lets you save 2,000 Avios in our example from London to Amsterdam, which are worth $26. However, these numbers don’t matter too much when you look at premium and long-haul redemptions, especially those out of the UK.

Long-haul flights

The first issue that arises is that travelers may not be sitting on tens of thousands of extra miles. While it is possible to earn 100,000 Avios through flying and credit cards, earning another 60,000 just to remove $625 in taxes may not be worth it in reality. On premium, long-haul routes, where RFS was hoped to have worked best, it hasn’t done much. However, even if you do have a huge tranche of miles, the math doesn’t check out every time.

The math gets a bit more complicated on long-haul flights, so bear with us (or skip to the conclusion below). Take one flagship route, London to New York. With RFS, British Airways sells the roundtrip service for 160,000 Avios + £350 ($437) in business class. Alternatively, you can use the ‘old’ rates of 100,000 Avios + £850 ($1,064) as well.

Screenshot 2023-04-04 at 23.49.48

Photo: British Airways

While RFS knocks off a substantial £500/$625 from the roundtrip price, it adds a hefty 60,000 points, which we value at $780. In reality, Avios can be worth even more when being used for business and first class redemptions compared to cash tickets. So, it’s clear that the lower Avios, higher cash rate is better, even if it hurts the bank balance more. However, if you don’t have the extra points to begin with, this discussion is moot.

On an economy roundtrip, Reward Flight Saver of 50,000 + £100 ($125) is better than the 26,000 + £430 ($538) previously offered but is beaten by the middle option of 38,000 + £180 ($225), which produces best value. While RFS has added the option of the 38,000 Avios, the ‘best’ offer of 50,000 is far from it.

British Airways tails at LHR

Photo: EQRoy/Shutterstock

A quick summary

In summary, Reward Flight Saver remains a great option for short-haul European trips, allowing you to beat fares and pay negligible taxes and fees. However, on long-haul flights, the RFS price offered is almost never the best deal, and putting up more cash is a better deal mathematically.

If you happen to be sitting on hundreds of thousands of miles, you might be tempted to spend more to avoid hundreds in taxes, but for discerning travelers in small groups, it’s best to look at the other options and pay a bit more cash to make sure you’re getting the bang for you Avious.

Have you used the expanded Reward Flight Saver? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The Points Insider

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