It comes as no surprise.
British Airways Executive Club isn’t on most Canadian’s radar…
But, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Aeroplan, it’s time to start considering alternatives. And for a lot of people, British Airways could make sense.
Let’s dive in on what British Airways has to offer, where you can use their frequent flyer program, and how you could 2x the value of your Avios with this credit card.
All about the British Airways Executive Club
But first, here are two quick facts to remember:
- British Airways frequent flyer program is called the British Airways Executive Club, and
- the points you collect are called Avios.
You can enroll online in a few minutes. And then you can explore where and how much Avios it will take to get you where you want to go.
British Airways is the flagship carrier for the United Kingdom, and has a large presence around the globe. They may be based out of London Heathrow airport, but you can fly to over 200 destinations in 75 countries around the world.
Having said that, you probably should only use British Airways to fly to:
- the Middle East, and
Because outside of these regions, there are faster and better flights to get you where you’re going.
Canadian airports with ‘oneworld alliance’ carriers
British Airways is a member of oneworld alliance, one of the three big airline alliances.
As a result, you are able to use your Avios on any of the oneworld alliance carriers.
Which of these airlines fly into Canada?
The table below shows each Canadian Airport that hosts oneworld airlines:
|Quebec City||* American Airlines (seasonal)|
|Montreal||* American Airlines
* British Airways
* Qatar Airways
* Royal Jordanian
|Ottawa||* American Airlines|
|Toronto||* American Airlines
* British Airways
* Cathay Pacific
|Calgary||* American Airlines
* British Airways (seasonal)
|Edmonton||* American Airlines (seasonal)|
|Vancouver||* American Airlines
* British Airways
* Cathay Pacific
* Japan Airlines
* Qantas (seasonal)
Please note: Although some of these cities have limited service, it still opens up a large list of potential destinations. For instance, Ottawa only has American Airlines service to Philadelphia, but once there, you’ll be able to access flights to not only the United States, but Europe and the Middle East as well.
Avios points required for flights
Now that you know where you can use Avios points, how many do you need to go somewhere?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward table that tells you. The only way to find out is to use their reward flight calculator.
Note that this calculator does not work for regions in Canada or the United States. However, if you set your region to United Kingdom, it will show you exactly how many Avios points you’ll need, as well as the taxes and fees you will have to pay.
Here are 6 things to remember when thinking about redeeming your Avios:
1. There are peak and off peak seasons
The Avios needed to redeem for flights also depends on the time of year since the program has peak and off peak pricing.
Peak and off peak pricing only apply to British Airways flights, with Peak pricing requiring roughly 1.5 times as many Avios to fly somewhere.
And although it varies throughout the year, roughly two thirds of the year is considered off peak. As a general guideline, peak times occur in April, July, August, October, and the last two weeks in December.
2. The amount of Avios required depends on distance
As a general rule, the farther you fly, the more Avios you’ll need.
For example, I looked at flights from Toronto to London as well as Vancouver to London. Toronto to London required 26,000 Avios, whereas Vancouver to London required 32,500 Avios.
However, a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth from Toronto or Vancouver should require the same number of Avios (since they are equal distance away), and after checking, they both needed 10,000 Avios.
I also went a little further and looked at flying from Toronto or Vancouver, to Hong Kong. Flying from Toronto required 35,000 Avios, while flying from Vancouver was 30,000 Avios.
Please note: All the flights listed above are direct flights on either British Airways or another oneworld alliance partner.
3. The amount of Avios required depends on the number of airlines
However, if a flight you’re looking at involves two or more oneworld alliance partners, the amount of Avios you’ll need jumps up.
This chart shows you how many Avios are required depending on how many miles you fly.
I looked at a trip from Toronto to Sydney, Australia. This trip requires two different carries – American Airlines to Dallas, and Qantas to Sydney. The flight distance is roughly 19,000 miles and according to the chart should require 100,000 Avios. After looking at a rewards flight, it does indeed require 100,000 Avios to book.
4. The amount of Avios required depends on the number of stops
If you book a flight that has a stop or two, it will cost more Avios to book.
When I went to book the Toronto to Dallas trip in peak season, I couldn’t find a direct flight. I had to book a return flight that stopped in Chicago.
This trip cost 5,000 more Avios than if I could have gone on a direct flight.
5. You’ll be able to split your payments between Avios and cash
Don’t have enough Avios for your British Airways flight? No problem.
You can use the points you have and then pay the difference with cash or a credit card. (Although keep in mind that this option is only available with flights operated by British Airways.)
6. Be sure to check ALL oneworld alliance partners
When looking at the rewards calculator, it is possible a British Airways option will show up first, even if it isn’t the best option.
So don’t forget to scroll down and see if there is a direct flight on a partner airline.
What is the value of an Avios?
So what is an Avios worth? I would put a value of one Avios at 1.75 cents each.
To get an idea, I used a variety of destinations from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as they have the most oneworld flights.
I looked at how many Avios each flight would require, and then went to google flights and booked the exact same trip.
The pdf here shows what I came up with.
Please note: I used the same flights twice – once in off peak season in 2 months, and again in peak season booked 6 months from now.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it should give a good idea of what an Avios could be worth.
The trip from Toronto to London during peak season came out at the bottom end of the spectrum. The taxes and fees associated with this flight were very high and in the end, you were only saving $289.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, the peak season trip from Vancouver to Tokyo offered some terrific value at 2.5 cents per point.
Similar to Aeroplan, you’ll have to be savvy and know when and when not to use your Avios for a trip.
Please note: While we didn’t include any business class seats in our research, it can be a great way to increase the value of your Avios. A few searches revealed a point value of between 3 to 6 cents each. While not for everyone as you will have to build up more Avios, it’s a great way to increase your Avios value, and get some great perks while flying.
Collect your Avios points now
Now that you know a little more about the program, you’re probably wondering how you can start collecting points?
There are a couple of credit cards available, and we’ll give them both a brief overview.
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
The Canadian co-branded British Airways card, the
With this card, you’ll earn the following:
- 2 Avios per dollar spent on British Airways, and
- 1 Avios per dollar spent everywhere else.
Plus, you can also receive 50,000 bonus:
- 15,000 Avios when your credit card is approved,
- 25,000 Avios when you spend $5,000 in your first three months, and
- 10,000 Avios when you renew your card for a second year.
Cardholders will also be covered by a trusty insurance package, including 7 days of emergency medical for people over 65.
And on top of all that, if you spend $30,000 annually, you will receive a companion award voucher.
2x the value of your Avios with 3.5% return
Book a rewards flight using your Avios on a British Airways flight and you will be able to bring someone special with you for no additional points – just pay the taxes and fees.
This essentially doubles the value of your points.
If taken advantage of properly, you could be looking at a return of 3.5% on all of your spend – which is higher than most other travel cards on the market.
Is it worth the $165 annual fee? That’s for you to decide.
American Express Gold Rewards Card
One of our favorite cards, the
That means this card will give you the following Avios points on your spending:
- 2 points per dollar spent at groceries, gas, drugstores and travel purchases, and
- 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else.
You’ll get a welcome bonus of 25,000 points when you spend $1,500 in your first 3 months, and get access to 10 different types of insurance.
All for a $150 annual fee.
And with a multitude of ways to use your points, if it turns out British Airways isn’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to use your points.
The final verdict
Avios can take you all over the world.
And depending on where you live in Canada, the points collected through British Airways Executive Club can be quite valuable.
You’ll only be limited by how many points you have.
So, if you arm yourself with a