One of my favorite airline currencies is British Airways Avios. Unfortunately, British Airways is not as generous with their award ticket changes as airlines like American and Alaska are. Fortunately however there is a simple hack that can, in some cases, help to decrease your out of pocket cost for making a change to your British Airways award ticket.
I find that Avios offer some exceptional value when I am traveling abroad (especially in Asia) and they have allowed me to cross an item off of my bucket list (flying topside on the 747) for next to nothing.
Other than horrible redemption rates for most premium cabin longhaul award flights, the only real downside to using Avios is the fees associated with changing your award ticket. Your change fee is going to depend on the region you are departing from.
For purposes of this post, I will assume we are departing from North America where the change fee is $55 + $25 if you opt to process the change via telephone. If you opt to change your ticket online, you will only pay the $55 change fee per ticket.
One thing I will note is that oftentimes changes to award tickets redeemed on OneWorld partner airlines cannot be changed online. In that event, British Airways will waive the telephone fee for you if you ask. British Airways also has a site that is prone to errors and issues, so you can usually get the phone fee waived as well if you tell them the website was erroring out on you while you were trying to make your changes.
While $55 is not a horrible charge for changes, there is a way to get around it and pay significantly less. British Airways has a policy whereby if you elect to cancel an award ticket, you are responsible to pay either a $55 cancellation fees OR the taxes and fees on the ticket – whichever is the lower amount. All things considered, that is quite generous.
Considering that most award tickets starting in the United States incur only $5.60 in taxes and fees, that means that you could cancel your award ticket and rebook your new desired award ticket for $5.60 instead of $55 – a savings of nearly $50!
Where You Won’t Come Out Ahead Using This
As with any good travel hack, there are certainly instances where the change or cancellation fee is the change or cancellation fee. For example, if you had booked a flight like Buenos Aires (EZE) to Miami (MIA) using Avios and wanted to change to a later flight, you would get hit with the $55 change fee. Why? Because the taxes and fees on that particular flight are nearly $100, which means the lower of the two costs would be the $55 change fee.
As you can see, while this trick may be very useful to save you some money on changing your award ticket, sometimes the numbers just do not play nice and you are looking at paying the $55 change fee either way.
I don’t think it is any secret that I look to save money wherever possible, so it should come as no surprise that I have utilized this trick myself a few times to avoid the change fees. While it is not something I would recommend doing with any consistency (in my opinion, you don’t want to be on British Airways’ radar for booking and cancelling a ton of tickets), it does comply with the terms and conditions of the British Airways Executive Club program. Hopefully this helps shed some light on an easy way to save a few dollars the next time you need to change your award ticket booked with Avios!
Are there any other airlines you have been able to do this on?
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