If you would like to ask a question to be featured on the blog, please feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the contact us tab above. Readers D & A asked if it was possible to use Avios for experiences such as the Paris Champagne river cruise that I went on earlier this year.
Using Avios for Experiences
Redeeming Avios for attractions varies significantly between ba.com and avios.com. If you want the best selection you will need to head over to ba.com. BA offers attractions in lots of cities and you can search by city and date range. You select ‘spending Avios’ from the main menu and then ‘experiences’. Avios.com offers a good selection of attractions, spas and theme park tickets for the UK but nothing outside the UK except for Disneyland Paris tickets.
Let’s take a couple of examples to see if it is worth using Avios for experiences. As regular readers will know, I don’t tend to use a specific value for Avios as it all depends on how you personally choose to redeem them. Instead, I will look at what else you could buy with the same amount of Avios and how much the attraction is actually worth. This is how I suggest you compare any Avios deals, as only you know what else you are likely to spend them on instead.
Seeing as the question I had was about Paris I will start there. Looking at Champagne river cruises there were a couple but they weren’t quite the same one I had, as mine was a champagne tasting cruise. The cheapest equivalent is 3900 Avios per person but you have to buy 2 tickets as it is a package for 2 people and includes half a bottle of champagne between 2, making the total 7800 Avios. If you look for a similar package on Viator, which has thousands of experiences to buy, the closest cruise costs £43.20 for 2 people.
We can then look at how else we could use the Avios such as buying flights to Paris to give us an idea of the value. If you were to use Avios to fly to Paris and are able to use BA Reward flights saver (you must have earned 1 Avios in the last year to be able to book these) it would cost 8000 Avios per person +£35. So basically the same price as the two cruise tickets which are worth £43.
If you bought the same flight with cash it would cost around £105 for the cheapest fare with baggage (with Avios bookings you get the bags included). If you take off the cost of the RFS £35 you are getting £70 of value from the Avios for the Paris redemption compared to £43 for the cruise for 2.
Conclusion: You would get better value using the Avios to buy the flights to Paris rather than the cruise but it is not a huge difference.
Since I am heading to Las Vegas this week I thought I could have a look at the price of experiences there for comparison. I looked at tickets for the Absinthe show using Avios since I have bought tickets for this trip. The tickets cost a whopping 17400 Avios each but to buy them was £80 by the time you added in the taxes and charges (nearly as bad as BA!).
So what could you buy with 17400 Avios instead? You could get 2 economy tickets to Paris which equates to around £200 in value since you do get luggage included. Once you take off the £35pp reward flight saver fee though, it only makes it worth £130.
Alternatively, you could buy 1 ticket to Spain such as Palma for 15000 Avios + £35. This year for flights in June I paid about £230 on Easyjet to avoid the £400 pp BA were charging from Heathrow to Palma! If you take an average price of around £200 in a sale (£165 after RFS) that still makes using the Avios for a flight instead much better value than using it for the Absinthe tickets.
Conclusion: Again the price of the Avios experience was poor value compared to spending the Avios on flights.
Personally I nearly always use my Avios for long-haul travel with the odd short haul Club Europe upgrade. A BA 2-4-1 First ticket is the holy grail of redemptions for me but tricky to secure to many places. However, not everyone wants to go long haul or some lucky people have so many Avios they struggle to spend them! In these sort out circumstances then it makes more sense to use the Avios for this relatively poor value sort of redemption.