Buying British Airways Avios to save big on Qantas business class

By Chris C., August 27 2014
Buying British Airways Avios to save big on Qantas business class

Qantas business class flights can be snared for just $200 between Sydney and Melbourne, for $327 between Brisbane and Melbourne and for $533 from Sydney to Perth thanks to a new British Airways Executive Club promotion.

Until August 31 2014, Executive Club members can buy Avios (points) with bonuses of up to 30%, which can then be redeemed for discount domestic business class travel with Qantas.

Put simply, you’ll be flying in business class for what you’d often pay to sit in economy.

As you’d expect, there are caveats and restrictions – so here’s what you need to know.

The deal

The bonus you’ll receive depends on the number of Avios you purchase.

Buying between 2,000 and 10,000 Avios gets a 5% bonus; 11,000-15,000 comes with 10% more Avios; 16,000-20,000 serves up an extra 15%; 21,000-26,000 delivers a 20% boost; and 27,000 Avios – the maximum you can buy in a calendar year – nets a handsome 30% bonus.

To start things off, you’ll first need to be a member of Executive Club. It’s free to join, but you’ll have to use a non-Australian mailing address as British Airways normally directs Aussies to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

Then, you’ll need to have earned at least one point before you can buy Avios, so for travellers who have already transitioned across to Executive Club in the hunt for benefits that give the equivalent of Qantas Lifetime Platinum, it’s easy to get started.

If you’re a new member, chances are you‘ll be hard-pressed to earn any points before the August 31 deadline – but why not link your new Executive Club number to your next Qantas flight to get the ball rolling ahead of any future promotions?

Or, if you don’t want to sacrifice those all-important Qantas status credits, Avios can also be earned through the Hilton HHonors, Le Club Accorhotels, Starwood Preferred Guest and IHG Rewards Club loyalty programs on your next hotel stay.

The savings: Sydney to Melbourne

Executive Club has incredibly low redemption rates on shorter flights, which can make the slight hassle more than worth it.

Using Avios, a short hop from Sydney to Melbourne in business class comes in at 9,000 points plus 9€:

Assuming you’d bought the full 35,100 points (including the bonus) for 514€ (A$729), you’ll wind up paying just A$199.69 for that one-way flight, including the taxes levied when you redeem those points for travel.

That same flight costs $870 to book the ‘normal’ way, which sees a $670 saving in each direction:

Put simply, you could pay 77% less to sit in the same seat on the same flight.

The savings: Brisbane to Melbourne

It’s a similar story for business class travel from Brisbane to Melbourne, which sets you back 15,000 Avios plus 11€:

Again with the full 30% bonus, that flight would be yours for A$367.14 based on today’s rates.

You could always spend your hard-earned to book the flight, but this particular hop sets you back $1,101 in just 2.5 hours…

… which is exactly triple the price of buying the same seat via Executive Club.

The savings: Sydney to Perth

The popular Sydney-Perth route also promises significant savings, but at 25,000 Avios each way for business class, buying the maximum number of points wouldn’t give you enough for a return trip.

Instead, use points to fly in one direction and simply buy a one-way ticket to get back home.

With a co-pay of 10€, you can nab a Sydney-Perth flight for A$533.42 by burning those newly-acquired Avios miles:

To compare, you’d be up for $1,821 to buy a commercial fare:

All up, you’re saving $1,287.58 on a one-way flight – or nearly 70%.

The fine print

When jetting around on these discounted tickets, you won’t earn any Qantas Points or status credits with Qantas Frequent Flyer, any Aquire Points in Qantas’ Aquire program for businesses, or any Avios or tier points with Executive Club – but that’s to be expected.

Also, award availability through Executive Club can differ from what Qantas offers members of its own loyalty scheme – so even if you’ve found a Classic Award seat through the Qantas website, that same seat might not be available to Executive Club members.

Before you dive in and stock up on Avios, we’d strongly recommend searching the BA website for award seats on your desired travel dates to avoid disappointment. You'll need to be an Executive Club member, but as it's free to join, it's not a hindrance.

Finally, you won’t be able to buy miles for longer flights to Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai – which would cost between 40,000 and 50,000 Avios depending on the city pairs, both of which are above the 35,100-point maximum that can be bought through this promotion.

If that’s where you’re headed, look instead to American Airlines AAdvantage, US Airways Dividend Miles, United MileagePlus or Avianca LifeMiles for discounts on travel at the pointy end.

But if you're flying domestically and already have a balance greater than zero, buy Executive Club Avios miles now before the sale winds up.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

I don't even pay half that for economy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Feb 2013

Total posts 54

I believe the recent changes to the Iberia Avios scheme have considerably increased the number of points required for short flights. Given the common ownership of BA and Iberia, I would think there is a real risk that BA could follow suit in the near future. So buying BA Avios for redemption on Australian domestic flights might make sense if you're intending to redeem them in the near future, but riskier for anyone contemplating buying the Avios now to keep in their back pocket for use sometime in the future.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 197

Seems a lot more complicated than just using your credit card spend to upgrade from economy.

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