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British Airways running 50% off award redemptions, but should you try?

50% of the usual Avios required across all classes for all trips above 2,000 miles, for travel up to 30 Jun 2021

British Airways is now running a promotion, offering 50% off the usual number of Avios required for redemptions across all cabin classes for all trips over 2,000 miles.

This is a global offer running from now until 13 Oct 2020.

British Airways ran a similar promotion around the same time last year, but only for economy and premium economy cabins. A much smaller discount of 10% was offered for business and first class redemptions.

British Airways Boeing 777 First Class

The offer

As part of the airline’s Avios redemption sale, you will enjoy 50% off the usual Avios required for any award redemption across all classes: economy, premium economy, business and first class.

Note that the offer is only valid for BA-operated flights, codeshare and oneworld services will retain their original number of Avios required for redemption.

Bookings must be for journeys longer than 2,000 miles and travel must commence on or before 31 Jun 2021. Both one-way journeys and return trips can be booked.

Services from Singapore

Before Covid-19, British Airways operated three daily flights from Singapore – BA12 and BA16 to London, as well as BA15 to Sydney. BA12 is operated by an A380, while BA15 and BA16 are operated by its Boeing 777 jets.

At present (Oct 2020), BA is only operating BA15/16 between London and Singapore four times a week. It will ramp up to a daily service from 1 Nov with a second daily service scheduled to return from 17 Dec 2020, but these dates are subject to change.

The pre-coronavirus schedules are loaded through most of next year, although it remains to be seen whether BA will actually operate these flights.

What is the redemption rate?

British Airways Executive Club runs redemptions a little differently from many other airlines, as it has peak and off-peak redemption charts. The peak and off-peak dates are determined by BA and you can only see whether it’s peak or off-peak from the redemption engine.

Either way, below is the chart outlining the number of Avios required after the 50% discount for both peak and off-peak periods:

CabinSingapore – LondonSingapore – Sydney
Economy35,000 17,50022,750 11,37520,000 10,00013,000 6,500
Premium Economy70,000 35,00045,500 22,75040,000 20,00026,000 13,000
Business105,000 52,50087,500 43,75060,000 30,00050,000 25,000
First140,000 70,000119,000 59,50080,000 40,00068,000 34,000

If you manage to snag an off-peak date, you can get a seat in first class for as low as 34,000 Avios, which is terrific value, and offers you access to some of the best lounges at Changi Airport, provided they are open by the time you travel next year.

One of the best proposition for British Airways Executive Club is that you can part pay with Avios if you run short.

Normally you will pay about 2 to 3 cents per Avios you are short of, such as below’s one-way award ticket to London from Singapore in first class:

Singapore – London first class, one-way (normal redemption rate)

However, under this promotion, you will end up paying significantly more at between 5 to 6 cents per Avios that you are short of:

Singapore – London first class, one-way (promo redemption rate)

So if you want to take advantage of this offer, make sure you have enough Avios to book the entire itinerary!

One downside of booking with British Airways is that the airline charge a pretty hefty fuel surcharge on long-haul flights. For instance, an award from Singapore to Sydney alone will set you back S$216.71 in additional fees, while a first in London will cost you S$203.37 in such fees.

Departures from London will also be hit with Air Passenger Duty (APD), and you will end up paying quite a fair bit out of pocket beside burning your Avios.

Final thoughts

This is no doubt a good offer, even though it doesn’t seem like international travel is likely anytime soon. Given such good value, some may argue that it is still worth a gamble to book a ticket if you have spare Avios lying around, or a pretty huge Citi Thank You points balance to transfer to Avios for this purpose.

However, I beg to differ on a few counts:

First, BA has stripped back all of its in-flight services due to Covid-19, and will essentially provide cold meal boxes in all cabin classes except first class since Jun 2020.

British Airways first class meal service

Dining has always been a major proposition for many travellers, especially leisure travellers, while travelling in premium cabins. If you are shelling out top miles for the topmost cabin class, you definitely want the full suite of experience and not a boxed dinner. Couple this with the fact that the first class seat on BA’s B777 is rather aged, that further reduces the attractiveness of the cabin experience.

Next, one other important aspect of flying first class is the pre-flight lounge access. At the moment, all of oneworld’s lounges at Changi Airport are closed and there is no indication when they will reopen.

First class flyers from Changi Airport typically get access to two exclusive areas: first, BA’s own lounge has a dedicated section called “The Bar Singapore” for first class passengers, while the second option is Qantas’ very own first class lounge.

Qantas has said that international flying is probably not going to happen until late 2021, so it’s unlikely that the first class lounge will reopen by middle of next year. That leaves you with a single option of BA’s own lounge, which is still pretty up in the air on its operability.

Last but not least, most importantly: entry and quarantine requirements of the destination countries.

At the time of writing, Australia is still pretty much closed off to travellers and is said to project a late-2021 reopening for tourism.

While UK no longer requires travellers from Singapore to quarantine for 14 days, the reverse is not true. Travellers who have stepped into UK will need to serve 14 days Stay-Home Notice when arriving into Singapore in a dedicated facility. For returning Singapore residents, this will also mean at least another $2,000 out of pocket for the quarantine, as well as the necessary fee for a Covid-19 PCR test.

We will be sitting this promo out, but of course, if you have some spare Avios lying around and don’t mind spending them for a gamble, why not?

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