In Part 1, we looked at the mechanics of the Avios program and how it compared to the AAdvantage program (another oneworld program.) In Part 2, we built on the rules of the Avios program to discover what awards they imply are the best values. In Part 3, we valued 20 specific Avios awards. And in the final post, I’m putting an exact value on an Avios. Later in the week I’ll list every possible redemption from NYC and LA with Avios.
In this post, I’ll explain why I value Avios at 1.70 cents per point, but your value will be different. To start I’ll go back to the values for the redemptions I found in Part 3. To find your value, you’ll need to start with your possible redemptions. My redemptions:
- AEP-MDZ 2.32
- LIM-CUZ 2.28
- CHO-ORD 1.92
- LIM-SCL 1.90
- SYD-CNS-MEL 1.88
- LGA-ATL 1.79
- AEP-IGR 1.71
- LAX-KOA 1.65
- LAX-OGG 1.65
- LAX-HNL 1.64
- LAX-LIH 1.64
- TPA-MIA 1.40
- LAX-AUS 1.31
- LAX-IAH 1.30
- LAX-HKG 1.26
- LAX-LIM 1.11
- LAX-MEX 0.90
- LAX-MAD 0.62
- LAX-SYD 0.40
- LAX-MEL 0.32
I’ve put in bold redemptions I would still consider doing now that I’ve run their values. These range from 1.40 cents per Avios to 2.32 cents per Avios. Here’s where the math stops and the estimation begins. We want to get a single number, so pick a number from inside the range of great redemptions. Base your decision on which redemptions you’re most likely to make and which will take the bulk of your miles. Since I am LAX based and my family is in Hawaii, the LAX-Hawaii routes are my most likely candidates. Also, they take 25,000 Avios per roundtrip, so they would take a bigger chunk of my cache than some of the 4,500 Avios redemptions that are higher values. I will definitely make some higher value redemptions, but I’ll choose 1.70 cents per Avios to be conservative.
The last step is to make adjustments to the figure you’ve chosen based on how the rules of British Airways’ program differ from paying with cash and how you value these differences. We need to do this because when we value Avios in cents per mile, we are putting a cash figure on Avios, thus comparing the program to cash. We talked about the rules of the program in Post 1. Here are the relevant differences between booking with Avios and cash:
- Stopover and oneways don’t cost extra with Avios. They usually do with cash. Advantage Avios. For me this is big, I often like to take multistop trips without backtracking: Lima-Santiago-Buenos Aires-Iguazu. A bunch of oneways like that would be a ton of money but a small amount of Avios.
- No close in ticketing fees with Avios. Of course, there are no close in ticketing fees with cash, but prices tend to go way up. Avios prices stay the same. Advantage Avios.
- When there’s space, Avios costs the same every day of the week. It’s often most convenient to fly Friday or Sunday, but tickets cost the most those days. It’s great to be able to book Avios any day of the week for the same price. And I have not noticed a huge pattern of better midweek availability. Advantage Avios.
- Cancelling a cash ticket costs $150 for most airlines. Cancelling an Avios ticket and having the miles redeposited costs $40. And my theory is that they actually charge you the lesser of $40 and what they charged to your credit card in taxes and fees, since I had a 15,000 mile and $5 award redeposited for no money, just a forfeiture of the $5. Advantage Avios.
- While AA domestic availability is good and that’s one of the main uses of Avios, obviously availability with cash is better. Every flight is available with cash, only a portion are available with Avios. Huge advantage cash.
Availability is fine on Avios compared with other programs, but cash obviously has much better availability, which is the major drawback of all (non-fixed-value) frequent flier programs. To me, the benefits of Avios over cash listed above roughly equal the one major drawback of Avios compared to cash. I love being able to book close in, Fridays, Sundays, oneways, and stopovers. And cheap cancellations are great for being spontaneous. So I won’t change my 1.70 cents per valuation that I came to above. If you prefer roundtrip vacations to one place, flying midweek, booking far in advance, and you never change your itineraries, you should decrease the value you came to above. Again this is a stage for personal valuation and estimation.
Understand the British Airways program, understand what features good awards share, find good awards for you, value those awards, and finally adjust that value for how cash and Avios tickets differ. Do that, and you’ll be able to put your own value on Avios.
I value one Avios at 1.70 cents.