British Airways is the largest full-service airline in the United Kingdom and flies to more destinations in the United States than any other European carrier.
The airline’s loyalty program is called the Executive Club, and the program’s currency is called Avios. With a substantial U.S. route network and a loyalty currency that is easy to earn and redeem, it is a program that should be on your radar, even if you aren’t traveling to the U.K.
Here’s what you need to know about earning and redeeming British Airways Avios for rewards and how to earn elite status in the Executive Club.
What are Avios?
Avios is the points currency used by the following loyalty programs:
- British Airways Executive Club.
- Iberia Plus.
- Aer Lingus AerClub.
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
Avios can be transferred between any of these programs at a ratio of 1:1, so each Avios is theoretically worth the same in each program. There are, however, different ways in which Avios can be redeemed in each program, meaning the savvy reader can achieve different values depending on which program they are used in – and how.
This guide focuses on Avios earned and redeemed in the Executive Club program.
Tier Points count toward status, and there are four different status levels:
- Blue — The level where everyone starts.
- Bronze — Achieved after 300 Tier Points earned in a membership year.
- Silver — Achieved after 600 Tier Points earned in a membership year.
- Gold — Achieved after 1,500 Tier Points earned in a membership year.
Like some other airline programs, the British Airways Executive Club also has two additional levels of status that aren’t published:
- Gold Guest List — Achieved after 5,000 Tier Points earned in a membership year and maintained in subsequent years by earning 3,000 Tier Points in a membership year.
- Collect Avios on revenue flights with BA or its partners.
- Share Avios in a household account.
- Save preferences, such as special meals and seating.
- Access to Reward Flight Savers.
- All the Blue benefits.
- Priority check-in and boarding.
- Free seat selection seven days before departure.
- 25% bonus Avios when flying with BA, Iberia, American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
- Status freeze for maternity/paternity/adoption.
Silver is the equivalent of Gold on many other airlines, which is where the benefits kick in.
- All the Bronze benefits.
- Priority check-in, security and boarding.
- Free seat selection at the time of booking.
- 50% bonus Avios when flying with BA, Iberia, American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
- Additional baggage allowance (two 71-pound bags in economy).
- Business-class lounge access when flying BA and partner airlines (with one guest).
- Priority baggage delivery.
- Priority phone support.
- All Silver benefits.
- Free seat selection at the time of booking, including exit row seats and exclusive access to 1A and 1K in first class.
- 100% bonus Avios when flying with BA, Iberia, American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
- Additional free checked bag in any class and a weight allowance of 71 pounds per bag (applicable to everyone on your booking).
- First-class check-in desk and lounge access when flying BA and Oneworld airlines (lounge access includes one guest).
- Use of BA arrivals lounges after a long-haul flight (no guests).
- Access to Gold Priority Rewards, which allows you to force an Avios reward ticket by paying double Avios for flights (you must book more than 30 days in advance).
- Additional reward availability in economy.
- Gold upgrade voucher for two (at 2,500 Tier Points in one year).
- Two Gold upgrade vouchers for one (at 3,500 Tier Points in one year).
Lifetime Gold, earned after collecting 35,000 Tier Points with no limit on the amount of time you can take to collect, affords you Gold status for life.
Gold Guest List benefits
- All Gold benefits.
- First-class lounge access when flying BA and Oneworld airlines (with up to five guests for BA-operated lounges).
- Access to Gold Guest List redemptions, also known as Jokers, which allow members to get BA to open up Avios redemption seats (for up to five passengers), provided certain booking classes are still up for sale.
- Priority assistance helpline.
- Concorde Room card for access to the Concorde Room at Heathrow Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport (with one guest).
- BA arrivals lounge access after a long-haul flight (with one guest).
- Hilton Honors Diamond status.
- Upgrade to Business First on the Heathrow Express.
- Gift one Gold and two Silver partner cards each membership year.
Related: Still better than business class: A review of British Airways First on the 777 from London to Washington
What is the difference between Avios and Tier Points?
Many frequent flyer programs differentiate between redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles. Part of the reason for doing this is that airlines award multiples of actual miles flown to passengers in premium cabins or those with elite status for redeeming, but award progress toward status based on actual miles flown.
British Airways Executive Club has a split. Rather than having elite qualifying miles, BA awards Tier Points, which count toward status. And, sometimes confusingly for those new to the world of miles, BA calls its mileage currency — i.e., the miles that are earned and can be used for spending — Avios.
Avios are the air miles earned for flying, credit card spending and spending with partners through online shopping, hotel stays and rental cars, and thus the currency that customers can use for reward flights, upgrades and other things like gift vouchers. They can be earned and redeemed on any Oneworld flights based on the actual miles flown.
For heavily discounted economy-class tickets, passengers earn 25% of miles flown (always a minimum of 125), and in premium cabins, BA awards flyers a cabin bonus and a tier bonus (based on status in the Executive Club).
A flight from New York to London for a Blue member earns 865 Avios in heavily discounted economy class, 25% of the miles flown. A Gold member would earn 4,323 Avios for the same one-way flight. At the other end of the spectrum, a Gold member flying on an expensive (and flexible) first-class ticket would earn 13,832 Avios for the flight from New York to London. This includes miles flown, a cabin bonus and a tier bonus.
Related: Airline status vs. hotel status: Which is better, according to these TPG staffers?
British Airways awards Tier Points for all flights taken on British Airways or any of its Oneworld partners, which count toward status in the Executive Club. The number of Tier Points awarded depends on the length of the flight and the class flown. For short flights of less than 2,000 miles, the minimum Tier Points earned is 5. At the other end of the spectrum, flying first class on flights of more than 6,000 miles earns 360 Tier Points per sector.
Short economy-class flights can earn 5, 10, 15 or 20 Tier Points, depending on the fare class booked, and, essentially, the price. The more expensive the ticket, the more likely you are to earn more Tier Points. Short-haul business-class flights (or domestic first class, in the United States) of less than 2,000 miles typically earn 40 Tier Points for each sector, so taking lots of short flights in premium cabins can be a way to earn elite status quickly.
Long-haul economy-class fares earn between 20 and 120 Tier Points — again, depending on the fare class. Club World long-haul business-class flights earn between 140 and 160 Tier Points. First class earns a minimum of 210 on long-haul flights, 240 on longer flights and as many as 360 Tier Points for a one-way flight to Sydney.
Once a year, Tier Points balances are reset to zero and earning for the next year starts anew. BA does not use calendar years, but instead, each membership year is based on when someone joined the British Airways Executive Club (it always comes on the eighth of the month).
Unlike the loyalty programs of some U.S. airlines, there is no spending requirement to earn status in the Executive Club program. Provided you earn the Tier Points and take four qualifying flights on British Airways each membership year, you will earn the status.
Related: Avios vs. Tier Points: British Airways Executive Club status explained
How to earn Avios
The easiest way to earn a meaningful number of Avios for everyday spending is by applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card.
This card — issued by Chase and, therefore, subject to the 5/24 rule — is currently offering new applicants up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening, and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening. TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each, making the full bonus worth $1,500.
The British Airways Visa Signature has a $95 annual fee and earns 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Level. Plus, you can earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 Avios per $1 spent.
Transferable rewards cards
Savvy TPG readers know that we usually recommend sticking with cards that earn transferable points because of the added flexibility they offer. This strategy still applies if you’re trying to accrue Avios. British Airways is a transfer partner of Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making Avios one of the easiest currencies to earn.
Points transfer from Chase, Bilt and Amex at a 1:1 ratio (in addition to occasional transfer bonuses of up to 40%), while Marriott points transfer to Avios at a 3:1 ratio. Plus, you’ll get a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Check to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000-point welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
You can also purchase Avios, which are often on sale.
British Airways shopping portal
British Airways has its own online shopping portal, which you can use to earn bonus Avios from many online merchants, with some stores offering 10 Avios per dollar (a return of 15% based on TPG’s valuations) or more.
If you’re booking a vacation package, you may want to search the British Airways Vacations website first since it can earn you an extra 1 Avios per $1 spent. BA partners with major hotel chains and Hotels.com, Kaligo and Rocketmiles, so you can earn Avios on hotels and vacation packages. The program even has a partnership with Airbnb to earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on vacation rentals.
British Airways partners with Avis and Budget, allowing you to earn Avios on car rentals. You can earn 5 Avios per pound ($1.20) spent with Avis and 2 Avios per dollar with Budget.
Through BA’s partnership with Lounge Pass, you can earn 5 Avios per dollar spent when you buy access to a club lounge at over 350 airports worldwide.
British Airways’ partnership with Heathrow Rewards allows you to earn Avios when you shop, dine or park at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), British Airways’ primary hub. You’ll earn 1 point per pound ($1.20) at most shops. You can then convert these Heathrow Rewards points to Avios at a 1:1 ratio.
British Airways Executive Club partners with both e-Rewards and Rewards for Thoughts to allow members to earn Avios for completing surveys. Both sites offer 600 Avios when you complete your first survey.
You can also earn Avios with Airbnb (3 Avios per $1 spent), Cruise 118 (3 Avios per pound spent), and the Heathrow Express airport train (5 Avios per $1 spent).
Which airlines can I book with Avios?
British Airways is a founding member of Oneworld, which is a global alliance made up of more than a dozen airlines.
Assuming there’s award availability, you can use your Avios from your British Airways accounts for flights on any Oneworld airlines:
- Alaska Airlines.
- American Airlines.
- British Airways.
- Cathay Pacific.
- Iberia, including Iberia Express and Air Nostrum.
- Japan Airlines.
- Malaysia Airlines.
- Oman Air (joining in 2024).
- Qantas, including QantasLink and Jetconnect.
- Qatar Airways.
- Royal Jordanian.
- Royal Air Maroc.
- S7 Airlines (currently suspended).
- SriLankan Airlines.
In addition to the Oneworld partners listed above, you can also use Avios from British Airways Executive Club to redeem for flights on:
- Aer Lingus
- Sun-Air, a BA franchise partner in Scandinavia.
How many Avios will I need?
British Airways Executive Club uses the following award chart for redemptions on its own metal:
(distance in miles)
|Economy off-peak||Economy peak||Premium economy off-peak||Premium economy peak||Business off-peak||Business peak||First class off-peak||First class peak|
And here is the partner award chart for flights operated by partner airlines (all flights are charged at the peak price):
(distance in miles)
** Zone 1 Avios awards are unavailable for flights to, from or within the U.S.
If you are doing a mixed-cabin redemption, the number of miles payable will also be the highest fare class amount. British Airways recently introduced Reward Flight Savers on all BA-operated routes, giving Executive Club members the option to pay more Avios in exchange for a reduction in the significant fuel surcharges the program charges, which are some of the highest in the industry.
This option does not apply to flights operated by partner airlines, though you will usually be given the option of paying fewer Avios in exchange for more fees, taxes and surcharges. This is traditionally a poor deal.
How do I book flights with British Airways Avios?
First, to transfer points or search award availability, you will need a British Airways Executive Club account. Click here to sign up if you don’t already have an account.
British Airways’ website is one of the best options for searching Oneworld award availability. Qantas’ website is even better, so you might want to start there to find space before heading back to the BA website to book award flights. Most redemptions can be booked online through the Executive Club website.
There are two main ways to search for award availability. For simplicity, immediately after logging in, I usually use the left-hand sidebar “Book with Avios or money” to begin my search. To do this, select “Book with Avios” from the drop-down menu, enter your search terms and click “Find Flights” to begin your search.
If you haven’t already confirmed availability on Qantas’ website or ExpertFlyer (ExpertFlyer is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures), hopefully, you’ll luck out, and there will be award availability for the date you search. If not, BA lets you easily search plus or minus three days at the top of the results page.
Can I use a combination of Avios and cash?
There are two different ways of doing this:
- Partly paying with Avios to reduce the cost of a cash ticket. This is not dependent on award availability, and you will earn Avios and Tier Points as normal.
- Reducing the number of Avios needed for redemption by paying additional cash (beyond just the fees and taxes).
You may not have sufficient Avios in your account to cover the cost of the entire flight, or you may not wish to use so many Avios for one redemption. So, British Airways gives you the option to pay with a combination of Avios and money for redemption on British Airways or its partners, with the exception of Japan Airlines and S7 Airlines.
Note this is not classed as a redemption, so is dependent on the limited award availability, even though you may still be paying a large amount of the fare in cash.
British Airways has a huge route network, especially in North America and across Europe, making it a great option for those flying from the United States to Europe. Plus, BA remains committed to maintaining international first class, and while none of its products are world-leading, they are fairly consistent.
Avios are one of the easiest loyalty program currencies to earn and redeem. Redemptions for short-haul travel can offer great value, though fuel surcharges remain the biggest frustration with the program.