British Airways customers can now use Avios to pay for seat selection on flights - although it may not be the best way to spend your points.
Before today, customers who did not have access to free seat selection could choose to pay to select their seats, but now, these customers will also have the option to pay using Avios points for part or all of the seat selection.
British Airways already offers free seat selection for Gold and Silver members of the British Airways Executive Club when they book, and also offers free seat selection for Bronze members seven days before their flight departs -so the move will mainly benefit Blue members, who aren't given this perk.
See our 31 tricks to boost and max Avios guide for more information.
How do I pay for seat selection using my Avios?
BA Executive Club members can use their Avios to pay or part-pay for their preferred seat on British Airways operated flights in 'Manage My Booking' on the British Airways website, or by calling a British Airways contact centre. But the option to pay in Avios, and the amount of points you need to pay for your seat, does NOT appear until you reach the final payment page.
BA says the Avios payable will depend on the cabin class, route selected and the number of people on the booking, and you'll be able to use Avios to pay for new seat bookings, even if you booked the flight itself prior to today.
You won't be able to use Avios as payment for seat selection on group bookings of more than nine passengers.
It's worth noting that the Avios rewards programme is closing and members are being transferred to the BA Executive Club by July 2018, but you'll still be able to pay for your seat selection using points.
I collect Avios points - is it good value for money to use them on seat selection?
BA says the amount of Avios you need to select a seat will depend on the cabin class, route and the number of people on the booking, so it's hard to give a definitive answer to this.
We tried using Avios on three seperate bookings. Two between London Heathrow and Corfu - one in June and one in July - and one from London Heathrow to Dublin.
- On the Corfu, June booking - we selected two seats for £47, or 8,550 Avios - this works out at around 0.55p per point. You could also pay £35 and 1,850 Avios, meaning the Avios were making up £12 - in this case, each Avios is worth around 0.65p.
- On the Corfu, July booking - we selected two seats worth £38. These cost 6,900 Avios to buy in full, meaning each point is worth around 0.55p. However, you could pay £28 and 1,500 Avios for example, meaning the Avios were making up £10 - in this case, each Avios is worth around 0.67p.
- On the Dublin booking - we selected two seats for £16, or 2,900 Avios points - once again this works out at around 0.55p per point. You could also pay £12 and 650 Avios, meaning Avios were making up £4 - in this case, each Avios is worth around 0.62p.
Ultimately, in the three examples we have, the less Avios you use, the more valuable they are - though the Avios may well be worth more or less on other flights.
Generally, although the valuablity of Avios varies massively depending on what you spend them on, airmiles website Head for Points says "it is, easily, possible to get over 1p of value per Avios point"- therefore, in these cases, it doesn't appear hugely good value to use your points on selecting seats.
When booking flights, the number of Avios points you need depends on where you are flying, the cabin class you fly in and when you fly. For example, you can bag a return from London to Paris in economy at an off-peak time for as few as 8,000 Avios points, although you'd have to pay taxes and charges as well, whereas on the other end of the scale you can get a return to Sydney in first class in peak for 400,000 Avios.
Find full details of different charges at Avios.
What does BA say?
James Hillier from the British Airways Executive Club said: "We already offer the ability to collect and spend Avios on a wide range of flights, holidays, trips and experiences but today's exciting development gives members of the British Airways Executive Club another way they can choose to spend their Avios.
"It will be of particular benefit to those in the Blue tier, and we hope this further demonstrates to these members the benefit of being part of, and collecting Avios through, the Executive Club."