British Airways has a distance based award chart with their Avios as noted above. Quite a deal for some of these routes. Per the Great Circle Mapper, ORD to DCA is 612 miles; a round trip economy ticket could be had for a mere 9000 miles, and $11 – fantastic value. Many programs transfer to Avios and their cards range up to the occasional 100k sign up award. That’s worth 11 passenger trips from Ohare to DC, which is pretty amazing. As of my 7/26 search for the specific weekend flight of 8/8 above, the ticket cost is $591 paid cash. A value here of 6.44 cpm (cents per mile) which is outstanding. However I’m not going from Ohare to DC, I’m looking for a short hop from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa.
Here’s the thing – I found one, and the price is ludicrous! GCM says 790 miles – perhaps not a sweet spot of a distance based program. The points cost comes out as expected 15k miles. However the additional cash amount for taxes and fees on top however is crazy.
The flight is operated by Comair Limited – a company British Airways appears to own. In google the exact same flight prices out to $278 vs. the 15k avios and $191.50. Making the value of them less than 0.58 cpm. These miles just went from amazingsauce to wtf? I struggle to understand the pricing here. British Airways owns Iberia, points can be transferred to them and apparently sometimes they offer better (less) fees. However the pricing for these flights is the exact same.
Heading back over to the British Airways site I do find the Avios Calculator to be pretty accurate based on several searches. This is the only one I’m seeing different pricing options however for the additional taxes and fee charges. The valuation is much more reasonable under the Reward Flight Saver.
I suppose the lesson learned here is to leak or accrue a BA avios at least once in a while to make sure this level is available should one need it. Unfortunately, too late for me. Fortunately, it does look like these will work well for me on another planned route where the Reward Flight Saver does not apply.