How to book intra-Europe Avios flights even when BA.com has no availability

BA’s Avios is probably one of the most confusing programs ever. At least for me. I mean, sure, you can earn Avios points through BA. That’s obvious. Did you also know you could earn them through Iberia? How about through Avios.com? Better yet, did you realise you could use the points interchangeably between these programs – and that they show different availability depending on what you search?!?

I was looking for a flight between BLQ and LON. I know there are three daily flights operated by BA, because it’s a relatively important tourist airport – besides some low cost carriers on top of it. I didn’t want to fly on a connection, though, as my time in LON is short and I want to get there ASAP. So I wanted one of the BA flights. Pf course, nothing was available on BAEC (BA Executive Club). So I went to search on Avios.com… and imagine my surprise when I found out just about every flight was available – and what’s more, with up to 9 seats!

So I started researching. It would appear that Avios.com values points a certain way, and for a number of European flights, the base fare is cheap enough that they simply buy revenue space from BA and let you buy it with points – hence spectacularly better availability. All is well, right? Well, no. Turns out it’s for UK residents only. Or… is it? Enter http://fakenamegenerator.com – and my new UK identity 🙂

Transferring points between BA.com and Avios.com is free and instant, so several minutes after my account was loaded with enough points for a intra-Europe RT flight for two. But… foiled again! Turns out that transfers do not count as “activity” on your account, and therefore you are not eligible for the £15 each way flat tax – you have to pay the full, official taxes and surcharges, which were over £100 for me.

So I decided to shop the Avios store to buy some useless item for £1 and get a single Avios point to make my account “active”. Having found nothing, I realised I can just donate money to Oxfam. So I did.

Sadly, a month later my points still did not post. Frustrating. I went back to re-read terms and conditions … and realised that besides being able to BUY points for £30/1,000, I can also request a REFUND if points are unused. I was all set (and even if they refuse te refund, hey, I’ll just consider that part of taxes).

Half expecting this not to work, I went to booking. After all, I was using a fake UK identity with a credit card from outside the UK. Picked the flights … skipped hotels … was told I qualify for the flat rate tax … payment input … and bam. Itinerary issued!!!!

Pretty amazing.