Why Buying Avios is Good Value for Short Flights

UPDATE: Avios partner award prices have increased slightly since this article was written. Here are the new award charts for short-haul redemptions on Qantas and other Oneworld airlines:

Distance Avios (Economy) Avios (Business)
0-650 miles 6,000 12,500
651-1,151 miles 9,000 16,500
1,152-2,000 miles 11,000 22,000

The article below from February 2019 refers to the old Avios pricing, and Air Italy is now defunct. But all other information remains the same.

Avios are the currency of the British Airways Executive Club program. With regular bonuses on Avios purchases, you may be thinking about buying some.

Read more: How to Buy & Redeem British Airways Avios

Although Avios provide relatively poor value on long-haul award flight redemptions, they can be excellent value for short-haul awards. Award flights under 650 miles are especially excellent value, costing just 4,500 Avios for Economy or 9,000 Avios for Business class, plus taxes and charges. In addition, you can redeem Avios for travel on any Oneworld airline, including Qantas. British Airways partners also include Aer Lingus and Air Italy.

During the current British Airways promotion, you could buy 9,000 Avios for USD190 ($267). That’s enough Avios for a one-way Business Class flight – or a return Economy award – on almost any route under 650 miles.

Note that awards under 650 miles within North America are a little more expensive, at 7,500 Avios for “coach” or 15,000 Avios in Business/First class.

If you were to redeem purchased Avios on a short-haul route where airfares are usually high, you could actually save quite a bit of money. Here are some examples where this could make sense…

Avios redemptions on Qantas

Qantas domestic flights are often expensive, especially if booking at the last-minute. But award availability on domestic routes is typically good. There are many domestic routes under 650 miles, including Sydney-Melbourne, Brisbane-Canberra, Sydney-Hobart and Adelaide-Canberra.

As an example, Qantas charges $263 for an Economy fare or $970 for a Business class ticket from Adelaide to Canberra. But you could book a Business class seat for just 9,000 Avios (purchased for $267) and $38 in taxes. In this example, even the price of an Economy Avios redemption (costing 4,500 Avios plus $38) compares favourably to the cost of buying a ticket.


Qantas website
ADL-CBR revenue fares showing on the Qantas website


British Airways website
ADL-CBR Avios awards showing on the British Airways website

This trick also works on other British Airways partner airlines…

Avios redemptions on Japan Airlines

Most domestic flights within Japan are under 650 miles in length, so you’ll pay just 4,500 Avios for an Economy award. When redeeming Avios for Japan Airlines domestic flights, the taxes are also very low – typically under $10. So, by buying 9,000 Avios, you could book a return Economy domestic flight within Japan for under $300 in total.

Avios redemptions on Air Italy

An oft-forgotten partner of British Airways is the newly-rebranded Air Italy (formerly Meridiana). Air Italy has good award availability on most of the routes it flies, including short-haul flights around Italy. It’s also worth noting that Air Italy award availability is good on longer flights too, such as Milan-New York, Milan-Dakar and Milan-Sharm el Sheikh. However, beware that Air Italy does have rather high fuel surcharges.

Avios redemptions on LATAM Airlines

LATAM Airlines flights within South America can be rather expensive. If you’re visiting Machu Picchu, for example, you’ll probably need to book a flight from Lima to Cusco. These flights can run into the hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re booking from overseas. But there is plenty of award availability on this route, and you can book a round-trip in Economy for 9,000 Avios. The taxes on LATAM awards are low, too, so you’d be looking at spending around $300 all-up for a round-trip ticket from Lima to Cusco when buying Avios.

LATAM award flights available on the British Airways website
LATAM award flights available on the British Airways website


Would you like help using your frequent flyer points?

Frequent Flyer Solutions offers a personalised service that’s designed to take the hard work out of redeeming your frequent flyer points!

Award Flight Assist can help you to find the perfect flights using your points. Just let the team know how many points you have and where you would like to go, and they’ll prepare an itinerary for you.

Click here to learn more about Award Flight Assist.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]