Avios is the rewards currency used by Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. The main way to earn Avios is through flights with these airlines, but there are also other methods such as credit cards and shopping. In this article I’ll be exploring the best way to use Avios points if you’re travelling from Europe.

Firstly, you need to remember Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia all have peak and off-peak redemption dates. These tend to coincide with national and school holidays in their respective regions. Obviously, if you’re able, off-peak redemptions offer far better value since they require less avios. While Aer Lingus and Iberia publish their peak and off-peak calendars online, BA do not, so you’ll need to do some searches for the dates you like on their website to see which category they fall into.

Long-Haul or Short-Haul?


My first bit of advice is that short-haul redemptions are rarely good value for money. The exception to this can be aΒ  British Airways Reward Flight Saver redemption. These are valid for redemptions within Europe operated by British Airways and you’re eligible if you’ve credited at least 1 avios to your British Airways Executive account in the previous 12 months.

As an example, for a one-way flight from London Heathrow to Vienna in economy you’d pay 6,500 avios off-peak/7,500 avios peak plus an additional Β£17.50/€21. In business you’d pay 12,750 avios off-peak/15,000 peak plus an additional Β£25/€30.

As a general rule I’d never really value flying business class on a short-haul route. The exception to this perhaps being if you don’t have oneworld Sapphire status or above, since in this case you’d gain access to the business class lounge prior to your flight. On the whole though, business class within Europe means the same seating as economy, but with an empty middle seat. You’ll also receive complimentary meals and drinks, but on relatively short flights, I’m not convinced it’s really worth it.

Overall I take the approach that it’s better to accumulate avios until you have enough for a longhaul redemption. This is where you can get really good value for your points. More so if you’re aiming to fly business.


Long-haul is where you can really extract value from Avios, but not if you want to fly from the UK. Avios redemptions on long-haul flights from the UK have notoriously high taxes and surcharges. This has a really negative impact on the value you can extract from your points.

My suggestion would be to look at the possibility of using your avios for long-haul redemptions on flights from Madrid with Iberia. Iberia have a good route network, and offer plenty of different options. Therefore it can be a great choice, especially if you want to fly business. In addition, it isn’t hard to find cheap fares over to Madrid, making it an accessible option.

With Iberia you can get the cheapest avios rates and prices only if you book through Iberia Plus. This doesn’t have to be difficult because you can transfer Avios between BA and Iberia. Assuming you have a British Airways account but not an Iberia Plus account, you can sign up to Iberia Plus here. It’s worth doing this now, because before you’ll be able to combine avios you need to have had the account for at least 90 days.

After you’ve opened your account you need to credit some activity to it. This can be done either by crediting a flight to Iberia Plus or transferring over some Amex points (if you have an American Express card). Alternatively, Groupon Spain occasionally have promotions allowing you to buy Iberia Plus Avios. You could also make a transaction through the Iberia Plus Store.

Using Avios with Iberia

So, now for the interesting bit. How can you use your Avios points through Iberia to extract maximum value? Firstly let’s do a comparison. Let’s suppose we want to book an off-peak one-way redemption to New York. We have two options – flying from London with British Airways, or from Madrid with Iberia.

Let’s consider British Airways first. In economy you’d pay 13,000 avios plus €248.07. In business you’d pay 50,000 avios plus €476.31.

Then, let’s compare to Iberia. In economy you’d pay 17,000 avios plus €97.92. In business you’d pay 34,000 avios plus €107.92.

So, as you can see, Iberia is the clear winner in business class. In economy, you’d pay less in avios with British Airways, but significantly more in cash.

The sweet spot, therefore, is using Iberia for business class redemptions, where using this route as an example you’d pay far less both in terms of avios points and cash.

Iberia have a solid business class product which we’ve previously reviewed here. In fact, I much prefer it to that offered by British Airways.


I’m yet to be convinced that economy redemptions are good value, regardless of carrier. The exception would be if you didn’t have flexibility with your dates and the cash price of your trip was being very high, but there was still an economy reward seat free. Especially when travelling to North America, you shouldn’t struggle to find a decent fare in economy though.

Avios can offer some great possibilities for discounted travel, but I’d always advocate a policy of saving them up for an ‘extra special’ redemption instead of burning them quickly on a short-haul flight or a long-haul economy flight. Last year, the vast majority of my long-haul business travel was achieved using Avios, and it certainly felt like a great use of the Avios I had accrued.