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How Does British Airways Peak & Off-Peak Pricing Work?


One of the features seen in many loyalty programs is peak and off-peak pricing, which levies a different cost on an award flight depending on the time of year or day of the week on which the flight is booked.

British Airways Executive Club uses peak and off-peak pricing for British Airways award flights, which is important to understand so you can maximize the value of your points.

What Is British Airways Executive Club Peak & Off-Peak Pricing?

One of the ways that British Airways Executive Club divides its pricing structure for British Airways flights is with peak and off-peak pricing.

As these names might suggest, peak dates are seen as more opportune times to travel, and cost more Avios to book. Peak dates almost always encompass summer, winter, and spring holidays; however, there are also some exceptions.

Conversely, off-peak pricing is available at a bit of a discount to ‌peak rates, as the dates fall on what British Airways believes to be less desirable times to travel. However, you may still find off-peak dates during busy travel periods.

As a reminder, with British Airways Executive Club, the amount of Avios you’ll spend on any particular flight is governed by a few factors, including:

  • The total distance you travel
  • The carrier with which you fly
  • The date on which you fly

For example, the following chart shows the number of Avios required if you’re flying on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Vueling, all of which are owned and operated by their mutual parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG).

As you can see, travelling on a peak date can significantly increase the number of Avios required for a flight.

Therefore, depending on which route you’d like to book, being flexible with your dates may very well preserve some of your Avios balance.

For example, suppose you’d like to fly from London Heathrow to Toronto in British Airways business class over the winter holidays.

An award search shows that on December 26, the total cost is 80,000 Avios plus $350 (all prices in CAD) in taxes, fees, and surcharges.

Out of curiosity, when you look for what’s available on December 27, you notice that the price jumps to 90,000 Avios, plus the same $350 in taxes and fees.

The difference here is that December 26 is considered to be an off-peak date, while December 27 is a peak date. In other words, you’d pay 10,000 more Avios to travel on December 27 just because it falls on a peak date.

It’s easy to tell which dates have peak and off-peak pricing on the British Airways Executive Club website.

In the search results, you’ll see the words “Off-Peak” clearly displayed just under the date in the search results.

If “Off-Peak” isn’t in the tab, then you’re travelling on a peak date.

If you’d like to visualize which dates have peak and off-peak pricing, click on “Find availability with British Airways on other dates” at the top of the page.

The subsequent page shows a calendar that displays peak and off-peak pricing, as well as which dates have availability and which don’t.

Keep in mind that peak and off-peak pricing doesn’t apply to some partner airlines, such as Japan Airlines or Qatar Airways. Rather, you’ll pay the same price for flights with those airlines, regardless of whether it’s a peak or off-peak date.

Furthermore, while peak and off-peak pricing also applies to British Airways’s other IAG-member airlines, Aer Lingus and Iberia use different peak and off-peak dates.

Therefore, you’ll want to compare award pricing and availability with the different “flavours” of Avios prior to making a redemption.

British Airways Executive Club Off-Peak Dates for 2023 & 2024

Aside from searching day-by-day on the British Airways Executive Club website to find out which days feature peak pricing and which days feature off-peak pricing, you can consult the below dates as you plan a trip.

The following dates offer off-peak pricing for British Airways flights in 2023:

  • January: 11–31
  • February: 1–3, 5–9, 14–16, 21–24, 26–28
  • March: 1–24, 27–29
  • April: 4–5, 11–13, 19–27
  • May: 2–25, 31
  • June: 1, 6–9, 12–16, 19–22, 26–30
  • July: 1–6, 11–12, 18–19, 25–26
  • August: 1–2, 7–9, 14–16, 21–23
  • September: 5–8, 11–15, 18–22, 25–29
  • October: 2–19
  • November: the entire month of November 2023 is off-peak
  • December: 1–8, 11–13, 26

As the above dates show, there are fewer off-peak dates in busy summer travel months, than there are in shoulder seasons. However, even during peak seasons, you can still find a smattering of off-peak pricing.

For planning out trips next year, the following dates offer off-peak pricing for British Airways flights in 2024:

  • January: 8–31
  • February: 1–8, 13–15, 20–29
  • March: 1–28
  • April: 2–3, 9, 15–30
  • May: 1–3, 7–24, 28
  • June: 13–7, 10–14, 17–21, 24–28
  • July: 1–5, 8–9, 16, 23, 30
  • August: 6, 13, 20, 27
  • September: 9–13, 16–20, 23–27, 30
  • October: 1–25, 29
  • November: 4–30
  • December: 1–6, 9–13, 26

It’s worth noting that British Airways changes the peak and off-peak dates each year, and that peak dates often align with British holidays.

For North American families, the spring dates often offer excellent off-peak availability for March Break trips to Europe.

How to Maximize Peak & Off-Peak Pricing

Peak and off-peak pricing for British Airways flights booked through British Airways Executive Club is fairly cut-and-dry – you’ll pay more on peak dates than you will on off-peak dates. However, there are a few optimizations that you can make to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Be Flexible

The best way to maximize British Airways Executive Club pricing is, as always, to be as flexible as possible with your travel dates.

As shown in the distribution of the peak and off-peak dates, even the busiest travel seasons have off-peak days sprinkled amongst the flights that come with higher peak pricing.

Therefore, it behooves you to be flexible by a day or two to guarantee you’re getting the stretching your Avios to the fullest extent.

For example, if you’d like to book a flight in business class from Montreal to London in August, which is the month with the least amount of off-peak dates.

By flying on a Tuesday, the flight prices out at 80,000 Avios, plus $350 in taxes and fees.

On any other day of the week, the same flight prices out at 90,000 Avios, plus the same $350 in taxes and fees.

Therefore, it helps to know which dates feature peak and off-peak pricing in advance, since you can you time your flight booking and vacation requests from work accordingly.

Book Early

British Airways releases award flights 355 days in advance, both for its own flights and flights with partner airlines.

Furthermore, British Airways is one of the only airlines that guarantees a minimum number of award seats on every long-haul flight.

For flights to or from London Heathrow or London Gatwick, the airline releases eight award seats in economy, two award seats in premium economy, and four award seats in business class.

Therefore, if you know which dates will offer off-peak pricing, you can strategically plan to make a booking as soon as the award seats are released.

(If you’d really like to get into the minutae, British Airways releases award seats at midnight GMT).

Just make sure you have the appropriate amount of Avios available in your account, and then be ready to act as soon as the seats become available.

This can be particularly useful for couples or families, since it can be difficult to find more than one “Saver” award seat during peak travel periods.

Leverage Transfer Bonuses

One of the negative aspects of redeeming Avios for British Airways flights is that you’re subject to a hefty amount of taxes, fees, and surcharges, in addition to peak and off-peak pricing.

For Reward Flight Saver bookings, this works out to be around $700–900 round-trip between North America and Europe, or upwards of $1,500 for standard bookings.

While you won’t be able to avoid the high fees, you can effectively lower the amount of Avios required for any particular booking by moving points from a transferable currency during a transfer bonus promotion.

Convert points into Avios during a transfer bonus promotion

In Canada, British Airways Executive Club is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, RBC Avion, and HSBC Rewards.

In the United States, British Airways Executive Club is a transfer partner of American Express US Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One Miles.

Many of these programs offer the occasional transfer bonus when converting points into Avios, typically with a 30–50% bonus.

Transfer bonuses can take the sting out of peak pricing, and can also lower the cost of off-peak pricing even further.

With a low cost in Avios to begin with, it might make the taxes, fees, and surcharges more palatable, especially if you value direct flights to or from London, or if you’re a British Airways loyalist.

When coupled with the guaranteed availability on all long-haul British Airways flights, transfer bonuses can be a good way to secure award seats during peak travel periods at a bit of a discount.

Conclusion

British Airways Executive Club uses peak and off-peak pricing on British Airways award flights. Flights on peak dates cost more in Avios than flights on off-peak dates.

The exact dates for peak and off-peak pricing change each year. While peak dates often encompass travel during holidays, there’s also a smattering of off-peak dates during periods of high demand.

Knowing in advance which dates feature off-peak pricing, having some flexibility with your travel dates, booking early, and leveraging transfer bonuses are all great ways to help you save Avios on British Airways flights.




This story originally appeared on princeoftravel

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