Did you know you can use British Airways points (Avios) to book Eurostar train tickets between London, UK, and continental Europe?
You’ll pay as few as 9,000 Avios points for a round-trip coach class train ticket between London and:
- Paris, France
- Lille, France
- Brussels, Belgium
There’s also seasonal service to Disneyland Paris and destinations in the Alps, but those tickets cost more.
And you can connect onward to other cities by regular train (but will pay more Avios points, depending on your destination). But 1 of the best things about this deal is there are no taxes or fees!
Link: Eurostar Trains
Eurostar is a high-speed train that runs through a tunnel under the English Channel between the UK and France or Belgium.
The trains run at 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and it takes 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel from St. Pancras station in Central London to the central Gare du Nord station in Paris. Trips between London and Lille or Brussels are even shorter.
Round-trip coach class tickets range in price from 69 pounds (~$117) for the cheapest, non-flexible fares, to 309 pounds (~$525) for the most expensive flexible fares.
Many folks prefer taking the Eurostar between the UK and France / Belgium instead of flying. Even though the actual journey is longer than taking a flight, you save travel time by not having to get out to the airport, stand in line for check-in and security, and wait for checked baggage on the other end.
How Do You Use Avios Points to Book Eurostar Trains?
1. You Need a UK Avios Account
Most folks in the US collect and use Avios points through their British Airways Executive Club account. You can NOT book Eurostar tickets from a British Airways Executive Club account. You’ll need to set up a UK Avios account.
Here’s my post with instructions on how to set up a UK Avios account and transfer points to it from your British Airways Executive Club account. You’ll need to use a UK address and the same name, date of birth, and email address listed on your Executive Club account.
2. The Number of Avios Points You Need Depends on the Cash Price of the Ticket
If the lowest fares (69 pounds) are available for the train trip you want, it will cost 9,000 Avios points for a round-trip, coach class ticket. More expensive fares will cost more Avios points.
Note: You can only book round-trip tickets using Avios points. You can’t book 1-way tickets through this deal.
However, Eurostar only releases a certain number of low fares per train. So if you’re traveling last-minute, or during peak times, you’ll probably end up paying more because it’s likely only higher fares will be available. And you can only book non-flexible (no changes, cancellations, or refunds allowed) tickets.
That said, as long as there’s a seat available on the train at a non-flexible fare (and as long as you’re willing to pay the necessary number of Avios points), you can book an award ticket.
You can also book “Standard Premier” tickets (similar to a premium coach class) but it will cost at least 20,000 Avios points for a round-trip ticket. Standard Premier seats are bigger, all have power sockets, and they’ll serve a light meal at your seat.
To compare, Standard (coach) class passengers have to go to the bar buffet for food and drinks, and the seats are smaller and don’t all have power sockets.
You can NOT use Avios points to book Business Premier Class tickets. These are the most flexible tickets and offer even bigger seats, gourmet 3-course meals, free drinks, and lounge access.
3. You Can Connect Onward to Other Destinations
You don’t have to end your journey in Paris, Lille, or Brussels.
You can connect onward to other European destinations, and pay 1 Avios fare for the whole trip. Unfortunately, the Avios website doesn’t allow you to search all the destinations you can connect to, but they do give a partial list of more popular cities and prices.
Note: The number of Avios points listed are starting prices. Your tickets may cost more Avios points depending on which kinds of paid fares are available.
4. You Have to Call to Book Tickets
You can NOT book your tickets directly on the Avios website (nor can you search for how many points tickets will cost). So you’ll have to call Avios on their overseas number at 011-44-0192-584-8693. Do NOT call the number listed on the Avios website, because you’ll get charged extra fees.
This is a bit of a pain, and will cost you in long distance charges. (You may find competitive rates using Rebtel or Skype.) It’s best to search for the trains you want 1st on the Eurostar website, then call Avios to book your ticket.
Remember, you won’t pay any taxes and fees for your train tickets on top of your points.
Note: Once you’ve booked, you can’t change or cancel your ticket! So be very sure about your travel dates.
Is This a Good Deal?
Yes, if you can find tickets for 9,000 Avios points. And the main advantage of the deal is that you don’t pay any taxes and fees. I also like that you get 2 free bags with no weight limit (plus a personal item).
But 1 of the things I don’t like about this is you can’t find the ticket price by searching online! You have to call.
There’s also an option to book with Avios points and cash, but you’ll have to call for those prices as well.
1. How Does This Compare to Flying?
You can book short-haul, low-level award flights for as few as 9,000 Avios points in coach class, too. But you WILL pay taxes and fees for the ticket.
For example, I searched for a round-trip flight from London to Paris in October. The cheapest award tickets cost 9,000 Avios points plus ~106 pounds (~$180).
That’s a really poor value, especially considering you can get a paid ticket on the same dates for only ~$20 more! I’d rather save my Avios points!
I also checked into using American Airlines miles for a round-trip ticket between London and Paris on the same dates. You’ll pay 20,000 miles plus ~$181 for an award ticket. It makes no sense to use miles when the taxes and fees are almost as much as a paid ticket!
As long as you can find low-level award train tickets, it’s a much better deal to take the train instead of using Avios or miles for an award flight between London and Paris.
2. Are There Any Other Advantages?
I’ve talked about the free baggage allowance and the convenience of traveling between city centers instead of having to get to the airport.
But there are other perks to taking the train as well! For example:
- Folks on FlyerTalk report being able to enter Eurostar lounges (much like airline lounges) with international American Express Platinum cards, even though this is only supposed to be available to UK cardholders
- Kids under age 4 travel for free (but they’ll be sitting on your lap), and tickets are discounted for children ages 4 to 11. So this could be a great deal for families!
- Traveling by train can be really neat, especially at 186 miles per hour! 😉
What Are the Best Ways to Get Avios?
I like that there are many ways to get Avios points!
Using Starwood Preferred Guest points is an especially good deal, because if you transfer 20,000 points to British Airways, you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus (25,000 Avios total).
And the 1st year fee is now waived on the British Airways Visa card.
You can use British Airways points (Avios) to book award tickets on Eurostar trains from the UK to continental Europe. Fares start from 9,000 Avios points for a round-trip ticket, and you won’t pay any taxes or fees.
You need to set up a UK Avios account and transfer points from your British Airways Executive Club account, and here’s a post on how to do that!
If you want to connect onward in Europe, you can pay 1 Avios fare for certain destinations.
This is a good deal (as long as you can find tickets for 9,000 Avios points) because you won’t pay anything extra, plus you get 2 free bags, and don’t have to worry about commuting to and from an airport!
Have you used Avios to book Eurostar train tickets? Tell me about your experience in the comments!