Today’s Lesson: How NOT to Use Avios


I need to get from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur in four weeks. There are some cheap LCC flights but I’m concerned about traffic to Don Meung (DMK) airport at rush hour so I was looking at options from BKK to take advantage of the train which runs to that terminal. Malaysian Airlines is the obvious option in that scenario and it is a relatively short flight so I considered using Avios. Wow, was that a stupid idea.

Yeah, this is all sorts of bad for using Avios
Yeah, this is all sorts of bad for using Avios

The 7,500 points part is reasonable enough, I suppose and the $20ish in taxes cannot be avoided; that’s decently low for an international trip. But the $50 in “carrier fees” kills the value in a hurry. So much so that one actually pays extra to use Avios in certain scenarios. It helps that the fare is around $100 to demonstrate the idiocy of using points, but when I saw the option to use points where the cash component was significantly more than just buying the ticket outright I was reminded once again of the silly circumstances under which points redemptions operate.

For business class (a waste on such a short flight) the rate was slightly more reasonable at 15,000 Avios + $83, compared to the $315 for just buying the seat. But at least there was no Avios price where I’d have to pay extra cash just to redeem points.

And, once again, I’ve got flights which are simply too cheap to waste points on. I know I’m going to be mad at myself eventually when a devaluation hits, but the cash prices are just too damn cheap these days, at least where I’m flying..

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

6 Comments

  1. I understand there is a transfer option between the two Bangkok airports. I’d check the website for BKK for details.

    Also the train running between Bangkok and Chaing Mai has a stop at Don Mueang.

    1. That train is slower than driving; I looked. Transfers between the two airports are also untenable for what I need. But appreciate the suggestions. Turns out I might end up throwing the BKK-KUL ticket away, anyways, so there’s that. o_O

    2. The train to DMK is totally unreliable. I wouldn’t bank on that one. There’s a bus between DMK and BKK which could be utilized. The advantage is that it would be cheaper than a taxi. The disadvantage is that it wouldn’t be any faster in a taxi with BKK traffic.

      1. Oh, can also take Airport link -> BTS to Mo Chit -> Taxi to DMK (or vice versa).

        Would help with about 75% of the traffic. Getting to/from Mo Chit is tricky these days as one of the parallel routes to the Don Mueang expressway has lanes closed for the BTS expansion to the northern suburbs.

        (My wife grew up ~10 min from DMK and very familiar with the area.)

  2. I think the other point is that Malaysian airlines tickets are cheap, because of all the financial problems and lost planes.

    Looking four weeks out at flights on majors from ORD to BWI, which is about the same distance, it would cost you $200-$280 for a non-stop. So 7,500 avios and $70 might seem more reasonable.

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