If you’re shopping this Black Friday, take advantage of this simple trick to turn your black Friday spending into free flights and upgrades.

If you’re a seasoned flight hacker or Avios churner you’ll probably already know this trick, but there are so, so, many people who are missing out on this easy and straightforward way of earning Avios (leading to free flights!) which is why I thought I’d highlight it here.

Ladies and gents, I present to you, the Avios eStore.

How it works

The Avios e-store is an online shopping portal that allows you to earn points every time you click through the site, to a listed retailer and make a purchase. It’s a free, super-simple way to earn Avios points, which can, in turn, be redeemed for a host of goodies.

All you need to do to take advantage is sign up for a free Avios account here, select your retailer of choice, shop as normal through the retailer’s website (through the window Avios redirects you to) – and that’s all! It’s as simple as that.

Within 24 hrs of completing your order, you should receive an email informing you of the pending Avios in your account. Once your order is processed, Avios will credit the Avios into your Avios account.

British Airways also has it’s own version of the Avios eStore which is connected to your BA executive club account. It is not necessary to use one over the other if you’re an Executive Club member.

Spending your Avios.

Where are the free flights in using the portal you may ask?

Avios points are a very useful “currency” to have in your stash. You can spend them on a whole host of things ranging from car hire to hotels, days out and most important of all; free flights.

British Airways is one of the official airline partners of the Avios scheme meaning all flights you take on British Airways (or airlines on the BA partner scheme OneWorld) will earn you Avios (if you’re registered with the BA executive club). In turn, you can also spend your Avios points to book flights on BA and OneWorld partner airlines (which include Qatar Airways!)

You can use the Avios you earn through the Avios eStore (or the BA equivalent portal) to exchange your Avios points for free flights. Unfortunately, the flights are still subject to taxes & fees, which BA has set at £35 for return flights from London to Europe.

If you don’t wish to use all of your Avios points at once, you may also opt to part-pay with Avios (getting you cheaper flights).

You can book return flights in Europe for as little as 8000 avios (& £35 tax, surcharges and fees)

British Airways Avios redemption flights are divided into “bands” based on the distance flown. Naturally, destinations closest to London are the cheapest; you can fly to Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin or Milan from London Heathrow, off-peak return, for as little as 8000 Avios + £35, this is the lowest Avios redemption band. At peak times this will cost you more Avios.

Looking to go further? Off peak return flights to New York start from 26000 Avios (+ tax & fees). London-Singapore flights start at around 45,000 Avios (+tax & fees) for return flights in Economy

Find out how much a flight costs in Avios & fees here.

Ever fancied flying business or first class?

The Avios rewards scheme isn’t just for bagging free or reduced-price flights, it’s also an excellent way to upgrade your flight class without having to splurge.

You can upgrade some flights to Premium Economy, Business or First Class by simply paying with your Avios points. Upgrades are only available to the next cabin class (so you won’t be able to upgrade from Economy to First with Avios alone, it would be economy to premium economy and so on). If you don’t have the Avios balance required to upgrade you can opt to “part pay” in cash to make up the remaining balance.

One thing to note is that you cannot upgrade the flight class on rewards flights (flights booked with Avios).

Building your avios balance this Black Friday

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the Avios programme and the e-store, it’s time to talk about how this translates into real life, and more specifically how Black Friday spending can be utilized to get you on your way to more travels.

Here are some examples of what your Black Friday shopping could get you for free in the Avios eStore.

Apple is currently offering 8 Avios per £1 spent through the Avios eStore.
If you were to purchase the base model 13-inch Macbook pro at £1249 – you would earn upwards of 8600 Avios, which is enough for you to book a return flight to Amsterdam (or any of the European destinations in the first redemption band)

Canon is offering 6 Avios per £1 spent through the Avios eStore
If you were to purchase the EF 24-70mm lens at £1737, you would earn an estimated 10,427 Avios
If you were to purchase the Canon Powershot G7X at £547.99 you would earn upwards of 3200 Avios

Buying clothes, make-up, gifts or homeware this Black Friday?

This Black Friday it’s not just about gadgets and tech, plenty of other retailers are offering Black Friday discounts too. Channel your spending through the Avios eStore to get the best rewards on your spending.

House Of Fraser is offering 4 Avios per £1 spent (spend £100, earn up to 400 Avios)
ASOS : 8 Avios per £1 spent (spend £100, earn up to 800 Avios)
Net-A-Porter : 12 Avios per £1 spent (spend £100, earn up to 1200 Avios)
Lookfantastic : 14 Avios per £1 spent (spend £50, earn up to 700 Avios)
Not On The High Street : 8 Avios per £1 spent (spend £50, earn up to 400 Avios)

As you can see, spending through the portal can build your Avios balance quickly, and best of all, it’s at no extra cost to you!

You Don’t Need To Be A Member Of The BA Executive Club Or Have An Avios Credit Card

One thing I’ve heard a lot of friends say when we discuss the eStore is that they don’t have an Avios Credit Card or they aren’t members of the British Airways executive club, this seems to be a common misconception about the Avios scheme. You don’t actually need either of them.

You can sign up to the Avios scheme directly through the Avios website and it does not need to be linked to a credit card or British Airways executive account.

You can take out a credit card that rewards you with Avios per £1 spent on the card to further boost your balance, but this is not essential to benefit from the Avios scheme. The same goes with joining the BA executive club, it’s not essential to join the BA.

There are plenty of ways to build your Avios balance

There are plenty of ways to build your Avios balance through everyday spending in the UK. There are numerous retailers and schemes, as well as credit cards, that will reward you with Avios points for shopping with them. All you need to do, is connect the retailer accounts to your Avios account to pool all the rewards together.

The Avios eStore is open all year round and is not restricted to Black Friday. Individual retailer offers vary throughout the year, sometimes rewards are doubled per £1 spent, sometimes they’re halved. The main thing to bear in mind if you’re serious about collecting Avios, is to really commit to it. Bookmark the eStore in your browser, and channel all your spending through there – I guarantee you’ll be racking up Avios faster than you can keep track of them!

Want to Know more about the Avios scheme and how to build your balance? Comment below if you’re interested in a Part 2!

I’d also love to know your big wins with the Avios eStore, let me know what you’ve redeemed your points on, or what your Black Friday win was.

If you’re jetting off somewhere with your new found miles (or in first class), be sure to read my guide on how to get things for free when you travel.

When people see the excitement I have for travelling and airplanes, it can be hard to believe I had a severe phobia of flying, up until quite recently.

I’ve heard so many people say they would love to travel the world, but a fear of flying stops them. It may sound ridiculous to some people (who’ve never dealt with such anxiety) but as someone who has been on both sides of the fence; fear of flying can be a serious problem. The good news is, it’s curable.

I developed a fear of flying quite suddenly at around the age of 10, it gradually got worse and worse. I can’t pinpoint what it was that kicked it off, except that at that time, I was suddenly flying a lot, and with little advance notice. One of my siblings had moved abroad and we were regularly having to visit them. There would be days I would come home from school and find out we were flying the very same evening.  They weren’t short flights either, at 5 and a half hours, and that’s without the transit flights!

At first I just got nervous boarding the plane, felt uneasy during the flight, perhaps had some nausea, then it would all be over once we landed. This quickly evolved into being unable to sleep in the lead up to flights, I was unable to eat anything the night before, I’d wake up with stomach cramps and nausea, then proceed to throw up constantly, until we landed (seriously!). I would throw up before leaving for the airport, in the airport, on the plane, in the airport once we landed, and occasionally when we arrived at our destination.

For the duration of the flight I was unable to eat, drink, talk (seriously), read, move, look out the windows or do anything. My heart would race continuously. I was literally paralysed with fear. I missed out on so many great flying memories (and Air France’s legendary children’s packs!) because of this. Flying was a nightmare that plagued my pre-teen years and I wasn’t even going on holiday to make it worthwhile!

Despite that, I was still desperate to travel. Coming from a mixed-ethnicity family, since a young age I have always been so curious about different countries and cultures, I knew travelling was my way of experiencing them even more.

Somewhere in my teens, I decided to work on my fear of flying. There was no overnight solution, I still got bouts of panic here and there, but within a few flights I managed to hop on board a 12hr flight alone and I was fine!


Here are some of the things I did to help manage my flight anxiety, that may help you:

Understand your fear
Firstly, have a really good think about where your fear of flying stems from. Is it due to it being an unfamiliar or new sensation? Is flight safety a concern? Are you fearful of a plane crash? Does the discomfort of being in a pressurised cabin make your stomach turn? Do you have claustrophobia? Once you decipher all the reasons you are scared to fly, you can begin to tackle them one by one.

Educate yourself
This was without a doubt the most important part of “recovery” – and is in fact part of the reason I am so obsessed with planes today! To work through my fears I must better understand them, and that’s exactly what I did (p.s doesn’t work with fear of cockroaches!). My prime concern was flight safety, I was convinced any plane I boarded would fall out of the sky, fly head-on into another plane, or overshoot the runway. No matter how many times I flew and landed safely at my destination – I always told myself the next flight would be the one that killed me.

To work on this fear, I started researching planes. I read everything; how they were built, why they were built, which planes had the best safety records etc. Documentaries were great for visual references. I quickly became obsessed with Air Crash Investigation and watched every episode. This might unsettle some people, but for me, understanding how much airline safety has improved because of historical plane crashes helped me understand the advances we have made in technology and how strict flight regulations are today to avoid such accidents ever happening again.

The reality is, flying is actually the safest method of transport. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash. According to the Civil Aviation Authority “There is an average of one fatality for every 287 million passengers carried by UK operators. This can be compared with a one in 19 million chance of being struck and killed by lightning in the UK or a one in 17,000 chance of being killed in a road accident.” Those are staggering figures. As I type this, there are currently 17,306 airplanes flying the skies above us, and I can guarantee you, we won’t hear of a single plane crash by the time this post goes up.

Planes are incredibly robust structures built to do the impossible – to fly. They are packed to the bring with some of the most advanced technology in the world and they are only getting safer. This video explaining the flight process may be of help.

Eliminate stress
Eliminating as much stress as you can BEFORE you get to the airport will give you peace of mind and make you less susceptible to anxiety. Some ways you can do this:

  • Pack in advance so that you aren’t running round like a headless chicken trying to remember things at the last minute
  • Gather all your important documents the night before (or days before) and put them in one safe place
  • Keep check-lists (packing list, to do list) so that you are sure you’ve remembered everything
  • Double check for your important documents when you leave home (set a phone reminder)
  • Wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement or delay you getting through security
  • Check in online to avoid queues and to give you as much time as you need to arrive at the airport and clear security

Build a good pre-flight relaxing routine
This may sound stupid, but being relaxed in advance can really help take the edge off fear of flying. The night before you fly, take time to just relax. Have a bath, read a book or listen to classical music – anything you find relaxing. This should help you get a better nights sleep and result in better spirits in the morning. Avoid foods that give you discomfort or that could potentially flare up any conditions you have (fizzy drinks are my enemy before a flight!).

Choose your seat wisely
If sitting in a specific seat terrifies you, make sure you make a seat selection at check in. Checking in online usually gives you the best pick of seats (do it early) but if for any reason you haven’t managed to, ask at the check in desk. They may be able to accommodate your needs if there is availability. If you are likely to require access to the loos, opt for an Aisle seat so that you aren’t stressed about asking fellow passengers to move for you.

Take something to calm you down
I found the natural remedy Travella helped me immensely, you can also buy this in Boots in some UK Airports. A few drops of Lavender essential oil on a tissue or napkin can also provide relief. Consult a pharmacist if you are looking for other options.

Stay hydrated
We all know the importance of being well hydrated in our day to day lives, but it’s a thousand times more important up in the air. Cabin pressure can cause you to become dehydrated quite quickly and make you susceptible to headaches, body aches, feeling unwell etc. Stay hydrated, even if you are unable to stomach anything else. Take a water bottle with you onto the plane to ensure you always have it at hand.

Converse with fellow passengers
Conversation will distract you. If you’re flying solo, be brave and make conversation with the person sitting next to you. Some of the most profound conversations I’ve had in my entire life are with the passengers sitting next to me on flights. During one of my very first super long-hauls between Singapore and Cairo, I felt fine until we had around 3 hours of flying time left, then the anxiety kicked in. I actually moved seats to sit near a fellow traveller who looked around my age and started a conversation. We turned out to have so much in common, and I aced the landing!

Travel smart

If you are struggling with anxiety every time you board a plane but are still required to travel, travel smart. Build your journey centered around your wellbeing.

If checking in and clearing airport security stresses you out, arrive at the airport extra early.  If you are terrified of being on a plane for long periods of time, book a transit flight to give you a break from being up in the air. If you’re terrified of landings and find a single landing difficult enough – don’t book a transit flight. If cabin pressure and noise sets you off, invest in noise-cancelling headphones or try to fly on a different plane. I was surprised at the lack of cabin pressure and noise when I flew on the Airbus A380 (aka my favourite plane of all time!) – of course the A380 doesn’t serve all flight routes, but I would always pick it on a route if it’s an option.

The important thing is to make the journey less overwhelming so that you have the mental and physical energy for situations beyond your control that may arise.

And finally…

Don’t be defeated. Fear of flying is extremely common, perhaps more than you may think. Give yourself the time to work through it, at a pace that is right for you. There is no single solution that will work for everyone, but I hope some of the tips listed above may be of use to you.