The simple way to get ‘free’ family flights for four – find out how to save loads of extra air miles

The simple way to get ‘free’ family flights for four – find out how to save loads of extra air miles

We show you how to use an American Express credit card to get virtually free flights to Europe with Avios air miles

Here we will show you how a family can take a flight for virtually nothing. We have done this for the last two summers, flying to Florence which you can read about here, and to Majorca which you can read about here.

You can use points built up from using an American Express credit card for long haul flights and hotel stays. But in this article, we talk about getting Avios flights to France, Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe.

We love to spread the word about what is possible so that everyone we know can benefit too – here is what you need to do. This article has been updated to reflect recent AMEX changes.

How to get family holiday flights for four

Step 1 – Sign up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. To get extra points, do this via a link from an existing cardholder (we are happy to recommend you, just email mail@thefamilyholidayguide.co.uk for a link). Then you will get 12,000 points instead of 10,000 providing you spend £3,000 in the first three months.

Step 2 –  Use the card for all your online shopping (remember to add the card to your regular accounts such as PayPal, eBay, Amazon and supermarkets ) and for your fuel, food, travel, bills etc.

You get one point for every pound you spend on the card.

Step 3 – After three months, recommend your partner for an American Express Gold card, that earns you 6,000 points for the recommendation. Your husband/wife/partner then gets 12,000 points providing they hit the £3,000 spending target in three months.

After six months you will have 30,000 points from the introductory bonus plus say 7,000 points from general spending.

Step 4 – Convert the points into air miles. You can choose from various schemes on the site, but Avios via the British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) is the most well-known. You need to join the BAEC and transfer the miles.

The conversion rate is 1:1 so you would get 37,000 Avios points.

Step 5 – Choose where you want to fly

A return to Paris or Amsterdam for four people – 36,000 Avios

A return to Majorca or Florence for four people – 60,000 Avios

With British Airways you pay a fixed charge of £35 per ticket for European Avios redemptions, although this is slightly less for children because of reduced taxes, usually around £23 on some flights.

Step 6 – Another little bonus is the American Express card also comes with two free lounge passes. If both partners have a card you could start the holiday with a nice little airport lounge visit!

The small print – This AMEX card is free for the first year, it costs £140 after the first year but you can always cancel. It is a credit card so you must pay it off in full every month otherwise the interest payments will dwarf any potential miles gain.

Disclaimer – we are not a financial services site. Remember, do not use a credit card unless you are going to pay it off in full every month.

In conclusion

Follow the steps above and for just over £100 you can get a trip to Europe in peak season saving potentially £1,000 on plane tickets.

We also like this brilliant site called Head for Points which has all the Avios and other air miles schemes in great detail.

Please let us know if you found this article helpful.

We review British Airways CityFlyer service which now flies from regional airports

We review British Airways CityFlyer service which now flies from regional airports

How do we rate BA CityFlyer for a family flight with children?

British Airways may be based at the world’s busiest international airport, London Heathrow, but it now also flies small planes from regional airports.

BA CityFlyer, a subsidiary airline of British Airways, is the leading airline at London City Airport.

It also flies from Manchester, Edinburgh and London Stansted to destinations such as Alicante, Dublin, Florence, Ibiza, Malaga, Mykonos, Nice and Palma Majorca.

We travelled to Florence from Birmingham (routes from Birmingham and Bristol have since been suspended) using Avios air miles we had collected with a American Express card, read our guide here for how to collect air miles to get free family flights and read the full review of Florence here.

Here is how we found our BA CityFlyer flight.


The plane, an Embraer 190 with a two-two seating format throughout, was modern and quiet. The seats were comfortable and leg room was reasonable.


Our hot meals were pretty average, one bit of beef was tougher than an old wellington, but the fish and chips on the return journey weren’t bad.

There was no dedicated children’s food or menu which is disappointing.

Small sandwiches were still on offer in economy class along with a complimentary drink. This has been phased out of most BA short-haul flights but this service does still offer it.

british airways embraer plane on the runway

Boarding is easy as the planes are smaller


As British Airways was only operating a couple of flights per day at both airports when we flew, there were no staff at check-in until exactly two hours before. This meant a big queue built up which wasn’t ideal.


The planes are small, ours only seated 76 passengers, which means you are on and off quite quickly, great when you are travelling with children. It feels straightforward to board as there aren’t so many people fighting to get on.

In conclusion

It is worth checking out British Airways if you had given up on them ever flying outside Heathrow. The small plane saves time at either end and you can try to use Avios air miles even if you live outside London.

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