A good friend of mine who is very active in the points and miles game recently asked me an interesting question – Where should he transfer his American Express Membership Rewards points before closing his Amex Platinum card? While there are plenty of great MR transfer partners, one of my absolutely favorites has to be British Airways Avios. Except I rarely recommend that people use their Avios to redeem for British Airways flights. Wait, what?
Yes, you read that right. I love Avios, but I would never recommend you redeem them for British Airways flights. Why? Two words – fuel surcharges. While British Airways offers a great hard product, they also tack on absolutely (in my opinion) absurd fuel surcharges for their award tickets, which totally eliminates their value to me. So what do I use Avios on? Short haul flights on American Airlines and British Airways partner redemptions!
Short Haul Flights on AA
As you may or may not know, British Airways recently devalued their Avios program fairly substantially in April. The good news is that there are still some exceptional “sweet spots” with Avios – flights with distances up to 3,000 miles.
Short haul flights tend to be disproportionately more expensive than longer haul routes, and that is why Avios can be so valuable. For example, a flight from Orlando (MCO) to Charlotte (CLT) on December 4th would cost you $445 one-way.
But award availability using Avios is wide open with over 20 seats available across 9 flights!
And the best part is it will only cost you 4,500 Avios and $5 in taxes and fees! That’s a redemption value of almost $0.10 per point!
If you wanted to use AAdvantage miles, it would cost you 12,500 miles + $5.60 in fees for the exact same flights. While that is still a redemption value of over 3.5 cents per point, the Avios redemption clearly still offers the better redemption value.
So as you can see, there is exceptional value to be had using your Avios for short haul American Airlines flights. This becomes especially handy when you need to position yourself to a different airport for an award flight, but don’t want to pay out of pocket for that flight.
BA Partner Award Redemptions
The real sweet spot for me though with Avios is with partner redemptions. British Airways partners with airlines like Cathay Pacific, JAL, LAN, Iberia, Qantas and FinnAir. That means that pretty much anywhere you are in the world, there are great partner redemptions to be had using your Avios. For example, I am in the process of planning a trip to Southeast Asia for 2 weeks to celebrate a friend’s wedding and my 30th birthday. I needed to get myself and my girlfriend from Tokyo to Hong Kong in late January. A flight from Tokyo-Haneda to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific in business class would have cost me $2,118.83 per ticket.
A similar flight on JAL from Tokyo-Haneda to Hong Kong in business class would have cost me $1,703.60 per ticket.
So I was looking at a total out of pocket cost of $4,237.66 for a pair of tickets on Cathay Pacific, or $3,407.20 for a pair of tickets on JAL.
So let’s look at availability using Avios. There are currently 6 business class award seats available on 2 JAL flights.
And 14(!) business class award seats available on 5 Cathay Pacific flights.
So what will these tickets cost you? A mere 20,000 Avios + $39 in taxes and fees!
What’s even better is that British Airways allows you to use an Avios and money scale for your purchase. So if you didn’t want to redeem 20,000 Avios, you could redeem only 14,600 Avios + $119.25 or 11,000 Avios + $159.25 for that same $2,118.83 flight! Assuming you redeem only 11,000 Avios, that gets you an incredible 17.8 cents per point redemption value!
As you can see, British Airways Avios offer some exceptional value when redeeming for partner awards!
How Can I Get Avios?
I personally find exceptional value in using Avios and will always stockpile Avios when I can. If you are looking for some additional Avios to add to your Executive Club account, you can always credit your OneWorld carrier flights to your Executive Club account. Or you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points or SPG Starpoints to British Airways Avios. You can also check out the British Airways Visa Signature® Card from Chase which offers 50,000 Avios after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Need Help Booking Your Avios Award?
Do you need help booking your Avios award ticket(s) or finding availability on your desired routes and dates? I can help with that! Check out my consulting services page for more information!