How to Search for & Book British Airways Avios Award Flights

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If you're new to British Airways Avios, the mileage currency of the British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer program, you may be looking for tips on how to maximize your miles for free flights, or even how to search and book Avios award flights.

The good news is, you don't have to fly on British Airways aircraft with your Avios. You can use Avios for flights on any oneworld® alliance airline like American Airlines, or other partners such as Alaska Air. These partnerships open up a world of possibilities!

Looking to build up your balance of Avios? Check out the British Airways Visa Signature® Card which is currently offering an increased signup bonus of up to 120,000 bonus Avios! Earn 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000. That's up to 120,000 bonus Avios

You could also invest in the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, both cards earn Ultimate Rewards which transfer to Avios at a 1:1 ratio!

How to Search & Book Award Flights with British Airways Avios

You can search for and book most Avios award flights on the British Airways website. You must be enrolled in the British Airways Executive Club program to search for and book award flights on their website.

Follow these step-by-step instructions for searching award flight availability on the British Airways website:

1. Log into your British Airways account, go to the “Executive Club” tab, and click on “Spending Avios.”

executive-club-spend-avios

2. Scroll down and click on “Book a Reward Flight.”

avios-book-a-reward-flight

3. Fill in the destination, point of origin, date, cabin class, and the number of passengers. Then select “Get Flights.”

lax-hnl-avios-award.png
4. Select your flight, and then click “Continue.” If there are no results, then use the calendar to scroll through other days.

lax-hnl-avios-flight-selection

5. The next step is a price quote, and if everything looks good, scroll down to the bottom of the page, check the terms and conditions box, and click “Continue to Payment Page.” On the next pages, just follow the steps on entering your payment information.

You cannot search or book all British Airways partner flights on British Airways' website. For example, Alaska Airlines award availability isn't shown on the British Airways website. You need to search for award space on the American Airlines or Alaska Air websites, then call British Airways on 1-800-452-1201 to bookIf the representative tries to charge a fee for calling in, politely ask for the fee to be waived, since you can't book the award online.

Remember, whenever you're searching partner award availability, if you see a partner award on the website of a different partner, any partner should be able to book it. In our example, if you find a flight on AA.com operated by Alaska Airlines available for AA mileage redemption, that same flight should be available for Avios redemption with British Airways. Just call the BA rep and provide the flight information you would like to book, and the agent will quote you a price.

Now you know how to search and book Avios award flights, here are a few examples on how to maximize your redemption value.

British Airways Executive Club No Longer Publishes an Award Chart

Similar to Delta, British Airways has done away with an officially published award chart. However, BA left theirs relatively untouched since the last chart was published (pictured below), with one big exception.

Zone 1 award flights within North America no longer ring in at 4,500 Avios after BA made a negative adjustment to U.S. short-haul awards late in 2015. The award price increased to 7,500 Avios for the same fare, which, while still great value for short hops, is a huge increase and reduces the value of Avios for U.S. members.

BA Avios Award Chart
BA Avios last published award chart

BA now offers an Award Calculator on its website in lieu of an award chart, but it's limited to one-way flights and doesn't allow for multi-city itineraries which can make it a touch clunky to use.

Another thing to factor in with Avios is that partner awards, with the exception of Iberia which has its own set of Peak and Off-Peak dates, price up at Peak award prices.

There is also another, lesser-known award chart for BA. The multi-carrier Reward Flights chart, which kicks in when flying two or more oneworld@ airlines.

avios-multi-carrier-award-chart

This award chart holds some interesting value for flights on partner airlines in business class as it was left untouched in the big 2015 Executive Club award chart changes. While business class on BA is typically 3x economy award rates, on this chart it is only 2x economy rates.

The Avios amount for reward flights in premium economy will be 1.5 times the Avios amount shown; for business class it will be 2 times, and for first class it will be 3 times. Taxes, fees and carrier charges increase on a sliding scale from economy up to first class.

Fly to Hawaii using Avios on Oneworld Partners American & Alaska

One of our favorite sweet spots in the Executive Club award chart is flying from the West Coast of the U.S. to Hawaii. You can get one-way economy awards to Hawaii on BA partners Alaska or Amerian for as little as 12,500 Avios + minimal taxes, making this one of the best points and miles redemptions for free flights to Hawaii.

lax-hnl-return-50000-avios

Boston to Dublin Economy on Aer Lingus for 13,000 Avios

This route causes a lot of confusion in the award redemption world. Previously, the award fares from Boston to Dublin flying Aer Lingus came in at 12,500 & 25,000 Avios respectively for Economy & Business and were marked as one of the hot-spots of the Avios distance based award chart (BOS-DUB scrapes in under the 3,000-mile mark).

Aer-Lingus-Avios-BOS-DUB-13000

But Aer Lingus then decided that this route was to be the sole exception from its distance based award chart, and moved it up to a Zone 5 redemption. The award now costs:

  • 13,000 + taxes off-peak one-way in Economy
  • 50,000 + taxes off-peak one-way in Business
  • 20,000 + taxes peak one-way in Economy
  • 60,000 + taxes peak one-way in Business

While economy redemptions still offer good value, the jump in business class awards is huge and represents a major loss in the value of these flights.

Mexico or The Caribbean for 7,500 in Economy or 15,000 in Business

Depending on your departure location, you can fly economy to Mexico or The Caribbean from as little as 7,500 Avios plus fees + taxes, or you can get there in Business Class for as little as 15K plus fees + taxes.

phx-sjd-economy-avios-7500

Short Distance Flights Outside the U.S.

Since British Airways Avios has a distance-based award chart, you can spread out your Avios for short distance flights. These short distance flights start at 4,500 Avios (4,000 off-peak) and can be redeemed for any flight under 650 miles outside of the US. Short hops in Africa, South America, Africa, Europe, South Pacific, and Asia are all possibilities.

dub-lhr-4500-avios

Other Perks of the British Airways Executive Club Loyalty Program

British Airways awards are also great for close-in flights as they don't impose a last-minute or close-in booking fee. Most airlines will charge you an additional fee of $75 for making an award booking inside 21 days before departure. It's a nice perk that British Airways doesn't!

British Airways also allows you to combine and redeem your Avios with friends or family easily through Household accounts.

If you need to cancel your British Airways Avios award, you can do so up until 24 hours beforehand, and you will have your Avios redeposited for the price of your taxes. If your taxes were only $2.50 or $5, that's what you are responsible for paying.

Conclusion 

Despite the increased costs of awards and the high fuel surcharges, British Airways Avios still offer plenty of value and can be used for flights on lots of different airlines around the world.

If you're looking to pick up some additional Avios, check out the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and earn up to 120,000 bonus Avios. Or, look at investing in the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, both cards earn Ultimate Rewards which transfer into Avios at a 1:1 ratio!

How to Search for & Book British Airways Avios Award Flights
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Comments

  • Is it possible to book the preferred economy seats when you are redeeming the Avios miles? (Even if you have to pay the extra fee?)

  • Alex Abernathy says:

    Great tip for this card and great blog for getting the most out of it. Thanks, AwardWallet!

  • AL STANZIONE says:

    i appreciate your post.

  • THANK YOU for writing this article! Exactly what I need. I was so disappointed when I received my BA 50,000 mile card and tried to book a flight from the U.S. to Greece earlier this year because of the sad lack of choices in flights and the very high prices that didn’t fit in with my mileage available, even when topping up the total with transferring miles from my Sapphire card. The system was very confusing to navigate as well. So I ended up not using the BA miles at all yet. Now I know how to max them out on shorter flights and other destinations and even better, how to navigate the system. I really appreciate how clearly you wrote and all the options you listed, and look forward to my next adventure.

  • Wow! This is a hugely useful post. I had already signed up for the BA card and was wondering exactly how I could best benefit from the Avios. This post breaks it down nicely. Thanks so much!
    Emmet

  • TheBigEasyTraveler says:

    Great intro post for new comers and to refresh the minds of others not so new

  • British Airways charges a lot of taxes and fees when you use Avios on their airline. If flying to Europe it is much better to use Avios on American Airline.

  • I can never find any flights available on their site, even when the site is working, which isn’t often.

  • Beware,
    In theory, this is all great………..but I have tried for over four years to use my over 190,000 AVIOS points with little luck. Searching often for flights from Seattle to London have been pretty useless in any cabin other than Economy. And trying to use one of the two companion vouchers I have receiveed, has been impossible. The award seats never seem to be available.
    I wish I had not chosen the BA VISA but had chosen a rewards program that doesn’t limit my selection so much.

  • It is impossible to use BA miles for any flights domestic or international. We have been trying for years. Signing up for the British Airways credit card was a big mistake!

  • Please verify the 12,500 OW award on Aer Lingus BOS to DUB. I cannot find such an award. Only a 30K saver award comes up on United.

    • Award Wallet says:

      Yes, 12,500 is the correct price for the one-way award. You don’t book on United or go off their award prices – you just look for availability on the United website, and then call British Airways to make your booking.

  • I got my last bonus in January of 2014. (The 3rd of 3 bonuses, like offered now)
    It says I qualify if I have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.
    Does this mean I don’t qualify?

    • Award Wallet says:

      Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be eligible, since it hasn’t been 24 months yet.

      • Turns out they only count that first bonus against you. The subsequent bonuses after that initial 50K bonus do not extend the 24 month waiting time.

  • British Air requires 3 times as many miles to fly from New York to Sydney as its partner American Airlines. I’ve never seen the awards you mention at the levels you indicate.

    • Award Wallet says:

      British Airways Avios are great for short haul flights, but not ideal for long haul flights because of their fuel surcharges.

  • How do you book on United? I don’t
    see them as a Oneworld Partner with
    British Airways

    • Award Wallet says:

      You don’t book on or with United – you just check their website for Aer Lingus award availability, and then you call British Airways to book.

  • Do unused Avios expire after a year with card inactivity (as Southwest points do – of course the fix for Southwest is to make a small purchase with your Rapid Reward card before the end of yearly-anniversary date when card opened), or, are Avios credits non-expiring as the Chase Saphire points are.

    • Award Wallet says:

      Avios expire 36 months if there’s no activity, but it’s easy to show activity. All you have to do is receive 1 Avios by charging something on your BA Visa, or transfer in Ultimate Rewards, SPG, or MR points.

  • Rick in San Diego says:

    The thing I don’t like about flying to Europe using points is the almost certain need to fly through Heathrow in London. I just tried to book two tickets to Rome next year. Good seats were available on Premium Economy (yay!), but the cost in taxes and fees was over $1,000. So much for a free ticket.

  • Avios are essentially worthless. I have over 100,000 and every time I try to use them, either with BA or one of their partners, nothing is ever available. And when I call BA to try to book with a partner, (American) I am told I need to go back to back to the “partner” site and book there. So I don’t know who writes this stuff but they need a reality check–I’ll bet they never tried to book with avios.

    • Does BA pay you to write this? As I noted, Avios are essentially worthless, but if someone is naïve enough to pay you $150 to book their flight, they get what they deserve. Perhaps if you charged $25, you’d get a lot more business.

    • Award Wallet says:

      Award availability can be tricky, but I’ve booked several flights with no issue.

  • Ellen Gross says:

    I am trying to book a multi-city trip to South Africa with my avios – but when I do, I don’t want business class for each leg of the flight. For example, we don’t mind going economy from San Diego to London but want Club for London to Johannesburg and again from Cape Town to London. How would you recommend doing this? Also, I seem to recall that BA will help you book Avios reward trips for a fee ($120/pp) but I haven’t been able to find that on the BA website. However, I have seen that Award Wallet will do any reward booking for $150/pp. Do you recommend for a multi-city and also to get the most out of the Avios? Thanks!

  • I have NEVER been able to find a flight on the BA site. never.

  • HI
    Trying to Fly Edinburgh to Denver on Oct 10. BA has flights but no availability with AVIOS currently. The reservations rep said they likely will open more Aviios seats and to keep checking. Is this true that more will open? If so is there a good way to know when this happens? Thanks!

    • Award Wallet says:

      There’s no way to guarantee award availability, but since your flight is a few months away there is a good chance. You can keep checking manually, or set up a notification on seat expert.

  • Frequent Flyer says:

    I have 520,000 Avios points (all from flying BA) and have been trying to use them for five years with absolutely no success (there simply are never any award flights available to where I want to go). I don’t have any of these issues with Delta Skymiles or United MilagePlus. The program might be ok for you if you’re happy to pick your destinations and timing based on a limited number of options determined by BA but I found it to be totally useless if you want to go where and when you want to travel, even if you try to book 8-10 weeks in advance. I have stopped flying BA altogether because I simply get no benefits whatsoever out of their program.

  • Marielle says:

    As of Saturday May 20th – I can confirm the advice here is definitely wrong, at least if one has no status on BA. I can find all sorts of award flights on American’s site for SFO – SAV or HHH, round trips or one way segments. I broke down all segments and search BA’s site for economy awards, nothing at all not even in random non-summer months in the future either (And their search engine is TERRIBLE, only stating no flights for each segment and date, no calendar, no ease of use) I called the BA, was on hold for 20 minutes, and was told that in no uncertain terms that AA’s award availability does NOT mean that BA can book them, and they only get certain seats from AA, and that this is not a new policy. Award Wallet needs to update your information.

    • Not sure what the representative said to you, but American sAAver award space is bookable by British Airways and all of American’s partners.

      The key is that it must be sAAver space, and not AAnytime award space. The lack of space you’re finding on BA.com lines up with the lack of sAAver space on AA.com.

      The information provided here is accurate — I’ve just done a few searches myself and there is a lack of sAAver space from SFO to SAV and HHH, which is why you cannot book it with BA. Please search again and share your results; I’d be interested to see if you’re seeing sAAver space or AAnytime space?

      • Marielle says:

        I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification, I had not paid enough attention to the sAAver vs. AAnytime designations, partially because of the way the calendar color coding changes depending on the original search (vs. consistently mapping to which kind of award space). In general the experience leads me to have less hope for using my Membership Rewards for American short haul flights, since I tend not to be able to plan as far out in the future as some can, but certainly can see how using AA for finding the correct flights allows the BA site to be much less frustrating. Thanks for answering!

  • Can anyone offer any advice on booking with BA. I have searched dozens of routes… probably around 50… from LA, San Diego, Seattle, and Chicago. I either get a screen that says there is not availability for that day and check other days. (Of which I get the same message)

    Or I get an error message.

    “Error

    British Airways does not have traffic rights to operate directly between these two cities.”

    I find American Airlines flights with MilesAASavers between them and yet they don’t come up on BA.

    I’d love to just give these points away their booking on BA.com is useless for me.

  • I read somewhere you couldn’t do that.. but then I caught it on here to do exactly that.. so I’ll be making the call!! Thanks!!

  • I have found numerous sAAver flights available on American Airlines and NONE of them are ever available on BA, regardless of the date. The British Airways credit card was a complete waste of money.

    • If you see sAAver flights with AA, they’re bookable with BA. Simple as that. If you can’t find it online, call and ask them to waive the booking fee because their website is broken.

  • So, if someone is having a hard time finding flights, what other ways can you use the BA Avios points to benefit us once we book a flight? Can we use them to upgrade?

    I guess I should really go back and read all the perks but I’ve been so frustrated that I’ve given up on my 200,00+ points.

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