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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 a signup bonus of 50,000 bonus Avios!
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.”
2. Scroll down and click on “Book a Reward Flight.”
3. Fill in the destination, point of origin, date, cabin class, and the number of passengers. Then select “Get Flights.”
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 book. If 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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 50,000 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 to Avios at a 1:1 ratio!
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