Sweet Spots for British Airways Avios Awards

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As strange as it may sound, there may not be a rewards program with more routes that can be considered sweet spots than the British Airways Executive Club program. The main reason for this is that BA has a distance-based award chart, so regions are mostly irrelevant. What matters is the distance between your origin and destination and while long-haul rates tend to be absurdly high, short-haul and medium-haul rates are typically bargains.

To take advantage of BA's sweet spots, non-stop flights are essential. Adding in stopovers and additional flights will add extra miles, so with a distance based chart, you want to fly direct flights wherever possible. If you have a connection, the total price for your itinerary will be based on the cumulative rate for each segment. Another factor to keep in mind is that first class awards are a poor option with BA. This includes domestic first class awards with partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

British Airways no longer officially publishes award charts, however, below is snapshot of their most recent award charts.

British Airways Executive Club Award Chart – Avios

British Airways Executive Club Award Chart - Avios
British Airways Executive Club Award Chart – Avios

British Airways Executive Club Award Chart – Zones

British Airways Executive Club Award Chart - Zones
British Airways Executive Club Award Chart – Zones

Below are four of our favorite BA Award sweet spots. It's important to note that British Airways partner awards price at Peak levels, with the exception of Iberia, which has its own set of Peak and Off-Peak dates. To keep things simple, let's only consider Peak rates as outlined in the award chart. We're also going to ignore premium economy award options as they are limited to a subset of airlines.

  • Zone 1 Economy and Business Class Awards

While the rates for Zone 1 are not applicable to awards originating or ending in the U.S. or Canada, these rates are still available for hundreds of routes within South America, Europe, Asia, South Africa, the Middle East and Australia. A few examples of routes that fall within Zone 1 (650 miles or under) are Sydney-Melbourne, Lima-Cuzco, London-Paris, Tokyo-Osaka, Cape Town-Port Elizabeth and Doha-Dubai. All of these routes can be booked for only 4,500 Avios in economy class and 9,000 Avios in business class (where applicable). Those rates are virtually impossible to beat.

  • Zone 2 Business Class Awards

Zone 2 (651-1,151 miles) business class awards provide extraordinary value and work perfectly well for awards with partner American Airlines between Miami and the Caribbean and between Miami and some parts of Central America given that American labels their premium cabin on such routes as business class instead of first class as they do for domestic flights. Zone 2 business class awards also work perfectly well in Asia with partners Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines and within Australia with partner Qantas. Among the routes that can be booked for 15,000 Avios in business class are Miami-San Juan, Hong Kong-Shanghai, Tokyo-Seoul, and Brisbane-Melbourne.

  • Zone 3 Business Class Awards 

Zone 3 (1,152-2,000) business class awards are the last obvious premium cabin bargains in the BA award chart. For routes this long most airline require at least 25,000 miles for business class travel and upwards of 40,000 miles. With BA, only 20,000 Avios are needed. Among the popular routes that can be booked in business class for this rate are Hong Kong-Phuket (Cathay Pacific), Lima-Buenos Aires (LATAM), Sydney-Auckland (Qantas) and Johannesburg-Mauritius (British Airways).

Bottom Line

Despite recent devaluations, BA Avios remain extremely valuable for a significant number of awards, including the ones described above. While BA is perhaps the airline best known for imposing fuel surcharges, these are either minimal or not applied at all for most of the routes discussed above. Making BA Avios awards an even more attractive option is the fact that BA is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and American Express Membership Rewards, so acquiring enough Avios to book the award you want should be easy.

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  • Avatar
    Peter Nyholm says:

    Excellent thoughts. My favorite BA award is in business class SIN-BKK on Cathay. Once a day flight. Fantastic meal. Key thing for me is much enhanced baggage allowance which I need if I have connections to or from US on UA. And I tend to be stingy about using Avios so I use miles and money option. I can’t recall tradeoff but it always seems to work for me to use minimum miles and maximum $$$. And I get 5X MR for using Plat Amex that always turn into a lot more than 5X Avios. Anyway, I kid myself I am doing well and I think I am.

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    Hello Howie, I have 56000 Avios which expire January 5, 2018.
    I canceled the BA card about 3 years ago, but the points are still
    If I book a trip from Philly to Miami on AA I can use the BA points.
    Can I book the trip beginning on January 3 for a return on january 17,
    with the return after the expiration date, or is all OK as long as
    I book the trip before January 5?

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    Thanks for this. Just booked Sydney to Auckland and saved myself a fortune!

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    I’ve redeemed 20,000 for Johannesburg to Mauritius which was great value for a 4 hour flight.

  • Avatar

    The Sydney to Auckland looks like an interesting route for me.

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    Hi i would like to know how can i use my avios points to go from hong kong to london one way only, which is my cheapest option and how do i book it, im new to this and it is my first time booking

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    Howie, I have found that simply seeing award flights with BA partners on the BA Avios site is difficult – notwithstanding that there is a prompt to access them. So the best way to see them is to call BA.

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    1). Is it possible to go nonstop on BA between NY & Italy using Avios points.

    2) if not, which is the best way to get to Venice Italy from the U S using BA points?

    Thank you

    • Avatar

      Your move would be on AA. They fly non-stop from JFK to Rome.

      Otherwise, using any BA partner and connecting in their hub, so Finnair through Helsinki or Air Berlin through one of its hubs would be my top picks

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    Thanks for the info, I am sitting on about 160000 AA miles and now looks like I should check BA for better use of those miles Wish me luck

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    Is there an easy way to search Avios for domestic US-US flights on AA ?

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      Yes, you can either search on BA.com or if you search on AA.com, any sAAver flight can be booked with BA Avios.

      • Avatar

        So you can both search for and book Saver AA tix on BA.com with Avios? I’m new to Avios.

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            I’ve searched BA.com and shows no availability on AA from either BUF-PDX or IND-PDX in May or June. Seems like the only ‘rare’ availability shows up when I search an AA hub to another AA city (like DFW-PDX or ORD-PDX). Even used fights.awards Chrome app and shows tons of AS and DL award availability but AA shows nothing out of non-hub routes. As good as Avios sounds, finding a flight is like finding a needle in a haystack !

          • Avatar

            Joe, the best way to search is segment-by-segment, even though ba.com will come up with space for connections. That said, for a flight on American to be available with BA Avios it needs to have saver availability on AA.com. In this case, if you’re searching for AA flights you’re actually best to search AA.com and just look for saver space.

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    I’m new to this game and am a bit overwhelmed with all of the options.

    Trying to fly on miles from NYC to Amsterdam in business class. Do you think Air Lingus (via Boston/Dublin connections) is the best option, or should I go the Alaska Airlines route? Really appreciate your advice 🙂

    • Avatar

      It all depends on what points/miles you have and what flexibility you have — NYC to Amsterdam, I’d probably look to book flights with Delta or their partner KLM. That said, Aer Lingus Boston-Dublin is a great rate in business class to Europe from the US.

      • Avatar

        I have about 200k skymiles plus 120k membership rewards, so Delta/KLM would be an easy option, but they are asking over 320k for a round trip in business. Aer Lingus is asking 75k Avios (I have just enough) plus another $100 for Dublin-Amsterdam flight – a bargain in comparison to Delta. I just can’t figure out how that would compare to Alaskan Airlines.