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How To Maximize Your British Airways Avios

By: Travis Cormier

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You’re probably more familiar with the loyalty programs of the major U.S. airlines, but looking beyond the U.S. will open up even more award flight possibilities. With this in mind, the British Airways Executive Club is a loyalty program that you’ll want to learn—you’ll notice they refer to miles as Avios.

There are some fantastic redemption options within British Airways’ award charts. With that said, long-haul premium cabin award tickets often incur high carrier-imposed surcharges on top of the usual taxes and fees.

For this reason, it’s important to do a little research before booking an award flight with Avios. Fortunately, there are a ton of easy to ways to earn Avios through their credit card partners so you’ll always have a path to more!

Now, let’s check out how you can earn a bunch of Avios and redeem them for maximum value!

Earn Avios with Credit Cards

British Airways has partnered with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) so you have plenty of options to transfer points when you need Avios. Ultimate Rewards points and Membership Rewards points generally transfer almost instantly while SPG Starpoints can take up to 7 days for a transfer to process.

As is the case whenever you transfer points to an airline partner, you need to make sure you’re ready to book as they cannot be returned to the transferable points program from which you transferred.

Chase also provides a co-branded British Airways Visa Card that earns Avios directly on all your purchases.

You can get the British Airways Visa Card from Chase after you have run into Chase’s 5/24 rule so it won’t be a first-tier priority.

Getting Great Value From Your Avios

Short Flights

One of the best ways to get great value from Avios is for short flights on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines within the U.S., Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines in Asia, Qantas in Australia, and their own flights in Europe.

British Airways uses a distance-based award chart which can make Avios a great option for short flights. As a comparison, American Airlines uses a region-based award chart.

Check out our article explaining the different types of award charts for more info.

In the U.S., any economy award flight up to 1,150 flight miles will cost 7,500 Avios while abroad any flight up to 650 flight miles will only cost 4,500 Avios. As an example, you could fly Qantas from Sydney (SYD) to Melbourne (MEL) for 4,500 Avios. In the U.S., a flight from Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Nashville (BNA) and a flight from Washington, D.C. (DCA) to New Orleans (MSY) will each cost 7,500 Avios.

If you are traveling abroad, make sure you give British Airways Avios a look when you need a short flight. Just watch out for those carrier-imposed surcharges.

Domestic Business Class on American Airlines

If you are like me and enjoy flying a premium cabin no matter where you fly, redeeming Avios for short-haul premium cabin flights can save you lots of miles. This is especially beneficial if you need to use a positioning flight to take advantage of other great deals.

Chicago O’Hare (ORD) is a huge international hub in the midwest. If you needed to get there to take advantage of a great flight deal or have an award ticket starting there, you can use Avios to get there in a premium cabin for nearly the same price as an economy flight depending on where you start.

American Airlines Domestic Award

If you are flying from Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW), flying in a premium cabin to Chicago (ORD) would cost you 25,000 AAdvantage miles. In economy, it would cost 12,500 miles.

British Airways Avios on American Airlines

The exact same flight will cost 15,000 Avios to fly domestic first class on American Airlines, or 7,500 Avios in economy class. This is a much better value than booking the flight with AAdvantage miles, making premium cabin domestic travel more accessible.

A Crazy Cheap Award Flight To Hawaii From The West Coast

While domestic business class is nice, most people fly for the destination instead of the journey. From the U.S., there aren’t many places as accessible and luxurious as Hawaii. Using miles and points to fly there just makes the trip even better and Avios are a great way to book if you’re on the west coast.

British Airways Avios Award to Hawaii

No, this isn’t photoshopped! You can fly from the west coast to Hawaii using only 12,500 Avios one-way in economy class. Depending on your airport, you’ll fly either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. Here is a list of airports that each airline flies from to get to Hawaii:

American Airlines Alaska Airlines
Los Angeles (LAX) Anchorage (ANC)
Phoenix (PHX) Bellingham (BLI)
Oakland (OAK)
Portland (PDX)
Sacramento (SMF)
San Diego (SAN)
San Jose (SJC)
Seattle (SEA)

Fly To The Caribbean And Mexico

Ritz-Carlton Aruba

The Ritz-Carlton in Aruba is easily accessible when you can fly to Aruba for only 7,500 Avios!

If you’re not on the west coast, you’re not out of luck for tropical destinations! Across the southern part of the U.S., you’ll see great rates using Avios to Mexico and the Caribbean on American Airlines.

American has three hubs — Phoenix, Dallas, and Miami — making it easy to fly from the U.S. to a number of warm (and fun) destinations that are basically in our backyard.

If you’re in Dallas, flying to Mexico is a great sweet spot. You can fly from Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) to great places in Mexico like Cancun for only 7,500 Avios one-way in economy class, or 15,000 Avios in business class. For Phoenix-based flyers, it isn’t much more for only 10,000 Avios in economy class and 20,000 in business.

Miami is a phenomenal American hub for nearly every island in the Caribbean and you can reach all of them for only 7,500 Avios — even those as far away as Aruba!

Flights Within Asia

We touched on this earlier, but Asia is a great place to use Avios. Since many award programs no longer offer stopovers, using Avios provides an easy (and cheap) way to see tons of countries once you’re in the region.

As noted above, flights that are between 1 and 650 flight miles are 4,500 Avios in economy class. Business class is also cheap at only 9,000 Avios. Flights between 651 and 1,150 flights are 7,500 Avios in economy class, 11,250 in premium economy, and 15,000 in business class.

For example, you can book a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong (HKG) to Bangkok (BKK) for 7,500 miles in economy, 11,250 miles in premium economy, and 15,000 miles in business class.

Using Avios is not only a great deal in Asia but it gives you the opportunity to fly a great airline in Cathay Pacific which regularly receives high marks. As a bonus, if you are flying out of Hong Kong (HKG), you can visit the new Centurion Lounge if you have the Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Final Thoughts

British Airways Avios provide some fun award booking opportunities that shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure you take advantage of the ability to use only 4,500 Avios on short flights when abroad.

If that’s not enough, you’ll love the fact that British Airways Avios are easy to acquire thanks to the ability to transfer from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints.

So, what are you waiting for? Go see how you can make your next trip better by seeing even more amazing destinations thanks to British Airways Avios.

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