I got introduced to British Airways through their generous credit card bonuses. Even if you didn’t, British Airways Avios points are good to understand because Starwood Preferred Guest points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Chase Ultimate Rewards points can all be transferred to British Airways Avios points on a 1:1 basis or better. This makes it quite easy to gather enough BA miles when you need them to reach an award tier.
- British Airways Credit Card review – 50,000 Avios bonus with $2,000 spend in 3 months. Annual fee waived for the first year.
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card review – 25,000 SPG point bonus (25,000 SPG points = 30,000 Avios).
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review – 40,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus (40,000 UR points = 40,000 Avios).
- Ink Bold Business Charge card review – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus (50,000 UR points = 50,000 Avios).
- Ink Plus Business card review – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus (50,000 UR points = 50,000 Avios).
Redeeming British Airways Avios points for free award flights is now distance-based, which made some awards more expensive and some cheaper. One important change was that you could now book an American or Alaska Airlines flight from a West Coast city to Hawaii for only 25,000 points roundtrip plus $5 or $10 depending on number of stops with no other fees and taxes. Most other airlines charge at least 35,000.
Now, I’ve gotten comments that British Airways Avios points are “impossible” to use on American or Alaska. If you only want to fly on major holidays and don’t have any flexibility, yes it is very hard because you need to find a “saver” and not an “anytime” ticket. But if you are either willing to book last-minute (less than 2 months) or plan ahead (6+ months) your odds will improve greatly. For example, let’s run a quick search for LA to Honolulu (LAX-HNL) for next month October. To find availability, I’m doing this on American Airlines’ website AA.com. This also works for finding Alaska Airlines flights. Here’s the availability for LAX to HNL:
Remember, I have to find a “MileSAAver” award of any type. The first half is bad, but the last half of October is pretty open. Here’s the calendar for HNL to LAX:
Much more open. I decide to go for a week from Saturday, October 19th to Sunday, October 27th. I need to go further and find the exact flight number and itinerary, in case I need it. Most likely, you will be limited only to certain schedules (again, flexibility). I wrote down – but did not book:
- 10/19/13, LA to Honolulu, AA Flight #297, departing 4:30 pm.
- 10/27/13, Honolulu to LA, AA Flight #284, departing 2:25 pm.
Now, I go to BritishAirways.com and actually book my flight (Log in > Executive Club > Spending Avios > Book Flights with Avios) using the chosen dates:
Here’s my confirmation page showing the final price to be 25,000 Avios points plus $5 since it is a direct flight. There are no additional taxes or fees to worry about, besides the usual baggage fees.
The exact same itinerary would cost $523 today if bought from American Airlines, so for 25,000 Avios I am getting the equivalent value of over 2 cents per point. This is why airline miles can be more valuable than cash back which is usually just 1 cent per point. With 50,000 Avios from one of the credit card applications listed above and some flexibility, you can get two roundtrip economy tickets worth over $1,000 from the West Coast to Hawaii.