Before British Airways revamped their program and renamed their miles program Avios, the benefit was in long-haul flights. You could even book unlimited stopovers, but that’s gone now and there is no use crying about it. Though many miles junkies have called the Avios program some bad names, I actually like it. Okay, I will miss the unlimited stopovers, but there are plenty of good aspects.
Now the program is distance based (instead of zone based). So the benefit is in shorter flights. From the end of one zone to the beginning of another. But the problem with British Airways remains to be the extremely high fuel surcharges on redemptions. Most mileage programs don’t charge you for fuel but British Airways indeed does. And British Airways themselves have extremely high fuel surcharges. $800 for New York to London! Therefore you need to redeem for partners that have no fuel surcharge or at least lesser surcharges. Ironically, redeeming British Airways Avios for a BA flight is the worse redemption from a financial perspective.
In short, redeem them for the South American partner LAN. They have no fuel charge and South America really isn’t that far from Miami. Also, American Airlines can be a good redemption so I will focus on the two.
So what are the good deals?
- 4,500 Avios for the following one-way routes: Miami to Cancun; Miami to Grand Cayman; Miami to Montego Bay; Miami to Turks & Caicos; Melbourne to Sydney; NYC to Montreal; and many more. About $5 to $25 in taxes and fees.
- 7,500 Avios for the following one-way routes: LA to Cabo San Lucas; NYC to Chicago; NYC to Miami; and many more
- 50,000 Avios for Miami to Lima, Peru round-trip in Business Class on LAN. About $100 in taxes and fees. (Or 25,000 RT economy). About $5 to $25 in taxes and fees.
- 12,500 Avios for Lima, Peru to Easter Island. About $30 in taxes and fees.
- 12,500 Avios for Easter Island to Tahiti. About $30 in taxes and fees.
- 50,000 Avios for New York to Vancouver round-trip in Business Class on Cathay Pacific! Yes, on Cathay. It is a connecting flight to Hong Kong. About $150 in taxes and fees.
Normally I frown upon using your points for domestic flights. You lose so much value. A domestic flight costs 25,000 miles: typically worth less than $250 -valuing each mile at under a cent. However, if you used two or three times more miles for a trip to Bali, the ticket will be worth more than $1,000 and you would receive double the value of your miles. In my mind, a domestic flight is a huge waste. But since I can redeem Avios for as little as 4,500 on AA, I think I’ll be using points for domestics. Plus I’m not saving them for long hauls anymore.
There are a lot of great uses but one other problem. Connecting flights. If I want to book a flight from Charlottesville, Va to Miami, Fl on AA, I have to go through Chicago, Il. And further more I have to book two flights. It makes no connections for you on the BA website. This is a really bad redemption for me because Chicago is even further away from Miami and therefore costs more miles. Luckily, I like Chicago and happened to be there four times last year. Either way, for some, this might be an option for domestic redemptions that are at least nicer than southwest.
As far as credit cards, British Airways has a lot of options. You can transfer from Chase or Amex. But the real winner is the 100,000 British Airways card. They’ve done it the last two years (both in the spring I think). 100,000 for one credit card sign up is a huge bonus and I will be sure to let you know if it comes back.