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Using Stopovers To Save Avios – Conclusions, Tools and Crazy Plans

This series in some ways was an attempt to prove that Avios points don’t suck, unless you suck at using them. Of course, it depends on where you live as to how awesome they actually are. But most places are one segment away from an AA hub, and thus can position themselves for a great, cheap route. Certain places are better for certain routes, because living in Boston is a stone’s throw away from Dublin, I’d be making that trip for the weekends. Plus it helps to live in hub cities – MIA, LAX, DFW, etc…

But if you take the time to find the routes that are closest to 2,999 flown miles (but not more), you can really save Avios and see more. That’s the point of this series. Here is a summary, a “best of” and some awesome tools for anyone with Avios!

Tools

The Better Avios Redemption Calculator

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 1.55.01 PMI recently learned of a tool (created by Wandering Aramean?) that calculates the best route for you, found here. This simply calculates all the different routes for you to find the cheapest one. This tool is great and I wish I had seen it before I started writing this (as it would have saved some time). However, it’s not quite complete. Almost though, and so it’s still worth using before every flight.

The problem is that it doesn’t show multiple connections. Also, when I search ATL – TXL, it seems to not show routing through JFK/LGA, which is the cheapest. But these are minor details now that Aer Lingus is loaded!

It’s still awesome because it shows almost everything and it does it for you instantly. So first of all British Airways’ reward calculator sucks, and if you let it route for you… you’re just going to get routed through London every time and get screwed. If you check this better Award Calculator, you’re going to see all the options. Heck, sometimes there are multiple ways to route all better than the BA default route. And sometimes you’re chosen one isn’t available. This will at least show you all the routing options. In the end, it’s the best tool we have, and if you can think of a route using one of the other tools, check it as well.

For most routes this tool will save you a lot of time. I even like that it shows more expensive routes, as the point may be to see more and you may notice a desired destination for slightly more.

The OneWorld Map is another great tool just to find routes and then take them back to a great circle mapper and map out the distance. Again I’m looking for optimal value around 2,999 in air miles but you might see some other great options and more desirable destinations to stopover.

Of course, then you need to take it back and find availability by searching BritishAirways.com (although it’s not 100% accurate, it shows most airlines and can give you an idea).

 

Here is a good deal found in each post.

Stopovers to save Avios across the Pacific:

The Hawaiian way to Sydney for 37,500 instead of 50,000.

  • LAX – HNL = 12,500
  • HNL – SYD = 25,000

Stopovers  to save Avios to South America:

Instead of going from Miami to Santiago (or Buenos Aires) direct for 25,000 Avios, try taking a stopover in Equador. Either GYE or OIU (despite the high airport taxes).

  • MIA – UIO = 10,000
  • UIO – SCL = 12,500

Stopovers  to save Avios Europe:

The best deal here has to be Boston to Dublin for 12,500 Avios. You can actually take advantage of this even if you don’t live in Boston. For example, from Seattle it would normally cost 32,500 Avios to route through NYC but instead;

  • SEA – BOS = 12,500
  • BOS – DUB = 12,500

This actually continues on in a number of ways as you can then fly Aer Lingus (which is based out of Dublin) to different places in Europe, like Moscow and Helsinki, to save Avios for your final destination.

Stopovers  to save Avios India:

From Vancouver it’s cheaper to route through Hong Kong to get to India. Plus I’d rather fly Cathay than JAL, if even to avoid fuel surcharges and sea urchins for lunch.

  • YVR – HKG = 30,000
  • HKG – BOM = 12,500

 

I will say that sometimes the best route is not the one that saves 2,500 Avios but sometimes it’s the one with cheaper fuel surcharges. That’s why I did a series on Airlines to Avoid Fuel Surcharges with Avios. That may actually be the more important series especially paired with the Better Avios Calculator.

 

Round the World with Avios?

I’m actually tempted to create a “round the world” ticket with Avios based on the 100,000 Avios Visa that comes out every once in a while. My aim is to spend my way to the companion pass and all the bonuses thus giving 130,000 Avios. I’m still planning/mulling it over but I’m thinking about a trip like this:

BOS – DUB – AMM – DEL – KUL – PER – SYD – HNL – SEA – BOS = 125,000 Avios

I’ve also thought about switching it to go from DUB to KUL this way: DUB – SVO – DXB / AUH – CMB – MLE – KUL

But I could redeem miles with another program to get to JNB and do JNB – MRU – KUL, but the point would be to do it all on Avios…

All that for 125,000 Avios in economy is a steal. While it’s a lot of flying it would be broken up into bearable short flights. For 125k I’d see 8 countries and Hawaii. Plus it would cross Europe, the Middle East, Asia (both Central and SE) and Australia. Am I a mad man or is this trip in the realm of sanity? It’s hard to know anymore. Either way, you will probably be seeing more about this in the future when I actually have time to go on a trip this long. It would also have to be really well timed or too long to avoid winter in both Dublin and Sydney (I don’t like the cold).

But right now there is actually a 50,000 point Amex Gold Card. 50,000 points for $5,000 of spending. Plus, there is also a 35% bonus for transferring to British Airways right now. This could be about 75,000 Avios- enough to see to do the Boston to Dublin route, roundtrip, 3 times.

Related Posts:

18 Comments

  1. I’m a little confused. Did you mean Quito airport when referring to So. America? The airport code is for Quito is UIO. Can’t figure out where OIU is.

    Reply
    • I Clicked thru on So America, I see its just a typo. Thanks for another GREAT post!

      Reply
  2. I need to get EI into the tool and it only calculates single connections; I’ll look at that today. As for ATL-JFK-TXL, I don’t see AA metal on ATL-JFK. I suppose you could do a manual connect between JFK/LGA, but I’m not calculating across city airports like that. I’ve considered it (London was my first inkling that it needed to be done) but I haven’t done it yet. If I do it will likely only be for O/D, not for connections.

    Double connects are a bit more complicated to do from the query side, unfortunately.

    On the CC earning side of things it seems unlikely that someone can get the card, get the earning, get the sign-up points and transfer to Avios before the 35% promo expires, but odds are another bonus will come along eventually.

    Reply
    • Adding EI would be awesome. Is that the last of the major partners to add?
      Yea, LGA and JFK are so close, the shuttle is like $10.
      Great work. More people need to know about that tool – so many people have Avios. If it could highlight airlines that don’t have fuel surcharges in a different color… it would be dummy proof.

      Reply
  3. Outstanding post! I like Avios especially for short-haul flights within regions served by partner carriers without fuel surcharges. Most recently: Lima-Iquitos for 9,000 Avios round-trip. LAN’s fares run $362 on that route, so 4 cpm with Avios, which is nice for economy. I would rate Avios as the most valuable program for me in terms of the value I typically get for redemptions, with the caveat that it is a niche player, only useful on some partners due to the fuel surcharges and some routes due to distance.

    You alluded to it, but a necessary detail in using WA’s terrific tool, when checking Avios costs for international flights from a non-hub U.S. home airport, is to check from the AA hub instead. Otherwise you’ll only get AA flights or multi-carrier rates. Add on the 4,500 yourself (or whatever the amount is in a specific case) to get to the hub, and the totals will then often be lower.

    Reply
    • Both great points,
      I’m not saying Avios get the best use for everything, but if you have them to pair with AA or UA, they become equally valuable but for the short hauls that I normally wouldn’t consider doing with the other airlines.

      And that’s a good point about the WA Avios tool. I know the Charlottesville only has 1 OW route and that’s to ORD. Why not start the search from ORD when using the tool?

      Reply
  4. Very nice article! Is Avios a partner with Hawaiian? I thought that we would use Avios to book the AA to fly to Hawaii. Is it possible to use Avios to book Hawaiian airline? Thanks.

    Reply
    • I don’t remember thinking Hawaiian was a BA partner, someone correct me if I’m wrong though. But I believe Alaska is and they fly many of the same routes.

      Reply
  5. Round the World with Avios Sound Great!!! any idea what would be the fuel charges for this kind of trip?

    Reply
    • Totally depends on which airlines you take. I am not a big fan of… paying money, so I would probably be intentional about the route. And if I went to Australia I would not fly Qantas to Hawaii as it would be really expensive and would probably use a different set of miles to get home from OZ. So go across the Europe, the Middle East, Asia to Australia and then fly home using AA miles. I’d try to get it down to a few hundred bucks. We’ll see.

      Reply
  6. Is there a way to use Avios within India?

    If so, how do I see the availability?

    Reply
  7. Can I use Avios to travel within Greek Islands and Cyprus?

    Reply
  8. I have a question. You said you’re getting a companion pass with the extra spend. Would you be allowed to take your companion on that 125K Avios RTW trip or only the first segment?

    Reply
  9. I know this is a rather old posting but a couple items in this series.
    First if you apply for the 100k BA credit card and do the 30k spend to get the companion pass you will have more than 130k avois as they are typically earned at a 1.25 per $ minimum so you would at least have 137,500’ish avios. If you do the 30k spend on BA air charges it would be much more at 2 per $ I think.
    In addition the “travel together” companion pass is only good on BA metal flights so although you might be able to circle the globe somehow on BA metal you will run into fuel surcharges as I have yet to figure out a way around LHR from North America. Your BOS-DUB segment is a favorite but it’s not on BA metal.
    Also in another BA posting you mentioned something about why would anyone want to use weird routes that cost more avois and that is simple, to avoid fuel surcharges of course.
    Thanks for all your postings on this subject as they have been very useful.

    Reply
  10. Hi. Thank you for such great information. I am trying to find a flight from Madrid to anchorage, Alaska in November 2014. The calculator says you can go Madrid to ORD TO ANC for 32,500 avios points on partners, not BA. I’m unable to find a flight that doesn’t put me through London on BA.

    Reply
  11. For HNL – SYD, I could not find any flight outbound at any day and month. Do I have to call?

    Reply
  12. to get the Bos – DUB for 12,500avios what months is that limited to, I just cked BA and they show 24,500 + $186 for this summer 2015 ???

    Reply
    • So British Airways prices out per segment. It is 12,500 Avios for a BOS to DUB.
      But BOS – LHR – DUB is 24,500 Avios. +$186 because you’re flying on BA.

      What you want is the Aer Lingus direct flight which doesn’t show up on BritishAirways.com. You have to call to book. It may show up on United.com

      Reply

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