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The Master Guide to using British Airways Avios – 9 must reads!

2013-09-02_20-37-09British Airways Avios can be one of the tougher and yet more rewarding programs. They pass on fuel surcharges but only with some partners. Some routes are cheaper than the other airlines and some routes more expensive. Luckily I’ve written a number of articles to make the process a lot easier.

Another reason to brush up on Avios is simply because everyone transfers to British Airways: Chase, SPG, Amex and there were rumors of Citi being able to transfer to Avios but I guess that never panned out. So taking a minute to understand Avios is extremely relevant to any points collector.

So let me quick outline the difficulties and advantages.

The first challenge, as I mentioned, is that they charge fuel surcharges. However, certain airlines don’t have any fuel surcharges to pass on so I highly recommend flying on those airlines.

Another trouble is that they charge per segment. This means that sometimes when there are no direct flights flown or available, you have to buy two tickets. This isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it means that you pay quite a bit more.

And because it’s a distance-based program, meaning you are charged more for miles, it has it’s ups and downs. Really long direct flights tend to be over priced. However there are some advantages too.

I wrote a series on examples of using stopovers to save miles. The concept is based on noticing a kind of discrepancy in the award chart. So the following award chart is taking the distance of the flight you want to redeem to determine price. Flights under 650 miles cost 4,500 Avios, and so on.

British Airways award chart

Look at this. If you fly 5,501 miles you pay 30,000 Avios. Yet, if you fly 2,999 miles, you pay 12,500.

In other words, two 2,999 mile flights is cheaper (25,000 Avios) than one 5,501 mile flight.

I’ll take one example. LA to Sydney is 50,000 Avios. However, LA to Hawaii is 12,500 Avios and Hawaii to Sydney is 25,000 Avios.

Yes, by stopping in Hawaii (for as long as you want), you can save 12,500 each direction. Not a bad way to save Avios.

9 Articles of use.

If all these things are intriguing or something you’d like to learn more about, here are 9 articles that will set you on the right path.

Choosing the right airlines to avoid fuel surcharges when using British Airways Avios

Avoid fuel surcharges to Europe – How to use BA Avios to book on Iberia and Aer Lingus

And for the beginners, How to find and book an award flight on British Airways Avios

And for those interested in maximizing your current Avios with stopovers, I highly recommend the must read series on Stopovers to Save Avios:

This is nearly everything you need to know about Avios. I hope this is a helpful resource for anyone in the community, as I’m very confident that there are tons of British Airways Avios floating around.

Basically I’m hoping this can help you learn to use your Avios well, cheaply and to see more places! And by sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter, you might help someone else use their Avios well.

Related Posts:

28 Comments

  1. Excellent material. I’ve found Avios to be highly useful as a niche program for short-haul expensive flights, but I like the discussion as well on using them for long hauls with stopovers. Have you done study on the merits of when to hold and when to use Avios in a BA account vs. an Iberia account? Since U.S. credit card users get Avios mostly through BA, I think we may not always consider that Iberia uses the same currency for their program. What are the pluses and minuses of the fees, availability, usefulness of the website, etc.?

    Reply
    • Agreed. I used Avios to get to Salzburg from Hamburg this week. :-p
      I have not really looked into that, or compared, but it is a great idea. Will have to get to that! Thanks Dave!

      Reply
  2. “However, LA to Hawaii is 12,500 Avios and Hawaii to Sydney is 37,500 Avios.”

    I think you meant “Hawaii to Sydney is 25,000 Avios”.

    Reply
    • Changed it. Thanks! 😉

      Reply
  3. I recently discovered your blog and I have to say yours is the most informational blog for newbies like me.
    I am reading multiple articles everyday and am very excited to apply all this knowledge.
    Most importantly your posts are not targeted to apply only credit cards.
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Awesome. Hopefully we’ll continue to publish posts you find helpful. And because that’s our goal, it’s always good to hear which posts people find helpful. So thanks!

      Reply
    • I agree that this blog is quite informational. I’ve followed this blog for a while. But I’ve found that it’s becoming less useful overtime because the contents seem a bit repetitive. For example, this article doesn’t really offer anything new other than serving as a placeholder for the other articles.

      However, I do understand that while it’s easy to churn out posts like “Top 9 credit cards of September”, it is quite hard to always come up with new and original content.

      I hope my comment does not offend you, it is meant as a constructive criticism. If it does not seem so, it’s totally due to my incompetency as expressing my opinion as such.

      Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear that.

      I must say though, I’m quite shocked to hear that. I don’t know how long you’ve been following travelisfree.com, but even a year ago, the posts were all trip reports and deals. “Groupon deals of the week” and credit card posts. Because I had very little innovation, until this year.

      In fact, a year ago, I had an innovating post on British Airways, mentioned above. Blogs show newest content and not the bests, so I find it’s helpful to have posts that our a year old and really good surfaced.

      Since then, especially this year, I feel as though I’ve had a number of innovative posts – especially with United. And especially in the Newsletter.

      Plus, I think it’s rare that anyone posts or discovers anything new, unless it’s a promotion. Even the best posts on other blogs are information written well… but it’s not original.

      Still, maybe others feel the same way. So despite my trying to innovate once in a while, maybe I should do more deal and credit card posts. I know people like to know the latest deals.
      Actually, Maybe I should express new views. Talk about new programs and things like that.
      I think that is one thing I can take away from comment. Plus, perhaps not to beat the discoveries to death, like not do so many post hacking United and etc?

      So thanks for your feedback. Like I said, I feel like my knowledge has increased a ton lately, but if I presenting it in a tiring or repetitive way, it would explain you feeling the way you do.
      Drew

      Reply
    • “Actually, Maybe I should express new views. Talk about new programs and things like that. I think that is one thing I can take away from comment. Plus, perhaps not to beat the discoveries to death, like not do so many post hacking United and etc? -”

      Drew,
      This is what I would like to see. And please don’t do more deals and credit card posts. I assume your audience is fairly advance and thus they’re already bombarded with deals and credit card posts from the boardingarea blogs :-)

      Reply
  4. I personally hate the Avios program, because for trips from the US to certain regions of the world, there’s absolutely no way to avoid fuel surcharges. However, I do think it’s useful that British Airways shows Oneworld award space in their search engine. What I was wondering is does British Airways’ award search engine show all Oneworld award space, that is possible to use when booking American awards by phone? Another question I have is on American award flights, can the stopover in the North American gateway be in a city that’s not an American hub?

    Reply
    • Yea, it is kind of niche. Better for domestic and certain airliners. I say it’s my filler for UA and AA.

      BA’s website does show all of it’s partners. However, it often doesn’t appear that way as it will often only show direct flights. In other words, most of the time it doesn’t make the connections for you, like if there are no direct flights to Bali it won’t show anything – while other websites will show a layover in Hong Kong. Yet, it will show award space to HKG and from HKG to DPS. If that makes sense?

      Yes! As long as it’s the first or last connection into North America (including Mexico). You might enjoy this article on it: http://travelisfree.com/2013/07/06/the-only-good-thing-about-american-airlines-stopover-rules/

      Reply
  5. Hi! Can you or did you blog in the past about what steps (Alliance memberships, credit cards, and other steps) a newbie should take? Some basic information – broken down into steps, please

    Reply
  6. Hi,

    Thanks for the information. I am quite new in this mileage thing and have a quick question on Avios: how can I book the US domestic flight (which yielded the highest $ per avios) in the BA website? i tried to book one and i received an error message saying BA doesnt have traffic rights to fly between US cities.

    Thanks
    Mike

    Reply
    • This does not sound like a normal error. I’ve booked many flights in the US using Avios, on BA’s site. So not sure what to say. Perhaps, try searching by segment. For example, there are no direct flights from my home Charlottesville, to LA. I’d have to search CHO to Chicago first. And then search Chicago to LA. See if that changes the results. Hope that’s all it is…

      Reply
  7. Drew–I am looking at a flight that is a hopper -goes from UIO-CUZ stops for 30 minutes, then the same plane goes from CUZ-LIM. Would BA count this is two segments or just one? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Touch the ground its counted as two.

      Reply
  8. please i have a question. I need to buy a ticket at british airways I have no avios, the ticket price is 60 pounds, i can only pay 57 pounds by credit card. Can i pay the rest on avios? how can I?

    thanks

    Reply
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    Reply
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    Reply
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    Reply
  14. I have over 200,000 avios collected over a number of years thinking I could use them to fly to Australia. I have tried , through BA, 3 times, as far ahead as 9 months. I have NEVER been able to get a seat. The BA people have not been helpful whatsoever , it seemed they had no interest in helping me. I think the fact that I was using American and then Qantas airlines and not flying east using BA was the reason for their disinterest.
    Last year I flew to Britain using BA, desperate to use some Avios, I flew Premium economy (which was very disappointing) it took 40,000 avios AND almost $900 .
    Any ideas ? And what else can I use these avios on, or can I sell them ?
    Thanks VRoberts

    Reply
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    Reply
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