To finish this series on saving money when using British Airways Avios, this last post is about the airlines that fly to Europe that do not have fuel surcharges at all.
The biggest complaint with British Airways Avios is that when people go to book flights to Europe they end up paying $600+ just in fuel surcharges. This is a very reasonable complaint seeing as there are full fare tickets that earn miles for that price in off peak times. Yet, Europe seems to be the most common destination that Americans would like to visit. Once again, I say the worst use of British Airways Avios is flights on British Airways itself. However, there are options to Europe that do not show up on britishairways.com. The two best options for getting to Europe while avoiding fuel surcharges might be Iberia and Aer Lingus.
In the second post in this series, I talk about the best airlines to avoid fuel surcharges with British Airways Avios. You may notice that Air Berlin is actually a really great option as they do not have any fuel surcharges. But this post is about finding availability and Iberia and Aer Lingus are almost secret partners. They aren’t bookable on their website.
Well, here’s the deal… Iberia is bookable on British Airways site but it includes fuel surcharges. However, since British Airways and Iberia merged, you’ve been able to book flights on Iberia’s site using Avios which does not have fuel surcharges. So if you’re going to book a flight on Iberia using Avios do it on Iberia.com.
However, things have been made a little more complicated and people have had all kinds of trouble to get points to post. Here are some tips to help you avoid hassle:
- Make sure your basic information is the same in both your BA and Iberia accounts.
- The ability to transfer online is no longer available to us foreigners. So apparently if you change your address to a UK address, the ability appears instantly online. (Also note that you can not change your address back for 6 months).
- A few people have encountered difficultly on the phone when calling to transfer points. Some people on FT reported that they were told they had to have points already in Iberia. So people have bought Iberia Avios for 45 Euros to get an account activated or transfered in from a 3rd party like American Express MR Points.
- Also note that it seems that people with HouseHold Accounts are not able to transfer to back to British Airways from Iberia.
- Finally, you need to have an Iberia Account that is 3 months old before you can transfer. So if you have British Airways Avios you should just go ahead and open an account with Iberia.
If you have decided to switch your residence to the UK, here’s how you can transfer points from BA to Iberia:
- Register for an Iberia Plus account.
- Find your desired flight and the cost.
- Then log on to your Exectutive Club account on britishairways.com and click Manage My Account.
- Click combine points.
- Enter both your BA and IB account numbers.
If you are not currently (or suddenly) a resident of the UK, you can still call to transfer Avios from British Airways to Iberia. Hopefully once the points are in your Iberia account you’ll be able to book a flight using their search engine easily.
Aer Lingus has gotten to be a popular choice for using Avios to Europe since their Boston to Dublin flight is only 12,500 Avios each way. This is not only a great value of points it’s a great way to avoid fuel surcharges. While Aer Lingus is no longer a parter of OneWorld Alliance, they have built a codeshare partnership with British Airways. Redeeming points can be as easy as calling, you just have to know where to look.
- Qantas Airlines and their search engine is a great free tool for searching for OneWorld flights and partners, and in this case, their search engine pulls up Aer Lingus flights. Again, Qantas is free and has a great search engine.
- ExpertFlyer is the best way to search for award flights with AerLingus but it’s a paid program.
Once you find your seats, you have to call in to book.
Also, Aer Lingus is one of the airlines that allows you to pay Avios & Money. This could be a ridiculously good value depending on your goals. Are you aiming for free or great value? I guess it depends on how much you’ll end up traveling.
Between Air Berlin, Iberia and Aer Lingus, you should be able to find a way to Europe and completely avoid fuel surcharges. This series combined with my series on Using Stopovers to Save Avios can make Avios not only affordable but extremely valuable.