British Airways is a distance-based program but has a funny chart. 7,002 literal miles costs 50,000 Avios but flying 3,999 literal miles costs 20,000. Therefore it’s cheaper to fly two flights under 4,000 Avios. This is a series explaining that concept and this is a post giving specifics for using Avios to get across the Pacific.
- Using Stopovers to Save Avios to South America
- Using Stopovers to Save Avios Across the Pacific
- Using Stopovers to Save Avios to Europe
- Using Stopovers to Save Avios to India
One of the more odd things British Airways’ website does it try to route you through London (BA’s hub) on every ticket in order to get you on a BA flight (where they charge high fuel surcharges). Though I admit, the pacific airliners do this too – JAL, Qantas and least of all Cathay. But oddly enough, on a ticket to Hong Kong, britishairways.com will still try to route you through London for $500 and 70,000 Avios. Don’t do that unless you really want a London stopover and are insane.
Let’s get right to it! Examples (one-ways):
Here is a big one. Flying from Los Angeles to Sydney costs 50,000 Avios. But flying Los Angeles to Sydney via Hawaii costs 37,500 Avios. Huge savings of 25,000 on a roundtrip.
- LAX – HNL = 12,500
- HNL – SYD = 25,000
Hawaii is certainly the best way to get to Sydney from the United States. The One World Alliance route for NYC – SYD is via LAX anyways… in which case you’re right in the same boat. Dallas to Hawaii is 20,000 which is still a cheaper route to Sydney (totaling 45,000 Avios). Plus, routing through Hawaii is just awesome.
With Asia, American Airlines has a few options but most connections too far away are going to get routed through Hong Kong (with Cathay Pacific) or Tokyo (JAL). If you’re going to Singapore for example, you’re just trying to find which of the two is the cheapest option and in many cases you’ll find which port from the US you’ll want to connect in.
So calculate from your US city to Tokyo and Hong Kong:
- LAX – TYO = 25,000
- LAX – HKG = 35,000
And then from each of those to your destination like Bangkok:
- TYO – BKK = 12,500
- HKG – BKK = 7,500
Total cost of Avios from Los Angeles to Bangkok:
- via Tokyo = 37,500
- via Hong Kong = 42,500
It could be made a little more complicated when you factor fuel. It’s more helpful if you fly AA to Tokyo as Japan Airline can have high fuel surcharges. Even 60% higher fuel prices than Cathay. So if you’re not at an AA hub, it might be worth the trip to Hong Kong (plus I like Hong Kong more than Tokyo).
It’s also made a little more complicated when you add an extra domestic leg as a variable. For example, it’s the exact same cost in Avios from Chicago to Bangkok.
- ORD – HKG (35,000 Avios) + HKG – BKK (7,500) = 42,500
- ORD – NRT (30,000 Avios) + NRT – BKK (12,500) = 42,500
Given that info, you can decide which is cheaper to get to from your home town, Chicago or LA. If it’s still all tied, go with cheapest taxes or your favorite premium cabin (Cathay).
The only other thing I’ll briefly comment on is a voyage to India. India is on the opposite side of the world and thus the shorter distance (routing through Asia or Europe) depends on which side of the country your on. But fuel charges are almost always higher on British Airways flights (aka via London) unless you don’t make LHR a stopover, then it comes pretty close. But we’ll talk about that in the Atlantic Stopover post of this Avios series.
I hope more than anything this teaches the thinking behind finding the cheapest routes as it would be impossible to give every route example. Still, it’s nice to have examples to work with. So post comments with routes, destinations and starting points you’d like to see dealt with. Also, if you enjoy or are tired of reading about Avios stopovers… let me know.