Best Ways to Use British Airways Avios: The Sweet Spots

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There are several sweet spots for British Airways Avios. Almost all of them require booking with One World partner airlines but once you get the hang of booking with alliance partners, you’ll find the process quite easy and the rewards very valuable. These are some of the best ways to use British Airways Avios and if you haven’t read my Guide to Booking British Airways Avios, you might want to check it out first.  

1) North America to Europe

Avios can be one of the best ways to get to Europe. The real sweet spots are when you fly British Airways partners, because the fuel surcharges are so high going to Europe. The only caveat is that the sweet spots are reserved mostly for those departing from the East Coast. 

I’ll first take a look at economy redemptions:

A. Avios economy redemptions

Aer Lingus

  • 25,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin

Update: Aer Lingus now operates on a new award chart — read more here

Air Berlin

  • 40,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 50,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 50,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000 to 75,000 
  • American Airlines: 45,000 to 60,000
  • ANA: 55,000 
  • Delta: 60,000 to 82,000*
  • Flying Blue: 50,000
  • Singapore Airlines: 34,000 (from IAH/East Coast to western Europe and with online 15% discount; heavy surcharges likely) 
  • United: 60,000 

As you can see, Avios, when departing from the East Coast, can be among the cheapest routes to  get to Europe.

*Use the figures for Delta as estimates, as I was unable to find the cheapest fare for some routes and there is no award chart available. 

B. Avios business class redemptions

Update: Check out my article on using Iberia Avios to book business class tickets to Europe for updated information on Avios sweet spots. 

The sweet spots begin to dissipate as you look at business class, however.

Aer Lingus

  • 75,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 120,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin

Air Berlin

  • 120,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 120,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 150,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 150,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 110,000 miles
  • American Airlines: 115,000
  • ANA: 88,000
  • Delta: 125,000
  • Korean Air: 80,000
  • United: 115,000 miles (140,000 miles if booked with alliance partner)

As you can see, the only true sweet spot would be going from Boston to Dublin for 75,000 Avios round trip. Outside of that, you’re spending far more miles than what just about every other program requires and you’re still restricted geographically.

2) North America to Hawaii

When flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, Avios offers one of the best redemptions. For this particular redemption, you’ll be flying with American Airlines or Alaskan Airlines, which gives you access to a number of departing locations all along the West Coast and Alaska.

A. Avios economy redemptions

  • 25,000 Avios – West Coast to Hawaii

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 45,000
  • American Airlines: 45,000
  • ANA: 40,000
  • Delta: 45,000
  • Korean Air: 25,000
  • United: 45,000
  • Singapore Airlines: 35,000 

Korean Air allows for a stopover so I’d have to give the edge to them for possibly the best Hawaii redemption. However, the good thing about going with Avios is that you book one-ways, they are easier to accumulate, and you don’t have to jump through the hoops that Korean Air requires you to jump through.

B. Avios business class redemptions

Getting from the West Coast to Hawaii in business class with Avios is still somewhat of a sweet spot compared to other major airlines, although you can do better by going with airlines like Korean Air, ANA, Singapore, etc.

  • 75,000 Avios – West Coast to Hawaii

Note: if you used Iberia Avios for this redemption you could get it as low as 62,500 Avios roundtrip (but you can’t book one ways on American with Iberia).

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 80,000
  • American Airlines: 80,000 
  • ANA: 68,000
  • Delta: 110,000
  • Korean Air: 45,000
  • United: 80,000
  • Singapore Airlines: 60,000

3) North America to South America

Avios can offer you some of the best redemption rates for getting to South America. You’ll usually be flying on LAN, TAM, or American Airlines.

A. Avios economy redemptions

Take a look at economy rates for getting to two popular South American destinations, Lima and Santiago Chile from Texas and New York. The distances between these destinations stays in Zones 5 and 6 for Avios so the rates are pretty reasonable but the sweet spot is getting to destinations in the southern part of South America, such as Santiago.

  • 40,000  Avios -DFW/JFK to LIM
  • 50,000  Avios – DFW/JFK to SCL

Compare these rates to other airlines:

Getting to Lima 

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 35,000
  • ANA: 55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • Flying Blue: 35,000
  • United: 40,000

Getting to SCL

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 60,000
  • ANA: 55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • Flying Blue: 50,000
  • Korean Air: 50,000
  • United: 60,000

If you’re wanting to get to Lima, the Avios redemption rate is competitive but you might want to consider other options to save up to 5,000 miles. However, if you’re heading straight to Santiago, Chile, Avios can get you there with one of the best rates at 50,000.

Note: As discussed later on, you should always consider booking long international trips (like those to South America) with multiple segments to maximize the value of your redemptions. More on that below.

B. Avios business class redemptions

For the most part, the business class redemptions to South American from North America are not great and a lot of them are very terrible but I’ve included them for your reference and the sake of completeness. Here’s a look at some of the redemptions and how they stack up against the competition.

  • 75,000 Avios – MIA to LIM
  • 120,000  Avios -DFW to LIM
  • 150,000  Avios – DFW to SCL

Compare these rates to other airlines:

Getting to Lima 

  • Aeroplan: 75,000
  • American Airlines: 60,000
  • ANA:  88,000
  • Delta: 150,000
  • Flying Blue: 87,500
  • Korean Air: 110,000
  • United: 70,000

Getting to SCL

  • Aeroplan: 110,000
  • American Airlines: 115,000
  • ANA: 88,000
  • Delta: 150,000
  • Flying Blue: 125,000
  • Korean Air: 110,000
  • United: 110,000

Based on these comparisons, I’d recommend going with another program if you want to fly business class to South America from North America.

4) North America to Mexico or the Caribbean

Using Avios to get to Mexico and various Caribbean destinations can be a great way to redeem. As you can tell from a couple of the examples I’ve posted, the deals can be great even if you are flying from the Northeast or Midwest.

A. Avios economy redemptions

Getting to Mexico

  • 15,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 20,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 40,000
  • American Airlines: 30,000
  • ANA: 30,000
  • Delta: 35,000
  • Flying Blue: 25,000 miles
  • Korean Air: 25,000 miles
  • United: 35,000

Getting to the Caribbean (Jamaica)

  • 20,000 Avios – ORD to MBJ (Jamaica)
  • 25,000 Avios – LAX to MBJ

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 40,000
  • American Airlines: 25,000
  • ANA: 55,000
  • Delta: 35,000 
  • Flying Blue: 30,000
  • Korean Air: 35,000
  • United: 35,000

It kind of surprised me that Avios was one of the best ways to get to Mexico and the Caribbean, from places like New York and Chicago but the numbers don’t lie!

B. Avios business class redemptions

When flying from hubs in the southern part of the country, the redemptions for business class are an absolute steal to Mexico and the Caribbean, assuming you can find direct shots. Even when you’re departing from northern states, the redemption rates are still very competitive.

Getting to Mexico

  • 30,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 60,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 50,000
  • ANA: 55,000 
  • Delta: 57,500 
  • Flying Blue: 62,500
  • Korean Air: 45,000
  • United: 60,000

Getting to the Caribbean (Jamaica)

  • 40,000 Avios – DFW to MBJ (Jamaica)
  • 60,000 Avios – ORD to MBJ

Compare these rates to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 50,000
  • ANA: 80,000
  • Delta: 57,500
  • Flying Blue: 60,000
  • Korean Air: 75,000
  • United: 60,000

5) Short haul economy flights in North America

The recent devaluation to short-haul flight redemptions with Avios was a pretty big hit to the program but there’s still some pretty good redemptions to be had. The devaluation basically did away with the first zone and made it so that the cheapest short-haul flight in economy would require 7,500 Avios, and business and first class were changed to Zone 2’s requirements as well.

Even with that devaluation, it’s still a good deal to use Avios for flights 2,000 miles and under in the U.S. because you can save 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Getting around the United States

  • 15,000 Avios for routes up to 1,150 miles (e.g., MIA – JFK)
  • 20,000 Avios 1,151 miles to 2,000 miles (e.g., SFO – IAH)
  • 25,000 Avios 2,001 miles to 3,000 miles (e.g., LAX – JFK)

Compare these rates for getting around the U.S. to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 15,000 (very short-haul flights) to 25,000
  • American Airlines: 25,000
  • ANA: 30,000
  • Delta: 25,000
  • Flying Blue: 25,000
  • Korean Air: 25,000
  • United: 25,000

6) Intra-continental flights in South America

Avios can also be used effeciently to book intra-continental flights in South America. I’ve recently used Avios to book some pretty otherwise expensive flights between Lima and Santiago. The particular flight I booked costed $2,000 for a one-way business class ticket. I used 20,000 Avios for a 10 cent per point redemption, a great value that you usually find on higher-end first class suites.

These kind of redemptions can be had in other continents, too. I’d always do some research on One World partners in Africa, Australia, and Asia in order to seek out valuable Avios redemptions.

7) Creative Routings 

The final “sweet spot” is something I first discovered via Travel Is Free but if you’ve studied Avios, you’ll likely be aware of it.

Basically, sometimes it’s cheaper to book multiple legs with Avios than it is do book a straight shot. An example from Travel Is Free shows that it requires 50,000 Avios to get from LAX to Sydney, Australia. However, if you broke this up so that you fly from LAX -> Hawaii -> Sydney, the total Avios required would be 37,500 Avios due to quirks in the award chart.

These quirks can be taken advantage of with different routes all over the world and it’s something to be aware of any time you’re looking to book a long flight. I recommend using this tool from the Wandering Aremean to see possible routing options (although note that it’s limited to a single connection). 

Final Word

These are some of my top sweet spots for Avios and I think they show that despite recent devaluations, Avios can still be extremely valuable and offer some of the best redemptions available.

Cover Photo by uwe_gompf_66 via Flickr.

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