British Airways is a well-known airline that offers some great redemption opportunities.
British Airways Avios is a partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. They also have a co-branded credit card with Chase, making it pretty easy for people to earn Avios. But because the British Airways Avios chart is distance-based, some people are still not clear on how the redemptions work.
This article will explain how the British Airways Avios Award Chart works and how to best take advantage of it with sweet spots and help from the reward redemption calculator.
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British Airways distance-based awards
The BA award chart utilizes a distance-based redemption scheme.
This means that your mileage requirements are determined based on the length of miles flown for a single journey (i.e., a one-way journey). Compare this to traditional award charts that determine your mileage requirements based on the different regions you are traveling to.
This is simple enough to figure out but this chart also goes by both a peak and an off-peak calendar. Two thirds of the year is off-peak, so the majority of the prices will be cheaper throughout the year. When booking reward flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates, or a mixture of the two.
- You can click here to see the British Airways peak and off-peak calendar for 2019.
If you book a partner award with Avios, you’ll be going by the off-peak rates (unless you’re booking Aer Lingus or Iberia flights).
However, if you’re booking partner awards with connections between two or more oneworld airlines, this partner chart will apply. This chart can result in significantly more expensive award prices at times, so I would generally try to avoid using Avios to book flights with two or more oneworld partners.
You can see this oneworld Avios partner chart below.
The British Airways Avios award chart
Below is the British Airways distance-based award chart.
Reward flight calculator
British Airways also has a Reward Flight Calculator you can use to help figure out your mileage requirements.
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Calculating mileage requirements with the Avios chart
To find your mileage requirement, you’ll calculate the length of each each segment of a given flight and then find the corresponding zone for that distance. If a connecting segment puts you above a certain zone, then you will have to pay that price even though the straight-line distance between your origin and destination falls in a lower zone.
Here’s an example of how to determine the Avios needed by the Avios chart:
- Determine if you have you are flying with two or more oneworld partners — if so use the partner BA award chart.
- Determine if you are choosing off-peak or peak dates (remember, these can be mixed)
- I’ll go with off-peak for this example.
- Determine the distance of each segment of your journey. So if you were flying JFK-LHR-OSL, you would determine the mileage between JFK and LHR (3,452 miles) and then again for LHR and OSL (751 miles).
- Determine the BA award chart zones of your segments and their corresponding Avios requirements
- (3,452 miles = Zone 5 = 13,000 Avios) and
- (751 miles = Zone 2 = 7,500 miles).
- By adding up the Avios required for each zone, you would determine your total Avios needed (13,000 + 7,500 = 20,500) Avios.
This award structure allows you to string together multiple stop-overs for cheap, which is always something to think about doing with BA Avios.
To figure out the distance of each of your one-way journeys, use the Great Circle Mapper.
*You should note that British Airways explicitly removed the Boston to Dublin route from Zone 4 to Zone 5 even though that route is under 3,000 miles. Also, short-haul flight within North America under 651 miles will be counted in Zone 2 and will require 7,500 miles.
Best uses for the British Airways Avios award chart
Now that you know how to find the prices for different awards, let’s take a look at some good uses of BA Avios that really show the different ways to maximize the BA award chart.
1. East Coast to Europe
- Off-peak: 26,000 Avios
- Peak: 40,000 Avios
- Off-peak: 100,000 Avios
- Peak: 120,000 Avios
Even after the 2016 devaluation, the British Airways reward chart offer some decent rates to Europe. The above rate could get you a roundtrip to Dublin from the following cities:
- New York City
- Washington DC
The fees on thee flights can be a bit high even when you use your Avios to book AA flights to Europe. Below is a roundtrip flight in economy using 55,000 Avios. Notice the Avios requirement is higher than 40,000 — that’s because these flights route from BOS-JFK-DUB. That small, quick connection through JFK tacks on 15,000 Avios. That’s something you definitely want to avoid.
The total fees for a roundtrip to Dublin with Avios on American Airlines comes out to $403. That’s pretty high considering the route below doesn’t even touch London (LHR) where fees usually spike.
It’s important to be aware that Iberia actually has better business class redemptions to Europe for many cities. These redemptions often require fewer points and less fees.
For example, look at the BA booking for a roundtrip from MIA to MAD flying in Iberia. The first image shows that BA would require 105,000 miles and over $1,000 in fees. Meanwhile, if you booked the same exact flight with Iberia, you would save $800!
So it could make sense to transfer your Avios over to Iberia if you were flying from Miami to Madrid for example. You can read more about those Iberia business class sweet spots here.
2. North America to Hawaii
- Economy: 25,000
- Business: 75,000
When flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, Avios offers one of the best redemptions. 12,000 Avios for a one way is fantastic and only Singapore Airlines beats out Avios. As a point of comparison, programs like United, Delta, and American would require over 20,000 miles for a one way for the same route!
For this particular redemption, you’ll be flying with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, which gives you access to a number of departing locations all along the West Coast and Alaska.
Availability for these routes can be very limited though so you’ll need to be very flexible. (Being able to book on short notice helps to take advantage of this route.) Fees are also negligible as shown by the below $5.60 fee for a one-way trip in economy.
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.
3) North America to South America
- Economy: 40,000+
The British Airways Avios chart can offer you some of the best redemption rates for getting to South America. You’ll usually be flying on Latam or American Airlines.
Take a look at economy rates for getting to two popular South American destinations, Lima and Santiago Chile from Texas and New York.
- 40,000 Avios -DFW/JFK to LIM
- 50,000 Avios – DFW/JFK to SCL
The distances between these destinations stays in Zones 5 and 6 of the Avios award chart so the rates are pretty reasonable. But the real sweet spot is getting to destinations in the southern part of South America, such as Santiago.
25,000 miles from DFW/JFK to SCL for a one-way in economy is among the best redemptions available for this route and a great sweet spot. And as shown by the MIA to LIM flight below, the fees can be very low when heading to South America with Avios.
4) North America to Mexico or the Caribbean
- Economy: 15,000+
- Business: 30,000+
Using British Airways Avios to get to Mexico and some Caribbean destinations can be a great way to use them. 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. The fees are pretty reasonable too (remember, many Caribbean destinations impose mandatory fees on flights).
Here are some roundtrip prices:
Getting to Mexico
- 15,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
- 20,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN
The DFW to CUN for 7,500 Avios one-way is extremely cheap. United would require 10,000 more miles for a one-way and American would require 2X the miles.
Getting to the Caribbean (Jamaica)
- 20,000 Avios – ORD to MBJ (Jamaica)
- 25,000 Avios – LAX to MBJ
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.
Here are some roundtrip prices:
- 30,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
- 60,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN
To show you how good this sweet spot is for the BA award chart, United would require 60,000 miles for a roundtrip business class redemption from DFW to CUN which is 30,000 more than Avios (and twice the price)!
5) Short-haul economy flights in North America
- Economy: 15,000+
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.
Here are some roundtrip prices:
- 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)
Other domestic carriers like Delta, United, and American would require several thousand more miles to book these short-haul flights.
The key with these is that you usually need to live by an American Airlines hub in order to take advantage of these redemptions. Otherwise, you’ll have to add connecting flights and those connections will cost you more Avios.
6) Intra-continental flights in South America
Avios can also be used efficiently 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.
But even the economy redemptions can be great because they are so much cheaper than other options. The below redemption is cheaper than what any other program would offer for this route. And it’s also a great redemption since a one-way economy could cost you $500+.
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
Sometimes it’s cheaper to book multiple segments with BA Avios than it is do book a straight shot.
One common example is 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.
Always be on the lookout for sweet spots like this.
Avios are actually a very valuable currency, especially if you’re located near an AA hub. The British Airways Avios Award Chart has several sweet spots that you can utilize to save a ton in miles and points and also allows you to get away with low fees. Generally, long-haul premium awards are not going to offer much value but as shown above short-haul and medium-haul flights can be some of the most valuable award redemptions.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.