Using Miles To Fly In Business Class For An 80 Minute Flight Can Make Sense.

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I typically don’t advise people to use the extra miles for business class on short flights with domestic seating.  Why use 80K United miles to fly from LAX to Hawaii in a business class that’s just domestic first seating that are a little wider and have a little extra legroom?  At least on United’s flights from Denver, Houston, and Newark to Honolulu they use something closer to an international business seat (and rumor has it they will be converted to lie-flats by the end of the year).

But take a look at New York to Toronto.  This is a route where British Airways shines.  AA and Delta charge 25K for this route and United charges 20K.  However BA charges just 9K of their miles to fly round-trip on partner AA in coach.

But let’s say you want to check 2 bags and don’t have AA, OneWorld, or Alaska elite status to waive baggage fees.  You’ll wind up paying $120 to check the bags round-trip.  Or you can fly in business class for 18K miles and get 3 free bags!  If you were planning on checking 2 bags that’s like paying 9K miles to save $120 round-trip, or a value of 1.33 cents per BA mile.  As American Express Membership Rewards points currently transfer into BA at a 1:1.5 ratio that’s getting a value of a whopping 2 cents per Membership Rewards point!  And that’s not even factoring that you get to sit in business class and that business class availability can be better than coach on short flights.  It’s also not factoring that a 3rd bag would normally cost $300 round-trip, but is free in business class.

The problem is that although AA charges double miles for business class on domestic flights, BA charges triple miles to fly in AA business class (as they call it first class) on domestic flights, so this “trick” will only work for a limited number of flights. For example for Cleveland-NYC BA would charge 27,000 miles in business, or an 18,000 miles premium over coach. This would make no sense to do if you are only checking 2 bags, though it would make sense if you needed 3 bags.

Examples of where booking business class for double the cost of coach may make sense include:
Airport Glossary:
BOS: Boston
CUN: Cancun
DFW: Dallas/Fort Worth
GCM: Grand Cayman
JFK: NYC/Kennedy
LAX: Los Angeles
LGA: NYC/Laguardia
MBJ: Montego Bay
MIA: Miami
ORD: Chicago/O’ Hare
SFO: S. Francisco
SJD: Cabo
SJU: S. Juan
STT: S. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
STX: S. Croix, US Virgin Islands
YUL: Montreal
YYZ: Toronto/Pearson

Route:
One-way miles in coach
One-way miles in business
Charge for 1st bag each way when flying coach
Charge for 2nd bag each way when flying coach
Charge for 3rd bag each way when flying coach
LGA-YYZ4,500 9,000 $25$35$150
ORD-YYZ4,500 9,000 $25$35$150
MIA-CUN4,500 9,000 Free$40$150
MIA-MBJ4,500 9,000 Free$40$150
MIA-GCM4,500 9,000 Free$40$150
MIA-SJU7,50015,000 $25$35$150
MIA-STT7,50015,000 $25$35$150
MIA-STX7,50015,000 $25$35$150
LAX-SJD7,50015,000 Free$40$150
DFW-CUN7,50015,000 Free$40$150
JFK-SJU10,000 20,000$25$35$150
BOS-STT10,000 20,000$25$35$150
JFK-STT10,000 20,000$25$35$150
DFW-YYZ10,000 20,000$25$35$150
DFW-YUL10,000 20,000$25$35$150
JFK-CUN10,000 20,000Free$40$150
DFW-SJU12,50025,000 $25$35$150
JFK-LAX12,50025,000 $25$35$150
JFK-SFO12,50025,000 $25$35$150

Find more good routes for booking business class with BA miles? Post a comment!

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33 Responses to “Using Miles To Fly In Business Class For An 80 Minute Flight Can Make Sense.”

  1. Hello Says:
    1

    So NYC – YUL does’nt work?

    ReplyReply
  2. Dan Says:
    2

    @Hello:
    I believe that NYC-YUL only has coach seating.

    ReplyReply
  3. RelatedToMendy Says:
    3

    Dan,

    You are awesome.

    ReplyReply
  4. #1 dan deals fan Says:
    4

    If were talking about miles would like to ask about an older post that you made anout an star alliance partner airlines i would like to know if i have 6000 pionts how many bags can i take with united from EWR- TLV
    Sorry for posting in a dufferent subject

    ReplyReply
  5. big fan Says:
    5

    hey dan,
    what would u put BA miles worth? would you sell for less than a cent.

    ReplyReply
  6. Dan Says:
    6

    @RelatedToMendy:
    :)

    @#1 dan deals fan:
    One bag is free. 2nd bag is $70.

    @big fan:
    Conventional wisdom says they’re worth about a penny each or so.
    I wouldn’t sell them as I have gotten great use out of them on short flights and longer flights like to Argentina.

    ReplyReply
  7. rcarentals Says:
    7

    so what number do i call to book award tickets like these? i cant seem to do it online?
    i want to book eze-jfk rtn using ba miles on AA.. any ideas how to do this?

    ReplyReply
  8. Tt Says:
    8

    I went yyz -JFK biz class 9k avios, That was the only availability. When I went to 1st class loung they said they can’t let me in so I used plat. Card

    ReplyReply
  9. al Says:
    9

    according to the post, does that mean that if i find a RT jfk to hnl for 75k, i cant get it from ba? they are gonna want 112k?

    ReplyReply
  10. c Says:
    10

    Mel-Syd
    or any of the short qantas flights in australia.

    ReplyReply
  11. Josef Says:
    11

    Hi I wanted to know what is the best way to use my 150,000 AMEX points and 80,000 Ultimate rewards with the sapphire prefered from chase to fly to Israel this summer with two adults one child and an infant. Thanks for your time.

    ReplyReply
  12. danrocks Says:
    12

    Mia-yyz is 20k coach decent value ($320 usual fare) 40k biz not good worth it just for luggage

    ReplyReply
  13. moshe Says:
    13

    i already booked MIA for 4500 avios and will travel with two bags. is there a way i can change/upgrade now to business using avios?

    ReplyReply
  14. bagsforfree Says:
    14

    Dan,
    Flying On American Airlines for Pesach to Florida with my family of 5, and will have 6 bags each way.
    Is there any way I can avoid $160 in baggage fees ($25 per passenger on the 1st bag and $35 for 2nd bag)???
    Please help!!!!!!

    ReplyReply
  15. sam Says:
    15

    Thanks for the post. How do you check if it’s going to be 18k or 27k? I used their calculator for lga-yyz and it says 27k for first, how do you know 18k?

    ReplyReply
  16. Dan Says:
    16

    @rcarentals:
    Search aa.com for sAAver seats, then plug those dates into ba.com and after searching click to include partners.

    @c:
    What does Qantas normally charge for baggage?

    @Josef:
    You may want to convert those points into USAirways miles this month only:
    http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/20403

    @moshe:
    NYC-MIA isn’t a flight that would work for this.

    @sam:
    Do business, not first.

    ReplyReply
  17. james Says:
    17

    Remember, with BA Avios you also benefit from no 21-day-or less award fee imposed by AA, but there is also the $25/ticket fee if not bookable online at BA.com (I haven’t been able to get BA to waive these fees lately). Also, taxes may be different on BA awards( I noticed this on the US-Mex. routes)

    ReplyReply
  18. yakov Says:
    18

    i can NEVER find availability from NYC- to FLL or MIA on BA via AA. NEVER.

    ReplyReply
  19. Dan Says:
    19

    @yakov:
    Then you don’t know how to include partners.
    Please post the dates you want to travel.

    ReplyReply
  20. New DD'er Says:
    20

    Dan,

    How come you have no links to any American Airlines mileage cards? I was reading the posts, and I really want to aim for the One World Mega Trip Pass (115k miles for up to 20 actual miles).

    I would like to apply for one or two of those cards so that I can get that OnePass. Got any links I should use? Alternatively do any other currencies transfer over to AA, such as UR, SPG, or Citi TYP?

    ReplyReply
  21. Al Says:
    21

    What about flights to the Caribbean on AA in Business Saver. BA is going to consider that “first class”?

    AA shows availability, but BA does not when selecting Club/Business. There is no option for First Class.

    Can you only book on the phone for AA business?

    ReplyReply
  22. Dan Says:
    22

    @New DD’er:
    There are 50K links, however those cards are extremely difficult to churn.
    And for spending you’re better with SPG than an AA card. 20K gets you 25K AA.

    Also beware that those awards are extremely inflexible, once booked you’re pretty much stuck.

    @Al:
    Search on AA.com for business sAAver availability. Once you find it BA.com will pull up those flights in business once you click to include partners.

    ReplyReply
  23. yakov Says:
    23

    would like to fly on chaol hamoed from nyc area (jfk,lga,ewr) to Florida (MIA,or FLL, do you know if any other area airports to check?) Cant find anything now, and have been looking since two months ago.

    ReplyReply
  24. Dan Says:
    24

    @yakov:
    There is a LGA-MIA flight on 04/10 at 8:15pm and there are multiple flights on 04/11.

    ReplyReply
  25. yakov Says:
    25

    I do see April 10th outgoing, but nothing returning till the end of April. Its very hard to find availability, it is only practical if you pay (or use mileage from a different airline) for the other direction. That is what I have done in the past with BA mileage.

    ReplyReply
  26. yakov Says:
    26

    Dan: I don’t know what the story is on the Cleveland route, but your prescription to check on AA.com for Economy saver, in order to find out if it will be available with BA just isn’t true. For example on AA.com you have mileage saver, outgoing on April 9,10,11,12. on BA you have only April 10th, a single flight.

    For return (Florda back to nyc) on AA.com you have April 10,11,12. On BA no incoming flights available till April 24th!

    ReplyReply
  27. Dan Says:
    27

    @yakov:
    If you’re looking on the AA.com calendar you need to select “non-stop only” as BA charges for each flight separately.

    If you find a nonstop flight on AA.com for sAAver miles it will almost always also be on BA.com when you include partners. On the forums at least 6 people have challenged ,e on this and each time I’ve proven them wrong.

    Note how for MIA-NYC on AA.com once you click nonstop there’s nothing from 04/05-04/24 in sAAver.

    ReplyReply
  28. azhoopsfan Says:
    28

    I’ve considered booking two business tickets with 2 economy tickets for the four in my family. Then asking two in economy to trade so we can sit together. This way we would get the bags for free but only have to pay extra for 2 tickets. This is also helpful when there are less than 4 economy seats available.

    ReplyReply
  29. Dan Says:
    29

    @azhoopsfan:
    Yup, that can make sense too.

    ReplyReply
  30. Helene Says:
    30

    Hi Dan. I need a round trip flight to Rome from new York may 10 returning may 22. BA says there is no availability with them or their partners, but AA has mile saver for 50,000 points. These flights have 1 stop each way. Is that a decent point value for coach? And why did BA not find availability?

    ReplyReply
  31. Dan Says:
    31

    BA.com is geared towards finding nonstop flights, try searching for each leg separately.

    ReplyReply
  32. bagsforfree Says:
    32

    Dan,
    Flying On American Airlines for Pesach to Florida with my family of 5, and will have 6 bags each way.
    Is there any way I can avoid $160 in baggage fees ($25 per passenger on the 1st bag and $35 for 2nd bag)???
    Please help!!!!!!

    Reply

    ReplyReply
  33. Ben Says:
    33

    I have same problem as bagsforfree does.
    Flying to FL with family for Pesach on AA, and dont want to pay for all the baggage! Is there any way to pay for the biz class upgrade and get the bags free? Worth it?

    ReplyReply

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