British Airways Avios have taken a pounding of late.
In 2015 AMEX reduced the transfer ratio from Membership Rewards into Avios from 1:1 to 5:4.
In 2016 American forced British Airways to increase the cost of short-haul flights that touched the United States from 4.5K to 7.5K.
Later in 2016 American wiped out their saver award space across the board. Routes like NYC-Toronto went from having space multiple times per day to not having any space no matter when you wanted to travel.
It wasn’t all bad news.
In November 2016 the cost to use Avios to fly domestic first class on American actually dropped as they started pricing those flights as business class instead of first class. Of course that requires being able to actually find American saver award space.
And now you can once again transfer AMEX points to Avios at parity. It’s actually even better than before as you can transfer as little as 250 points at a time rather than having to transfer increments of 1,000 points.
Points transfer instantly, so if you find availability you can transfer from AMEX and have them in your BA Avios account right away. Just logout and log back into BA to see the points.
You can transfer points from most AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points, such as Blue, Green, Gold, Platinum, Everyday, and Everyday Preferred.
You can view credit card offers by hovering over the “Credit Cards” tab. You can then click on “Credit Cards From All Banks“ to find card offers via the logo of the bank you’re looking for.
As you may recall from the “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios” post, you can transfer British Airways Avios back and forth to Iberia Avios and Avios.com Avios. Each of those programs have different partner airlines and different award charts.
Of course there’s no reason to transfer now unless you need to fly now. We should see some lucrative transfer bonuses in the future.
About British Airways Avios:
In 2011 BA launched the Avios program and it provides a great value for short-haul flights.
Unfortunately their domestic OneWorld partner, American, has been stingy with award availability of late. You’ll want to search for saver awards on AA.com to check the availability on your desired routes before transferring miles.
-There are no expedite or close-in fees for last minute award ticket bookings with BA Avios. That saves you $75 compared to other programs.
-Earning or redeeming any amount of Avios extends your entire account validity for another 36 months.
-You can cancel tickets and redeposit miles for the lesser of $55 or the taxes you paid. That means you pay just $5.60 to cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and you always should book domestic flights as one-ways). That saves you up to $200 compared to other programs when you need to cancel.
-British Airways only charges 10% extra miles for a lap child flying internationally, even when traveling on AA. AA and other domestic carriers charge a whopping 10% of the full fare, which can add up to be a small fortune.
-Points transfer instantly from AMEX to BA and there are no fees or taxes for transferring points to British Airways.
-You can save Avios on some routes by transferring points from BA Avios into Iberia Avios. Iberia’s awards start at just 11K Avios round-trip.
-You can search American and Alaska award availability on AA.com by looking for sAAver awards. BA can’t book AAnytime awards, but you should be able to find all AA sAAver awards on BA.com. BA.com does not display all available awards on all airlines, airlines like Alaska, Aer Lingus, and LATAM have to be booked over the phone. Additionally you will have to call BA to make a booking if you see a sAAver award on AA.com that’s not showing on BA.com.
I’ve booked dozens of short-haul tickets using Avios for travel on American. A Cleveland-NYC ticket can cost $1,200 round-trip if you don’t stay for at least 3 days or if you book last-minute. But BA allows me to use just 15,000 Avios for that same flight, a whopping value of over 13 cents per mile.
-Avoiding fuel surcharges:
-There are no fuel surcharges for travel on American within the Western Hemisphere. Flights start at 7,500 Avios plus $5.60.
-Air Berlin flights still have no fuel surcharges systemwide and remain the cheapest way to get to Israel. They have flights to Israel from Berlin for 10K Avios. Flights to several US cities cost just 20K Avios.
- Aer Lingus flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide, these flights can only be booked over the phone.
- Alaska flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide, these flights can only be booked over the phone.
- LATAM flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. Some of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
- Flights within Australia, Europe, Japan, and many other countries and regions have little to no fuel surcharges.
- There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Qantas within or from Australia.
- Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are also very low or non-existent and you don’t even need to fly all the way to Hong Kong (though you should-great city with awesome kosher food, airport lounges with kosher food, and a business or first class flight you’ll never forget!) to get a taste of their awesome bed, seat, pajamas, and amenities. They fly a daily 777 nonstop between JFK and Vancouver which I reviewed in this trip report.
- You can significantly cut the fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios
- British Airways 5th Freedom Flights (flights that don’t depart from or arrive to the UK) have significantly lower fees. For example even though Singapore-Sydney is a longer flight than NYC-London the fees in first class on Singapore-Sydney are less than half of those from NYC-London.
- As long as you have earned a single Avios within the past 12 months then fuel surcharges for intra-Europe and intra-Africa flights will be very low. You can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, or Starwood to activate that benefit.
Here is the BA Avios award chart for flying on a single partner airline. Rates are for each segment flown.
|1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)||1-650||4.5K||9K||18K|
|1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)||1-650||7.5K||15K||30K|
- 4,500 Avios is enough for a one-way short-haul ticket from London-Milan, Iguazu Falls-Sao Paulo, Johannesburg-Victoria Falls, Hong Kong to Taiwan, Melbourne to Sydney, and between most cities within Europe.
- 7,500 Avios is enough for a one-way short-haul ticket between New York and places like Bermuda, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, Montreal, Pittsburgh, or Toronto, or between Miami and the Bahamas or Cancun, or between LA and Cabo on OneWorld partner American.
- 10,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between Germany or Austria and Tel Aviv, Chicago and LA, Hong Kong to Singapore, or JFK to Cancun, S. Maarten, or S. Juan,
- 12,500 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between New York and the west coast
- 15,000 Avios is enough for a one-way business class flight between NYC and Toronto or Bermuda or between Miami and most destinations in the Caribbean.
- 20,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between Dallas and Hawaii or New York and London (though you’ll be hit with fuel surcharges for crossing the Atlantic on most airlines). It’s also enough for a one-way flight nonstop flight between NYC or Chicago and Dublin or Shannon, Ireland with no fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus.
- 25,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between New York and Brazil or Argentina.
- 30,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between New York and Tel Aviv on Air Berlin with no fuel surcharges.
- 35,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between the US and Hong Kong in coach.
- 37,500 Avios is enough for a one-way flight in lie-flat business class on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver with no fuel surcharges. It’s also enough to fly from Boston to Ireland in lie-flat business class on Aer Lingus with no fuel surcharges, though you’ll need to call to book.
- 50,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight in lie-flat first class on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver with no fuel surcharges.