I’ve flown on tons of airlines, but never on British Airways. They may be a great airline with some of the best kosher meals in the sky and in the lounges, but they impose such heavy fuel surcharges that I’ve never had much of a desire to fly on them.
Don’t get me wrong, British Airways runs a good mileage program as long as you stick to airlines without fuel surcharges. That includes flights on Alaska, Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, LAN, USAirways, American flights within the Western Hemisphere, Qantas flights within Australia, etc. Flights within Europe and on Cathay Pacific also have low surcharges.
But flights on British Airways are just ridiculous. JFK-London-Tel Aviv and back in first class is 195,000 Avios plus $1,054.
I’ve heard through the grapevine about USAirways not collecting fuel surcharges for BA flights but posting something like that is sure to get it killed. I think it could have lasted a while had it stayed within the grapevine and talked about at seminars and the like. However lots of major websites and blogs are covering this story now, so I’m posting it now as well as it will surely die soon anyway.
BA forces airlines like Alaska and American to collect fuel surcharges for their flights, something that other airlines don’t do. You can use LAN kilometers to book BA flights without fuel surcharges, but that got much less attractive after Starwood slashed the overly generous transfer ratio to them.
I called USAirways to hold the first class itinerary pictured above and was quoted 180,000 miles plus $158.70 in tax and $50 award processing. In business class it would have been 120,000 miles.
The easiest way to search for availability for BA flights is on AA.com. Once you find what you want just call USAirways to book. You can’t book BA flights on USAirways.com. Be aware that USAirways has lots of incompetent agents, so it may take a few calls to find a rep who knows how to book BA flights.
You can transfer Starpoints to USAirways miles at a 20K:25K ratio.
You can transfer AMEX MR points at a 1:1 ratio into Air Canada Aeroplan and then from Air Canada to USAirways via Points.com. Up to 100,000 miles can be transferred out of one Aeroplan account per year and 100,000 miles would yield 84,011 USAirways miles.
It’s a great deal, enjoy it while it lasts as it won’t last long. And bear in mind that while you can hold tickets with USAirways for 3 days, they can add fuel surcharges into the quote until you actually confirm your ticket.