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Earlier this week I posted about now being the time to make some reward hotel and airline reservations for the 2013 ski season to lock in some of the pretty solid availability that is currently out there to/from many desirable destinations (if you haven’t already). I booked some nights during ski season at The Westin Beaver Creek Resort and Spa on Starwood Preferred Guest points. We visited that resort last year and loved it, so I am very excited to return. We did have some trouble driving back to Denver after our trip due to some weather, and subsequently missed our flight last year, so we were very interested in flying directly into Vail this year. Additionally, while it is sometimes unavoidable, tacking a several hours car ride with a little one after a flight isn’t usually the most ideal way to start a vacation.
While researching flight options, we saw that from Houston it was about $250 each to fly into Denver, and roughly double that amount to fly directly into Vail. Since tickets into Vail were roughly $500 per person, I was considering redeeming United miles for one or two of our flights to help keep the cost down, but I really didn’t want to do that as I am saving those miles for some “big trips” that we have on our horizon. Of all the options I was considering, I hadn’t really given much thought to using my British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines since there are no direct flighst from Houston to Vail on American. Since British Airways charges Avios based on each segment, I had somewhat discounted that option for this trip……silly me.
In part motivated by a comment on my previous post about booking this trip, I wondered what would happen if I looked for reward flights from Dallas to Vail on American Airlines (using British Airways Avios). Dallas is a few hours drive for us, but I would rather drive up I-45 in Texas where there will probably be no snow and ice, than from Denver to Vail in the winter. Low and behold, since the distance between Dallas in Vail is actually rather short, round trip flights are just 15,000 Avios each! That is way better than the 25,000 United miles I was contemplating spending to fly into Vail. What makes this even sweeter is that I obtained most of those Avios by transferring my Membership Reward points during the 50% transfer bonus that ended in May, so really these round trip flights are costing me just 10,000 Membership Reward points each. That is roughly a 5 cent per Membership Reward point redemption for an economy domestic flight. That is a very solid redemption! Expensive, but relatively short, direct flights are exactly the sort of situation where Avios are fantastic.
This deal isn’t unique to those who live with me in the “Republic of Texas”, but a decent portion of the country can benefit from this use of Avios. You can fly from Dallas, Chicago, or Los Angeles to Vail for just 15,000 Avios round trip (just make sure there is AAdvantage MilesSaver availability on a direct routing). Coming from New York or Miami will cost you 20,000 Avios round trip. Vail is not the only “ski country” destination that American serves. Also check out Jackson Hole, Aspen, etc as Avios can be of great use for those destinations as well.
If the mountains aren’t your thing, remember that Avios are also very useful to get from Dallas or the West Coast to Hawaii, to go to South America, to fly to Dublin (especially from Boston), and more. The British Airways program isn’t what it used to be, but for some purposes, it is now even better. You can check out this post for some of my favorite uses of Avios. My Avios primarily came from a transfer from the American Express Membership Rewards program, but I must confess that since Avios seem to become more valuable for my family every day, I am really eying the 100,000 Avios offer on the British Airways Card. It is set to expire on July 18th (and from everything I hear that is a firm date), so there is still a little bit of time to get in on that offer. The first 50,000 Avios are awarded upon the first purchase on the card, but the second 50,000 Avios require $20,000 in spending on the card in a calendar year. For those who can’t meet that level of spending, it is best to just consider it a 50,000 point offer – which is still pretty great in these days of declining offers. There is also another 100K British Airways offer that is available that is “intended” for those who are purchasing a British Airways ticket, but it is a phenomenal offer for those who get in on it – check out this post for details on that offer.
Regardless of how you obtain your Avios, they really are a phenomenal type of points to have in your back pocket! I recently came across a couple of photos from my early ski trips with my family, and they brought back great memories. I can’t wait for my daughter to begin her skiing adventure early next year. Thanks to Avios for helping make this trip a reality! I’d love to hear about some of the trips you are booking with your Avios!
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