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I have mixed feelings on US Airways official arrival to the oneworld alliance effective today, but since my personal thoughts on it don’t matter one tiny bit, I plan to focus on some of the upsides of this new marriage. Specifically, this means that we can take advantage of the British Airways Avios distance based chart to snag some killer deals on some US Airways operated flights the same way we have been doing with American Airlines and Alaska operated flights for a couple of years.
For those not familiar with this sometimes killer deal, the British Airways Avios chart is distanced based, so short flights require as few as 4,500 miles each way. Longer flights will price higher, and those with connections will charge per segment. This means the trick is to use Avios for short and/or medium distanced flights that don’t require connections. You can now book US Airways operated flights on the British Airways website! The trick will be that there has to be availability with US Airways at the saver level for British Airways to be able to secure the award flights.
Here are a few examples of what should be available via British Airways Avios (prices in Avios one-way):
Charlotte – New Orleans 4,500
Charlotte – Houston 7,500
Charlotte – Toronto 4,500
Charlotte – Montreal 7,500
Charlotte – St. Croix 10,000
Charlotte – St. Kitts 10,000
Charlotte – Cancun 7,500
Charlotte – Grand Cayman 7,500
Charlotte – St. Thomas 10,000
Charlotte – Montego Bay 10,000
Philadelphia – Aruba 10,000
Philadelphia – Chicago 7,500
Philadelphia – Halifax 7,500
Philadelphia – Nashville 7,500
Philadelphia – Nassau 7,500
Phoenix – Boise 7,500
Phoenix – Calgary 10,000
Phoenix – Dallas 7,500
Phoenix – Honolulu 12,500
Phoenix – Houston 7,500
Phoenix – Kahuiui 12,500
Phoenix – Kauai 12,500
Phoenix – Las Vegas 4,500
Phoenix – Puerta Vallarta 7,500
Phoenix – Salt Lake City 4,500
Phoenix – San Diego 4,500
Phoenix – Vancouver 10,000
Many of these routes would be 12,500 or more miles each way using either AA or US miles, so being able to get so many routes for 4,500, 7,500, 0r 10,000 Avios each way is pretty great. Heck, having another city (Phoenix) that you can leave from to get to the Hawaiian islands for just 12,500 Avios is really great since it would be 20,000 each way via US miles!
A few tips when searching for availability on BA using US operated flights:
- First check availability via the US Airways website
- Select “non-stop” flights operated by US only when searching on the US Airways website (assuming you just want non-stop options which will be the cheapest in Avios).
- Look for the light blue colored dates which indicate saver availability on the calendar.
- Then enter those dates to search on the British Airways website to search and book flights using Avios.
- US Saver availability is often not great, so the more flexibility you have with dates the better.
Booking via Avios also has some “hidden” benefits over booking via AA or US. A few of those include:
- No close-in booking fees
- No online cancellation fee – just lose the taxes that you paid for the flight which is often $5 – $10 for domestic flights.
- Just a $40 change fee – which is much lower than many other airlines (of course, you could potentially just cancel and rebook for even less)
- It also gives you Priority AAccess with AA operated flights, time will tell if it does anything similar with US flights.
How to Earn Avios:
If British Airways Avios all the sudden sound pretty solid for your travel plans, there are lots of ways to earn them.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card – this card gives 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 within the first three months. In addition to the bonus miles from the sign-up bonus, you earn 1.25 points per dollar charged on the card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards – Since British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, that means that the points you get from the sign-up bonus, everyday spending, and points earned via the online Ultimate Rewards shopping portal with the Ink Plus® Business Card, Ink Bold® Business Card, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can transfer 1:1 to British Airways.
American Express Membership Rewards – British Airways is also a transfer partner of the Membership Rewards program at a 1:1 ratio, however for the last few years there have been several transfer bonuses as high as 50% from MR to BA. That would mean that if you are transferring 50,000 Membership Reward points during a 50% bonus, you end up with 75,000 Avios. This is how I have racked up most of my Avios. Some eligible cards for Membership Rewards transfers include American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card, the new Amex Everday Preferred, or the Mercedes Benz Platinum Amex.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex – The SPG program allows you to transfer SPG points to Avios at a rate of 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Avios. You don’t need a credit card to earn SPG points – you can do it via the SPG program. Personally I love my SPG points for use at SPG hotels, but this is technically an option.
Shopping: Like many airlines and hotels, there is an online e-shopping portal that you can use to shop at retailers like drugstore.com, JCrew, Home Depot, Nordstroms, and more.
I’m excited that on oneworld Alliance Day 1 for US Airways, US operated flights are already bookable online via British Airways Avios! Which routes will you be trying to lock up on Avios?
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