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A couple of months ago my husband had this “crazy person” idea for us to spend a chunk of the summer in Ireland next year. I had always wanted to spend a month each summer in different locations “one day”, but I had no idea that “one day” had arrived so quickly until he brought it up out of the blue and after a bit of shock I realized it was a fantastic idea.
Not only was it a great idea, but it meant I got to start doing one of the things I love, piecing together the trip on miles and points! I splurged on our outbound tickets in British Airways first class using my “Travel Together” ticket earned via the British Airways Visa last year. This meant that my companion could travel for zero British Airways Avios (what they call their “miles) and instead just pay the taxes and fees, which can get pricey. We will have a few days in London before continuing on to Ireland.
I’m excited we are flying to Europe in British Airways first class, but that isn’t how I wanted us to get home. Flying it once is enough, and it was just too pricey to do both ways. Plus, there is a much, much better way to get home from Ireland that I have wanted to book for a long time…
Booking Business Class Tickets Home from Europe for 25,000 Miles:
Since British Airways uses a distance based award chart to price award tickets, there are some good values from the East Coast to Western Europe as that distance isn’t terribly far. This is especially true from one of the eastern most airports in the US to one of the western most airports in Europe. Specifically, flying from Boston – Dublin clocks in at just 2,993 flown miles, which is just under the 3,000 mile cut-off where you go to the next pricing level on the British Airways award chart. Flights that are 2,001 – 3,000 miles in distance are just 12,500 Avios in coach and 25,000 miles in business.
This means that Boston – Dublin costs just 12,500 Avios each way in economy (the same as many awards within the United States!) and 25,000 miles in business class. Whether you decide to go in economy or business class, that is a fan-tas-tic deal to get from this country to Europe, or back!
Booking Aer Lingus Flights with Avios:
If you are new to the British Airways award chart, keep in mind that flights on British Airways operated flights come with hefty fuel surcharges, but flights on some partners (such as Aer Lingus and airberlin) are much more reasonably priced without the massive fuel surcharges. There is no perfect way to find British Airways availability on Aer Lingus online as it isn’t searchable on the British Airways website. However, I did what I did last time and started with looking on united.com as they do display Aer Lingus award space online. Read this post for more tips on booking Aer Lingus with Avios.
The availability does not line up perfectly between what United has access to and what British Airways has access to, but since I believe United to have more space, I probably wouldn’t bother calling British Airways to check availability if United didn’t show any unless I just had time to kill or really, really needed the flight that day.
Once I found the Aer Lingus availability on United I called British Airways to see if they had the same availability. Sometimes the hold times can be killer with British Airways, but on Sunday morning the hold time was only about 15 minutes. As is often the case, they didn’t have three seats in business class currently on the same flight, but they did have two. There are two flights per day from Dublin to Boston, and so my daughter and I are flying together on the first flight, and my husband will be a few hours behind us on the next flight.
As soon as they verified the availability over the phone, I transferred the Ultimate Reward points I needed to top off to the award threshold and they posted instantly so I could book the tickets. I could have used Amex Membership Reward points, but honestly I am hoarding those these days for transfer bonuses or to book ANA awards as their distance based award chart can be very valuable for United flyers like myself.
Over the next 11 months we will move him to our flight if availability opens up since British Airways has a reasonable $55 change fee, but being on slightly different flights is not a big deal in our book. We could have booked his ticket on our flight using United miles, but United wants 70,000 miles for the exact same flight that costs just 25,000 British Airways Avios, so we passed on that option.
We don’t live in Boston, so will need to buy a ticket from Boston back to Houston separately either using miles in some program or cold hard cash. Houston – Boston is actually a very reasonably priced market generally, so I’m not worried about securing that ticket at a later date. We may even spend a little time in Boston before continuing home, but we can figure that out at a later date.
Earning British Airways Avios:
If this sounds like something that would work for your family in the future, then the first step is to make sure you have some British Airways Avios to spend. Luckily, you can earn them a number of ways including by racking up Chase Ultimate Rewards via cards like the Ink Bold® Business Card, Ink Plus® Business Card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, American Express Membership Reward points via cards like The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card from American Express and American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, or you can get the British Airways Visa Signature® Card that awards 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. Both Chase Ultimate Reward points and American Express Membership Reward points transfer 1:1 directly into the British Airways program.
Starting to earn miles is an important step in this hobby, but the next step is figuring out the best way to get where you want to be on miles by leveraging award chart sweet spots. No one program is the best value to get everywhere, but most programs have awards that are better values relative to other options.
We would be excited about this journey and this flight regardless, but it does make it a little extra exciting to know that Aer Lingus is updating their business class seats next year, so maybe we will get lucky and be on a flight with the new seats. Either way, spending some time as a family next summer in Ireland should be amazing!
Have you booked this or a similar award for your family?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.