Booking Business Class Tickets to Europe for 25,000 Miles Each

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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 as they do display Aer Lingus award space online.  Read this post for more tips on booking Aer Lingus with Avios. 

Aer Lingus Availability

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!

Aer Lingus Business Class

Have you booked this or a similar award for your family?


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Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  1. Beth, sorry should have included that. About $100 each in this case.
    Stannis, offhand I’m not 100% sure. When one-way wasn’t an official option your trip had to originate in the US I believe, but not sure if that is still the case now that you can book one-way. Either way, wouldn’t have been near as good of a deal and worse than using it to LHR due to departure fees.

  2. I feel like this in this case, it’s just so much easier for your husband to fly coach on the same flight. It’s such a short flight anyways, don’t see the big deal.

  3. I think the reason Stannis asked that is because if you depart from somewhere other than the UK, and don’t stopover (meaning less than 24 hours in the UK) you are not subject to the UK departure tax. And BA fuel surcharges are lower UK to US than US to UK, presumably because the departure taxes are so high flying westward.

    So if the CP is good departing from DUB it would be significantly cheaper to book this trip the other way around.

  4. In my experience with Aer Lingus, I was once or twice able to book something with Avios that wasn’t available to United. I would recommend calling no matter what if you have the time, since you never know

  5. Joe, you don’t know my husband…he would very much disagree. 😉 Seriously though, it wasn’t available anyway in coach on our dates so that wouldn’t have helped.
    Robert, perhaps but certainly would have made the overall award more expensive. I’ll try to find out if it works in reverse, but can’t test it myself since I already used my voucher. Maybe someone else can weigh in!
    ss, yes if you have the time and need the flight worth the call. I just hate calling them so much. 😉

  6. Very nice post! I kind of agree with Joe S…I’d rather sit in coach and fly with family on the same flight since it is not a real long flight. But hopefully your plan of changing flights will work out.

    Ireland sounds like a fabulous place to start your extended summer vacation tradition. We started off with 3 weeks in France and are now up to 6 weeks, most recently in Italy. It was definitely easier when my daughter was younger and didn’t have much of a schedule. I look forward to reading all the details of your planning – which I find to be the most fun part!

    • Denise, so excited about the planning part! Can’t wait to talk more about that! In this case, coach wasn’t available on any of the flights that would work for us, so that wasn’t an option. We would have strongly looked at it, but likely just the kid and I would have opted for coach, so we might have been on the same flight, but not seated together anyway. We are so used to traveling separately often that being on different flights the same day is really a non-issue for us.

      Sounds like you have had some awesome adventures!

  7. I believe you previously discussed the BOS-DUB “trick” on your blog. I’ve also booked my family on this flight for next summer, and I think I previously mentioned to you the “2-seat biz class” problem. There’s not tons of research on this topic, but what I’ve been told is that BA NEVER gets more biz class seats. So waiting for more inventory apparently doesn’t work.

    We contemplated splitting up but, honestly, that’s WAY more trouble than its worth IMO. Stuff happens. Flights are delayed, etc. And the logistics of waiting — on both ends — ridiculously complicates the trip. And for what? A better seat for about 6 hours? It didn’t make sense — the extra wait times and potential aggravation negate whatever extra “fun-ness” there is in sitting up front. I think it is much better to put some folks up front and others in back, or just save some money (imagine that!) and have everyone sit in back (if there are enough seats there!).

    I’d also note that the BOS-DUB “trick” really only makes sense for non-Bostonians in summer. Any other time, the much smarter Oneworld way to Europe is off-peak FROM YOUR OWN CITY IN COACH for 40K roundtrip. Nobody could make me believe that it’s smart to go through the hassle and considerable expense of getting to BOS and switching airlines/terminals just to make the short flight from BOS to DUB in Aer Lingus biz class.

    • iahphx, I don’t think there was any better option out there for us. Coach wasn’t available, but regardless I just can’t understand how different flight is a huge deal. Then again, we travel a bunch both together and separate so it would be different if we only traveled once a year or so and were intent on all experiencing it together. I can also see how it would be a bigger issue going than coming home. We’ll just cross the pond a few hours apart and all meet up again in Boston before continuing home. There have been flights with more than two biz seats, so that may be the pattern, but not the rule.

  8. Are there any any tricks to searching for Aer Lingus on the United site ? Whenever I look only Air Canada Rouge comes up for the partner flights.

  9. Good luck with your trip. I live in the Boston area and have family in Ireland, so this deal was made for me and my family. We did three Y tickets + a lap infant this past July on BOS-SNN. We already have BOS-DUB booked for next summer with three J tickets plus a lap infant. Like you we had to split up; My son and I are are the early flight whilst my wife and daughter are on the later flight. I don’t think it is a big deal.

    This past summer Aer Lingus were VERY accommodating to my parents. They used Avios on the out bound to Dublin but had to purchase a return ticket due lack of availability. SNN-JFK was about $200 cheaper than SNN-BOS, so they purchased the return to JFK even though it is less convenient to their home. When they checked in at SNN they asked to be put on the BOS flight rather than the JFK flight. The JFK flight was oversold by 6 seats whilst the BOS flight had 4 available. Aer Lingus accommodated them free of charge to return to BOS.

    Ask at the airport if he can go on the earlier flight. I would not be surprised if they let you do it. That’s what we are going to try. Worst thing that happens is they say no.

    As far as the new business class, you will get it. It will be installed 100% on their A330 by this March 2015.

    This past year We rented houses near our family on the beach and had a fantastic time. You will love it.

    • Robert, this deal is perfect for you all! Thanks for your thoughts – I’m hopeful it will all work out, but I agree with you that two different flights the same day isn’t a big deal.

  10. Our plans changes slightly for our trip to Peru next April. I had booked 2 LAN flights between Cusco and Puerto Malanado using BA, with each costing 9000 Avios for the 2 of us. What a great deal (I’ve booked 5 segments like this)! I wanted to change these 2 specific flights to different days. Suddenly the pain of $55 x 4 started to sink in. HOWEVER, I noticed the flights I wanted had plenty of availability. And I was allowed to cancel the original flights FOR FREE online (I did lose the $8 taxes x 2). I simply canceled, then booked the other flights, out only $16. Actually, I think I booked the new flights first, confirming that I had them before canceling :).

    I’ve been holding BA Avios for some time, not having much luck using them in the States … but getting to and around South America is a great use for these!

    Will have to think about a trip to Dublin on what remains. Flew Aer Lingus back from Dublin in business this past May using United miles. Apparently I overpaid!

    • Nick, yes you can just lose the taxes online for canceling, which makes it very cheap to back out of some tickets. In this case, the taxes/fees were more than $55, so wouldn’t be as easy but I love that feature of Avios!

  11. Plan on using this trick next year probably in October. I have not decided if I will do Economy or Business yet. I will probably get to Boston on SW miles. From Dublin I will pay for a ticket to Sarajevo to visit friends who are living there for several years and then I plan on using United miles home from SJJ in Economy. Have the United miles for business but want to go to Asia on the next trip and need the miles for that.

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