4 Award Sweet Spots Using British Airways Avios

Alex CramerJuly 2, 2020
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British Airways Executive Club Avios are some of the most versatile frequent flyer miles that travel rewards collectors can stockpile. Because British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, Avios are usable on a number of international carriers, including American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Iberia and Qantas, among others.

However, the high fuel surcharges that British Airways charges on awards tickets means that travelers need to consider their options carefully if they want to maximize the value of their Avios.

We took a deep dive into British Airways Avios redemptions to find out where you can get the best value for miles.

How to get Avios

Due to its partnerships with most major credit card travel reward programs, Avios are some of the easiest miles collect. Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards points are both transferable into the Avios program. Additionally, Avios can be collected through the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program.

You can also gather Avios by flying on one of British Airways’ partner airlines, but only on flights that you pay full fare for.

Understanding Avios

Unlike many frequent flyer programs that divide the world into zones and then price your award flight based on your travel from one zone to another, you earn Avios based on distance. That means that regardless of where in the world you’re flying to, the only thing that matters is the miles flown from departure to arrival.

That’s why generally speaking, the sweet spot of the Avios program tends to be shorter, direct flights. It also means that nonstop flights will always be cheaper than flights with multiple stops to the same destination.

You should also note that while there are a number of good deals to be had with Avios, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia all charge substantial fuel surcharges with their rewards tickets, which does eat into your value.

West Coast to Hawaii

This is a great example of finding value in the distance-based rewards program. Hawaii is just close enough to a number of West Coast cities that a round-trip ticket in economy will only run you 26,000 Avios plus $11.20 in fees when you book on American Airlines.

In general, you’ll find many great deals using Avios to fly around North America — by booking on partner airlines such as American, you’ll be able to avoid the hefty fuel surcharges that British Airways slams on to their reward tickets.

East Coast to Europe

Just as those living on the West Coast get great deals on flights to Hawaii, East Coasters get the same advantage when flying to parts of Europe.

An economy flight from Boston to London on an off-peak date will cost just 26,000 Avios (plus $362 in fees) when you book the flight on British Airways.

While that fee is significant, it's still far cheaper than the all-cash price of that same ticket on BA, which is over $1,000 flying economy.

Coast to coast

Pretty much all major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are within 3,000 miles of each other, which means you can fly almost anywhere in America for a low number of Avios. Even a coast-to-coast flight, such as an economy ticket from San Francisco to New York, will cost you just 26,000 Avios plus an $11.20 fee.

Head down south

Another advantage of a distance-based rewards program is that you can find amazing deals on international travel. Depending on where you’re flying from, there are tremendous deals to be had on flights to both Canada and Mexico.

So if you’re ready to dust off your passport and hit a white sand beach, you can get from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cancun for just 18,000 Avios plus $87.06 in fees.

The bottom line

Savvy rewards travelers would do well to familiarize themselves with the British Airways Executive Club’s Avios frequent flyer program. While the program has definite pitfalls that you’ll need to avoid if you want to get maximum value for your miles, the wide range of airline and credit card transfer partners makes them highly versatile and valuable for travelers who can master the distance-based travel program.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

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