The Top 5 Ways to Use British Airways Avios Points

Posted By Trav

Now that you’ve read the 4 Things You Should Know about British Airways Avios Points (if you haven’t, check it out first) and are up to speed with the program, let’s look at the top 5 ways to use your Avios points.

As I’ve mentioned many times before BA points can be incredibly valuable, but ONLY if you used in very specific circumstances.

Therefore, it is even more important with BA than with other airlines to know which circumstances give you the best bang for your buck because if you use them wrong, you could end up paying HUGE fuel surcharges…and nobody wants that!

If you’ve already got a nice stash of BA Avios points, great!

If you want to start building up your balance, grab the Chase British Airways Visa (which can be found on the Best Current Deals page or the Airline Credit Card page).

Then, use those points in the following ways:

1. Short haul domestic flights

Using Avios points for short haul domestic flights can offer some incredible value.  Because of the distance-based award chart, you can get flights that are as low as 4,500 points one-way if the distance flown is below 650 miles.

Only 4,500 points?  That’s crazy, considering that the same flight would cost you almost 3x as much if you were flying with AA, United, or USAirways!

This works best for people who live near American Airline US hubs, which are Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), and Miami (MIA).

There are tons of flights that fly out of these 5 hubs to places all over the United States, so if you live near one of the hubs, you can really make out like a bandit!

If you don’t start your journey at one of the hub cities, you won’t have as many options, and depending on where you are flying, you may have to pay for the leg from your home airport to the hub airport (minimum of 4,500 miles) and then pay for the leg from the hub to your destination.

This isn’t the end of the world, and can still be less than a regular airline would charge for a domestic flight, but its not the amazing deal that those lucky people near hub cities can get.

Examples (all examples in this post are for a roundtrip ticket in economy)

New York-Chicago
Using Avios Points: 15,000
Using regular carriers (AA, United, USAirways, Delta): All 25,000

New York-Miami
Using Avios Points: 15,000
Using regular carriers: All 25,000

Boston (non hub)-Miami
Using Avios Points: 21,000 (4,500 for BOS-JFK, 7,500 for JFK-MIA x 2)
Using regular carriers: 25,000

2. From the West Coast to Hawaii

Again, since the rewards chart is distance-based, it doesn’t matter that Hawaii is normally considered a different zone than the rest of North America by other airlines. All that matters is how many miles you are flying.

This means that by going to Hawaii from somewhere on the West Coast you can get a suuuweeettt deal!

If you are flying American Airlines, anywhere you fly from on that side of the country will route you through the main hub in Los Angeles, so if you can start in Los Angeles, you won’t have to pay for that extra leg to get there.

However, don’t forget that British Airways also partners with Alaska Airlines, meaning that you can also fly direct from Anchorage, Bellingham (WA), Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Diego or San Jose to Honolulu using your Avios points.

Each route is under 3,000 miles, which means you’ll only pay 12,500 one-way or 25,000 roundtrip!  Hello, hula!

(huge thanks to reader planodude for pointing that out in the comments of last post…that’s why I love you guys; always helping each other, and me, out!)


Los Angeles-Honolulu
Using Avios Points: 25,000
AA 35,000 (off-peak) AA 45,000 (peak)
Delta, USAirways, United:  40,000 

San Francisco (non-hub)-Honolulu
Using Avios Points:  34,000
Using regular carriers: AA 35,000 (off-peak) AA 45,000 (peak) 
Delta, USAirways, United:  40,000 

3.  Boston to Ireland (Dublin or Shannon)

This is a very specific circumstance, but if you are able to make it work, this is the best deal out there for Avios points, even better than domestic short haul flights. Why? Two reasons:

1. Boston and Dublin are 2,993 miles apart, which puts it just below the 3,000 mile threshold in the Avios award chart, meaning you’ll only be paying 12,500 Avios points each way!

8 measly more miles and it’d be bumped up to category 5 (and cost 20,000 Avios points). Talk about cutting it close.

This route, from BOS to either Dublin or Shannon, is the only route that BA or it’s partners operate from the United States to Europe that falls under the 3,000 mile mark.

2. The route is flown by Aer Lingus, which for reasons unbeknowst to me, imposes only a small fuel surcharge ($150ish) when using BA Avios points and flying on their planes.

BA and every other one of its partners that fly between North America and Europe have huge fuel surcharges (think $400-600) when you use BA Avios points.

This makes it pointless to redeem Avios points on them, seeing as you could buy a ticket outright for the same price. For whatever reason, Aer Lingus has been spared (for now) so take advantage of it while you can.

Aer Lingus also flies to Dublin from New York and Chicago, but those tickets will cost you 40,000 Avios points instead of the 25,000 from Boston because they fall in category 5 on the Avios award chart. Still a really good deal, especially for people who wouldn’t be able to easily get to Boston.

If you’re looking to stretch your Avios points and save your dollars (and who isn’t) and can make your way to Boston (or even New York or Chicago) fairly easily, jump on this amazing deal to Dublin for only 25,000 Avios points roundtrip.

This isn’t just for people wanting to visit the Emerald Isle.  If you want to continue on to the rest of Europe, down a quick pint of Guiness and then fly from Dublin to wherever else you want to go in Europe using a budget airline like Ryanair.


Using Avios Points: 25,000 
AA: 40k (off-peak), 60k (peak)
USAirways: 35k (off-peak), 60k (peak)
United and Delta: 60k

New York or Chicago-Dublin
Using Avios Points: 40k
AA: 40k (off-peak), 60k (peak)
USAirways: 35k (off-peak), 60k (peak)
United and Delta: 60k

4.  Flying to Central or South America

Sometimes the actual amount of Avios points required will be less than the amount of miles other airlines charge because the distance is fairly short (like Miami to Bogota, Colombio in the examples below).

If this is the case, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that you are getting great value.

Since you’ll never pay a fuel surcharge when using Avios points to fly LAN or for the AA flights that fly to Central or South America, this is a no-brainer if you are flying from somewhere pretty far south already (Miami, Dallas) or if you are flying to the northern part of South America (Bogota, Caracas, etc.)

However, even if the amount of points required isn’t less than other airlines, I still consider using Avios points to go to South America a good value.

If you ask me whether I’d rather use 25k Avios points or 25k United miles to get to Buenos Aires, I’ll pick the Avios points each time!

United miles are much more valuable to me, seeing as I’ll never get hit with a fuel surcharge when I use them, no matter where I fly, whereas the Avios points will often incur a huge fuel surcharge.

Any time you can get a flight using BA Avios points and not pay a fuel surcharge, take it, because they are few and far between.

Many of you may be unfamiliar with, so to give you a brief overview, LAN flies from Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK), San Francisco and Orlando in the United States and Toronto in Canada and flies to a ton of destinations in Central and South America.

Direct flights on LAN from North American include:

New York (JFK) to Santiago and Lima
Los Angeles to Lima
Miami to Bogota, Caracas, Santiago, Punta Cana
San Francisco to Lima

Of course, you can always fly in to one of these cities and then continue on from there, so your options are basically limitless.

In addition, AA operates a good amount of flights to Central and South America as well, hitting a bunch of cities in Central America and all the major ones in South America as well, including Buenos Aires and Rio.  Did someone say Carnaval?


Miami to Bogota
Using Avios Points:  20,000
AA:  30k (off-peak), 35k (peak)
United: 40k
USAirways: 60k
Delta:  45k

New York to Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina
Using Avios Points:  50,000
Using AA: 40k (off-peak), 60k (peak)
United, USAirways, Delta: 60k

5.  Flying to the Caribbean from the East Coast

Much of what was written about Central and South America holds true for flying to the Caribbean as well. If you are flying from somewhere pretty far south, such as Miami, you can get roundtrip tickets for as little as 15k Avios points to most places in the Caribbean (some are just a touch too far and cost 20k).

Amazingly, even coming from New York you can get tickets to places like the Dominican Republic for only 20k roundtrip!

Even the most generous of award charts, such as USAirways off-peak special of 25k roundtrip to the Caribbean, can’t match that!

Of course, if you are flying from further away, such as Los Angeles, you’ll be paying much more because its distance based.  Still, at 40k roundtrip to a lot of the Caribbean, the value isn’t that bad.  You West Coasters have cheap flights to Hawaii, us East Coasters can have the Caribbean!


Miami to Santo Domingo
Using Avios points:  15,000
USAirways: 25,000 (off-peak on USAirway flights), 35,000 (peak and on partner airlines)
AA, Delta, United:  35,000  

New York to St. Thomas

Using Avios points:  40,000
USAirways: 25,000 (off-peak on USAirway flights), 35,000 (peak and on partner airlines)
AA, Delta, United:  35,000

Final Word(s)

As you can see, it’s not all bad news when it comes to the British Airways Avios program.  When used properly, Avios points can be much, much cheaper than other airlines (I’m still shaking my head at Miami to the Caribbean for 15k roundtrip!).

Just remember that you must use them in very specific situations.

Obviously, it’s best to use them if you can for shorter flights (since the chart is distance-based) but more importantly, only use them on routes that don’t impose a fuel surcharge, which are the ones above.

Do that, and you’ll be singing a different tune than the ol’ doom and gloom that typically accompanies Avios!

If the above trips sound enticing, go and grab the Chase British Airways card and start planning your trip!

If you want to apply for the Chase BA card and help support the site, please use the links on the Airline Credit Cards page or Best Current Deals page.

(photos courtesy of usa map-Don Hankins, hawaii magnets-calsidyrose, ireland-acediscovery, south america- squirlaraptor, caribbean- Vox Efx)


  1. nickfromct says:

    I’m using 4500 avios each way to go to Cleveland from LGA. When I booked the seats, the cash cost of the roundtrip was over $400

    1. Trav says:

      @nickfromct- That’s an absolute PERFECT example of how to maximize them! Well done!

  2. Jay says:

    Trav. One word: Amazing.

    Your blog is one of the most informative yet simplistic blog that I have come across yet!

    Thanks for this amazing article about the Avios points. That Boston-Ireland deal looks pretty sweet!

    1. Trav says:

      @Jay- Thanks alot! Reader compliments are always appreciated, and welcomed! I can’t wait to take advantage of the Boston-Ireland deal when I get back Stateside!

  3. Ken says:

    Awesome post, thanks!

    1. Trav says:

      @Ken- No problem! Glad you are getting some use out of it!

  4. Ben Krull says:

    Here are a few destinations I’m looking at on Alaska Air:

    From Seattle to:
    1. Kona, Hawaii: 25k points roundtrip
    2. Juneau, Alaska: 15k
    3. Calgary, Canada: 9k
    4. Sun Valley, Idaho: 9k
    5. Dallas, Texas: 20k
    6. Puerto Vallarta or San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico: 25k

    For Memorial Day we did this one and got ~4 cents per mile:
    5. Medford, Oregon: 9k (closest airport to the Redwoods)

    1. Trav says:

      @Ben Krull- You can really put together some awesome itineraries using Avios points and their partnership with Alaska Air! It’s a major score for people living out west!

  5. Guy says:

    It looks likes Milescalc.com is where you get the BOS to DUB mileage of 2993. Have you confirmed that Avios uses the same mileage figure for this route?

    1. Trav says:

      @Guy- Yes, I can confirm that if you price out this itinerary on BA.com it will come in at 12,500 Avios points each way.

      1. Guy says:

        Thanks very much!

  6. Shah says:

    Thanks much for this amazingly simple to follow and so informative post. I have a little bit of a different issue / question I would like some guidance on.

    Couple of years back, wife and I signed up for the Chase 100K miles offer. We also are little heavy spenders and reach 30K each year (kids’ private school fees help reach this pretty fast). The Chase BA card offers one free companion ticket voucher per year for spending over 30K, good for TWO years from date of issue. We now have two vouchers, one from my wife’s card and one from mine. Plus around 140K miles on each. The vouchers are good on BA code flights only !!! If I try Atlanta to London, it costs me around $600 in surcharge. Trying to find a flight to India (where we travel every 2-3 years) is useless since there is no availability EVER. Also, to redeem the voucher, you have to be one of the two people travelling. I am now rethinking if BA card spend is even worth it… pls provide guidance. Thanks.

    1. Trav says:

      @Shah- You are right, the companion pass might not be as good as it first seems. Since you can only use them on BA-coded flights, you will ALWAYS have to pay the fuel surcharge. Whenever I use my BA Avios points, I make sure to do it on flights that don’t incur the fuel surcharge, such as the ones I listed in the post. Unfortunately, you can’t do that with the companion pass because you have to fly on BA.

      The best “value” when using the Companion Pass is to use it to fly business or first class. This is because you’ll still pay roughly the same fuel surcharge you would if you are flying economy, but of course, the free flight that your companion is getting is “worth” a lot more because it would be a more expensive ticket to buy outright. Of course, the downside to this is that you have to buy a ticket for that same flight, meaning you’d be putting out a decent amount of money for a biz class ticket.

      If you are planning this type of trip anyway (a BA flight on business class) then spending a lot on your BA card and getting the companion pass is worth it. However, as you’ve found out, it has a lot of restrictions, so in my mind, it isn’t worth going after. I’d much rather spend the $30,000 it takes to get the companion pass on a card that earns me points that are more valuable than BA Avios points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which will get me Chase UR points, that I can then transfer to United.

      Again, it isn’t useless, but it’s very specific, and so the value is somewhat limited unless you are already planning that type of trip.

  7. Docmc says:

    These points still do not make sense to me! I just looked at booking 2 RT tickets from Boston to Dublin…yes only 25,000 avios but $1290 in taxes generated from London!! I still need to get from LA to Boston and that would cost me another $700/per person-RT! Once I get to Dublin…I want to get to Paris…another expensive ticket. It is cheaper for me to go through Air France and pay only $1100/ per ticket RT and Non-stop! I do not see how these points benefit anyone but B.A. If you can give some light to this, please do. Sure, you can spend less points but you are still going to pay as much as it costs for a ticket in taxes!

    1. Trav says:

      @Docmc- Did you go Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus? If you fly at all on a British Airways flight, you’ll get hit with the huge fuel surcharge. If you fly Boston to Dublin with Aer Lingus, you only get hit with a much smaller fuel surcharge ($150ish as opposed to $400-600).

      If you aren’t going with Aer Lingus, I agree, it is MUCH cheaper to just buy a paid ticket than use BA Avios points. They are ONLY good for the specific examples above; otherwise, you’ll get crushed with the fuel surcharge.

      Let me know if anything is still unclear or if I can help out.

  8. Docmc says:

    Thank you. Here’s the deal…I have 240,000 B/A points. I want to get 2 tickets ultimately from San Diego (or LAX if I have to), to Paris, Marseilles or Rome (for next May). I called BA and had the associate look up all the scenarios. Every one of them had taxes (not fuel surcharges) as expensive as purchasing a ticket on any other airline. I don’t know anything about how to use my BA avios on a partner airline. I was willing to get to JFK or Boston to get to Dublin thinking that would make a difference. I really don’t want to take 3 legs to get to my final destination…but if it makes it affordable, I’m willing. I don’t get how these Avios are good for anything! Please help me figure this out.

    1. Trav says:

      @Docmc- The problem with calling the agent is that they will not always know as much as you think they know, or think they should know. This seems to be what happened in your case.

      Here is what I would do if you want the cheapest option:

      1. Go from LAX to BOS on AA. This will be a direct flight and will cost you 12,500 Avios points. This should only cost you minimal fees and no fuel surcharge.

      2. Go from BOS to Dublin on Aer Lingus. This will be a direct flight. You’ll pay 12,500 Avios points. The fuel surcharge will be pretty cheap (about $150).

      3. Find a cheap flight from Dublin to wherever else you want to go (Paris, Marseilles, or Rome) on either an economy carrier like Ryanair.

      When you want to come home, just do the reverse. All told, you’ll pay 50,000 Avios points a person and probably $300-400 in fees roundtrip.

      Of course, if you can find a paid flight that is only $600-700 or less, you might just be better off booking that. Then, it is up to you whether you want the inconvenience of going from LAX and changing planes in Boston and Dublin or whether you want to spend a little more money.

      Use awardtravelr.com to look for each leg of the flights you want. Find them, write down the numbers and times of the flights, and spoonfeed the information to the rep. Let me know if you need any other help!

      1. docmc says:

        Hi Trav, I’m finally working on our flight plans for May. I am having a hard time navigating the B/A partner airlines using my Avios. In fact when I go to B/A, they don’t give me the partner airline choices either. When I go to awardtravelr.com, is B/A avios:
        “Star Alliance, Sky Team or One World”? Do I get the flight information from that site and only use it when I speak to a B/A rep? I can’t simply book my own flights using my avios on partner airlines online? Thanks…I’m so frustrated again with this process!

        1. Trav says:

          @docmc- Great question. You’re right, BA’s website stinks for looking for flights. What you want to do is go to awardtravelr.com and search for OneWorld since BA is part of the OneWorld alliance. Then, find the flights you want using that. Write them down and then call BA and give them the information that you have found.

          That way, you should be able to book with BA over the phone by talking to a rep. It’s an annoying process, but unfortunately, it’s necessary!

          1. docmc says:

            Hi Trav, thank you that helped. I was able to book us 2 Business Class flights from Boston to Dublin R/T paying only $298 total taxes and fees! Now the hard part, maybe you can help. They didn’t have any rewards flights for us to get to Boston from southern CA. I’m looking for May 15th returning on June 4th to and from Boston. They did suggest calling back but how often do I have to do that??

          2. Trav says:

            @docmc- Yeah, there is no right answer for that. I´d suggest calling back every week or so to see if anything opens up.

            Do you have any other airline´s miles that you may want to use to do that flight. They might have other availability.

            Congrats on Boston to Dublin, that´s quite a steal!

  9. Docmc says:

    Thank you so much. I will try this right now. I would like to book it online as there are extra fees for doing so with an associate. Traveling through Europe is expensive as it is.
    Does this website “awardtravelr.com” require a user name and password? The server says “restricted”. I wasn’t able to log onto that site and I wasn’t given the option to register.

    1. Trav says:

      @Docmc- Yes, you should be able to do it all online through BA.com, but the system is a little bulky at times. To get to awardtravelr.com, use the link that is listed on my Frequent Flyer Toolkit page. It seems to be working.

  10. Nguyen says:

    Hi, may i ask if we need to call BA for booking trip with Alaska airline? Thanks.

  11. Pam says:

    Excellent post. Your link to the BA Chase card looks active whereas I read on other sites that that ‘deal’ is over?

    Also, we have 2 chase southwest cards and 2 chase preferred cards between my husband and I and we are thinking of cancelling both the southwest and one of the preferred cards today (retaining just one old chase and one chase preferred card in hubby’s name). Would it be a better idea to close those out, wait for X days (how many?) and then apply to the chase BA card if still active?

    Thank you for any input. I am a newbie and learning.

    1. Trav says:

      @Pam- The link I’ve put up there is the public link that is available. Bloggers no longer have an affiliate link though. Are you canceling because the annual fee is coming up? If so, then the plan of keeping one of each and closing the others makes sense. If you are canceling just to cancel, I’d tell you to wait and keep them open. Then, if you apply for the Chase BA card and they deny you, you can call up and offer to move credit from one of the other cards, or cancel the card all together so that you can get the new one.

      As far as how long you should wait, always try to wait 91+ days from when you last applied for a Chase card. It shouldn’t matter when you canceled other cards, just when you applied for other ones.

  12. Ben says:

    If I’m understanding your blog correctly, any flight in the Americas will not incur a fuel surcharge fee? But if so, is there another catch? Are there many black out dates for flights? For example: a summer flight from NYC to Lima?

    1. Trav says:

      @Ben- Right, any flight that is on LAN or AA within the Americas will not incur a fuel surcharge. There is no catch to this. And there isn’t black out dates. Of course, there might not be availability if you book too close to when you want to leave, but there isn’t any dates where they won’t allow you to redeem Avios points. Usually, availability opens up 330 days prior to the departure date, so the earlier you start looking the better your chances of getting the dates you want!

  13. Buddy says:

    Just looked up a One way on Lan air from Bolivia to Ecuador. The avios cost were reasonable but the so called taxes and fees were over $280.00 !
    The more avios you pay the fees go down to as low as $156.00
    Please explain what this is if not a sur charge.? Where are you getting these low avios and fee flights and never being charged any fuel sur chg on Lan?


    1. Trav says:

      @Buddy- Are you looking on the BA website itself? If so, BA offers what is basically a “miles + cash” option where you can pay less miles but more cash. Then, as you pay more Avios points, the cash price goes down, until you hit what is only the taxes and fees. From your example, it looks like the $156 is what is strictly the smallest amount of taxes and fees you can pay (which is stuff like security fees, landing fees, etc. and will never be waived).

      But if there was a fuel surcharge on the flight, it would be closer to $400-600. So basically that $156 is non-negotiable….whereas the if you wanted to pay mor money and less points, you could go up to the $280 level.

  14. Ben says:

    I tried booking a few trips from NYC to South America for the summer. No flights were available whatsoever. The variety of reward flights is dismal.

  15. Kevin says:

    My question is we want to fly from NY(LGA) to Costa Rica. American Airlines only has the award for 17500 in one direction and 30000 in the other(business class). I have American Express rewards points. How many points do I need to transfer to Avios to get a round trip ticket?

    1. Trav says:

      @Kevin- If there is no transfer bonus going on at the time, then American Express points transfer 1:1 to British Airways. Using milez.biz, it shows a roundtrip economy ticket on BA (routing through Miami) costs 30k.

      In order to check if there is availability for your dates, head to Awardtravelr and plug in your dates. If that doesn’t work, use Qantas.com as your search engine (see how to do it here).

      If you find availability for your dates in economy, you’ll only need 30k Avios points for roundtrip ticket!

      When are you planning on going? If it isn’t soon, you might want to wait for a transfer bonus to come along.

      1. Kevin says:

        In July. How come I can’t see this when I search BA site. Is it because I dont have any points with them yet? I dont want to transfer the miles and then find out it doesn’t work. On AA the 17500 is not available.Can I see this on BA without points? Thanks for your help. I am looking for 7/3/2013 to 7/16/2013

        1. Trav says:

          @Kevin- How come you can’t see availability on BA’s website? It’s because they don’t show availability for all partners in the OneWorld alliance, they simply show availability on their own, BA flights. Remember, with BA Avios points you can fly on any partners in the OneWorld Alliance.

          On AA’s site, they are showing what is available using AA miles, and the pricing will be different. What you need to do is use Qantas.com to search for your flights. When you see that they are available, then you need to call BA and have them check to see if it’s available (which it should be). If it is, then make the transfer.

  16. Kevin says:

    @Trav:Thank you. Do you book with BA over the phone for AA? Do they charge extra for this?

    1. Trav says:

      @Kevin- If you are using BA points but taking an AA flight, you’ll probably have to book over the phone. The only way you won’t be able to book over the phone is if you can get BA.com to show availability, but I doubt that will work.

  17. KTRW says:

    Does Avios still offer the BOS-DUB/SNN for 12,500 each way? I could do JFK-BOS-DUB for 17,000 each way compared to 20,000 each way from JFK-DUB.

    1. Trav says:

      @KTRW- Yep, it’s still only 12.5k each way. That’s a nice strategy; book from JFK to Boston and then onward to Dublin and save yourself 5k roundtrip. Nicely done!

  18. Jasmine says:

    Help! I have 85k avios miles. But my membership year ends in May 2013. Does this mean that I will lose my miles in May 2013? I spent some miles in March 2013 for a hotel stay. I thought this was supposed to reset the expire date to another 36 months. Am I wrong?

    1. Trav says:

      @Jasmine- Do you have an Avios credit card still? If so, you can make a spend on it and it will reset your expire date.

      And yes, according to the BA website, your Avios points stay active as long as you have any activity in a 36 month period. So if you used them in March 2013, they will be active and not expire for 36 months after that date. You’re safe for a 3 years!

  19. Deb Chatterji says:

    I just transferred some points from AmEx to BA Avios. Will this transfer extend my Avios balance expiration date by 3 years? Yours is a great source of info on Avios. Thanks!
    Deb C.

    1. Trav says:

      @Deb Chatterji- I’m not exactly sure about this. As far as the terms and conditions read, it says any activity, and so I believe that this would extend your balance expiration. However, I’d call and double check just to make sure.

      Oh, and thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it!

  20. Dee Roberts says:

    I want to use my Avios points to get a reward flight on Aer Lingus. as you suggest, but can’t find them listed as a partner airline anywhere on the BA site. Perhaps, at present that association is broken? Or (ideally) you can direct me to the right place to find it!

    1. Dee Roberts says:

      OK, sorry, I looked a little deeper and found the Aer Lingus page. I guess my question is really –If flying from NY, must I terminate in Dublin, and then take a separate flight to Amsterdam (my destination)? Aer Liingus goes direct to Amsterdam itself, so I’m not certain how much I would save by landing in Dublin. Thanks so much for your help on this site — Great intro to a new vocabulary.

      1. Trav says:

        @Dee Roberts- Great question. The important thing to know is that it is distance based, and that you pay per each segment you fly. So, you have to look at it like this:

        New York to Dublin- Use gcmap.com to find out how many miles that actually is flying. Then, compare that to the Avios chart. Answer: 3,179 miles flown. That will cost 20k Avios points one way.

        Dublin to Amsterdam- Miles flown: 468 miles. Avios points: 4500 one way.

        Total cost if you stop in Dublin: 24,500 Avios points one way.

        If you go direct, you just look at it like:

        New York to Amsterdam: Miles flown: 3643. Avios points: 20k one way.

        So yes, it would be cheaper if you got a direct flight on Aer Lingus, but I haven’t seen a direct flight from New York to Amsterdam before. Where’d you find that?

  21. Ben Wexler says:

    Can i book an avios flight for a relative?
    YYZ-JFK (roundtrip

    1. Trav says:

      @Ben Wexler- Sure can! With miles, in almost every airline, you can book for whomever you want.

  22. Maria says:

    I am exploring the best option to fly from DFW to Cancun this summer on AA – and Avios points sound like a reasonable option to explore – are there any blackout dates/times – or will we be able to choose any available flight on AA. I am considering opening the British Airway Visa Signature Card with 50,000 bonus Avios points

    1. Trav says:

      @Maria- Avios points are a FANTASTIC option for flying from DFW to Cancun. Yes, you can use Avios points for ANY flight that is available with AA. Just search on AA.com for dates.

      If there is something there, you can then either book online at BA.com if it lets you, and if not, then you can call in the agent and give them the dates and flight numbers.

      If you want to help support the site, feel free to apply for the BA Avios card per the instructions on our Best Current Deals page. If you do, the support is appreciated, and the deal is exactly the same as you’d get directly from Chase’s site.

  23. Dee Roberts says:

    I’ve been hoarding Avios — and have almost 140K now — out of confusion and embarassment, so please have patience with me if you can. I want to travel BOS – CDG via Aer Lingus, to avoid the high taxes and fees imposed by BA. There are economy flights available on the Aer Lingus site, over the Christmas holiday dates I am hoping to fly, but on the BA “Reward Flights” calendar there is no availability blocked in. But that shows BOS -LON and I am trying to travel to Paris, so I’m not sure if the BA monthly “bar graph of available dates” means anything here.

    How can I find out whether the flights I want, are eligible for award tickets in the first place? Is it decided by date, destination, carrier, or a combination? I would be happy to call Aer Lingus (or AA, or wherever else I can get a flight) and spend my miles/ pay the fees, but I don’t want to make a fool of myself if BA is the one and only gatekeeper to rewards eligibility. Thanks so much for helping to clarify my thinking.

  24. Robert says:

    Trav, thanks for putting this together. I’m sitting on 75,000 Avios and I’ve been planning to use them for a round-trip JFK-LHR business class ticket. Of course, I wasn’t looking forward to massive fuel surcharges! Thank you for explaining my alternatives in clear, easy-to-follow language.

    1. Trav says:

      @Robert- My pleasure. Any time I can help people avoid the dreaded fuel surcharge, I’ve done my job. No reason to be paying that ridiculous fee!

  25. Jennie says:

    I started flying BA going to and from Uganda,(from IAD) and joined their awards program before they switched to Avios. Then I signed up for the chase card and got even more points before the crazy surcharges. I had enough to fly to EBB and was excited! Then, I realized the charges. Ugh. So yeah, I tried domestic, knowing the charges were just when going through England. The only issue is availability. It’s bad. I also fly from d.c. to ABQ and LAS twice yearly. It’s a crapshoot finding flights available. Now, I try to fly to Uganda on KLM to gain Delta miles. I got their American Express card with 50,000 points. I’ll use them for overseas; I personally find their miles easy to redeem domestically. (Btw, friends with Erik and Kate – they recommended your site.)

    1. Trav says:

      @Jennie- Glad Erik and Kate sent you this way. They just got back from a trip to Singapore and NZ on points!

      Yeah, BA fuel surcharges are rough, and you’re right, domestic availability is a crapshoot. I’m surprised you’ve had such good success with Delta. Plan on giving United or AA a try sometime? Those could get you to Uganda at some point.

  26. andresperez04 says:


    I’m trying to find a flight from Miami to San Francisco. However, I’m knew at using Avios and for some reason I’m not able too. Any ideas on how I can do that? What to should I put on the search field?


    1. Trav says:

      @andresperez04- Don’t use BA to search. Instead, use AA.com to search for OneWorld availability. If anything that is SAAver award level shows up, then you’ll be able to use your BA Avios points to get the flight. You’d have to call BA though.

      If you don’t want to call BA, you’ll have to continue to try the BA website, but it is hard to get stuff to show up sometimes.

  27. Sean Duffy says:

    Hello, I am thinking of planning a study abroad trip to Ireland in the spring of 2015 and am trying to find ways to cut cost. I live close to Chicago so I would travel there and fly out. As you may have guessed I am also a student so I would most likely have to have a parent co-sign with me to get the card in the first place. I DO NOT have any credit cards or anything like that.

    Basically what I am trying to ask is, would it be possible for me to work this deal to my advantage and possibly fly for a low cost or even free?

    The flight would leave in mid-February and return in late may (or I could possibly do two one-ways if that makes it cheaper).

    Thanks for the article and in information you can give me.

    1. Trav says:

      @Sean Duffy- It is definitely possible to take advantage of the Chicago to Ireland deal with Avios points. It would be 40k roundtrip in economy. So, the British Airways card, which offers 50k at this point, would be enough.

      You’d want to book as quickly as possible to make sure you can get the Aer Lingus flights, as there is not always much availability. Good luck!

  28. Guy Fios says:

    Hello Trav, I’m planning a trip from Boston to NYC. Can I fly to either LGA or JFK for 4500 Avios points each way on American?

    1. Trav says:

      @Guy Fios- As long as the segment is under 649 miles of actual flying, it will cost 4500 Avios. So in this case, as long as you have a direct flight, yep, it will be 4500 each way on American. A steal!

      1. beatriz says:

        do I book on line or call BA

        1. Trav says:

          @beatriz- Check to see if you can get it to show up online. If not, you’ll have to call!

  29. IKARK says:

    Hi Trav: can I use my Avios points for shopping anywhere? buy books, or gifts, etc.? Thanks for your help.

    1. Trav says:

      @IKARK- You mean at physical stores? No, you can’t use Avios points for that.

  30. Sam says:

    How do I book from JFK – MIA for 7,500 points each way?

    1. Trav says:

      @Sam- It can be booked either online at BA.com or by calling up BA directly.

  31. These are great and tempting suggestions. However, I tried looking for Boston-Dublin flights (various dates) 3 months from now and no Aer Lingus flights ever appear. So on that one, I’d have to say “your mileage may vary.”

    Also, the BAir site is terrible. It’s slow, it doesn’t show prices until you’ve picked your flights, and it doesn’t sort the flights by price (only by carrier or time). So your frustration is guaranteed.

    But the other 4 deals sound fantastic… hopefully I’ll get to try them someday. Happy travels!

    1. Trav says:

      @game writer guy- Yeah, Aer Lingus is hard to snag nowadays, I think because a lot of people heard about the “trick.” And yes, BA’s site is not the best, I agree, but then again, most airline sites aren’t. Frustrating, but if the end result is a free flight, I’ll deal with the headache!

  32. Pam says:


    Im trying to take advantage of the Bos-Dublin Avios 25,000 deal but can only find 2 seats available. Any secrets on how to book a 3rd person? Im afraid to confirm my flight for 2 and book the 3rd person later. They only allow 24 hours to cancel or change your reservation without charging you $75 per person. What are the chances of me being able to book my 3rd party later on the same flights? Im trying to book 3 people on a roundtrip from bos-dub and am losing my mind with BA!!


    1. Trav says:

      @Pam- No, no secrets. That’s a really hard route to find any availability on using Avios (because a lot of people are in on the secret now) and so I’m surprised that you were able to find 2, actually.

      Like you said, you run the risk of having to pay $75 to cancel, but maybe you’ll get lucky? Or maybe $75 is worth it? I wish I had a better answer for you. ONLY saving grace is that maybe when you book those 2, another 2 might pop open? Maybe they are blocking some availability? Try that out and see what happens, and good luck!

  33. Wil says:

    I applied for the Chase BA card through your site based on this advise but I’ve spent well over two hours trying to at the very least calculate trips from DFW to Central America and they always appear as unavailable. When I go to the US version of the BA site and enter my flight plan, it responds with “British Airways is not authorized to fly this route”.
    Any guidance or thoughts?

    1. Trav says:

      @Wil- BA’s site is awful, no matter what version of it you are looking at. In order to find a routing that you can fly with BA, use the OneWorld route map (remember, you can fly on any OneWorld partners with BA points).

      Then, use AA.com to try to find availability for those routes. DON’T use BA.com. Once you find availability on AA.com, you’ll have to call BA up to book, but just spoonfeed them the information that you’ve already found (flight #, times, etc.).

      Since BA.com is an awful site, you’ll have to do it this way.

  34. Lori says:

    Hi Trav,
    I just found your website and love all of the info! My husband and I are planning a trip from Denver to Oahu in late Sept for our silver anniversary. I’m new to the idea of using miles for travel, and I only have the Amex green card with about 20k miles. I’m considering getting a couple of rewards card to rack up some miles. I know I will need to book airfare soon, and am wondering if these award card companies give you the bonus points sooner if you reach the minimum spending prior to the 3 months?
    What would be the cheapest option for us to get from Denver to Hawaii in late Sept? Also, I am having a hard time finding info about using points to upgrade a purchased coach ticket to business or first class?

    1. Trav says:

      @Lori- Yes, you can get points quicker than 3 months if you meet the spend earlier. Typically, after you meet the spend, you’re looking at maybe another month or so until the points post to your account.

      If you can get a direct flight from Denver to Hawaii, British Airways could be a good use of points. What points do you currently have? If you want me to make suggestions for best cards, just fill out this form:


  35. Lori says:

    I filled out the form…. I was considering the BA card. We are in Denver, and have us air and American. Was really hoping for the Amex gold 50 k bonus, but when I called, they said I would have to wait for a mailed offer. Last week, we both got Amex gold business card offers, hubby’s was 75 k after 5k spend, mine was 50k after 5 k spend, and 25k more after another 5 k spend. Wonder why they are different?
    We will need to really think about booking our airfare soon, so I’m confused as to what to do. Do I use bonus points(if I can get them in time) to book airfare? Or do I use them to upgrade?

  36. Andrew Castro says:

    I have 129,000 Avios Points, and I was just made aware that its expiring in May!

    I would like to use all these points up for a flight, hotel, and experiences if possible. What do you recommend I do if I want to go to Copenhagen and Stockholm? Is it possible?

    1. Trav says:

      @Andrew Castro- Sure it’s possible. Go to BA.com, see what is available, and book away. If you don’t see anything available online, then I’d call up an agent and talk to them. But whatever you do, make sure to use those points! And once you have activity on the account (if you use the points, that is activity) the clock will reset and they shouldn’t expire.

  37. sanj says:

    Brilliant Job!simplified to perfection!
    How do you suggest to get the best use of first class miles trip NYC-melbourne-tokyo-paris-Rotterdam – nyc. Have to be be in rotterdam on jan 22-24 2016. All other dates are flexible. Prefer JAL/QUANTAS/EMIRATES.
    Can use business where no first exists, and economy only if their is no choice– but for short flights only.Can drop Tokyo if impossible. Have status on AA,AMEX Black/jetblue milestransfeable to partner airlines.Chase BA card. please suggest best site to get top hotel in all cities

    1. Trav says:

      @sanj- with that many options, I’d simply just look for availability for all of them. Start looking for availability with AA miles, if that doesn’t work, move on United, etc. But you have lots of options, so it’s hard to say.

  38. Peter says:

    In 2011, 2013, and 2015 my wife and I flew First Class from Seattle to Maui on Alaska Airlines using Avios points and on each occasion we used a total of 150,000 Avios points for the round trip ( 75,000 each ). Two days ago I tried to book the same flights for later this year and was informed it would now cost a total of 300,000 Avios points (a 100% increase) in spite of the fact the Executive Club notice regarding changes for flights originating in the USA stated there were no changes for flights requiring 12,500 Avios points for economy. I emailed BA Customer Service but other than a computer generated response saying they would get back to me I have heard nothing. Needless to say I am not impressed.

    1. Trav says:

      @Peter – Hmmmm…weird. I’m not sure why it’s costing you 300k right now.

  39. hilary says:

    Hi, I just wanted to check if your information is still current? I want to book SFO to Lima and back but it won’t even show me that route on Avios or BA.com using miles. No LAN or AA routes come up

    1. Trav says:

      @hilary – Yep, it’s current. Weird that it’s not coming up. I’d call BA directly and see if they can book it for you.

  40. Robert Tews says:

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments on using British Airways avios. What you didn’t
    address the the very low actual cost of B.A. flights within Europe!!! We flew from Oslo (Zone1)to Berlin (zone1), then to Vienna (zone2) then to Santorini Greece
    (zone2) and back for very few avios and
    very reasonable fees. We made the roundtrip for two persons for 25,000 avios and about $365.00 US. That was in 2014.
    More recently we flew from Oslo to Marseille France for 24,000 Avios and $90.44 fot the two of us. The taxes,fees and charges are voided if you fly in Zones 1,2 or 3.
    Flying anywhere in Europe using Avios is a GREAT bargain!
    Flying from the US Chicago ORD (Zone 5) to Europe using Avios is NOT a bargain! !0,000 Avios plus 80 Brit # per person and the taxes,fees and charges are 826 Brit # each!


  41. Robert Tews says:

    Our flight from Oslo to Marseille was one way only, as well as the trip Chicago ORD to Oslo


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