British Airways is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs due to the distance-based award chart and ability to book short-haul award tickets on the cheap. Since BA is part of the Oneworld alliance, you can use Avios to book award tickets on airlines like American Airlines, Iberia, and Qatar Airways. Here’s how…
Estimate cost and distance-based award chart
British Airways separates award cost into nine different zones. For flights 1-650 miles in distance, the cost is only 4,500 Avios one-way everywhere except North America, which costs 7,500 Avios one-way.
The best way to determine the cost of the flight you want is by heading to British Airways’ online calculator. NOTE: You will have to change the website country to United Kingdom for this feature to work:
Booking the flight
If you’re an American Airlines flyer, using BA’s website (or Qantas) to find award space is going to be your bread and butter. I’d argue Qantas has the best user experience, though.
Once on BA’s home page, log in to your Executive Club account (if you don’t have one, you’ll have to make one) and navigate to the award redemption page:
Next, select Book a reward flight:
For the purposes of this demonstration let’s say you want to fly Qantas from Dallas (DFW) to Sydney (DFW) using Avios. Since Qantas is a Oneworld carrier, this is totally doable. Just simply search BA.com with DFW-SYD and voila:
American Airlines issues
I love using Avios to fly short-haul on American within the United States. Unfortunately, there have been some issues with booking AA award tickets on BA.com. Recently, BA acknowledged the issue with this message:
As the message states, your best bet is to call British Airways’ reservations but they are notoriously slow and difficult to work with. Some people have been having luck on the website by refreshing the page a bunch of times and/or clicking the date selector back and forth.
Transfer to Avios
If you don’t have enough Avios for your trip or are just looking to top up your account, you have a few options for transferring to Avios:
All of these have a 1:1 transfer ratio, but keep in mind SPG has a 5,000 Avios bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer. You’re only able to transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints maximum per day so you’re going to want to cut it off at 60,000 to avoid missing out on the bonus.
Something else to look out for is transfer timing. Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer instantly, but Starpoints can take up to five business days.
Featured image courtesy of Simon_sees