5 Cool Benefits of British Airways Miles

Since I continue to get questions regarding British Airways (BA) miles, I decided to put a post together to give people a fair idea about how to use British Airways miles.

The reason so many people are currently interested in British Airways miles is because of the 100,000 British Airways miles credit card offer that is scheduled to expire May 5th, 2011 at midnight EST.

#1. British Airways miles can be used for domestic flights in the United States (and a bunch of other flights too).

British Airways is part of an airline allegiance called One World.  Partner airlines are American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordinian, S7 Airlines.

This means that you can use British Airways miles to book travel on any of the above airlines.

How does it work?

Let’s say that American Airlines has a seat available for a flight from Los Angeles to New York.  You can use BA miles to book that flight.

How do you book on a partner airline?

You log into your ba.com account.  Once you are on the page to search your travel, simply enter your departure and arrival city.  From there, you have the option to ‘search partner airlines’.  At this point, ba.com will also look for flight availability on any of the above airlines.

There is no computer search system that is perfect, so if you know there is a seat available, you may need to call the reward booking customer service center.

Yes, this also means you can us your BA miles to fly Cathay Pacific to Asia, Japan Airlines to Japan, and LAN to South America.

2. British Airways allows you to get free stopovers on reward flights.

A stopover means you can stop in a city for a day, a week, a month, or more.

As a point of comparison, let me introduce you to American Airlines’ stopover policy.  American Airlines only allows you to take a stopover in a US hub.  Thus, if I’m planning a flight from Rome to Cheyenne, Wyoming, I might fly from Rome (FCO) to JFK (New York [the US Hub]), to Dallas (DFW), to Cheyenne.  If I were to book this flight on American using American miles, I would have the choice to stopover at JFK.  That would be my only choice.

However, if I were booking the flight with BA miles (even if I were still flying on an American Airlines aircraft), I could stop at JFK and DFW on my way to Cheyenne.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, let’s say you were planning a trip to Thailand and you would be flying through Narita, Japan and Hong Kong.  Then on the same trip using the same miles, you could visit Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong – for no extra charge.

For more detailed information, I recommend this post from The Points Guy.

#3.  British Airways allows you to share household miles.

Imagine a family of five that all have BA miles.  One member of the family may travel more or spend more on a credit card so the end result is that the family ends up with an unequal share of miles.  When it comes time to book flights, some family members may have enough points, while others do not.

This problem is easily solved by BA’s policy regarding household miles.

You can book travel for family members (same addresses) and miles can be taken out of each one’s account dependent on the number of miles they have.

Here’s an example:

Dad – 110,000 miles (55%)

Mom – 50,000 miles (25%)

Son – 20,000 miles (10%)

Daughter – 20,000 miles (10%)

If this plan were to take advantage of the household account, when booking four round trip tickets in the States, the total mileage requirement would be 100,000 miles.  Each family member would contribute their percentage of the total.

Dad’s miles would be used to cover 55% of the total (he would kick in 55,000 miles), mom would contribute 25% of the total (25,000 miles) and each child 10% or 10,000 miles.

Just so you know, you don’t need to figure out the percentage and miles to come out of each account as that will be done automatically.

#4 British Airways should be avoided (IMO) when flying to Europe.

I know it sounds strange, but I don’t think you should use your BA flight for trips to Europe.  The reason it sounds strange is that British Airways seems like the best airline to fly to Europe.  The problem is the fuel surcharge.  A domestic ticket to Europe can easily cost $500 between the fuel surcharge, taxes, and fees.  Compare that to flying LAN to South America where you’ll pay less than $100, or Cathay Pacific to Asia where you may pay less than $150.

#5 British Airways has a Cash and points option.

If you’re short on miles for an upcoming trip, BA allows you to easily make up the difference by buying points.  When you are making a reservation, you may see an option to use x # of miles and x # of dollars.  As the mileage requirement decreases, the price increases.  You’ll have to calculate the math on your own itinerary, but this could be a good option if you’re coming up short on a British Airways flight.

Comments

  1. Kurtis says

    The section about fuel surcharges and taxes is thought provoking. So in considering possible travel destinations, how do I most efficiently find out the flights with highest and lowest charges?

    • Craig says

      Kurtis,
      Your best bet is to sign (create a free account if you don’t have one) into ba.com and play around with some different itineraries. Whenever you have the opportunity to search partner airlines you should do that. Basically, the rule of thumb for getting the best rewards is (1) don’t mix and match airlines. For example, don’t fly one leg on American and another on Cathay because that will make the flights a lot more expensive in miles. (2) avoid BA when possible because of their fuel surcharge. This will be your best bet for getting the lowest prices and lowest reward redemption rates.

  2. barbara says

    I have the 100,000 miles and would like to know the best route for seeing as many South American cities as possible on one reward from New York. Would it be best to use the miles as 2 one way rewards. Any help with the cities would be appreciated.
    As a second thought ,how would the best route to get in a few cities on route to Capetown, South Africa.

    • Craig says

      Barbara,
      I will be difficult to say without doing a full work up. At times people report different agents allowing certain stops that others will not allow. You might find the following post by the Points Guy helpful – http://thepointsguy.com/2011/03/tips-on-using-british-airways-miles/ – see #8.

      The same would be true of South Africa.

      Play around at ba.com and if you feel like you need help with the reward booking just contact me.

  3. Jerry Mandel says

    Yes, you can use Avios to Europe without high fuel charges. Go on Finnair via HELsinki and onward. Go on Aer Lingus via BOS-DUBlin and onward.

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