The biggest decision you’ll need to make when collecting miles and points is which program is best for your travel needs. In order to do that, I’ve been putting together a series of articles that highlight the different program features.
Here’s a list of the other US based airlines that I’ve posted about:
Even though British Airways is not a US based airline, I decided to include it in the series because I know a lot of people have collected or considered collecting Avois because of the different credit card sign up bonuses that British Airways has had in the past. Also, more than any other airline, you must understand where the gems are within the program.
British Airways Avois Program Details and Introduction
Published October 2012. Changes after this date may not be accurate in this summary.
British Airways Partnerships
British Airways is part of the One World Alliance.
- Cathay Pacific
- Royal Jordinian
- S7 Airlines
British Airways Award Booking Chart and Program Highlights:
Unlike most other airlines, British Airways does not have a zone-based award chart, but a distance-based one. As such, there isn’t a link I can give you to their award chart. Instead, what you’ll need to do is visit their Avios calculator to see how many Avois it takes based on your destination. The further it is between point A and point B, the more Avois you’ll need to use for a booking.
Per segment Avois:
Another thing that is unique about Avois is that you always need to redeem Avois for each leg.
For example, with American Airlines you could book a ticket from Denver – Toronto for 12,500 miles each way. You could fly via Chicago or Dallas and it would still cost 12,500 AAdvantage points. However, that is not the case with British Airways. A flight from Denver – Dallas is 4,500 Avios, and the flight from Dallas to Toronto is 10,000 miles. Thus, the total is 14,500 Avois for a one-way. However, Denver to Chicago costs 7,500 miles, and Chicago to Toronto another 4,500. Thus, flying through Chicago only requires 12,000.
When booking your trips, you’ll always want to find the shortest possible routing for the best Avois rate.
While the per segment aspect of Avois might seem like a negative benefit, it can actually be positive.
I see it this way. Since the other programs are more similar, having Avois opens up the door for some possible mileage savings. Diversification and variety are always good things.
If I’m in New York and trying to get to Montreal, I can do that 4,500 Avios each way. Most other airlines will cost me 12,500. If I’m in Miami and trying to get to Quito, Ecuador, I can do that for 10,000 Avois each way. Most other airlines would cost about 20,000 miles each way.
For the right flights, Avios can be very valuable.
Award Booking Policies, Facts, and Possible Fees
The biggest drawback of the Avois program is the excessive fuel surcharges.
Flights on British Airways metal (plane that says British Airways on the side) will always have a huge fuel surcharge. A person booking award flights between North America and Europe can easily expect to pay $500+ per ticket in fuel surcharges.
For example, economy class flights from Chicago – London (LHR) = 40,000 Avois plus $625.71. Flight operated by American Airlines.
Not all airlines and routes will have a fuel surcharges with British Airways. It all depends on the airline and the routing. As an example, you can book US domestic flights using Avois without a fuel surcharge. You can book LAN flights in South America without a fuel surcharge. Flights within the US on American don’t have fuel surcharges.
Before you start collecting too many Avios, you’ll want to be sure that your preferred destination is one that does not have a huge fee. The best way to check it is to go through the process as if you were booking tickets. Once you’ve found availability, British Airways will tell you how many Avois it requires, plus the taxes and fees.
Flight cancellations cost $40. Compared to most airlines, that’s actually pretty good. In fact, if you book online and your taxes and fees come to less than $40, there’s a good chance you won’t even pay that. Last year, I cancelled tickets from Denver to Dallas. I cancelled the ticket (online) without a fee, but I didn’t get back the $2.50 I’d paid in taxes and fees.
When it comes to flight changes, the Avios program is less generous than most. Any changes (even just dates) will cost $40. The exception, of course, is if you can cancel it without a fee and then simply rebook the new flights.
One Way and Open-Jaw Policy
You can book one way flights. In fact, you could stop at every destination along the way. Remember, your Avios price is per segment so you could buy four different city pairs and make a stop in each city. Similarly, they allow open jaw flights.
Stop Over Policy
Yes, you can stop over at any destination. Again, this is because of their per segment charge for flights.
Hold Award Ticket Policy
You cannot put an award ticket on hold.
Fuel Surcharge Policy
Yes, tons. We’ve already covered their massive fuel surcharges for certain routes.
British Airways Earning Opportunities
British Airways is the king of the hill when it comes to earning possiblities.
For the last few years, they’ve had a promotion once a year where you can get up to 100,000 Avios for one credit card application. You could get the card today with a 50,000 Avois sign up bonus. You’ll get the bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Ultimate Rewards points can be transfered to Avois. My first preference is to keep my Ultimate Rewards points for United flights, but if I needed Avois for an upcoming flight, I wouldn’t have any issues transferring points over to Avois if it was a flight where I could maximize my per dollar value.
American Express Membership Rewards points can also be transfered to Avios. In fact, every quarter or so, there is a transfer bonus to Avios. We’ve seen 50% transfer bonuses and 40% transfer bonuses this year. Personally, I think this is a great use of American Express Rewards points.
Membership Rewards cards include – American Express Gold Card®, The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card®, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN, and Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN.
Overall Rating Range : Poor – below average – average – above average – strong
Rating = Above Average
I’ve given Avois an above average rating because, for the right person, the program can be amazing. Personally, I’ve already redeemed a flight between Denver and Dallas for a mere 4,500 Avois. I’ve redeemed flights between Chicago and Toronto for 4,500 Avois. Those mileage rates are hard to beat.
What are your thoughts about the Avios program?