Best Ways to Spend British Airways Avios for Maximum Value

British Airways has a distance based award chart that is priced per segment. Therefore, short, direct, and expensive flights offer the best value. British Airways adds fuel surcharges to their own flights, so using Avios to fly on British Airways can be very expensive. For example, a roundtrip flight from New York to London in economy costs about 26,000 Avios + $ 452.48. You can usually book that route in cash plus earn points for $400-450, which makes awards on long-haul British Airways flights not worth it.

Avios offer great value for direct flights on many of their partner airlines. For example, Hong Kong to the island of Okinawa costs about $595 for the direct flight on Cathay Pacific. But you can redeem 7,500 Avios + $49 for that flight, which would net you an amazing 7.3 cents per point. 


British Airways’ Airline Partners

Below are all of the airlines that you could fly on using Avios. To find direct flights, try the One World Route Map or Flight Connections (choose OneWorld).

  • American Airlines
  • Aer Lingus (book via call center; medium fuel surcharges)
  • Air Italy  (medium fuel surcharges)
  • Alaska (book via call center)
  • British Airways (high fuel surcharges)
  • Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon
  • Comair
  • Finnair
  • Fiji Airways
  • Flybe
  • Iberia (high fuel surcharges)
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia
  • Qantas
  • Qatar  (high fuel surcharges)
  • Royal Jordanian (high fuel surcharges)
  • S7
  • Sri Lankan
  • Vistara

You can find award space for all partners on BritishAirways.com, except Alaska (use AA.com) and Aer Lingus (use United.com). American has been very stingy with award space over the past year, so don’t be surprised if you struggle to find American Airlines flights. You can also quickly see award space for British Airways operated flights (not partner or OneWorld) for an entire year via this website.


How Many Avios It Will Cost

Awards are priced per segment, which means you have to price out every stop. For example, Los Angeles to New York via Chicago would be 10,000 Avois (Los Angeles-Chicago) plus 7,500 Avios (Chicago-New York). However, booking the direct flight from Los Angeles to New York for 12,500 Avios would save you 5,000 Avios.

There are a few ways to figure out how many Avios it will cost to fly on your route:

  • The points blog Wandering Aramean has two fairly accurate tools to help you calculate the cost: the Great Avios Redemption Calculator and Avios Destinations by Price
  • You could also use a combination of Google Flights or Flight Connections to find the potential routing you want to take, and then plug that routing into GCMap to calculate the distance of each segment. You can now look at the award chart below to calculate how many points it will cost. But remember that with Avios, direct flights are cheaper than connecting.

Off-Peak pricing in the chart below is only available on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus during about two-thirds of the year. Additionally, for flights under 650 miles to or from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are priced at 7,500 Avios rather than 4,500 Avios. 

Flight Distance (miles) Economy- BA (Off Peak)Economy- Partners and BA (Peak)Premium Economy- BA (off peak)Premium Economy Partners and BA (Peak)Business BA (Off Peak)Business Partners and BA (Peak)First Class BA (Off Peak)First Class Partners and BA (Peak)
1 to 650|4,0004,5005,7506,7507,7509,00015,50018,0000
651 to 1,150|6,5007,5009,50011,25012,75015,00025,50030,000
1,151 to 2,000|8,50010.00012,75015,00017,00020,00034,00040,000
2001 to 3,000|10,00012,50020,00025,00031,25037,50042,50050,000
3001 to 4,000|13,00020,00026,00040,00050,00060,00068,00080,000
4001 to 5,500|16,25025,00032,50050,00062,50075,00085,000100,000
5,501 to 6,500|19,50030,00039,00060,00075,00090,000102,000120,000
6,501 to 7.000|22,75035,00045,50070,00087,500105,000119,000140,000
7,001+|32.50050,00065,000100,000125,000150,000170,000200,000


Upcoming Changes: British Airways plans to switch from a distance-based award redemption program to a revenue-based award redemption program. Under a revenue-based system, the cost of an award is tied directly to the cash price of the ticket. Currently, you can get some great deals under the distance-based system, so moving to a revenue-based system will devalue the value of your points. 

Fuel Surcharges: Includes fuel surcharges for most partners, except American (only collects to/from Europe) and Aer Lingus. The airlines with high fuel surcharges are Qatar, British Airways, Iberia, and Royal Jordanian. (Chart)

Stopovers: Since each segment is priced separately, you have unlimited stopovers.

  • The exception to the per-segment rule is if you flying to a city in England or Scotland and connect in London, where you can do a free stopover.

Fees: Depends on the country. For the U.S. it is $55 to cancel or the cost of taxes and fees (whichever is lower), $55 change fee, and $25 phone booking). For U.S. domestic flights, the cancel fee would only be $5.60 each way.

Points Expiration: 36 months of inactivity.

Phone Number: 1-800-452-1201


Multiple OneWorld Airline Chart

This applies when you want to fly two or more OneWorld carriers. For this award chart, you cannot fly on British Airways at all. Additionally, you are limited to eight flight segments, seven stopovers, and one open-jaw. 

Distance (Miles)EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
0-1,500 30,00045,00060,00090,000
1,501-4,00035,00052,50070,000105,000
4,001- 9,00060,00090,000120,000180,000
9,001- 10,00070,000105,000140,000210,000
10,001-14,00090,000135,000180,000270,000
14,001-20,000100,000150,000200,000300,000
20,001-25,000120,000180,000240,000360,000
25,001- 35,000140,000210,000280,000420,000
35,001- 50,000160,000240,000320,000480,000


Avios Sweet Spots

American Airlines

If you are traveling to or from an American Airlines hub (DFW, LAX, ORD, JFK, CLT, PHL, MIA, DCA, or PHX), British Airways Avios can save you a lot of money. For example, you the standard non-stop price between Charlotte and St. Louis is a ridiculous $554. But you can book that same flight for only 7,500 Avios plus $5.60. The one downside is that American Airlines is somewhat stingy with opening up award seats. If you can find award space, you can book some great deals.

 

 

Example of Expensive American Airlines Flight That You can book with Avios
Non-Stop Flight Prices for Charlotte to St. Louis

 

Example of American Airlines Flight Using British Airways Avios
You can book that $554 flight for 7,500 Avios plus $5.60, which equals 7.3 cents per point.

Aer Lingus

  • 10,000 Avios (off-peak economy to Dublin): Montreal (only 31,250 avios for one-way business class)
  • 13,000 Avios (off-peak economy to Dublin): Hartford-Springfield (BDL), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Washington, DC (IAD), and Chicago (ORD)
  • 16,250 Avios (off-peak economy to Dublin): Orlando (MCO), Miami (MIA), San Francisco (SFO), and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Eligible for British Airways “Off Peak” pricing. You can find award space via United.com and call to book with British Airways’ call center.

West Coast to Hawaii

  • A direct flight from the West Coast to Hawaii is only 12,500 Avios one-way + $5.60 on either American or Alaska.
  • Honolulu (HNL)
    • Alaska: Anchorage, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.
    • American: Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas (20,000).
  • Maui (OGG)
    • Alaska: Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Anchorage (seasonal), and Bellingham (seasonal)
    • American: Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas (20,000).
  • Kona (KOA)
    • Alaska: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, San Francisco, Anchorage (seasonal), Bellingham (seasonal), Portland (seasonal)
    • American: Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas (seasonal and 20,000)
  • Lihue (LIH)
    • Alaska: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, and Portland (seasonal)
    • American: Los Angles, Phoenix, and Dallas (seasonal and 20,000)

Expensive Direct Flights

To maximize British Airways points, think about really expensive direct flights. Most of the time it will be flights to islands, which are usually absurdly expensive. Some examples are:

  • Santiago, Chile to Easter Island on LATAM.
  • Hong Kong to Okinawa (7,500 Avios + $49 for a $595 flight) on Cathay Pacific
  • Hong Kong to Maldives on Cathay Pacific.
  • Lima to Iguazu Falls on LATAM for 10,000 Avios.
  • Johannesburg to Victoria Falls for 4,500 Avios on British Airways. 
  • Doha to Muscat in Qatar Airways First Class for 18,000 Avios plus $72. The huge advantage of this award is that you can access Qatar’s amazing first class lounge.

Iberia

Iberia and British Airways have separate award programs, but you can transfer Avios between the programs for free. British Airways imposes fuel surcharges on Iberia flights from the U.S. to Europe (about $500+ one-way). However, you can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios, book that same flight for less than $100 in fuel surcharges.