How to use Your Avios Effectively

British Airways Airbus A350 1000

British Airways‘ loyalty program Executive Club is not exactly an underdog in the frequent flyer business. At least most travelers in Europe will have heard of it, many of us use it to obtain Oneworld status.

But while the program is known to provide rather straightforward ways to elite tier (we’ve covered this here and here), the most effective ways to redeem all the Avios earned are sometimes overlooked. Which is a shame since the Executive Club offers multiple ways to use your award miles.

This article will focus on some of the best options to get rid of your Avios. Since the Executive Club currency is used in the most effective way by redeeming it for award seats, we will not cover topics like BA’s shopping partners. Instead, we will try and give you an overview on flight options.

The Basics

Before we go into detail, we will cover the basics of using Avios. The Executive Club uses two different distance-based charts – one for the IAG members British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia. Moreover, there are different peak and off-peak times for those three airlines.

Zone
Miles
Economy
Off-Peak / Peak
Premium Economy
Off-Peak / Peak
Business
Off-Peak / Peak
First
Off-Peak / Peak
Zone 1
0-650
4,000 / 4,5005,750 / 6,7507,750 / 9,00015,500 / 18,000
Zone 2
651-1,150
6,500 / 7,5009,500 / 11,25012,750 / 15,00025,500 / 30,000
Zone 3
1,151-2,000
8,500 / 10,00012,750 / 15,00017,000 / 20,00034,000 / 40,000
Zone 4
2,001-3,000
10,000 / 12,50020,000 / 25,00031,250 / 37,50042,500 / 50,000
Zone 5
3,001-4,000
13,000 / 20,00026,000 / 40,00050,000 / 60,00068,000 / 80,000
Zone 6
4,001-5,500 
16,250 / 25,00032,500 / 50,00062,500 / 75,00085,000 / 100,000
Zone 7
5,501-6,500
19,500 / 30,00039,000 / 60,00075,000 / 90,000102,000 / 120,000
Zone 8
6,501-7,000
22,750 / 35,00045,500 / 70,00087,500 / 105,000119,000 / 140,000
Zone 9
7,001+
32,500 / 50,00065,000 / 100,000125,000 / 150,000170,000 / 200,000

The second chart is used for flights with all other partner airlines. However, you won’t find the differentiation between peak and off-peak here.

Zone
Miles
EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Zone 1
0-650
6,0009,00012,50024,000
Zone 2
651-1,150
9,00012,50016,50033,000
Zone 3
1,151-2,000
11,00016,50022,00044,000
Zone 4
2,001-3,000
13,00025,75038,75051,500
Zone 5
3,001-4,000
20,75041,25062,00082,500
Zone 6
4,001-5,500
25,75051,50077,250103,000
Zone 7
5,501-6,500
31,00062,00092,750123,750
Zone 8
6,501-7,000
36,25072,250108,250144,250
Zone 9
7,001+
51,500103,000154,500206,000

Another thing to be aware of is the fact that you will always pay per for each segment. For example, you want to travel from Rome to Toronto via London on British Airways in economy class. Let’s assume it’s off-peak:

Rome - London: 899 miles = 6,500 Avios
London - Toronto: 3,556 miles = 13,000 Avios
Total: 19,500 Avios

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Short-Haul Flights Within Europe

This is the first option that can get you the best value for your Avios. Sure, flying short-haul on European routes doesn’t sound glamorous. But it can save you a lot of money if you use your Executive Club award miles to book your flight. This is especially right if you have to travel on short notice.

Low-cost carriers serve many connections in Europe. Therefore we wouldn’t recommend paying more or using award miles if you can save money by flying Ryanair or other no-frills airlines. But some scenarios make redeeming points a good idea. This is if you’re:

  • Traveling on a typically very expensive route
  • Only flying one-way
  • Keen on flying business class

British Airways has introduced additional pricing options giving you the chance to book award seats with Avios and as little as €1 in taxes and fees. As a result, you can get a non-stop flight from London to any European airport (or vice-versa) within 650 miles for 7,500 Avios plus €1 in cash. Assuming a value of €0,01 per Avios, that trip would then cost you around €76.

British Airways Step one. Choose the dates and times of your flights. 2019 11 25 12 44 58
One-way flight between London and Luxembourg for 7,500 and €1 in cash

Now, flights on some routes might justify this deal on any given day. Others only if you book last-minute. In any case, you should check the regular price before booking. If you’re in need of a one-way ticket, this deal often becomes a no-brainer. Since airlines will impose hefty surcharges for these flights, redeeming Avios is a great option.

Using your Avios to fly British Airways’ Club Europe (the airline’s short-haul business class) is controversial, for sure. But if you want to benefit from priority service and extra luggage allowance, it can definitely make sense. Prices are about double the ones that you will have to pay for economy. In other words, the flight shown in the screenshot above will be available for 12,750 Avios plus €1 in cash.

Transatlantic Flights With Aer Lingus

Most travelers will know that Aer Lingus is part of the IAG (International Airlines Group. Consequently the carrier is also using Avios as its loyalty program currency. And this results in great redemption opportunities.

Since British Airways and Aer Lingus are more or less sharing an award chart, the savings in Avios are non-existent in most cases. But due to the fact that taxes and fees are much lower, you can avoid spending a lot of money in addition to your award miles. So flights between Dublin and several cities in the USA are available for 13,000 (east-coast) to 25,000 (west-coast) Avios and surcharges that are often below €50.

Also with Aer Lingus, booking business class tickets with Avios can get you great value. Once again, the surcharges are low. Moreover, the airline’s premium cabin is a great product.

Flights From Europe to the USA With Iberia

Just like Aer Lingus, the Spanish carrier Iberia is part of the IAG and also an Avios partner. Therefore, you can use your hard-earned award miles to redeem flights with Iberia. And this can be a great alternative to using them for flights with British Airways, especially on routes to the USA.

But to really benefit from this method, it is necessary to have an open Iberia Plus account and to transfer Avios there since you can save big in taxes and fees when booking with the Spanish program. A trip from Madrid to New York in business class, for example, will cost you 34,000 Avios. No matter which carrier you choose. But the amount of cash that you’ll have to out down varies. While a BA flight will cost you around €240 in fees and taxes for a one-way trip, Iberia Plus will only impose €100. So less than half.

Iberia Avios Redemption
Iberia Plus award pricing for business cass flight between Madrid and New York

If you find this to be an exciting way to get rid of your Avios, check out the more extended article that we wrote on this topic.

Fly Cathay Pacific Within Asia

Traveling in Asia by plane can be a super cheap way to get from A to B. But depending on the route and your requirements for the airline you’re traveling with, prices can also be quite high. On flights from and to Hong Kong, using Avios to book an award ticket with Cathay Pacific is worth having a closer look at.

Especially the fact that surcharges are low when traveling with Cathay Pacific is an argument for this way of redeeming Avios. A trip between Hong Kong and Denpasar, for example, will cost you 13,000 Avios and around €45 in taxes and fees.

If you want to book a business class ticket and share the experience our editor Dennis was able to make recently, you’ll need 38,750 Avios. But still only around €50 in cash.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Review Seat
Cathay Pacific medium-haul business class seats

USA Mainland to Hawaii

Hawaii is part of the USA. But while we often promote cheap flights to cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles, trips to the dream vacation spot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are often much more expensive. That’s because a flight to Hawaii will take at least 6 hours – from the US west coast, mind you.

So what could be more obvious then booking a discounted ticket to the USA mainland and then adding an award flight using your Avios? Two airlines will offer this option: American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. While the latter only allows you to book award seats via the phone, American Airlines flights can be secured via British Airways’ online tool.

Prices are very similar in both cases — Budget 13,000 Avios for a one-way flight between Los Angeles and Honolulu. Surcharges should be as low as $5, making this one of the sweetest deals that Avios can get you.

British Airways Step one. Choose the dates and times of your flights. 2019 11 25 14 36 47
Use Avios to cut cost on your next trip to Hawaii

Use Your Avios for Upgrades

Flying in a better cabin class then the one you’ve booked and paid for is a great thing. And Avios make this a rather straightforward process. In short, there are two ways to make to most out of your award miles here. For instance, sitting in Business Class with a Premium Economy Class ticket is one of them.

The other option is upgrading from business class to first class. Since you will be able to find cheap tickets quite often and the additional taxes and fees can be close to nothing, this is a great option as well. Check out our extensive guide on using Avios to upgrade your ticket to find out more.

Bottom Line

While there are multiple ways to spend your Avios, award flights are the most appealing one. But be aware of the fact that not every redemption will result in a great deal for you. Sometimes it is better to spend some cash and earn miles instead of spending them. Prices for flights – also in premium cabins – are sometimes very low. Consequently, you won’t save big when using Avios.

But if you stick to the tips in this article, you will most likely be able to make the most out of the Avios that you earned.

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  1. And please add, that there are diffferent peak / off peak calendars for Iberia and BA, which can also come into consideration.

    Reply

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