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Tips on Using British Airways Miles

by on March 31, 2011 · 127 comments

in American Express, British Airways, Points Guy Pointers

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Update: The current sign-up bonus offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios. 25,000 upon first use, and another 25,000 when you spend $2,500 within 90 days.

I thought I’d give some tips that I’ve learned booking millions of miles in awards using BA miles. Even if you don’t have BA miles or Amex points, knowing how to use the BA award engine is extremely useful when using American miles or any other Oneworld partner.

1) American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to BA instantly at 1:1 ratio (and often at bonuses of up to 40%). This is a great way to top up the miles needed for an award

2) The Britishairways.com search engine is buggy, but when you understand how it works it’s actually pretty robust and includes most Oneworld partners.

3) BA has four distinct award charts: bookmark this page for BA flight amounts, this one for BA + 1 partner airline, this one for travel on a single Oneworld partner and this for multiple Oneworld partners. The best deal is usually when you book with one partner, so always keep that in mind when planning your awards. Also, generally BA partners have less fuel surcharges and fees than when flying BA.

4) There are a couple ways to book awards, but I recommend britishairways.com -> Sign in -> Executive Club -> Spending BA miles -> Book using BA miles. For a sample Toronto-Hong Kong trip, the first thing that BA will do is assume you want to fly on British Airways planes and ask you if you want to stopover in London (which is always free, though there are higher taxes when flying through London). Click continue and you’ll either see British Airways options or a calendar of dates.

Assuming you’d rather fly the more direct Toronto-Hong Kong nonstop on Cathay Pacific,  ignore the calendar and click the search button under the Partner Airlines box in the top left (sometimes there’s another box directly above the BA results – I find that clicking either link has the same desired result).

If there’s availability, the partner flights will show up. One of the things I really like about the BA engine is that it tells you how many seats are left – something most other award engines don’t do – at least not accurately.

5) While the engine is smart once it stops being with booking British Airways only flights, it’s also not the most savvy. It may think of some connection options, but only half-heartedly. For example, if you want to go LAX-London, it’ll show LAX-Las Vegas- London (which has a lot of availability) but not LAX-JFK-London. The reason why leads me to my next tip which is…

6) The ba.com engine myopically searches for the class of service you specify. So if you are looking for an international business class trip that has domestic first class segments, ba.com won’t automatically put them together. The engine sometimes assumes (but not always, if you see in the example above it did combine a business+first itinerary) that domestic first class on 2 cabin aircraft is true first class, which it’s not, so you have to call to get those tickets booked which brings me to:

7) BA only has a handful of reps working their US call center 1-800-452-1201 and it’s only open from 7:30am- 8pm EST. There are often 20+ minute hold times and you don’t want to be on hold when 8pm rolls around because you will be automatically disconnected! Unfortunately, calling is often inevitable because multi-city/stopover trips need to be booked on the phone, which segues me to one of the biggest advantages of the Executive Club…

8 ) Stopovers. BA allows unlimited stopovers as long as you take the most direct route. This means you can essentially make grand tours out of simple trips. Instead of going NY to Easter Island, you could do JFK-Lima (Stop), Lima-Santiago (Stop), Santiago-Easter Island (Destination) and returning Easter Island-Cuzco (Stop), Cuzco-JFK. This is all for the price of one award, which is only 40,000 miles North America to South America in coach and 80,000 in business class – a huge value, especially when you factor in the 40% Amex Transfer bonus! Also, if you are booking a London-NYC trip, you could actually build in a free trip to Hawaii because Hawaii is coded as North America. For example, you could do London-JFK (stop) then do JFK-LAX-HNL at a later time and date. After return HNL-LAX-JFK (stop) and then back to London whenever you were done. The stopover thing is a bit of a gray area, so when you call in to ticket, don’t make a huge fuss over it and seem like you are working the system, or else the agents may decide not to allow it. Be discreet and know the exact availability of the flights you want so you can make the agent’s life easy. If they push back on a particular routing either rework your itinerary or try again later.

9) If you ever need to cancel or change a trip, BA’s change/redeposit fees are a reasonable $70 over the phone or $50 when done online.

10) Speaking of fees, British Airways is known for having exorbitant fees on award tickets. I booked clients in first class from Toronto to Nairobi recently and fees came out to a whopping $1,250 per ticket! You can expect high fees whenever connecting through London and flying on BA flights. They are much more reasonable on some partners – I recently redeemed 37,500 BA miles for a one way first class San Francisco-JFK American Airlines flight and fees were only $2.50. My JFK-YVR Cathay Pacific Business class tickets were 50,000 miles and $85 in fees, which I thought was reasonable. Normal US-Europe on British Airways will run you around $500-$700 depending on your departure city. Personally, I love the New First Class product so much that if I knew I was guaranteed to have it, I’d splurge for it, but I don’t think their old first class warrants it (except if you fly behind Madonna like I did last June!).

11) Another feature of the Executive Club that I like is the ability to do cash and miles redemptions. So if you only have 110,000 miles and you want to splurge for First Class, which is 150,000 miles, you can buy the difference for roughly $880 or 2.2 cents a mile. The rates for economy and first class cash and miles redemptions can go as low as 1.2 cents a mile.

12) BA is a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood (and you get a 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 points transferred), but those transfers can take up to a week or more to process – one of my major gripes about the Starwood program. It’s 2011- can’t they speed up the transaction time?!

13) BA has household accounts, so you can pool miles together for an award. For example if there are 3 members with 50,000 each, one of them can book a 150,000 mile award for themselves. Note: You cannot book awards for anyone outside of the household (though it is pretty easy to change members- they just need to have your physical address in their BA profiles).

Overall, many frequent flyers discount BA because of their high fees, but if you leverage their website and frequent flyer program correctly, you can get great value- even if you never step a foot onto a British Airways plane.

If you have any tips and tricks for using BA miles, feel free to share them below!

FYI: I ended up writing a ten part series on maximizing British Airways miles, since so many of you got in on the super-lucrative 100,000 mile BA Visa sign-up bonus (see details on new offer): General tipsPost 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10 - Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Derek

    Great stuff, I booked your post, rather than the BA chart….

  • hobo13

    You are incorrect about your hypothetical trip to Easter Island. Yes, you can make a lot stopovers, but not quite as many as you suggest. For 40k RT in Y, or 80k RT in C, you need to fly exclusively on partner LAN. LAN does not fly to SJU, so you cannot make that a stopover. You also cannot fly NYC-MIA on LAN.

    If you added in those other stops, you’d be looking at a OneWorld award which uses distance-based pricing. The whole deal with going to Easter Island cheaply is that you stay exclusively on LAN and get their award chart.

  • The Points Guy

    Hobo- you’re right- I got a little carried away w the example- I’ll edit to make it LAN only

  • http://[email protected] ah

    can i use BA miles for car rentals in the US?

  • The Points Guy

    @AH- I don’t believe so

  • Cal

    Hi, thanks for the great info. Just curious…Have you seen a better offer from BA in the past, or is 40% about as good as it has ever been? What about on other MR partner airlines?

  • The Points Guy

    @Cal- 40% is the best I’ve seen, granted they’ve only been a US transfer partner for about a year. Normal transfer bonuses are between 10-30%. I think 40% and 50% are very good.

  • luvflying

    Derek,
    I have one BA companion certificate that I want to use (it needs to be BA metal) from USA going to either Far East (i.e. India, Thailand etc.) or Middle East (Egypt, Morocco etc.) or Oceania (Australia) or to South Pacific (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Maldives etc.).
    Can you please tell me the below:

    1. Can I avoid going through London and avoid the large sur-charge/fees?
    2. If not, which routes will allow that or is there in any other option to minimize the sur-charge/fees?

    I am still thinking whether to park MR points to BA account, using the 40% promotion, and need to make a decision soon.
    Thanks.

  • The Points Guy

    @Luvflying, the BA companion ticket is only for BA flights, so unfortunately all roads lead through London. The companion ticket is such a huge value though, I woudn’t feel too bad paying the fees, though I understand why you’d want to avoid them.

    As far as the bonus, thats totally up to you and whether you can use miles to your benefit in the future. I personally like having a nice balance in my Membership Rewards so I can use them at a moments notice, but the 40% is a good deal in my opinion, so I can see why you are torn.

  • The Points Guy

    PS I just added a 15th tip, which is leveraging their household account option to pool miles

  • hobo13

    Sorry to nitpick some more…..

    But LAN doesn’t fly IPC-CUZ. They do IPC-SCL and IPC-LIM.

    I also don’t think they do CUZ-JFK. They do however go to BA, which opens up the possibility of IPC-SCL-EZE-MIA on the return.

    Yes, I went to Easter Island last fall, and studied LAN’s network closely!

  • The Points Guy

    Hobo- can’t you go IPC-SCL-LIM-CUZ and then CUZ-LIM-JFK?

  • The Points Guy

    Or is that not allowed because CUZ is south of LIM, so not the most direct routing?

  • hobo13

    I’m almost certain that would appear as a ‘backtrack’. Transiting a single hub more than once in a single direction just isn’t going to fly.

    I’m not saying that you cannot get some BA agent to ticket it….. they don’t have the best phone agents working the US lines. I had a horrible experience with our trip last fall! (PM for details if you want them.) But most likely, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

  • abcx

    Does BA charge YQ on AA redemptions? The YQ is a huge deal breaker for me. Thus leaving S. America as the only viable place to use BA miles. Any other OW members or OW routes that don’t have YQ?

  • The Points Guy

    @hobo- thanks for the clarification- I know BA is very weird about pushing this rule to the limit, but I wanted people to think outside the box when they thought of possibilities. Appreciate you chiming in so I don’t give out bad info

    @Abcx When I redeemed for AA domestic, there was no YQ. I recommend playing around with the award engine and pricing out sample itineraries. BA is very upfront with taxes so you can see how much trips will cost before you transfer miles

  • megerton

    In your stopover example using HNL, how exactly does this work? Doesn’t BA include Hawaii with Central America and Caribbean, not North America?

  • bringer

    No BA is considered peak US..using 35K BA miles (25K MR points) for a round trip…a couple of months ago we booked BA from our home airport to HNL (even had a option of stop over) for only 25K MR points. taxes were around $25 each.

  • Boris

    @hobo Thanks for BA Easter Island redemtion insights. Could you list the itienary you were able to put together on that redemtion?
    Thank you

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  • bringer

    wow, with another 100k miles via chase BA card (in addition to those transfered via AMEX MR last month)..we may just have to book another cheap flight to Hawaii

  • srik

    Wonder if you can get another card and get another 100k miles from chase if you already haver one ba chase card and have taken advantage of the 100k offer.

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  • patrick

    My wife and I have signed up for the 100,000 mile card.

    I saw that they have a “household” account. If I read it correctly, we can combine both bonuses for one “expensive” ticket for one person?
    Thanks

  • The Points Guy

    @Patrick- that is correct. If you both had 75,000 miles and were in the same household account, you could collectively book a 150,000 award for either of you (you can’t book awards for people outside of the “household”). A really nice feature- it’ll even prorate an award- so if you have 33% of the miles in the account and your wife has 66%- when you redeem an award, it’ll take your miles according to the equity of each person. Pretty nifty

  • Dan

    Would there be any way to use stopovers to get a later free trip to Hawaii if you are NY-based and flying to London? My ideal would be JFK-LHR (stop), LHR-CDG (stop), CDG-LHR-JFK (stop), then at a later date do JFK-LAX-HNL (stop), HNL-LAX-JFK (end). I assume once we got back to JFK from LHR, BA would consider the trip over?

  • The Points Guy

    @Dan you could probably do JFK-LHR-CDG-LHR-JFk-HNL but their stopover rule is that you you have to take the most direct routing. I can’t imagine a BA phone rep allowing Honolulu as a valid transfer point for CDG-JFK! Though, it never hurts to try- use the lack of formal rules to your advantage.

  • Jason

    Hey Points Guy,
    Really appreciate your sharing your expertise. Very helpful. Quick question: I might sign up for the new BA card to use BA points — but *ONLY* to fly from NYC to London (and back). Does it make sense to have BA miles for this? I know you discussed there being very exorbitant fees to use BA on trans-Atlantic flights. Am I able to use a partner to do LHR-JFK, for example? Or does the card/points not make sense if my only travel is NYC-London? Thanks a million.

  • The Points Guy

    @Jason- you are still going to save a bunch of money vs buying NYC-London tickets. Coach roundtrip is 50,000 miles and $498 in taxes, so considering you will get two of these, your value will be the difference of what you would have paid for two JFK-LHR roundtrips minus $498×2 and minus any value you would have gotten from accruing miles on paid trips. It should still amount to something.
    You’d get more bang for your buck redeeming for business class, since the fees are about the same, but those tickets are routinely $4,000+.

  • drno

    Hey Points Guy,

    Appreciate your expertise. Does BA allow me to book a return ticket to India from JFK,NY with a stopover at London redeeming 90,000 miles ? Thank you.

  • The Points Guy

    @drno- yes- that is correct. Fees will probably be $500+, so be prepared, but still, using miles can save you $$$$

  • KiKi

    Hi PG,

    Can you provide any details on combining BA accounts for the household account?
    I would like my husband to apply for this promo and then we join our accounts into one household account. (I did the previous BA 100K promo)

    And once this is done can we book for either of us singulary with the household account or do both of us have to be on the award account itinerary each time we want to redeem? I will use most of the milesmyself traveling solo.

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  • The Points Guy
  • lelee

    Thinking of using BA miles to book CX first class OW award JFK-YVR(stop)-HKG(stop)-SGN(stop). Is this valid ?

  • JayJay

    @The Points Guy – could you please clarify which region Hawaii is in for purposes of determining milage requirements on partner airlines? You stated above that Hawaii is considered in North America. The BA website at http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ecredeemzonesforbapartner/public/en_us/templateId=ba6.jsp does say that North America includes Bermuda, Canada and the USA. However that same BA page has a separate region for Caribbean/Central America/Hawaii. Thanks.

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  • Jack

    I am based in Canada. When I plan to use the BA reward miles to get award ticket to Toronto or Las Vegas, BA said no route or flight to those places. Does it mean I am in North America, I cannot choose award ticket to North America too.

  • gary mitch

    WHat about booking using “Other airline partners” such as Alaskan – they don’t seem to be offered up on the BA website when trying to select “use partner airline” – how do you book these Other airline partners?
    Thanks

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  • The Points Guy

    @leelee- should be valid

    @jayjay if coming from outside north am. to north America, Hawaii is in the same region. When you redeem an award starting from north America it’s separate at 35k for coach if that makes any sense

    @jack- you’ll have to call to book that. Fine milesaaver awards on AA.com and then call BA to book using BA miles

    @ Gary- you have to call to book Alaska. Check out my post today on expert flyer to find partner awards

  • John

    Thanks for all the advice. Quick stopover question: Can you stopover between regions? So if I were flying from North America to South Asia, could I take stopovers in East Asia, and just use the miles (80,000 in coach) for a South Asia flight? The examples you gave above are all in South America or all in North America, so I was curious.

  • The Points Guy

    @John- yes- You could fly Cathay JFK-Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Manila, for example

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  • Jack

    I booked a award ticket using BA miles, but I would like to change to another partner airline now, so I want to cancel the booking. Do you know how far can BA redeposit my miles to my BA account? Immediately redeposit on line or take few days?

  • The Points Guy

    @Jack- not sure- maybe someone else can chime in on how long it takes to redeposit miles? With most airlines it susually instantly.

  • ryan

    I am planning a trip from dfw to males. I would like to stop in london onthe way over and stop in dubai as some point also. My wife has enough aa miles to do it, but I dont. Is there way to do it through the british airways promo of 100k points?

  • The Points Guy

    Dubai wouldn’t be a valid stopping point because I don’t believe there is a Oneworld partner that can get you Dubai to Maldives (assume thats what you meant)

    You could both do DFW-London (stop) London- Male with her using AA miles and you using BA

  • Kevin

    Hi! 3 months ago, I had booked a one way reward flight from Zurich to Orlando using a partner airline (AA). I was able to fly from Zurich to Orlando with the connection in NYC (JFK). Now when I try and replicate this flight using partner airlines, I am only getting results which have me fly BA to London, londong to Miami (AA), then Miami to Orlando (AA). Not only is the number of connections less desirable, but since the leg from Zurich to London is with BA, I have to pay their exorbitant fees and taxes on the whole flight. Do you have any tips on how I can book the flight flying only AA?

  • The Points Guy

    @Kevin- go to aa.com and when you find milesaaver flights, simply write them down and call BA- they should be able to book them over the phone. As you’ve experienced, BA.com is bad and tries to route you through London, even when other options exist. You can also use Expertflyer for AA/Finn Air award availability.

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  • Lorraine

    I am a BA Executive Club member with a few miles. I am considering getting their Chase credit card offer to earn up to 100,000 miles in the next three months. I would like to fly to Paris in September for a few weeks for a tour. I’m not sure how the BA Miles program works. One webpage on the Exec Club site says the miles can be used to book any BA flight, yet when I see what flights are available for “reward miles”, it shows very few flights availabe in September, particularly for Club World which is my chosen class. Can the miles truly be used for any flight? Also, is there anyone (for hire) who helps figure all this out and provides booking assistance for people like me who don’t have time to do so?

  • The Points Guy

    Hi Lorraine-
    September is actually a really difficult month to get awards. You can redeem on American airlines nonstop flight JFK-Paris, but there is no availability. You could also fly through Madrid/Barcelona/ Helsinki/Budapest. I used to do award bookings, but no longer have the capacity. I recommend pointspros.com and bookyouraward.com
    Good luck!

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  • David

    I am trying to search for awards following the instructions above (specifically, JFK-BKK in Aug on CX), and after submitting, and hitting continue past the layover screen, it goes straight to choosing a BA flight and doesn’t give me the screen where I can search partners. Is this just a bug? Thanks!

  • patrick

    I’m looking to book an AA flight using BA miles.
    When using the BA WEB site it shows me only one flight for my out bound trip and only 2 options for my return.
    AA’s WEB site shows several options in both directions.

    Suggestions?

    Thanks

  • The Points Guy

    @David- Try using Qantas’ search to see if anything comes up there. There may just be nothing available.

    @Patrick, AA is probably showing options from different airports. You may need to do one way searches on BA with each exact city pair and the options will show up. Feel free to give me the example and I can look into it.

  • patrick

    OK..Thanks.
    Specifically Feb 12 from STL – RNO
    AA shows several options from STL – RNO going through either DFW or ORD. BA only shows two flight going from STL – RNO

  • The Points Guy

    BA.com is dumb and won’t automatically create connections. You can book any of the AA saaver itineraries- you’ll just have to write down which flight numbers you want and book it on the phone.

  • patrick

    So if I want to book a routing that AA shows but BA doesn’t then I have to call them? Is there a phone charge?
    Thanks again.

  • The Points Guy

    There is a phone charge, but they’ll waive it if you ask since you can’t book the trip online

  • patrick

    Great! And thanks for all the great info!

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  • John

    Hi!
    Do you know if Dragonair is considered part of Cathay Pacific if I am booking a One Partner Award ticket with BA miles?

    Thanks!

  • robert

    I have tried to use both the BA website for a ticket either to London or Zurich from San Diego and in both cases, BA continues to charge me over $500 in taxes and fuel surcharges, even when I click on the other airlines (Iberia/American Airlines). How can I route this through one of these airlines and not incur these fees? If you can do “snapshots,” that would be great.

    Also, I have heard several people allude to booking through OneWorld.com but I can’t seem to do this on that site.

    Thanks,

  • The Points Guy

    Robert- there is no getting around high fees to Europe. The only tip is to try routing thru Dublin on aer lingus. Otherwise ba miles are best used on non-European redemptions

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  • Sunny

    Hi TPG,

    I think we can use BA miles on Kinkfisher Airlines. Do you know if these miles could be used on Jet Airways? Jet’s got a precent decent first class cabin from JFK-BRU. Jet codeshares with AA so indirectly a Oneworld but not sure if BA recognizes that.

    Thanks,

  • kevin craig

    “there is no getting around high fees to Europe”

    Really? Is this a new development? I booked a rewards flight about 4 months ago from Orlando to Zurich roundtrip. I was able to use AA as a partner airline, and the total cost was 5 dollars to get there, and about 60 dollars to return. Are we no longer able to do this?

    Thanks for always responding so quickly!

  • Michelle

    Hi TGP,

    Thanks a lot for the information and tips – it is invaluable

    I have a question regrding redeeming BA or AA miles whilst travelling with an infant. Do you know how they typically treat the addition of an infant when using air miles for international travel, specifically summer US-Europe travel! On a paying fair, infants are typically 10% plus some taxes but with air miles?

    Thanks

  • patrick

    I know that I can only use my BA miles on AA for mile saver awards. Does that also apply to Business/First mile saver? Meaning can I use BA miles for those or only coach?

    Thanks

  • Alex

    @Michelle I’ve not used miles for an infant fare on BA, but when I investigated this on Continental (also for US-Europe) the miles price was same as adult (55k). So I used miles for the two adults and paid the 10% cash fare for the infant. I was able to do so all in a single online booking.

  • Tom

    Thanks for the great info…
    I have the opportunity to transfer a large number of Sapphire and Amex points to miles in BA. I have read that BA allows stopovers on award travel and that is one of the reasons I’m considering transferring those points to BA miles rather than my main carrier, UA.

    While browsing info on the BA web site, I saw an FAQ that says stopovers are not allowed on Award travel for Partners? Is that true? I was hoping to use my BA miles for a one-way, or RT trip ticket, on Cathay Pacific from Chicago to Bangkok, witha return from Vietnam, including a stopover in Hong Kong. Please comment on this and point me to the rule that allows stopover on award travel with partners.
    Thanks again

  • Chen

    I plan to use BA miles for my trip, from US to AMS and then from London back to US. Can I book two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket?
    Thanks

  • The Points Guy

    @Chen- yes you can book it as two one way awards. Just note you’ll have to pay the change/cancel fee twice if you need to cancel the trip.

  • Adam

    “12) BA is a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood (and you get a 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 points transferred), but those transfers can take up to a week or more to process – one of my major gripes about the Starwood program. It’s 2011- can’t they speed up the transaction time?!”

    Can you transfer BA points to STARWOOD @ 1:1?? Are there any good ways to transfer AMEX points to starwood through a partner?

    Thanks,

    Adam

  • Anonymous

    Adam- you can only transfer to airlines FROM Starwood, not the other way around unfortunately. No good ways to get to Starwood from Amex, besides the 3:1 ratio which is not good

  • Anonymous

    Stopovers are definitely allowed on partner awards- where did you read otherwise? You just need to call to book them

  • Anonymous

    Dragonair is classified as Cathay

  • Chocneu

    I would like to add that the problem booking a domestic ticket within the USA using BA miles is problem getting good economy seats.
    Although I am AA Platinum, when booking with BA miles I come up as BA Blue which is no status and the seat selection is the same as a non elite AA flyer. The thing you have to do is call BA Executive club and ask them to put your AA elite level number into the reservation, and only then do you see the best seats available.
    The same aplies when you book an award ticket in any class of service on Ba for eg, fron USA to London.
    You appear to be a Blur card holder and the is a high charge for sear selection. Again you have toask them to put you Gold, Platinum or Exec Platinum number into the reservation and then you have free seat selection.

  • guest

    The links you posted under number three all just bring me to a login page.

  • Anonymous

    Yep- enter your login and you’ll see the award charts

  • Anonymous

    You certainly can use your BA miles to obtain business class award seats on AA, if the seats are available. I just booked seats from DFW to Vancouver, Canada through the BA site, using American Airlines flights. Those were 50,000 miles each plus the airport taxes, etc). No fuel surcharge. And, if you use BA mies to fly on American Airlines in the U.S., they only charge you a $10 fee when booked through the BA web site.

  • Anonymous

    I have been looking at booking award seats on British Airways and American Airlines, using BA reward miles. It matters not which airline you use, British Airways adds a fuel charge onto the reward ticket(s) plus the airport fees and taxes. American does not charge a fuel charge when you book an award ticket on them (using AA reward miles) to fly to Europe. But British Airways does even if you use BA miles to fly on American and it keeps the fuel surcharge money (it does not go to America).
    Have you checked recently, Craig? I would be interested to know if you have a way to get around that fuel charge.

  • Dgent81

    I see a fuel surcharge on the site engine for a cathay flight award so it is not on BA. If do over the phone, can they take that off since it is not BA?

  • Dgent81

    spoke to them on the phone and they say it would not apply and only cathay taxes so the online engine is bad.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting.. thanks for reporting back! What were the final taxes and fees for your itinerary when booked on the phone vs what the online engine said?

  • Pmh1225

    Fantastic tips – thanks so much!

    Is it possible to route an award flight with BA miles on CX F SFO – HKG (stop) – FRA? I tried many different dates on BA.com and only BA and AA eastbound options show up: I wonder if that routing is not allowed, or it’s just coz CX has no availiability?

    Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    You are not allowed to route US to Europe via Asia, unfortunately.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HDCCQFX65ES2GYUNQ345PMQC7M Anonymous

    Is there a way I can fly out of Ottawa, Canada with BA or their oneworld partners? For example going to LAX or LAS or even somewhere in Europe such as Greece or Portugal? Or do I have to head down to YUL or YYZ?

  • http://www.benkrull.com/ Ben Krull

    Hi Brian,
    Thank you for all of this, I’m taking an essentially free trip to Honduras because of your posts on British Airways Miles and the BA Visa 100,000 bonus.

    Do you have suggestions for getting through to the US office of British Airways (per tip #7)? I’ve tried calling them 15+ times on different days/times and can’t get a representative. There isn’t even a way to wait on hold – they just say “all lines are currently busy” and then disconnect the call after 1 minute!! It’s really frustrating…

  • Wademoss

    thanks for the tips, I was very confused before I found this .
    we are trying to book from Fort lauderdale to krakow or prague using our BA miles. They have a 50% miles promotion going on which ends today, but we cannot get through on the phone. On line it shows the fees through London at over $600 ea., We were trying to book with a partner (the ponts would be charged at full price) but are not having any luck. Any suggestions?
    thanks,
    Ruth

  • Marion_green

    So.. I was all excited trying to figure out the best flight for my round Asia trip. I was planning on doing CDG-KUL and SYD-ORD

    Kuala Lumpur is supposedly in the South Asia zone. for 50K (100K biz class) however the site prices it at 80K miles my guess is because the flight has a stopover in kong kong, which is in the Far East zone..

    Is this common? If so, I am short some miles and wont be able to include south west pacific in the trip which is so sad!

  • John Personette

    Let me first say, that I think this site and your expertise is invaluable.
    This is my first time on your page, and even after ONLY reading this “TIPS ON READING BA MILES #1″ and the “AMEX 50% TRANSFER to BA” posts…I feel like I am light years

  • Anonymous

    I’d search ORD-HKG first and find a flights with availability. Then do HKG-BKK and see whats available and piece it all together and call in. BA.com is pretty bad at pricing complex itineraries!

  • wateron

    This BA miles is such a scam, no matter when I try there is nothing available either on BA or partners. I have over 200,000 miles & I can’t use them. Is there anywhere you can sell these miles.

  • Mevl

    I only had to wait 5 minutes to speak to BA Executive Desk to help me book a partner flight to Hawaii on Alaska Air. I thought perhaps I’d use the Avion to BA miles promotion 1 – 11/2 that expires today. She refused to even check availability unless the BA miles were in my account. I told her that I don’t want to put miles in (which cannot be reversed) unless I knew there was a chance we could use them for Hawaii. Technically it’s possible to use 20K Avion points to fly BLI to HNL, but is there anywhere I can find out if it really is possible? Has anyone ever done it?

  • SterlingGuy

    Thanks to you, I was able to book my summer South America trip with my BA miles (earned with the recent 100k promo). Got all the flights I needed LAX-Lima-Santiago (stop)- Easter Island (stop)- Lima (stop)-LAX. The problem is that one flight to EI only had business class seats. Accordingly, I had to pay 80k points instead of only 40k for the entire trip. The agent told me that I could change my tickets to business class if and when a seat is available in that class. My question is, when is the best time to call and get my cabin changed? Obviously I want to do it all at the same time and only pay one $70 fee. Or is this a waste of time and I should just request an upgrade at the airport? My on-line itinerary doesn’t seem to show that I “paid” for business class but only got economy. But BA did take 80k points out of my account.

  • Tonia9388

    Thanks for posting this information, I am going to try to search my reward ticket now.

  • Chels

    thats annoying feel free to send me you ba miles :) just left uni desperate to travel round europe

  • KS

    I booked 2 first class tickets from the US to India using the free companion ticket from my Chase credit card. 270k miles for 1 ticket, 2nd one free. I could’t add an infant in lap online. When I called BA to do this over the phone for the 10% of miles option (27k miles), they claim I have to pay 10% of the full fare. One can only add the infant when booking the ticket. I need to cancel my tickets, then call them and have them rebook it. And no guarantee that the flights will still be available. Plus the cancellation fee. Anyone know how I can get them to book the infant for the 27k miles? Also are there taxes on the infant in lap?

  • Inno Dubelaar

    I just did a search for YYZ to Nairobi and got this:

    2Adult 240000 0.00 CAD 860.12 CADView taxes, fees and surcharges 1,720.24 CAD

    I am stunned! 240,000 points for economy to Africa! And the fees are insane too with the Heathrow stopover.

    It looks like they’ve devalued their points drastically since I last flew YYZ to HKG for 50,000 each IIRC.

  • Anonymous

    Africa is expensive, plus you have to fly BA via London and get hit with huge taxes.

    You can still (until Nov 16 at least) use 50k roundtrip to Asia with lower fees. Thats a smarter use.

  • Inno Dubelaar

    Do I have to fly by Nov. 16 (too soon) or just book for future use?

  • Anonymous

    Just book by then and travel within a year

  • Inno Dubelaar

    Many thanks! I have 300K points (after transferring 200K from Avion) and I know that BA is messing up their partnership arrangements.

    If I had known I would not have invested so heavily in BA Miles. Is there any other good use for my points, besides Asia? I guess that anything in EU is out cuz I would be forced to go through Heathrow.

    I really appreciate your help, this is all rather confusing!

  • Techguy3838

    If I booked a flight and re-schedule it, would they charge me?

  • Heatherlfdx

    You know you are wrong on unlimited stopovers on awards. One stopover each way or it uses more points man! A

  • Anonymous

    Thats not true. Check out the crazy itineraries people are booking here http://thepointsguy.com/2011/11/video-blog-post-master-british-airways-award-clinic/

  • guest

    I was curious and checked the current and the new contract regarding stopovers, it doesn’t say unlimited are permitted. It says stopovers on the most direct routing so I checked the LAN website first to see what that was to Easter Island from MIA its SCL or LIM. Don’t know why anyone wants to go to IPC for more than a few day. No hotel chains to use miles/points on only two real hotels and a hostel where the only thing that costs more than the accomodations is the food… unless you are one of those end of the world and must visit every place those supernatural tv shows visited earlier this year before the earth implodes people. I called and apparently they had a programming issue that allowed people to book multiple non-direct routings with stopovers for the less miles like one of the people here posted a while ago. The agent advised as easter island is in the south pacific it will certainly cost more miles than just going to mainland chile but at least lan hasn’t cancelled their flights for next summer like they did this year… yet.

  • Stuart Lee

    I am told that the conversion rate is now 2 Amex Rewards = 1 x BA miles

  • Deborah

    I was one of those “lucky” people who managed to get in on the 100,000K Chase card deal. I wish I hadn’t. The points I’ve been building up on this card could have been accumulating on my much more redeem-friendly CapitalOne card.
    Anyway, I’m stuck now and can’t seem to find any way to get from STL to VCE (or even a reasonable alternate airport). We are planning a month in Friuli and Slovenia with a final week in Venice. Mid-June thru mid-July.
    I am beyond frustrated with BA and their quirky site. Then you add in this whole Avios silliness….
    Any words of wisdom?

  • Jose

    I got a bonus of 50,000 miles through BA but seems that does not get you far anymore. I’ve tried booking a flight from PSP or LAX to FCO or even CDG and their fees are exhorbitant, and if I try using AA as the partner, there never seems to be any seats available, even though my flight is for Oct 2012. AA website has plenty of seats with much lower fees, Any recommendations of using the Avios miles for the AA flights with the lower fees as opposed to having to go through BA?

  • Toronto Airport Transportation

    i never got a chace to travel in British airways but i heard a lot about there hospitable services.

    Toronto Airport Transportation

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  • YVRCMA

    BA offers a 50% bonus when points are transferred from RBC Avion Visa cards during their annual promo. Transferred 66,667 Avion points to BA which amounted to 100,000 BA points. Booked YVR-JFK return in business class for my wife and I. $300 in fees, but that’s pretty standard for Canadian departures. The cost of this trip would have otherwise been $7,000. So I was able to obtain a redemption value of more than $0.10 per point. Pretty happy with that. BA does have some pretty good deals.

  • Anna

    Hello,

    I am on the phone with BA cust.service. They told me that just because AA has award seats, they do NOT have to honor them. Any suggestions?

    Anna

  • goldenbtg

    This is completly out of date , sorry , but when will you post the new Avios BA search engine for spending miles ?? I have a lot of problems with it
    Regards

  • Medical Office

    one of my favorite air travel, i prefer to fly in british airways

    Medical Office

  • Eashor

    Same here, I have enough miles to fly but nothing is avaiable in a 10 day period I need to fly. I am really disappointed…

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  • Pint

    try rewards2cash.com – 10000 Points to 90 dollars

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