How to Use British Airways Miles: Post 3, Understanding the Oneworld Alliance

by on April 10, 2011 · 54 comments

in American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Credit Cards, Oneworld, Points Guy Pointers, Qantas

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This is the third installment of my 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 of the current 100K offer), it would be beneficial to check out: 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 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.

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.

As I’ve written about before, British Airways is unique because they have four separate award charts: BA Only. BA + 1 Partner. Single Oneworld Partner. Multiple Oneworld Partners.

In general, the award chart that requires the least amount of miles for an award is the Single Oneworld partner – this means that you only fly on one Oneworld airlines for the entire trip. Remember, BA allows one-way awards, so you have to think in terms of one-way. For example if you wanted to go on vacation from Los Angeles to Shanghai, then home from Hong Kong to LA, instead of booking a roundtrip American Airlines LAX-Shanghai and return on Cathay, which would price at the Multiple Oneworld partners rate of 90,000 for coach, 180,000 for business and 270,000 for first, you could break it into two, single Oneworld Partner awards AA LAX-PVG, Cathay HKG-LAX for a total roundtrip price of 50,000 miles in coach, 100,000 business and 150,000 First. If you wanted to cover the Shanghai to Hong Kong leg, it would make sense to book that as a one-way award as well (or just buy it since those legs can be very cheap).

Before you start booking awards, you should familiarize yourself with the Oneworld network and carriers. Here is some key information I compiled for each.

American Airlines. Route map. Hubs/mini-hubs and key routes:
Dallas: Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, Madrid, Paris, Santiago, London, Honolulu, Kahului, Anchorage, Toronto
Chicago: Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing,  Tokyo, Rome, Helsinki, Honolulu, Brussels, Paris, Dublin, Manchester, Anchorage, San Juan, Acapulco, Mexico City
Miami: Huge Caribbean and Latin America network, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Paris, London
New York JFK: Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Budapest, Rome, Milan, Zurich, Barcelona, Brussels, Madrid, London, Manchester, San Francisco
Los Angeles: Tokyo, Shanghai, London, San Juan Puerto Rico, New York,  San Francisco, Toronto, Orlando

British Airways. Route map. Main hub is London, with service to:
US: New York (JFK and Newark), Boston, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Dallas,  Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas,  Seattle, San Diego
Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver
Carribbean/South America: Bermuda, San Juan, Barbados, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires
Africa: Johannesburg, Capetown, Luanda, Accra, Abuja, Lagos
Asia: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok

Cathay Pacific. Route Map. Main hub is Hong Kong, with service to:
US: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago (Starting September 2011)
Canada: Vancouver, Toronto
Europe: London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Moscow
Middle East/India: Dubai, Abu Dhabi (Starting June 2011), Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Jeddah

Finn Air. Route Map. Main hub is Helsinki, with service to:
North America: New York, Toronto
Asia: Delhi, Singapore (Starting May 2011), Bangkok, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong

Iberia. Route Map. Hubs:
Madrid: New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, San Juan, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Quito, Lima, Caracas, Johannesburg, Algiers, Malabo
Barcelona: New York, Miami

Japan Airlines. Route Map. Main hub is Tokyo, with service to:
North America: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco (from Haneda) Europe:
Europe: Paris
Australia: Sydney

Lan. Route Map.
Lima: New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles
Santiago: New York, Los Angeles, Miami

Malev. Route Map. European coverage from their Budapest hub.

Qantas. Route Map. Main hub is Sydney:
North America: Los Angeles, Dallas, Honolulu, San Francisco, New York (Also Los Angeles to Auckland and Melbourne to Los Angeles)
Asia: Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai
Europe: London (also Singapore to London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong to London)
South America: Buenos Aires

Royal Jordanian. Route Map. Main hub is Amman.
North America: New York, Montreal
Asia: Bangkok, Bombay, Colombo
Africa: Khartoum, Cairo, Tripoli

S7 Airlines. Route Map. Main hub is Moscow.

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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  • Andrew Fielding

    You missed Service from LHR to DEN on BA.

  • The Points Guy

    Thanks- added!

  • Gary Gleckman

    I believe BA will begin service out of SAN in June…

  • HoKo

    Boy, no ones flies into WAS! Going to be a pain utilizing the 1 partner award, guess I’m going to need to find cheap positioning flights to NYC

  • The Points Guy

    American Airlines flies to Washington- this list wasn’t every route for every airline- just key international routes. BA also flies from IAD and BWI

  • Steve G

    Brian, any idea why British Airways doesn’t allow multi-stop award bookings via their website? If you want to book a trip like this you (as far as I know) have to book 2 one-ways. This is no good if you’re 50/50 that you may need to cancel. Instead of $50 to cancel a roundtrip it costs $100 to cancel two one-ways!

  • jphripjah

    BA also flies from London to Las Vegas.

  • Matt

    Another useful bit of information to add to the oneworld comparison would be a brief overview or executive summary of what sort of fees/surcharges to expect on different carriers/routes.

  • HoKo

    @ TPG

    Indeed, you are correct, I should have been more specific in my comment. I plan to use my BA miles for trips to Asia so unfortunately no flights into WAS on JL or CX so it looks like I’m stuck with AA if I want to use the BA 1 partner award chart.

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  • Mike

    I see LAN operates service between Miami and Atlanta (codeshare with AA). Would it be possible to use BA miles for an award ticket on LAN departing from Atlanta? Or does it have to be from a LAN hub like Miami?

  • The Points Guy

    @mike- unfortunately it’s only operating carrier- codeshares don’t count and I’ll trigger the “multiple oneworld carrier” chart

  • Maury

    What if I wanted to book from MIA to JRO?

  • aet

    I was wandering around the British Airways website and noticed BA holds some partnerships outside of the OWA…Their website lists Aer Lingus, Kingfisher and Alaska….Any idea if it would be able to do a Dublin RT via Aer Lingus w/ the BA miles promotion (or better yet, use Dublin as a connection for the rest of Europe)..If so, would the fees be more reasonable than using BA? Thanks in advance for your help, love the site!

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  • shah

    is there a way to book through a flight from WAS-BOM without going through London .. I’ve tried many options but it keeps routing me through london on BA with hefty fees (over $500) for coach.

    for example, can I get this route for less fees on Cathy?

  • Rick

    I just signed up today, and apparently I’m approved, but obviously it’ll be a few days til I get the card and I wasn’t before a BA member. Anyway, since I’m kind of new to all this, I’m not clear on whether the miles count the same using BA as it would the other Oneworld partners. (BA says that Euro Zone 2 is 60K miles roundtrip, and my girlfriend – who lives at the same address as I do – and I want to visit Spain for our future honeymoon.) If we use Iberia, which obviously goes to Spain and to DC (where we live), will it still be 60K miles per ticket? In which case, the 50K for sign up and first purchase + 50K for $2500 in first three months will not cover flights for the two of us (and my gf’s credit score is low enough that she may not be approved). Any help? Thanks so much!

  • The Points Guy

    Hi Rick- BA has four seperate award charts which I list in this post

    Flying Iberia from the US to Spain will cost you 50,000 miles and probably around $350+ in fees per ticket for coach, so it would be enough for the two of you.

    A lot of people have been getting this card, so she might want to try applying- you never know!

  • Dave

    Hi. I just stumbled on your blog from slickdeals and have been trying to figure out how this works since last night. Basically, I signed up for my wife and am looking to try to book a deal from DCA or Dulles, but preferably DCA (Washington DC) to KIX (Osaka). I tried the BA site and there’s no way to get from DCA to KIX, but i do know that i can take DCA to JFK to Hong Kong to KIX via Cathay or maybe through some other airline? Can you point me in the right direction? Would it be best to just call BA and ask them how i can go about getting a ticket?

  • thrashsoundly

    I will want to take advantage of a CX to Asia with my BA miles, but SLC is my closest airport. Since CX doesn’t fly out of SLC, will I have to use the Multiple Oneworld Partners option to get from SLC to LAX, or can the award through CX (Single Oneworld Partner option) be used to get me to the gateway city through AA? Or do I need to book a separate award through AA to get to LAX?

    The itineraries you’ve provided are great examples, but it doesn’t quite answer what do if you don’t live near one of the major carrier hubs. Thanks!

  • Clara

    I don’t see Alaska listed under oneworld partners, so what if I’d like to redeem tickets from SEA-HNL on Alaska? would that cost me 35k BA miles as listed under the BA sites? what is the booking process – do I go to to look for availability, then call BA?

    Many thanks! still trying to debating on getting the BA card but neither BA or AA has hubs in SEA!

  • Tiffany

    Is trying to plan a trip with the miles this summer too soon? That is, how soon after I spend the $2500 do the miles become available for usage?

    Thank you!!

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  • Mike

    It is not clear from the charts whether the miles required are for a single trip or a roundtrip. Sp, is a flight from Europe to U.S. 50k miles one way or roundtrip?

    Thank You

  • The Points Guy

    US to Europe is 50k roundtrip, but there are hefty taxes/surcharges ($500+). BA Miles are best used for non-BA, non-Europe awards

  • Jim

    This may be a stupid question, but I’m trying to find award availability between SCL-CUZ on LAN (using BA miles)… LANPASS is showing significantly more availability with their search tool than I am finding using the BA search engine. Should I be able to call BA and book flights that are showing availability on the LAN website, even if they are not showing availability on the BA site?

  • Apurva

    Hi Brian / Other Gurus hanging out here,

    Do you know where I can check award availability on Qantas metal?


  • Apurva

    I have another question when it comes to making stopovers interesting… I called up BA reservations in London (I know I should call the local US office, but its late at night and I could not wait) … I asked them if I can get award ticket on Qantas from SFO – LHR, by going SFO-SYD-HKG-LHR … and they said it would cost double the miles… want to know if anyone has been there & done that?
    Is there a way I can get it for the same amount of miles (50K RT) if there is no availability on any other partner airline including BA?
    Any replies would he very helpful navigating this maze :).


  • Amol

    Hey TPG. I’ve been following you on twitter for a few months now and got the Chase credit card through your link (just got the 100K miles!). It looks like flying to S. America from the USA is the best deal because it’s only 80K round-trip for biz and you can utilize so many stopovers (and avoid nasty fees at LHR). I had a couple questions about a trip I want to take early next year:

    I want to make stops in Lima-LIM, Santiago-SCL, Easter Island-IPC, Buenos Aires-EZE, Rio de Janeiro-GIG, and possibly the Galapagos-GPS while down there.

    1) Can I do a 40K biz one-way award on LAN that goes LAX-LIM (stop) – SCL (stop) – IPC? It looks like LAN has a flight (LAN 601) that flies LAX-SCL with a one-hour stopover in LIM, but I’d like to stop in Peru for a few days. As for IPC, they only have flights from SCL, so it seems I’m good there.

    From IPC, I want to check out both GIG and EZE (especially after seeing your tweets about Buenos Aires!). I will probably use 12.5K to do a LAN coach IPC-SCL-EZE

    2) For EZE-GIG, can I use the miles to fly LANArgentina? Is that the same as LAN? I see EZE-SCL on LAN Argentina, then continuing on LAN SCL-GIG, but it would only be 12.5K for coach if they are considered the same airline.
    (if not, I can just buy a ticket on Aerolineas Argentinas/GOL, they have direct 3h flights as opposed to LAN which would be ~7h + connection, plus I can put the 12.5K toward getting a biz ticket from IPC-EZE :))

    3) I want to use 40K on a biz return on AA from GIG-JFK (stop)-LAX. Would this follow the “direct-route” rule? According to, it follows a westward direction despite going north of LAX. Googling “flights from Rio de Janeiro,” it shows no direct flight to LAX and the only other options on AA are DFW and MIA, but I prefer JFK so I can stop in NYC. Also, does AA have a biz JFK-LAX product or would I have to pay more miles to get first class? Only familiar with Delta …

    4) I tried using the Qantas and BA search engines for GPS but they don’t recognize it. I guess if I’m set on seeing the Galapagos, I’d have to buy a ticket within one of my stopovers?

    Thanks in advance for these questions — this itinerary would knock out so many places that I want to see, and all in biz class for ~105K miles (which is basically what you get for signing up for the credit card and spending to qualify for the 100K). Keep up the good work, you’re a wealth of info!

  • Jim

    @Amol – I recently booked two one-way awards on LAN after getting the BA card and miles (thanks to TPG for the tip!) My routing for the southbound trip is MIA-LIM-SCL (stop)-IPC in coach, and the return is IPC-SCL (stop)-LIM (stop)-LAX in business. All flights are on LAN. I used 20K miles for the southbound route, and 30K miles + $165 for the northbound. (I booked this trip almost immediately after receiving my initial 50K mile bonus, before reaching the spend requirement, so I only had 50K to work with.)

    1) Since my return trip routing is exactly the mirror image of what you propose to do here, I expect that routing would be fine.

    2) Based on what I booked, I believe all the various LAN airlines count as a single partner. I am doing some flights on LAN and some on LAN Peru. I expect you’d be fine with LAN Argentina and/or LAN Ecuador as well.

    Don’t know enough to comment on your other two questions, but hope this helps!

  • Ben


    Do you know anything about “Round the World” tickets? I think Oneworld has something called the oneworld explorer ticket. I was wondering how much it would cost in terms of points or cash, and how I would go about booking it.


  • HP

    Will I be able to book 2 tickets round trip from LAX-HKG-BKK?
    With about 120k? If not how many miles are needed? What steps should I take to book a trip like that. Which post do I need to read. Any help would be great! Cheers

  • Eugene

    What’s your experience with booking CX using BA miles when CX shows availability and BA does not? I’m seeing availability on the JFK-YVR-HKG flight but BA is saying seats only available on the JFK-YVR leg and not available on YVR-HKG. Does that sound right even though it’s the same flight CX889? I’m wondering if BA agent I spoke with just wasn’t searching for it correctly.

  • SterlingGuy

    Did you ever get an answer this question? I want to book LAN flights and use my BA miles but don’t know how to do it.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Sounds like they weren’t searching correctly.. you should be able to book JFK-YVR and YVR-HKG

  • Elijah Nouvelage

    Looking at the information in this post I can safely assume that this is a stupid question, but I’m so new to this that I’ll ask anyway.

    Is there any way to get to South Africa from the US WITHOUT using BA metal? I’d like to book a ticket using their one partner award chart before November and the only option that’s coming up is the BA one with $1000+ in fees for the RT.

    Thanks for replying, even it’s a simple “no, you’re stuck with BA for that destination.”


  • Aniket

    Booking on Cathay using BA miles and still have to pay surcharges ?

  • Anonymous

    Cathay flights still have fuel surcharges but less than a flight to europe

  • Aniket

    Thxs for the quick reply. I noticed they are lesser than a flight to Europe. But it takes the fun out of using miles :(
    Another question I had is with regards to the companion voucher. Looks like it can be used only on BA & not on partner airlines :( . Correct me if I am wrong.

  • Anbernas

    I’m getting dizzy with all this points. I’m based in Buenos Aires and got around 135K American Airlines miles. I thought it was a lot, but then when checking availability it seems that the only reasonable round-trips available to (say) US are 120K. Is that about right? Is it that AA gives more miles per trip and thus mile tickets require more points?
    What is the conversion rate for 1 AmEx membership reward point to SMILEs (gol – g3) and to AA miles?
    thanks a lot!

  • Pratish

    A quick note to thank you for these posts TPG… very, very useful indeed!!

  • Corey A

    Is it possible to fly from either Chicago or NYC to Hong Kong with stopovers in Japan via Cathay Pacific? Actually, would love to just do a multistop trip through Japan if possible, perhaps through Japan Airlines? Would someone please help me?

    Thank you

  • Carol183

    I have miles on both BA and AA and would like to get business class tickets from Boston to Hong Kong do you have any suggestions as to best do this?

  • ns

    I am trying to book bombay to jfk via sinhapore using cathay for my BA miles but BA keeps on showunf Royal Jordanian Aitline as partner airline . How do i get cathay as partner. Will appreciate ant help

  • Tom

    Are you able to update your links because most are dead. Specifically : BA Only. BA + 1 Partner. Single Oneworld Partner. Multiple Oneworld Partners.

  • Tom

    What I am really after is a British Airways award chart for booking OneWorld multi-city trip or something similar to the One World American Airlines Award chart (

  • James

    How do you search for award availability to Cuzco, Peru — the city doesn’t show up in the Qantas award engine, and BA’s website doesn’t recognize it either? (But LAN flies there).

  • RJ

    I tried to book BA SFO LHR NBO but it won’ t let me use the companion certificate…

  • guest0915

    How do you book with one world partners using BA avios points?

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