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

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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 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.

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.

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