May 2nd, 2011

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Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa Signature Card is 50,000 Avios with $3,000 spend in the first 3 months.

This is the final 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 look at my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.

As you’ve learned so far, there’s no 100% perfect way to check Oneworld award space. Britishairways.com is buggy and will automatically try to route you through London, even when other options exist. However, it will show true Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific availability, which other engines do not. Expertflyer.com is decent too, but only shows American, Alaska, Qantas and some Finn Air award space.

I personally use Qantas’ frequent flyer website to find European awards, since BA.com is maddening and skews results due to its preference for British Airways awards (and we try to avoid them since they have the highest amount of taxes and fuel surcharges).

First step, create a free account using this link. You will be assigned a temporary pin and once you login for the first time, you’ll be prompted to change it.

Once logged in, the search process is pretty painless. Simply click Frequent Flyer -> Using Points – Award flights
For this example, lets try to search Los Angeles to Madrid since AA, Iberia and British Airways all service that route with connections (or non-stop on Iberia).

Qantas Award Search- Check Flexible Dates Box for Max Results
Calendar will show dates, though the symbols for class availability are confusing and don’t actually correspond
Final Results

Notice that I selected flights that are all operated by the same carrier so that we can use the generous Oneworld Partner award chart. If you mix BA and American, for example, it will jack the award rates up exponentially. Once you have your final awards, you can try replicating the results on britishairways.com, though many times you can’t pull up the same results because the engine sometimes only shows British Airways flights, which is true for this scenario.
Only BA flights show up, even though there are options on American. In this situation, you’d have to call British Airways at 1 (800) 452-1201 and give them the American flight numbers and they will be able to book the award – and make sure to have them waive the fee since the award can’t be booked online.

Overall, I find the Qantas search engine to be pretty smart and easy to to use, but I don’t recommend using it for Asia awards, since it omits Japan Airlines and sometimes shows false Cathay results.

If you haven’t gotten a Chase British Airways Visa with the incredible 100,000 mile sign-on bonus, make sure you apply by Friday May 6, 2011!

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195.
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.