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Using British Airways Avios on Aer Lingus to Avoid Taxes and Fuel Surcharges

by on April 14, 2012 · 68 comments

in Aer Lingus, British Airways

Forget London! Use less Avios and pay fewer fees and taxes to get to Dublin instead.


This nifty little piece of advice comes courtesy of my friend Lucky at One Mile at a Time.

While the British Airways 100,000 Avios points credit card offer is one of the best deals out there, it’s not perfect for those that want to go to Europe because BA tacks on hefty fuel surcharges and taxes which often run over $600, even in economy. Well, there’s a handy way to get around those: by using Avios to book a ticket on Aer Lingus instead.

Now, I usually talk about using Avios on BA’s other oneworld partners, but let’s not forget that Aer Lingus is another BA partner, even though it’s not in any of the alliances and their Gold Circle loyalty program works a little differently than most and isn’t based on distances flown.

That doesn’t really matter for this scenario, since we’ll be using Avios anyway. So to take an example, priced out a roundtrip ticket from Boston to London Heathrow from May 9-May 15. Using BA’s booking system, the total came to 40,000 Avios and $654 in taxes and fees. Not a very good redemption, and the fees alone are almost as much as just buying a ticket.

Boston to London will cost you 40,000 Avios and $654 roundtrip!

If your goal is just to get to Europe, though, Dublin might be just as fine a launching point for you as London—it’s even closer to the US, cutting your flight time by an hour, and if you fly from Boston, it just squeaks in under the 3,000-mile mark, meaning you can get there and back roundtrip for just 25,000 Avios in Economy and 50,000 in business! (New York and Chicago to Dublin are both 40,000 Avios roundtrip though). Plus, the major discount airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir have tons of flights from DUB. And if you’re just looking for a general European getaway, I love Dublin and had a great time there with my family back in February.

The fare is expensive at $800, but at least taxes and fuel surcharges are just over $100.

Meanwhile, as you can see from just a fake booking I did on Aer Lingus’s site, the taxes for a roundtrip ticket to Dublin in May (which is still expensive in and of itself), were just $106. Much better. So for an award ticket using Avios, you could potentially get from North America to Europe for 25,000 Avios and just over $100 in taxes and fuel surcharges. What a deal!

So now let’s try to find availability on Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin using Avios on BA’s search engine. Bad idea! BA’s search engine is notoriously wonky, and makes it difficult to search airline partners. Instead, you can use ExpertFlyer, United.com or Qantas.com.

As I’ve written about before ExpertFlyer is a great tool for searching award availability, and sure enough one Aer Lingus non-stop flight #138 popped up with 9 T Economy Award Fare seats available on May 9, and for the return, there were also 9 T class tickets available on Aer Lingus flight 137.

9 award seats available on the outbound according to ExpertFlyer.

Plenty of availability on the return as well.

If you are not registered on ExpertFlyer, don’t worry, you can also use Qantas’s search engine. Though Qantas is a member of oneworld and Aer Lingus is not, the airlines are still partners, and Qantas’s search engine should still show award availability on Aer Lingus, plus it’s the best airline search engine in oneworld, so it’s a great tool to use regardless.

You do have to sign up for a Qantas Frequent Flyer account, but that just takes a minute, and then you can search award availability by clicking on the “Award Booking” tab on the left side of the screen.

Qantas is showing me available economy seats for my dates as well.

Sure enough, those very same flights are available—though Qantas says I’d need 56,000 of their points to do it. Forget that, instead, call up British Airways (yes, I know it’s a pain), and ask them to book the exact flights and fares for you on Aer Lingus. They will try to charge you a fee for doing it over the phone, but explain their booking engine wasn’t working, and they will sometimes waive the fee.

Even with just the 50,000-Avios bonus you get for using your new British Airways Visa for the first time, you’d have enough for 2 roundtrip coach tickets on Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin, though you’d need 80,000 from another city within the 3,000-4,000-mile radius.

And if you didn’t get the card this time, don’t worry, there are still other ways for you to take advantage of this route. If you have American Express Membership Rewards, remember there’s a 50% bonus transfer promo, so those 25,000 Avios would only be costing you 16,667 Amex points.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Szymon131

    Can I do the same to find flights between NYC and MIA? Using BA engine there is never anything available. I need to book 2 award tickets in late July or early August.

  • thepointsguy

    Yep- if you use Avios for domestic AA awards the only taxes/fees are $2.50 per segment. You need to find MileSaaver availability on aa.com and then plug those dates in at britishairways.com and they will pull up

  • Szymon131

    There is plenty of flights available on aa.com in first/business between JFK-MIA on 8/8 thru 8/12. I picked flights 613 and 1412. But nothing showed up on BA’s website. I guess I should call them end tell them exact flight numbers. This is new to me so forgive any ignorance.

  • PJ

    great tip awesome

  • rick

    It’s interesting that JFK – BOS – DUB is only 4.5k + 12.5k or 17k avios. Most of North East is in this range:

    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?R=650mi+%40+bos

  • Mifuchs

    Once in Dublin could you just book a second intineary using Avios to get from Dublin to Paris? I want to go Boston to Paris. On BA I would have to stop in London anyway. So could I book it all on Aer Lingus and avoid the fees? Anyone know how many avios to get from Dublin to Paris. First class on BA for Boston to London is 138,000 Avios plus almost $1,100. I have 104,000 Avios and would love to get from Boston to Paris for that with lower fees in Frist or Business. Thanks for the help.

  • RakSiam

    I don’t see why you couldn’t. There’s a calculator on the BA Avios website that shows how many points you need between two points. You could just go there and check how many points from Dublin to Paris. I don’t think Aer Lingus has first class. I would also check around for some reviews of their business class before booking. But I suppose it’s a short enough flight that it’s probably not too bad for so few miles to get to Europe.

  • Yang

    Hi
    Any tips on using BA points or AA points to book finnair flight?
    they all in one world program..
    thanks!

  • Jedijood

    aa.com award availability is not the same as ba.com availability. aa.com releases less seats to ba than to aa customers. so, technically, expertflyer/aa.com will show availability but it doesnt guarantee ba will see it on their end. you can call and check, but I learned this lesson last year when I tried to find an itinerary I liked before the devaluation. the rep could not see what I was “seeing.”

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you!! I knew this should be possible, and tried to do it, but never found any award availability with the BA booking engine. Thanks for the tip on Boston as well. I live near Chicago, but there are often cheap flights between here and there, and I have family in Boston so it’s a good stopover to make. Awesome!

  • Anon

    this is a copy cat post .. typical of these bloggers. the first to discuss the Aer Lingus use of Avios was lucky .. then million mile secrets .. and now TPG joins the bandwagon.

  • Maury

    TPG: Thanks for explaining and for including economy availability.

  • Mifuchs

    So what? They each have different perspectives and it is very useful.

  • sfobuddy

    Given that I will have 140K miles when bmi becomes part of BA this is an interesting idea. But I’m still concerned my miles will take a hit when they are transferred to BA and more importantly I’m not entirely sure what is happening. I’d much rather spend my these miles in the Star Alliance before they become part of the OW alliance.

  • agum

    Aer Lingus is an all Y carrier except for TATL, so no C exists on flights within Europe.
    In many respects, Aer Lingus has a LCC appeal. But you can book exit seats for a fee in advance (though no experience, if that works with award tickets). There is another nice feature when flying from Ireland to the US. Homeland Security has an outpost in Ireland and immigration is done at the departure airport! You will be walked through immigration at the arrival airport and have straight access to your luggage. That may make you feel more special than flying in F :)

  • arcticbull

    Seriously? Would you rather he just not tell his readers who don’t read the other blogs?

  • arcticbull

    I’m pretty sure it’s identical. I’ve never seen a difference. The only thing is they need to be MileSAAver awards and not the AAnytime awards, and you need to press Search Partners when prompted on the BA site.

    However, sometimes the website is glitchy. And sometimes the BA phone system is glitchy. If you know there’s SAAver level space, it’s worth trying to:

    (1) Just call and ask.
    (2) Ask them to long-sell or direct-sell the flight (and wait for HK confirmed).

    The last trick I learned from Delta :P

  • Ten60

    For the fun of it I checked for a friend of mine Orlando to Dublin and found 50,000 business class in Sept for round trip.

    As a side note I booked 2 roundtrip tickets on American from mia to stl in May for 15,000 miles per ticket through BA

  • DP81

    That’s like saying Fox news copies CNN, who copies ABC, who copies NBC. Maybe you should spend less time complaining and more time getting an education.

  • Raj B

    MIA-ATL R/T on AA is only 9,000 Avios + $5, not 15,000 Avios.

  • http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy

    Yes, and he makes it a secret by telling you who he copied it from…

  • Michael

    brian,

    I’m showing lots of business availability LAX-ORD (UA) DUB (Aer Lingus) on United.com for 100K round trip and just $2.50 fees. Would you consider this a good award redemption in august?

  • Anon

    Tpg has done nothing but a poor job at rehashing luckyss post.this post is not even a tenth as infprrmative as luckyss post.

    Copying is fine off u do add a unique perspective or new data points…. contrast this post with MMS who also repeated luckyss post but went far far beyond and added so much useful and previously unblogged perspectives

    I used to respect Tpg for original content but seems he is going for the FTG way ..and just chasing the $ and clicks.

  • Dbennett

    Can you use Avios on Alaska?

  • Mmt

    can you make a through ticket with interline baggage checking using AA and AirLingus from an interior US point using Avios?

  • whrobb

    Booked this earlier this year… PIT-ORD-DUB and return for 49k + $180 per person. My only concern is that I had to book the PIT-ORD as a separate itinerary on AA so I lose the protection if my DUB-ORD flight is delayed or I somehow miss my connection on the way back home. Any tips on this front TPG?

  • Benthelefty

    Well you should probably get off of the site (because you’re clicking and adding to his “evil” plan that is only concerned with $). Refer to previous rebuking of your post–him sharing other’s information makes it more helpful for you…

  • Lia

    Best. News. Ever. Just booked 3 tickets for less than $500 and only 75,000 miles…and those agents said nothing was available!!!!

  • PJ

    so silly thoes whoever complained !! I was the first one to say good tip and awesome . please be aware not everybody reads every post

    Wish your you were taught better manners :(

  • PJ

    hope avios helped you out on 4.5 k redemption = 3K amex
    wonder after you get in Dublin how to you move on to other European cities ?

  • PJ

    I wish I could called up his(her) parents and complanied he was not taught better manners

  • EJo

    Interesting ! How can I use my 90k+ miles to redem flights from Brussels to NY, via either Aer Lingus or AA ?

  • TravAdam

    Yes, at least as far as I can tell when I use the Avios Points Calculator to figure out how many points it would take to get from SoCal to Seattle (Alaska is the only BA partner that flies that route) and it returns the amount of Avios points needed. However, when I use the calculator that I have included a connection with a flight on Horizon, it says it can’t be done.

  • TravAdam

    If a flight you want to book only has two-class metal, does the business level of booking put you in First; or does BA not allow Business-class redemptions when the flight has no Business class. For example, if it is 15k for economy, and the flight has no business class, is it 30k or 45k for the first class redemption?

  • Andrew10412

    just had to book an AA trip DEN-LAX in ‘FIRST’ for 45,000 avios. they won’t acknowledge it as a two cabin aircraft and charge you the 3 cabin price.

    45,000 is alot of avios for a 2h30 ride in a CR7

  • TravAdam

    That is a lot, but I’m sure you have a reason. I wonder what would happen if they did book it for 30k (bus. class redemption), whether they acknowledged it or not… or if you had played dumb and tried to do it, etc.

  • Jorn23

    Anon you are an idiot. get a life and quit bitching. TPG is awesome and he doesn’t charge for his blog you loser.

  • Elizabeth

    I’d personally use Ryanair (Dublin is their hub, they go almost everywhere from there) or Easyjet. They’re definitely cattle class air transport, but the flights are mercifully short and if you book well in advance they’re usually crazy cheap. (I went from Dublin to Glasgow, and from Newcastle back to Dublin, for about 10 euros each flight.) Just watch out for the add-on fees, they’ll ding you for everything beyond your rear end touching a seat.

    Or if you’re headed to the UK and want to take the more adventurous route, there’s a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, in Wales, and the train picks up from there.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rurikbradbury Rurik Bradbury

    Trying to book NYC-MIA in August using Avios. aa.com has Saver availability almost every day that month. BA has ZERO availability with Avios… though they offered first class seats for 75k Avios.

    Avios redemptions may *theoretically* be good in the US for domestic, but in practice they’re worthless for me.

  • newbie

    Newbie here. When I look at AA award flight engine I see flights at the milesaver level at 45K miles each way from JFK-LHR-DEL in October. If I choose AA metal for the JFK-LHR leg and then choose BA for the LHR-DEL leg, the fuel charges are almost half (524 compared to 900 something). The distances on each leg would require a total of 45K Avios points booking an AA Milesaver award through BA. With the MR bonus of 50%, to Avios, that would require only 30K MR points opposed to 45K AA miles for OW ticket. Seems like a good move…am I missing something?

  • Davedgar27

    Very helpful post. I’ve been on a European adventure, and got 106k miles for me and my fiancé before we left on my BA visa thanks to your advice. I am hoping to redeem all the points to get us home from wherever it takes in Europe. I read your write up several times but can’t get beyond Iberia or Air Berlin flight options using the Qantas search engine. I wrote on Flyertalk and they suggested just calling the BA rep, but I think that won’t work without having flight information first. I’m looking to get home anytime in June. Are there just no awards avail?

    Thanks for all the great info.

  • Paul Graham

    Did anyone get to the bottom of this – I too find lots of availability on AA.com, but near zero on BA.com for same exact flights.

    In fact BA.com is proving near useless for booking anything except last minute. If you want to fly to London tomorrow, there is tons of availability. try it months ahead – zero.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rurikbradbury Rurik Bradbury

    One thing I noticed: even when AA *looked* like it had a full month of availability, when I clicked into a date the flights (NYC to MIA) where almost all indirect. So perhaps, given the new Avios system, these don’t qualify?

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  • Mike

    How many Avios would it cost to fly between Orlando and Dublin? I see that Aer Lingus flies between these two cities.

  • Mary

    Awesome post! I didn’t even think to look at using BA miles on Aer Lingus. Ireland may just be my next vacation destination.

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  • Jstooffrd

    Easyjet don’t serve Dublin.

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  • Zheng87

    You’ll have to book multi-city or leg by leg if that’s the case. Alot of time Avios don’t recognize or piece the connections.

  • Zheng87

    I think you need to explain how to book Aer Lingus award using BA avios

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  • http://twitter.com/keith_mar Keith Martin

    Hmmm. Seems like no business class availability on Aer Lingus any more. Just searched for BOS-DUB and JFK-DUB across several months with no seats available at all (using ExpertFlyer).

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  • http://twitter.com/keith_mar Keith Martin

    Seems to be loads of Business Class availability, despite it showing up as zero on EF and elsewhere.
    Just booked return tickets in November, and my first choice dates were easily available straight away. 50k points + $157 tax.

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  • 77pgrg

    Hi, Just tried this with BA Avios, I have been told for an economy return Dublin to Boston it is 35,000 avios because Air Lingus is a partner. If it was a BA flight then it would have been 25,000 avios. Any way around this? Thx

  • thepointsguy

    Incorrect. It is 25,000 roundtrip Bos-dub-bos

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  • Michael Goff

    Do you know how much taxes are on ORD-DUB in J one way?

  • jerrymandel

    Another tip. DUB onward to a number of countries (including LHR) is only another 9,000 Avios round trip on Aer Lingus. Short flights. Of course, UK will,charge a high tax on the return trip. Between DUB and London is one inexpensive ticket for train-ferry-train. Not a long trip each way and no being at an airport 2 hours ahead of time. Much shorter times going through customs/immigration in port cities compared with airports. Going to London on the train puts you right in the city.

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