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TPG Reader Eric is having trouble using Avios for a flight from New York to London:
“How is it possible that buying an award ticket from NY to London this summer using Avios in coach costs more than purchasing the ticket outirght in cash? Those surcharges are ridiculous. Also, is there any Anytime option for air using Avios? Their award availability is awfully limited.”
The cheapest way to use Avios for a flight to London is to redeem on Aer Lingus or Air Berlin. Neither of these airlines charge those crazy $600 or $700 fuel surcharges, however BritishAirways.com may not show these options especially if there are multiple legs involved in your trip.
For help finding award seats on Aer Lingus use ExpertFlyer.com, which will let you search for award availability in both business and economy. If there is nothing available at the time of your search you can set an alert and the second the award seat is released you’ll receive an email letting you know so you can immediately call to secure your seat. Read these post for instructions on how to search for availability and set flight alerts on Expert Flyer.
As for Air Berlin availability, it should show on BA.com but I actually prefer searching on American’s AA.com for Air Berlin awards. Any Mile SAAver availability that you see on AA.com, especially on partner airlines, should be available on BA.com.
Your second question was about British Airways having terrible availability. They actually have the same exact availability as AA.com, but a lot of times British Airways’ website award search engine is terrible at finding flights so it may make sense to call up and request availability instead of searching online, especially if you know that availability is out there but the site isn’t letting you book it. In that case, you should ask them to waive the phone booking fee as well – it never hurts to ask!
Good luck, I hope this helps you to find some availability where you can avoid those high taxes and fees! Please comment below if you have any other suggestions for Eric.