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How Can I Get The Best Value From NY to India Using Avios and the BA Companion Pass or United Miles?

by on August 4, 2013 · 8 comments

in Avios, British Airways, Sunday Reader Questions, United, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Henry wants to book a trip from NY to India using his Avios, United or ANA miles:

“I have 250,000 Avios and the British Airways companion pass and also have Star Alliance points (280,000 United and 85,000 ANA). I would like to book a trip to India in January 2014 for 2 in business/first class from New York. Any idea how I can get the best value?”

As a quick recap, you will earn the British Airways Travel Together Ticket after spending $30,000 in a calendar year on the British Airways Visa. Both tickets must be award seats and you use Avios for the first one and then just pay the taxes and fees on both, and all flights must be on British Airways planes.

I actually have two of these passes that are kind of burning a hole in my pocket at the moment. This week I started looking at using these passes for a trip to the Maldives that I’m planning for this fall. British Airways does fly from London to Male, the airport in the Maldives, however award availability is scarce at best.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 1.40.56 PM

My plan is to fly into India instead. Flights to Bombay and Delhi are hard to come by as well, but I found there’s a ton of availability (almost every day) in business and first class to Bangalore which is in southern India, not too far from Goa. For me, there’s a non stop Air India flight that links up pretty well with the British Airways flights to Male in the morning so you can maximize your time there.

NYC to Bangalore in Club World for 180,000 Avios and $3,000 for two tickets using the Travel Together Ticket

NYC to Bangalore in Club World for 180,000 Avios and $3,000 for two tickets using the Travel Together Ticket

So for this itinerary, you’re looking at 180,000 and $3,012 in taxes and fees for both tickets. When you look at the actual cost to purchase those tickets you’re still getting a decent value since they can go for $6,000 in business class and well into the five figures for first class. Still, that is a lot of money to spend – especially considering you are getting the second ticket for no miles, so let’s look at your other options.

On United, flying from the US to India will cost you

On United, flying from the US to India will cost you 120,000 miles roundtrip for a Saver Award.

Using your United miles will be much cheaper than using Avios when flying to India. With United you’re looking at 120,000 miles and $80-$90 in taxes and fees roundtrip per ticket. You can fly United non-stop to India (if you can find the space) or fly Lufthansa or another European carrier through Europe in business class. First class is only 140,000 miles roundtrip, which is much lower than the 90,000 Avios premium that British Airways charges to get First over Business.

It really all depends what your preference is but that’s why I value United miles much higher than Avios since Avios awards come along with those huge fees, even when you’re using the companion pass. Instead of going with First class, you can book two business class tickets using the British Airways companion pass for 180,000 avios and the same $3,000 in fees so youre still looking at 90,000 avios per ticket instead of 135,000 per ticket for first. I would recommend going the business route if you can swing it unless you really value British Airways first class, but I’m not quite sure it’s worth the premium in Avios.

If you’re willing to liquidate your Avios account and you don’t mind spending the $3,000 in cash, the companion pass can be a pretty decent value but you’re going to be spending a lot less cash out of pocket if you redeem United miles instead.

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  • henryc1313

    Brian thanks for message. I will be using United to book my flights. Also, what would you say is the best way to use the British Avios and the Companion Pass? Thank you!

  • Julianne

    I, too, would like to know if there are any redemptions on BA metal using the companion pass that do NOT involve HUGE fees and taxes.

  • thepointsguy

    No

  • thepointsguy

    BA companion pass is best used if you highly value business/first class awards. 2 roundtrip business class tickets NYC-London for 80k Avios and $2k total isnt so bad if you value those tickets at more than $4k total.

  • ed

    Any word of whether you can do one-way any longer?

  • Alex

    Any tips for finding award space on the non-stop NYC-India United flights? Last time I looked, there was no premium cabin space available at all, no matter how far in advance I checked.

  • austin-pop

    United usually opens up award inventory (if availability permits) exactly 24 hours prior to departure. So the idea would be to have a workable Plan B booking in place, and then be prepared to switch to the nonstop if it opens up.

    So this is not for everyone, but works well if:
    a) you can be flexible on schedule, and
    b) if you use a program that allows free changes (provided the endpoints don’t change), like UA, and unlike US.

    Of course, reduced or no change fees with elite status can change the equation – there are too many variables to go over, but it’s the same idea.

  • cherlesmical

    UK Flights at present operates many flights to London per week, many flights on the Delhi to London flights and Delhi to Glasgow flights

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