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US Airways Flights Now Bookable with British Airways Avios

by on March 31, 2014 · 27 comments

in British Airways, Oneworld, US Airways

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Today marks the first day that US Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance, and one of the more interesting results is that US Airways flights are now bookable using British Airways Avios. That’s good news because British Airways is a transfer partner of both Amex Membership Rewards (and there are sometimes transfer bonuses) if you have a card like the Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold, but also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest and Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus. Right now the British Airways Visa Signature card is offering 50,000 Avios after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, which is a nice balance to start off with, meaning it’s easier to rack up Avios or top up your account if you strategize with the right credit cards.

oneworld

It’s also interesting because British Airways has a distance-based award chart where shorter flights require you to redeem fewer Avios, so it can be a great bargain on expensive short-hauls – in some cases you’ll be using a lot less miles by opting for BA Avios instead of US Dividend Miles. Not only that, but BA permits one-way awards, which US Airways does not, adding another level of flexibility.

BA's Avios Award Chart is distance-based.

BA’s Avios Award Chart is distance-based.

Fuel Surcharges

In terms of flights to/from London, British Airways charges very high fuel surcharges on both paid and award tickets that range well over $1,000 in some cases. However, as US Airways doesn’t levy these charges on its own flights, you won’t get hit with them if you use US Airways miles on US Airways flights to London and the rest of Europe, or if you use Avios to book US Airways flights to Europe. The BA search engine seems to be having trouble pulling up flights on US specifically from the US to Europe – it tends to default to BA flights in this case – but there should not be enormous fuel surcharges or taxes on US Airways awards booked using BA Avios.

Where To Fly

US Airways has four major hubs in Charlotte, DC , Phoenix and Philly, which allows for multiple options for booking flights at low redemption levels. Another plus from booking with Avios is that that you can book one-way awards on BA.com, however when you are using the standard US Airways rewards booking, you will need to book roundtrip.

Just keep in mind, that if you are able to find availability, you can also take advantage of US Airways off-peak award travel chart. From February 3-13 and March 17-April 3  you can fly from North America to Hawaii or South America for 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach or 60,000 miles in first. You can also snag off-peak low level awards from North America to Hawaii or Europe from January 15 – February 28 for 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy, so it’s worth checking into off-peak availability and comparing to the cost in Avios before booking.

Here are some great deals that I found using Avios.

INTERNATIONAL

Philadelphia – Tel Aviv

PHL - TLV US Airways

PHL – TLV US Airways

Flying from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv in economy using US Airways miles would cost 80,000 miles and $172 roundtrip.

PHL - TLV BA.com

PHL – TLV round trip economy on BA.com

I pulled up the same itinerary on BA.com and saw that it would only cost me 60,000 Avios and $46 for a round trip economy ticket.

PHL - TLV one way Business , BA.com

PHL – TLV one way Business , BA.com

One-way in business from PHL- TLV booked on BA.com came up at 60,000 Avios and $2 in taxes on the outbound.

Charlotte – Rio De Janeiro

Charlotte to Rio

Charlotte to Rio in Economy on US Airways

On US Airways an economy roundtrip award ticket from Charlotte to Rio De Janeiro would cost you 60,000 miles and $105.

CLT - GIG BAFor the same flight on BA.com you would need 70,000 Avios but only $54 per ticket. Though you’re paying 10,000 more Avios and only saving $51, it might still be worth it given how much easier is to rack up Avios than US Airways miles.

Philadelphia – London

Although I was having trouble pulling up US Airways flights to London on BA.com, you should be able to call British Airways and have a representative tell you how much the taxes and fees amount to when you find low-level flights on either US Airways’ website or AA.com, which is pretty good at displaying US Airways award availability.

PHL - LHR round trip economy

PHL – LHR round trip economy

US Airways shows a roundtrip ticket in economy would be 60,000 miles and $325. A low-level business class ticket would also be $325 in taxes and fees and the miles needed would increase to 100,000 miles roundtrip. However, if you were to use Avios, you’d only be paying 40,000 Avios roundtrip in economy and 80,000 in business class since the flight falls just under 4,000 miles each way.

DOMESTIC

Given US Airways’ extensive domestic route map, 0ne of the great opportunities is going to be using Avios on short-haul flights (or even mid- and longer-range flights) within the US where you will end up using fewer Avios on saver awards than the standard 25,000 US Airways miles in economy and 50,000 in business.

Short-Haul Flights

When looking at awards charts, the option for short-haul flights can also be a great deal. It costs 4,500 Avios to fly one-way for any distance of less than 650 miles, and 7,500 for flights in the next distance tier of 651-1,151 miles.

Washington DC – Boston

Washintong DC to Boston on US Airways

Washintong DC to Boston on US Airways

A roundtrip flight from Washington DC to Boston in first class on US Airways using US miles would cost 50,000 miles and $106 or 25,000 miles and $106 if you can find roundtrip availability in economy.

Washington DC - Boston in First class using Avios.

Washington DC – Boston in First class using Avios.

The same itinerary on BA.com shows that roundtrip in first class will run you 27,000 Avios and $5 – a savings of 23,000 miles or 46%! Note, that’s because it’s first and not business class – so beware US Airway’s two-class flights where you’ll end up paying a premium for “first” class instead of “business.

Boston - Washington DC one way economy on BA.com.

Boston – Washington DC one way economy on BA.com.

If you wanted to just book a one-way award instead it would cost you 4,500 Avios and $2 for an economy ticket or 13,500 Avious and $2 for first class.

Boston - Washtington DC one way first class on BA.com

Boston – Washtington DC one way first class on BA.com

Charlotte to Grand Cayman (GCM)

Where this is also a big boon is on flights from the east coast to the Caribbean, where many destinations lie within the 651- and 1,151-mile ranges of BA’s award chart. For instance this roundtrip ticket on US from Charlotte to Grand Cayman would cost you 35,000 miles and $120 using US miles.

CLT - GCM econ US AIRBut only 15,000 Avios and $84 using BA roundtrip in economy – a bargain of over 57% off.

CLT - GCM BA Econ[1]

Philadelphia to Los Angeles

Even on some of the longer-haul transcon flights where you’re paying the same amount in terms of Avios and US miles, there are still some good reasons to opt for Avios instead.

PHL - LAX round trip economy on US Airways

PHL – LAX round trip economy on US Airways

A roundtrip economy flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles would be 25,000 miles and $106 on USAirways.com

PHL - LAX ba.com

PHL – LAX ba.com

On BA.com the same itinerary will also cost 25,000 Avios but the taxes and fees are about $100 lower at just $5 per ticket.

So all in all, there are some bargains to be had here and in the coming days and weeks as US Airways becomes more closely integrated with its new Oneworld partners, I’ll continue exploring this relationship and the best ways to maximize it. In the meantime, feel free to comment with questions you have and what you are interested in particularly about this new partnership.

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.

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  • Liberty

    BOOKED!! PHL to TPA, 30,000 Avios. Same flight using United was going to cost me 50,000 miles. 20,000 saved.. I’ll take it!

  • jsocpa

    find that some flights not pricing out, MIA-CLT 15K if choose the AA flights, if include US Air flights

  • jsocpa

    left out the 30K if including US Air

  • Martin

    BA.com website is junk. The website gets a rating of D-.They should improve their website!!! It’s so hard to book, even for some direct flights!!! Has anyone successful booked short haul flights out of DCA or BWI on BA.com without receiving all kinds of error message?

  • Adam

    Great!! more options now with US Airways. Thanks TPG

  • thepointsguy

    I think there will be some glitches for a while.

  • ASG

    Can I book a round trip flight from SFO to LHR which costs 50k AVIOS, and avoid the high British taxes/fuel fees by going through US Airways? How would I do this, through the US Airways website, and then log into my Avios Account? I ask because I have a lot of points through Chase Ultimate rewards that I can transfer to Avios (but I haven’t yet), and I’m not sure how to find out how much it costs or how the Avios account links to US airways website.

  • tigermark82

    just booked the return flight for Charlotte to Grand Cayman this morning. 22,500 avios per person one-way first class.

  • Daniel

    There are glitches, including the example you gave for the Charlotte to Rio flight. It should cost 25k avios per segment for a total go 50k; and not 60K.

  • losonn

    Only seeing first (domestic biz) availability for all nonstop routes checked out of DCA. Any ideas?

  • losonn

    We’re talking someone turned on a fire hose kind of availability here, but only at 3x avios for domestic biz…

  • stuart

    I agree. Their website is so hard to use. It’s really terrible. I find that it’s easiest, if inconvenient, to call them. They used to have US based agents, but now it seems UK agents answer the phone, and they have been really good, in my experience.

  • Chris

    This just made Avios a whole a lot more valuable! One way MSY to LGA (with connection in Charlotte) is 9000 miles and $5. I somehow foresee lots of weekend trips to NYC…especially since a close friend of mine just got a job there so I have a couch to sleep.

  • iahphx

    While this is theoretically a fantastic new “free” travel opportunity — especially for short haul flying from US’s hubs — the reality is not as promising. That’s because US rivals DL in stinginess in award travel inventory, even on obscure short haul routes. If you have extreme flexibility, you’ll be able to find seats. If you’re hoping to get away for the weekend, you’ll probably be frustrated.

  • pj

    any ez way to see economy flight availabilities on US airways website and seats are bookable with Avios ?

  • Izzy

    Was really hoping for DCA to YUL using Avios, but they stopped that route as part of the merger. Ugh.

  • Jake

    Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em folks. “Winter is coming.” Also known as a major devaluation.

  • wiivile

    i would be very surprised if BA let you use Avios to Europe using US Air without incurring massive fuel surcharges. they don’t let you get away with this for AA flights booked using Avios…

  • Danny

    TPG, minor correction you should make

    > That’s good news because British Airways is a transfer partner of both
    Amex Membership Rewards (and there are sometimes transfer bonuses) if
    you have a card like the Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold, but also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest and Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus.

    Saying ‘both’ implies there are only two items in the list. There are actually three (Amex, SPG, Chase). It would read better as “That’s good news because not only is British Airways a transfer partner of Amex but Also of SPG and Chase”

    /end grammar nit. Nice post!

  • Elena

    Martin, I was able to book DCA to Florida (FLL and MCO) yesterday, but I had to book a round trip as two one-ways and use separate tabs (on Firefox browser). BA website is very buggy.

  • Martin

    I’m contacting and lobbying Chase and the Justice Department to end its partnership with BA for being consumer unfriendly, rude and insulting to Americans in general. Fix/improve the website, BA!!!

  • Luke

    Is there anyway to transfer US Airways Points over to Avios?

  • Greg

    Thanks for this post.

    I agree, that with the lack of business/first class travel on British Airways (especially out west), a great way to use those miles that we got through the generous credit card promotions you have talked about is using the avios for economy award redemptions on US Air.

    US has many routes out west – SEA, PDX YVR to Phoenix which can represent great value. Often flights to/from Phoenix in coach are in the neighbourhood of $200+ Using Avios points, this will only cost you 7500-1000 points. That is well over 2 cents.

    I find a coach flight for 2 1/2 hours is really just fine. Especially along the west coast, Seattle, Vancouver and Portland rarely have huge delays because of too much traffic.

    Award availability is OK, but not great. You will still find more availability using Avios on Alaska to Phoenix via Seattle, BUT that will cost you another $25 phone booking fee too. And that starts eating away at your 2 cents redemption.

  • libbrichus

    Do you know if there is a way to change the British Airways frequent flyer number for a trip booked through avios to US Dividend Miles number for those of us who have preferred status with US? I tried going to finnair as suggested on flyertalk but, it wasn’t allowing me to change it. Also called the US airways customer service, but they too said they are unable to change it in the system.

  • Laurel Heights

    I’m looking for SFO-MAD off-peak travel in February 2015 but not seeing the off-peak rates. I hope this option doesn’t go away.

  • Sanjeev M

    Booked DCA-DTW 4500 Avios + $2. Seems fair to me for a 400 mile flight. Unfortunate that DCA-DTW is ending come August.

  • stumped

    I booked a US Airways flight using Avios. DCA-YYZ. When I printed my boarding pass, there was no TSA pre-check like I normally get when booking US Airways flights via other sites. There was no where on the BA website where I could enter my traveler #. Anyone know of any way to get TSA precheck when booking a flight using Avios?

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