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After some time in the technology penalty box, American Airlines award tickets are back and bookable on British Airways’ website. To celebrate this, TPG Contributor Leigh Rowan shares two tales of great savings using BA Avios on last-minute weekend AA flights.
For a brief period earlier this month, American Airlines awards were temporarily not bookable using British Airways Avios online, but thankfully, that functionality has now been restored, and as of this morning, all AA flights are again bookable using British Airways’ own site and currency. It’s now a great time to take advantage of this opportunity to travel on AA award tickets by booking through British Airways. Avios is one of my favorite ways to pay for short-haul and last-minute flights, and the flexible options for short-haul domestic and international flights make the currency one of the easiest ways to redeem points and miles at a great rate.
This summer I’ll be traveling on two international itineraries on American Airlines to Bermuda and Montreal from my home in NYC, so I decided to book my flights with British Airways Avios as opposed to purchasing tickets outright or using American AAdvantage miles. And, as a serial last-minute planner and a Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Business Rewards Gold cardholder, I can take easy advantage (pun intended) of instant Avios transfers from my Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards accounts into my Avios account. Frequent transferors like myself should keep in mind that the Amex-Avios transfer ratio will get a bit worse later this year, though luckily the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer ratio will not be changing.
Here are two recent examples of how I used Avios to save on my last minute Summer travel:
Bermuda in mid-June
My wife and I decided fairly last minute to travel to Bermuda for a quick weekend getaway. We started looking for tickets on Sunday morning for a departure this Thursday.
Taking advantage of Avios was an obvious choice after shopping around for flights, especially considering that I was booking a nonstop flight over a busy Holiday weekend (Father’s Day). New York to Bermuda on American would’ve run me about $509 per ticket had I paid in cash, or 35,000 AAdvantage miles + $81.40 in taxes per person round trip — not the best deal for a short-haul flight.
I ended up using Avios for our two tickets – we paid $211.35 and 5,000 Avios per person – giving me an effective value of 6 cents per Avios. I could have gotten an even better value out of my Avios had I paid the full 15,000 Avios (and $81.35 per person in taxes), but I am trying to save my Ultimate Rewards points for a future transfer to fly Singapore Suites like TPG did earlier this Summer.
At the end of the day, I had to make a decision on how many Avios to spend, so I opted for the lowest level and paid in cash for the rest of the flight — something that is impossible had I been booking these exact same flights through American Airlines. The flexibility in booking with Avios is easily one of the best reasons to use the currency. It’s frustrating to be stuck paying at just a couple preset mileage levels to buy a ticket (especially for a short-haul flight!), so the range of options is perfect for saving.
Montreal in late July
My wife and I decided that we’d bring our son along for this one. We booked last-minute tickets this morning (once the awards became bookable again) for a July 24th departure on the non-stop LGA – YUL American Airlines flights. Had we purchased them outright, each ticket would have been $770 per person – quite an ambitious price for such a short flight and on such a small plane (an RJ145). Had we used AAdvantage miles, I would have used 25,000 miles (plus $55.90 in taxes) per person — for our family of 3, that’s the entire signup bonus from the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard spent in one pop, and just to fly on a regional jet!
Rather than pay for these flights in cash or AA miles, I employed the same strategy to book my earlier last minute trip, and was again able to book with 15,000 Avios + $399 for three people. This time I had a budget to use a bit more Avios points, although I still could’ve lowered the cash I had to pay. The flexibility of Avios makes point redemptions super accessible with relatively little limits related to personal reward program memberships.
What deals have you gotten from Avios redemptions?
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||See Issuer's Terms||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95||0%||Excellent Credit|