Sweet Spot Sunday: US to Ireland from 13,000 Avios each way
Ireland recently lifted all remaining COVID restrictions, meaning American tourists can enter the country without additional documentation. Virtually all tourist sites, restaurants and pubs are open for business, so it's the perfect time to visit Ireland for the first time or revisit some old favorites around the country.
If you’ve been saving up your points and miles for a trip to The Emerald Isle, I’ve got fantastic news: getting there can be as cheap as a domestic award ticket.
In this edition of Sweet Spot Sunday, I’ll cover how you can book a one-way economy class ticket for off-peak travel using just 13,000 British Airways Avios each way when traveling from the East Coast.
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Why it’s special
Redeeming 13,000 Avios for a one-way award ticket to Ireland is a bargain, especially considering most reward programs charge the same amount for a domestic ticket.
Other major loyalty programs charge over twice this to fly to Dublin or elsewhere in Europe. For example, United MileagePlus usually charges 30,000 miles for a one-way economy ticket to Europe. Likewise, AAdvantage charges 22,500 miles for a one-way off-peak ticket to Europe.
British Airways award tickets to Ireland are an especially good deal when you consider they don’t incur fuel surcharges, unlike British Airways awards. This is because these flights are operated by the Dublin-based Aer Lingus, which operates flights to Dublin and Shannon from a handful of U.S. airports. The airline doesn't add additional fuel surcharges to its award tickets.
Thankfully, off-peak dates span much of the year, including the entirety of February, March, May, October and November. You can view the Aer Lingus off-peak calendar on its website (PDF link).
Here's a look at how many Avios you'll pay for direct off-peak flights from the U.S. to Ireland with Avios:
|Departure City||Route||Flight miles|
*Despite the distance falling below 3,000 miles, Aer Lingus prices these routes as though they cover 3,000+ miles
Related: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles
How to book this award
Unfortunately, you can't book this deal online — but given the low cost of this award, it's well worth your time.
You have to find space on United.com (United is an Aer Lingus partner), then call British Airways to book the award. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to book a 13,000-Avios sweet spot award using Avios:
Step 1: Go to United.com
Head over to United.com and type in your travel information. Make sure you check off “Book with miles.”
Step 2: Find a nonstop Aer Lingus flight
Look for saver-level nonstop awards on Aer Lingus on the search results page. You'll see "Saver Award" listed underneath the award price and "Aer Lingus" noted as the operating carrier. Make a note of the flight number and continue to the next step.
Step 3: Call British Airways
After you choose a flight, call British Airways at 1-800-452-1201.
You’ll need your Executive Club membership number on hand. Once on the phone, tell the representative your preferred flight number, travel dates and the route you'd like to fly. This will make it easier for them to narrow down the options and quickly book your flight.
Step 4: Confirm and pay
Once the rep reads back your itinerary and it sounds correct, go ahead and confirm your booking and pay the associated taxes with a card that pays you extra points on flight bookings. Here’s a round-up of the best options:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 5x on flights purchased directly from the airline or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year). Terms apply.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x on travel (excluding the $300 travel credit), including flights.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 3x on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year across the categories of travel (including flights); shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
- American Express® Gold Card: 3x on flights purchased directly from the airline or through Amex Travel.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 2x on travel, including flights.
When you hang up, check your email for a confirmation and ensure that all the information is correct: Your destination, cabin class and flight. People make errors, and it’s best to catch them within a 24-hour window so you can easily fix them.
Related: Fly from the US to Europe, North Africa from 21,500 miles each way
How to earn points for this award
If you don’t have enough Avios for this award, you can transfer them from four different programs. American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott points transfer at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000 Avios bonus awarded for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.
You can also transfer Citi ThankYou points to Qatar Airways Privilege Club and then move those points to British Airways Executive Club. This is because Qatar Airways also uses Avios as its award currency.
If you need to top up your Avios balance, consider applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It's currently offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The card earns 3 points per dollar on dining and online grocery delivery, 2 points per dollar on travel and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
You can also apply for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, which currently offers 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Related: How I earned 20,000+ Avios in the last year without flying British Airways
British Airways Avios aren’t always the easiest to use since the airline prices award tickets by segment and adds high taxes and fuel surcharges when transiting through London. But as we’ve learned through this series, sweet spots are found in even the most challenging programs.
If Ireland is on your bucket list, this sweet spot award can help get you there faster.