Skip to content

How to book award flights using British Airways Avios

Aug. 28, 2021
10 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.


Whenever the topic of British Airways Avios comes up, we hear rumbles like those points come with high fees, they're hard to use and I'm not going to London anytime soon. Indeed, if you’re looking for award flights from the U.S. to Europe on British Airways, Avios are often close to worthless due to high carrier surcharges on awards and relatively affordable paid flight prices.

However, don’t let these frustrations keep you from looking into the program’s sweet spots. TPG currently values Avios at 1.5 cents each, and you can get much more than that thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart.

By taking advantage of the sweet spots in the Avios redemption program, I’ve gotten over 12 cents per Avios in value on an Iberia premium economy flight and more than 6 cents per Avios from short-haul intra-Europe flights. A TPG reader got almost 9 cents per Avios in value on American Airlines flights. Some folks have even scored over 10 cents of value for flights in the Caribbean.

And by using Iberia Avios — which can be transferred 1:1 from British Airways Avios — you can book round-trip flights to Europe from 34,000 points (with reasonable taxes/fees).

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

There are dozens of examples of times that it makes sense to book American Airlines award flights with British Airways Avios. Some great sweet spots include:

Related: These are the best ways to redeem 100,000 British Airways Avios

There’s certainly value to be had from British Airways Avios. But if you’ve never booked using British Airways website, it can take some getting used to. Let’s walk through the process of booking award flights using British Airways Avios.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for a British Airways Executive Club account

First, in order to transfer points or search award availability, you’re going to need a British Airways Executive Club account. Click here to sign up if you don’t already have an account.

Sign into your British Airways account

British Airways’ website is one of the better options for searching Oneworld award availability.

However, Qantas’ website is even better and American Airlines has added online booking for most of its partners in recent years. So you might want to start on another website to find space before heading back to the BA website to book award flights.

When searching for awards on the BA website, I usually log in to my account using the log-in widget at the top right of the www.britishairways.com homepage:

Alternatively, you can select “Manage” from the top menu and then select “Log in to my Executive Club” to be taken to the Executive Club log-in page.

Know which partners you can book online

As noted above, British Airways is a great way to search for partner award availability. You can search and book award flights on all of the carrier’s fellow Oneworld members:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7
  • SriLankan Airlines

However, award inventory on Aer Lingus is not available online on the British Airways site. To book awards with this carrier, you’d need to search for award availability on another site. You can use ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG's parent company, Red Ventures) to search, or you could use United.com for an approximation of Aer Lingus award space.

To book, call the U.S.-based British Airways call center at 800-452-1201 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Related: Beginner’s guide to award searches on ExpertFlyer

Searching award availability on BA’s website

Once you’re logged in, you’ll want to navigate to BA’s Book Flights With Avios page to search for award availability. On the following page, simply fill in your origin and destination airport, date, class of service, number of passengers and click “get flights” at the bottom:

The search results will show award availability for three classes of service — the service selected, plus the one above and below. So, if you’re flexible on which class of service you’ll want, you’ll want to pick “premium economy” to see economy, premium economy and business. Or choose “business” to see premium economy, business and first class.

Don’t click on the “check reward flight availability” link — which will redirect you to another page when you’re already in the right spot to be searching for award space.

If you haven’t already confirmed availability on another website, hopefully, the same award availability will appear for the date you search. If not, BA lets you easily search plus or minus three days at the top of the results page, helpfully noting which dates that you’ve searched have award availability.

(Photo courtesy of BritishAirways.com)

If you’re looking for a particular flight — perhaps one of those AA lie-flat seats — make sure to scroll down to see if it's available. Also, for those booking American Airlines domestic first-class flights, it’s important to note that British Airways shows these under the “business class” column.

Transferring points to British Airways Avios

If you don’t have enough Avios in your account to book these flights, we recommend only transferring points once you’ve confirmed that there’s award space. If you already have enough Avios, you can skip to step 6 below. If not, here are some sources of British Airways Avios:

If you’re looking for a source to stock up on one or more of these transferable points currencies, here are a few of our favorite credit card offers available now:

If you want to skip the transfer process and earn Avios directly, consider adding the British Airways Visa Signature Card to your wallet. It’s currently offering a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the the first 12 months of account opening.

Related: The best ways to earn British Airways Avios

Booking flights using British Airways Avios

Once the Avios are in your account, it’s time to actually book your award flight. Select your preferred option from the search results and then click “Continue” at the bottom.

(Photo courtesy of BritishAirways.com)

Read and agree to the terms on the next page, clicking “Continue” again to progress. On the next page, your personal information should be populated from your account profile. Update as needed and click “Continue” again. On the final page, complete your payment information to finalize the booking.

Remember to use a credit card with trip delay and baggage insurance protection just in case something goes wrong. Some top choices include the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).

Bottom line

While it’s not the easiest website to use, booking award flights with Avios on British Airways’ website can help you take advantage of incredible sweet spots like American Airlines lie-flat business-class flights domestically for 16,500 Avios, intra-Japan JAL flights for just 4,500 Avios, flights between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii for 13,000 Avios and flights between the East Coast and Ireland for just 13,000 Avios.

It's one of those programs that is worth using even if it takes a little extra effort.

For more on British Airways, please see the following:

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg and Jennifer Yellin.

Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

Featured image by JT Genter
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023