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The loyalty currency Avios has received a lot of attention over the last few weeks. It was initially positive, as the first-ever transfer bonus from Chase Ultimate Rewards launched, allowing cardholders to get a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways Avios. Then the more ominous news arrived, as British Airways announced it would be changing award rates on many partner award tickets as of May 30, 2019. While details were non-existent at first, we’ve since received our first glimpse at a possible award chart (confirmation from BA is still pending).
Nevertheless, Avios remains one of the most useful currencies for US-based points and miles enthusiasts. Even though it’s used by the loyalty programs of three different European airlines (British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus and Aer Lingus AerClub), there are some terrific ways to maximize your Avios both inside and outside of Europe. And chances are quite good that you have access to a wealth of Avios, since you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards points to all three programs.
The best part? You aren’t restricted to using Avios on these three carriers, and in many cases you can get a better experience and will potentially save hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees by booking awards on partner airlines. However, the list isn’t identical for each of the three programs, so today we’ll dive into all of the carriers that are available to book with Avios.
We’ve noted below the carriers that will be impacted by the May 30 changes, though as of now, this only applies to awards booked using British Airways Avios, not those booked using Avios in either Iberia Plus or Aer Lingus AerClub.
British Airways is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, which is a global partnership made up of 13 airlines. Oneworld is one of the ‘Big 3’ alliances, with the other two being the Star Alliance and SkyTeam.
Assuming there’s saver award availability, you can use Avios from either British Airways or Iberia for flights on Oneworld airlines. They include:
- American Airlines *
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific including Cathay Dragon *
- Finnair *
- Iberia including Iberia Express and Air Nostrum
- Japan Airlines *
- LATAM *
- Malaysia Airlines *
- Qantas including QantasLink and Jetconnect *
- Qatar Airways *
- Royal Jordanian *
- S7 Airlines *
- SriLankan Airlines *
* All of British Airways’ and Iberia’s Oneworld partners are included in the May 30 changes. While you’ll still be able to use your Avios after this date on the 11 carriers denoted above with an asterisk (*), the rates will likely differ.
The great thing is that most of these carriers offer nonstop flights to the US, and American provides extensive domestic service. In fact, there are many cases where it’s cheaper to book AA-operated flights using Avios than it would be to redeem AAdvantage miles.
Aside from the full Oneworld members listed above, you also have Fiji Airways, a ‘Oneworld Connect’ member, which provides some of the benefits of a Oneworld membership but not all. Fortunately, if you have Avios in your British Airways Executive Club account, you can redeem them for flights with Fiji Airways from Los Angeles (LAX) to Nadi, Fiji (NAN).
Avios in the Iberia Plus or Aer Lingus AerClub program must be moved to Executive Club before they can be used for Fiji Airways flights.
Other Partner Airlines
While most people would think of British Airways as the default program using Avios, it is also the currency of Iberia, and Aer Lingus. This allows you to play the three of them off one another if you’re trying to minimize both the Avios you need to redeem as well as the fuel surcharges and fees you’re required to pay.
In addition to the Oneworld partners listed above, you can also use Avios from British Airways Executive Club to redeem for flights on:
- Aer Lingus
- Alaska Airlines (included in the May 30 changes)
- Comair, a BA franchise partner in South Africa
- Flybe (until the Virgin Atlantic takeover is complete)
- Sun-Air, a BA franchise partner in Scandinavia
Avios in Iberia Plus can be redeemed for Avianca, LEVEL, Royal Air Maroc and Vueling flights in addition to the Oneworld partners listed above. Royal Air Maroc will be joining the Oneworld alliance in 2020.
Meanwhile, Avios in your Aer Lingus AerClub account can be redeemed for flights on British Airways, Iberia, Flybe and low-cost European airline Vueling.
Finally, while not a Oneworld member, Iberia and British Airways partner with Air Italy, so you can also use your Avios from these accounts on Air Italy flights (though it too is included in the May 30 changes).
Featured image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy
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