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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi ThankYou Premier Card
On Saturday, we saw the return of an excellent transfer bonus: Now through November 15, you’ll get a 40% bonus when transferring American Express Membership Rewards to Aer Lingus Avios, British Airways Avios or Iberia Avios. This transfer bonus amplifies all kinds of sweet spots in the Avios award chart, and this week we are going dive into a few of these. Why not start with flying to Ireland starting at just 10,000 Membership Rewards points?
One of the under-appreciated sweet spots in the Avios award chart is the ability to fly from the Northeast/Midwest to Ireland during off-peak dates for just 13,000 Avios one-way on Aer Lingus using either Aer Lingus Avios or British Airways Avios. Thanks to this transfer bonus, you’ll need to transfer just 10,000 Membership Rewards to fly this award one-way or 19,000 Membership Rewards to book a round-trip. Here’s where and how you can book this.
Since this transfer bonus only runs for two months, the promotion is going to be best for those who already have Membership Rewards points in the bank. If you don’t have points in your Amex account — or want to resupply after taking advantage of this deal — here are three great credit card welcome bonuses currently available:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 60,000-point welcome bonus for spending $5,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Up to 75,000-point welcome bonus for spending $20,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
- American Express® Gold Card: 25,000-point welcome bonus for spending $2,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
One of the key limitations of this deal is that you have to fly nonstop between one of Aer Lingus’ US gateways and Ireland. The good news is that Aer Lingus has been expanding its US footprint. Here are the routes with the off-peak Avios rates and the amount of Avios that need to be transferred during the promotion, factoring in the mandatory 1,000-point increment:
Out Of Pocket Cost
As Aer Lingus is owned by the same company that charged so much for fuel surcharges that it got sued and was forced to settle, there are going to be
fuel surcharges tacked onto these award flights. They’re going to vary by route, but generally cost around $117 one-way or around $267 round-trip.
While this might ruin the deal for those who can score cheap cash fares to Ireland, this still makes this award booking a good deal on other routes.
Peak vs. Off-Peak Dates
The next limitation to these cheap rates is that you’re going to have to fly during off-peak dates. The good news here is that two-thirds of the calendar is considered off-peak — including now through December 14, 2018.
Aer Lingus doesn’t have the 2019 off-peak calendar on its website, but Head For Points was able to obtain and published the following calendars:
Search Award Availability
One of the easiest ways to search Aer Lingus availability is to use United’s website. A great thing about United’s website is that it doesn’t require an account to search and you can use the helpful calendar view and ‘nonstop’ filter to easily pick out award availability. That is, as long as United or another United partner doesn’t operate the same route. Otherwise, it’s going to take a little more clicking around to find the availability.
Or, you can search on Aer Lingus’ website. The downside here is that you’re going to have to create an Aer Lingus Avios account, if you don’t have one already. However, this is the best way of confirming what you’re actually going to pay, both in Avios and surcharges. After logging into your account, browse here to search award availability.
Those are the free methods. But, if you have a premium ExpertFlyer subscription, you can use the award search tool to find which dates are available:
Although Aer Lingus is a British Airways Avios partner — and is even owned by the same parent company, IAG — BA won’t show you award availability on its award search engine.
Here’s where your options diverge a little. The easiest way is to use Aer Lingus Avios, as you can book the award online without having to call. However, some miles collectors might prefer to utilize an existing BA Avios account rather than create a new account with Aer Lingus. The downside of this is that you’ll have to call British Airways to book the award. Either way, don’t transfer your hard-earned Membership Rewards points to Avios without first confirming award availability.
Aer Lingus: Log in to your American Express account, navigate to the point transfer page and select “Transfer Points” under the AerClub tile. Transfer 10,000 Membership Rewards points to get enough Avios for a one-way, or 19,000 MR points for a round-trip / two one-ways. TPG doesn’t yet have a data point on the transfer time to Aer Lingus, but I just transferred 1,000 Avios to Aer Lingus and found that the transfer went through immediately. Just note that you’ll have to log out and log back in to see the new account balance.
British Airways: Log in to your American Express account, navigate to the point transfer page and select “Transfer Points” under the British Airways Avios tile. In our experience, Amex MR transfer to British Airways Executive Club instantaneously. You’ll want to transfer 10,000 Membership Rewards points to get enough Avios for a one-way, or 19,000 MR points for a round-trip / two one-ways.
Booking the Award
British Airways: Since award availability doesn’t show up on British Airways’ award search, you’re going to have to call British Airways Executive Club to book this award. The non-elite US phone number is 1-800-452-1201 and the call center is staffed from 7:30am-8:00pm ET.
Either way, remember to use a credit card with trip delay and baggage insurance protection. Top choices are the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 6+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay), Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay) and the Citi ThankYou Premier Card (12+ hour delay).
Aer Lingus off-peak award flights between the US and Ireland are one of the great sweet spots of the Avios award chart, which was made even sweeter by the recent 40% transfer bonus. While award availability is pretty good and the dates are fairly wide-spread, watch out for the surcharges on awards. It’s worth checking cash fares to see if this is still a deal for your route and dates after factoring in the surcharges.
Featured image by mbbirdy / Getty Images.
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