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Help with Avios and BA

Scottsdale, Arizona
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Help with Avios and BA

I would appreciate some help with using Avios to book tickets from PHX to London. My husband and I each have ~13,000 Avios from our flight last summer. We're thinking of coming back to London summer 2015, so we have about a year and a half to accumulate more Avios. I'm considering getting the BA Visa card and we could probably get the 100,000 Avios in a year + whatever Avios we get for purchases using the card. I used the calculator on the BA site and from what I can tell it will cost us 37,500 Avios each way for each person to fly premium economy (+ $$ for taxes, etc.). Do I have this right? Is it fairly easy to book flights using Avios? I have a lot of flexibility during the summer as to when I can travel, so that should help. Anyway, I would appreciate any help with this as I'm trying to decide if getting the BA card is a good plan. It seems like it would be, but hearing some other experiences will help. Thanks in advance!

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Help with Avios and BA

You're forgetting the companion voucher at $30k spending. You get two tickets for the cost of one miles ticket. You do need award space for 2 and also need to pay the taxes and surcharges on passenger 2.

Scottsdale, Arizona
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559 posts
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2. Re: Help with Avios and BA

Thanks, OP2002, I wasn't quite sure how that worked, but that would probably be feasible since we would use the card for everything we can to rack up the Avios. (We do pay off our CC every month.) :-) Thanks!

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Help with Avios and BA

The big kicker with Avios (or with using BA) is the outrageously high fuel surcharges they add to mileage trips. It's not uncommon at all for a round trip ticket to carry a charge of $600 in "fuel fines" in economy, or $1000 or more in premium economy or business class, ON TOP of government fees and taxes and ON TOP of the actual miles/Avios. By comparison, if you use American Airlines miles and fly on AA flights, the taxes and fees will be much, much lower. (Note BA's practice of adding unrealistic fuel charges to award tickets is the subject of a big federal lawsuit in Washington DC.)

These BA "fuel fines" have the effect of reducing the value of Avios hugely compared to other frequent flyer schemes. You think you're getting a "free" ticket and then get whacked for fees that aren't that far from the cost needed to BUY an ordinary ticket. What part of "ripoff" needs translating?

Phoenix is a major US Airways hub, and by the time you're traveling, it will be a major American Airlines hub. If it were me, I'd get an AA- or US- affiliated credit card and focus on that - you'll be able to redeem miles for flights on BA if you want (actually, fewer AA miles for many of the same trips compared to Avios). The merger will be complete by the time you fly, and the fuel surcharge business may be settled too, but in the meantime you might find AA or US miles more useful than Avios, because, IMO, they already are.

Scottsdale, Arizona
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559 posts
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4. Re: Help with Avios and BA

Thanks, ibgardyloo, I will check out cards from those airlines, too. I think BA is the only nonstop to London from PHX, though, which is also a factor. I'll have to double check that. I appreciate the info!

(I'm from Seattle - born there and lived most of my life there...till I got tired of the rain.)

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Help with Avios and BA

BA *is* the only nonstop and direct flight from PHX to London.

You will find more availability by flying to New York, which has a handful of flights each day to and from London. If you can take the extra time to fly to New York, with Southwest, say, you may find that the flights are better value.

See what's offered with Part Cash Part Avios as well. You may book one way flights that way, again good if your dates are flexible, and if you wish (or have enough Avios) can book WT+ one way and Club World the other.

UK
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6. Re: Help with Avios and BA

and from what I can tell it will cost us 37,500 Avios each way for each person to fly premium economy (+ $$ for taxes, etc.).

-------

The trouble is, that "+ $$ for taxes, etc." is very ry high compared to the fare, so much do that often it's not really worth doing it.

Best bang for the buck, by a LONG way, is to buy PE in a sale and then use the Avios to upgrade to business.

I think the advice to consider moving to an aa/ua card, in the longer term is good but for a short term one using up your existing Avios, off try to get enough for upgrades PE to Club(business)

Scottsdale, Arizona
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559 posts
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7. Re: Help with Avios and BA

Thanks for the advice. I will check out those options. I see that AA does fly from PHX, but it's really BA. So if you have AA miles, can you use them for that and would that be a better way to accomplish this? We were pretty happy the PE seating on our last trip. I'm not saying we'd turn down business or club (whatever the next step up is), but we'd be fine with PE. Thanks again!

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: Help with Avios and BA

>> I see that AA does fly from PHX, but it's really BA. So if you have AA miles, can you use them for that and would that be a better way to accomplish this? <<

Unfortunately AA now passes through BA's fuel surcharges on tickets acquired with AA miles. The only way to avoid BA's fuel surcharges when using miles is to fly on other airlines.

For example, for arbitrary dates in the summer, an economy round trip on AA, using AA planes, would cost 60,000 miles and $220 in taxes/fees. Using Avios, it would cost 50,000 miles and $688 in taxes/fees. In premium economy it would cost 75,000 Avios and $800 in taxes/fees (premium economy not available with AA miles - yet) and in business class it would cost 100,000 AA miles or BA Avios, but AA would charge $314 in taxes/fees while BA would charge $1239. The difference is almost entirely due to BA's fuel surcharges.

A big part of AA's taxes/fees is due to UK departure taxes (Air Passenger Duty) which are also included in the BA prices. These can be avoided if you start your return someplace besides the UK, even if you change planes in London.

Since you're not traveling for quite some time, it's impossible to know what rules might be in force when you can actually book. Redemption levels (miles needed) might change, schedules might change, the fuel surcharge lawsuit may be settled (probably will be) so if it was me I'd look for the best credit card deal rather than the mileage program. For example, Alaska Airlines has many partners including BA and AA, and you can use Alaska miles with many airlines, both in Oneworld and Skyteam. Alaska's Bank of America Visa card usually has good signing bonuses, and gets you a $99 companion fare annually. That might be useful in PHX, and won't hurt when it comes time to travel internationally.

I'd do the numbers carefully and consider if a couple of hours less flying time is worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars in extra fees, dollars that could be used for an upgraded hotel room or any number of other things.

Edited: 25 December 2013, 16:33
Scottsdale, Arizona
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559 posts
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9. Re: Help with Avios and BA

Thank you for all the great information! I see I have some research to do. I appreciate the help very much.

Madrid
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10. Re: Help with Avios and BA

USair has a hub in PHX.You may wish to wait until april,when you will be able to use Avios on USair.

More will be announced in the new year.