If you are not yet a British Airways Avios expert, now is a great time to learn a vast amount about this program. Prompted in part by the 50,000 – 100,000 Avios points British Airways Chase sign-up offer (depending on how much spending you can put on the card in the first year), and the American Express 50% transfer bonus to Avios that runs through May 31st, lots of my favorite blogs are pulling out the big guns and producing some stellar posts about using Avios points to fly around the world (almost) for free. Both The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets are doing some informative series about Avios – I highly recommend following their posts as they will make you Avios “experts” in no time. I’m sure there are many other great blogs doing helpful posts on Avios now, too, so don’t miss this chance to increase your knowledge!
I’ve been a fan of Avios for short-haul trips on British Airways partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines since Avios were introduced late last year, and while for my own young family those will continue to be the most frequent way that we use Avios for now, there are some other medium- to long-haul uses that we will add to our future “to do” list. Those familiar with the British Airways Avios system likely already know that it often is not a good idea to use British Airways Avios on British Airways flights (at least in this part of the world), as there are often some huge taxes and fees for doing so that make it a poor value in many cases. However, here are four different family-friendly uses for Avios that make me even more excited about the value of Avios (outside of our super exciting domestic short-hauls to Kansas).
1. US West Coast to Hawaii for 25,000 Avios in Economy (or 17,000 Membership Reward Points during the 50% transfer bonus)
American Airlines flies on the West Coast from LAX to various Hawaiian for 25,000 Avios roundtrip in economy, but Alaska Airlines has many more options from the West Coast to various Hawaiian Islands. Check out this Alaska Airlines route map for some ideas.
They fly to the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai. Some of the West Coast cities that serve some of those islands are: Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Oakland, and Portland. All of those flights are just 25,000 Avios and some very minimal taxes of around $20. You can check availability on Alaska by checking Alaska Airlines website and looking for Super Saver availability. You can check availability for the American Airlines flights by going to the American Airline’s website and looking for MileSAAver availability. Alaska Air flights cannot be booked via the British Airways site, so you will have to call British Airways and potentially pay the $25 phone booking fee, but it would still be worth it to score a deal to Hawaii!
2. Dallas to Hawaii for 40,000 Avios in Economy (or 27,000 Membership Reward Points during the 50% transfer bonus)
American Airlines flies from Dallas to Hawaii for just 40,000 Avios roundtrip in Economy, if you book a direct flight. This is better than the standard MilesSAAver award to Hawaii that is 45,000 miles, and is the same as the United saver award that is 40,000 miles. However, since Avios seem easier to obtain than AA or UA miles – especially during the 50% Membership Rewards transfer bonus time period, this is a pretty solid deal to consider for Texans like me that want to get away to Hawaii. That comes to just 27,000 Membership Reward points and minimal taxes to book a roundtrip ticket from Dallas to Hawaii. Not bad at all. These tickets can be booked directly on the British Airways website.
3. Boston to Dublin or Shannon for 25,000 Avios for Economy (or 17,000 Membership Reward Points during the 50% transfer bonus)
Lucky at One Mile at a Time has done a fabulous deal of going into detail on this redemption on this post. In fact, he pointed out that availability for both economy and business class tickets is currently phenomenal. With this method you are using your Avios to fly on Aer Lingus (another British Airways partner) from the US to Ireland at a very good points value. Since Avios is distance based, and Boston to Dublin or Shannon comes in at just under 3,000 miles, that means that the points required are just 25,000 Avios for coach or 50,000 for Business class. If you are taking advantage of the 50% Amex transfer bonus then that means coach would require just 17,000 Membership Reward points (25,000 Avios) and Business Class would require 34,000 Membership Reward points (50,000 Avios). It sounds like using the United website to look for Aer Lingus availability to Ireland is the way to go. You will have to book over the phone with BA.
Had I not just booked a ticket to London in a US Airways Envoy/Business Class seat for 55,000 US Airways Dividend Miles (with the intention of hopping over to Ireland for a few days), I would be all over this in a heartbeat. If this deal sticks around for a while, I am sure we will be taking advantage of it to take our partially Irish baby over to see Ireland! Heck, if we just had a little more free time, we would skip hopping to Ireland on our London trip and hop to Paris instead, and plan a separate Ireland trip using Avios. So many places to go, so little free time.
4. The Caribbean
Lots of families in the US love going to the Caribbean for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is it isn’t too far away – especially for those living in the Southern/Southeastern/Eastern part of the country. Since Avios is distance based, people in those locations don’t have to spend very many Avios to get to many of the closer-in spots in the Caribbean. These flights will be on American Airlines, and availability can be searched on the American Airlines website looking for SAAver availability. Ultimately, the tickets must be booked using the British Airways site by searching for “other partners” While there are no fuel surcharges, be aware that the taxes/fees for these tickets can be a bit over $100 each (though that is the same for paid tickets as well).
Some examples of the good deals to be had are: Miami to Turks and Caicos for 9,000 Avios roundtrip (or 6,000 Membership Reward points during the 50% transfer bonus); JFK – San Juan for 20,000 Avios roundtrip (or 14,000 Membership Rewards during the 50% transfer bonus); or Dallas – Nassau for 20,000 Avios roundtrip (or 14,000 Membership Reward Points during the 50% transfer bonus). There are tons of more examples, but considering that any of these trips would be 35,000 AAdvantage miles if booked directly with American Airlines, as opposed to going through British Airways, these are all solid deals in my book. Note that the cost in AAdvantage miles drops to 25,000 during the off-peak season of Sep. 7 – Nov. 14, but even at that discounted rate during Hurricane Season, the anytime Avios rate is still better.
These are not the only places to get a great value for Avios, but they are some of the ones that are more “family friendly”, well, at least more friendly, for my family. I love Million Mile Secrets’ post about using Avios to visit four continents for 78,333 Membership Reward points, but it may be a little while before that is a practical trip for our family (though absolutely check out that post – link is in the first paragraph). However, the Caribbean, Ireland, and Hawaii are all very practical and realistic for us, so I can’t wait to put some of these Avios to good use! If only I weren’t sitting on the Chase “sidelines” for a while, I would be strongly considering either the publicly available limited-time 100,000 British Airways Chase offer, or the alternate version available to those who purchase a British Airways ticket, as Avios are looking more and more attractive for my family. Are any of these trips good for your family, or do you have a different favorite use for Avios?
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for the publicly available 100,000 Avios Chase offer. I also expect a postcard from every trip you take with your Avios earned from that offer……..okay, that part is optional. Your support is always appreciated.