Once in a while my brother will reach out and run an award redemption by me. When I received a text from him saying that he was about to spend 12,500 AA miles + a $75 close-in fee for a last-minute domestic redemption from Columbia, SC to Cincinnati, I immediately told him to hold off.
American miles are great, especially for premium cabin and long haul redemptions on Oneworld partner airlines. The good news is this – British Airways Avios can also be used on American Airlines flights, and since the Avios award chart is distance-based, you can often book the same flights you had in mind for fewer miles and without a close-in ticketing fee (for non elites).
Here’s a breakdown of the Avios award chart:
- Up to 650 miles flown: 4,500 Avios
- 651 to 1,151 miles flown: 7,500 Avios
- 1,152 to 2,000 miles flown: 10,000 Avios
- 2,001 to 3,000 miles flown: 12,500 Avios
- 3,001 to 4,000 miles flown: 20,000 Avios
- 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown: 25,000 Avios
- 5,501 to 6,500 miles flown: 30,000 Avios
- 6,501 to 7,000 miles flown: 35,000 Avios
- 7,001+ miles flown: 50,000 Avios
Below is the itinerary he had in mind. This redemption priced out at 12,500 AAdvantage miles and $80 ($5 in taxes + $75 close-in fee).
In order to find the flights that he wanted, I had to search segment-by-segment. First I booked his CAE-DCA award for $2.50 and 4,500 Avios.
The total cost for his trip was 9,000 Avios and $5, which is a much better redemption than 12,500 AAdvantage miles and $80.
The only problem was this – he did not have any Avios in his British Airways account. As you may know, British Airways is a transfer partner in both the Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards programs. He was about to transfer 9,000 Ultimate Rewards points over to his BA account, but I told him I had a better idea.
Since I have a nice stash of Avios to begin with, I went ahead and booked the flights for him from my account. Since Ultimate Rewards are a flexible “currency”, I told him to hold onto the 9,000 points that he owes me until I have a future redemption in mind. I may want to one day top off an award with 5,000 United miles and 4,000 Southwest points, or something to that nature.
The 9,000 points don’t necessarily have to go to the same place, nor do they have to be transferred into a program immediately. The flexibility surely does add to the value of the points. It’s a win-win for both of us.
The bottom line is this:
Try to be mindful of the best possible redemption strategy when booking flights, because sometimes using a partner airline’s loyalty program might be a better choice to save money and miles.
In the case of AAdvantage/Avios redemptions, if you’re finding sAAver award availability (light green) on AA.com, then that same award space is bookable through a Oneworld partner airline’s loyalty program too.
I find it easier to do all of my searches on aa.com and then compare award prices with Avios.
If your desired itinerary has multiple segments, search for your flights on British Airways in segments.
If I put CAE-CVG in the search box, not all flight possibilities populate. As you can see from the results below, my brother’s selected flights do not appear. Don’t let the results discourage you to the point where you automatically assume your itinerary is not bookable.
Do you have any examples where it made more sense to use Avios instead of American Airlines miles for an award redemption?