It’s pretty obvious that I love Avios, and I’ve done my fair share of stretching them to their limits (flying from Vancouver-Seattle for 4,500 Avios, when flight prices were through the roof, taking numerous trips to Miami and the Caribbean, and a last-minute Toronto trip with a friend). It’s always a blast when last-minute Avios award space opens up too.
In a recent post, commenter Diane wrote that she needed help figuring out how to use her Avios. I figured there would be more people in her boat, so I put together a helpful guide showing you all of the places you can fly with Avios without spending an arm and a leg on fuel surcharges.
It’s extremely easy to fly to Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Alaska, and Hawaii using British Airways Avios and paying zero fuel surcharges.
Most award flights booked with British Airways Avios have fuel surcharges, which is why the program is justifiably reviled by some people. But the Avios hating has gone too far. There are plenty of places you can fly on British Airways awards without paying fuel surcharges, just government taxes.
British Airways Avios are easy to earn from the British Airways Visa Signature® Card (50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months) and by transferring in Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards 1:1.
British Airways collects fuel surcharges on award tickets whenever the flights you choose have fuel surcharges. Some of British Airways’ partners never include fuel surcharges on their flights, and others never include fuel surcharges to certain regions.
British Airways award flights without fuel surcharges:
- LAN flights (hubs in Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, and Colombia)
- TAM flights (Brazil)
- Aer Lingus flights (Ireland)
- aiberlin flights (Germany)
- Alaska Airlines flights
- American Airlines flights within the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean
- US Airways flights within the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean
- British Airways flights intra-Europe
- British Airways flights intra-South Africa
- Qantas flights intra-Australia
- Japan Airlines flights intra-Japan
A quick look at the list reveals that there are two fuel-surcharge-free options between the United States and Europe on airberlin and Aer Lingus. Both airlines fly several direct routes to the United States and all over Europe from their hubs, so getting to Europe with Avios for just the government taxes is easy.
Once you’re in Europe, Avios awards on British Airways, you can hop around without fuel surcharges on airberlin, Aer Lingus, and British Airways flights. British Airways has a special surcharge-free deal on its own flights of less than 2,000 miles flown. (These are mostly within Europe.) Instead of taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges, you pay a flat $27.50 each way in economy and $40 in business.
South America is extremely easy to visit with Avios without paying fuel surcharges. All LAN, TAM, American Airlines, and US Airways flights to South America are surcharge-free. Between those four carriers, all 10 major countries (all but the Guyanas) are served with direct flights to the United States.
Once you’re in South America, LAN has extensive domestic flights in:
TAM has a huge network within Brazil.
Canada and USA (Including Alaska and Hawaii)
Getting around the United States and Canada without paying fuel surcharges is extremely easy with Avios. American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights within the United States and Canada never have fuel surcharges.
British Airways is the cheapest way to get from the Western United States to Hawaii. Any direct flight on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines that flies less than 3,000 miles costs only 12,500 Avios each way in economy plus $5.60 in taxes. Alaska Airlines in particular serves Hawaii from a ton of west coast destinations.
Central America and Caribbean
Any American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights to Central America and the Caribbean are free of fuel surcharges. Alaska serves a surprising number of destinations in Mexico. American Airlines serves a huge number of destinations in Central America and the Caribbean from Dallas and Miami.
Intra-South Africa and Intra-Australia
British Airways (operated by Comair) flights within Southern Africa are also fuel-surcharge free. You just pay a flat $44 each way in economy and $50 each way in business in a addition to the miles price for Comair flights on less than 3,000 miles flown.
Qantas flights within Australia just have government taxes of about $12 per segment and no fuel surcharges. Dad and I flew to Mebourne from Sydney and back for just 4,500 Avios each way.
Africa, Asia, Australia
It’s usually difficult to impossible to get from the United States to Africa, Asia, and Australia on an Avios award without paying fuel surcharges. There are a few exceptions like British Airways flights to Morocco, which have the flat $27.50 out of pocket and airberlin flights to Abu Dhabi, since airberlin flights don’t have fuel surcharges.
Intra-Japan flights on a Japan Airlines are also fuel-surcharge free.
But those exceptions basically prove the rule that you can only stay within the Western Hemisphere or fly to Europe with Avios without fuel surcharges.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card come with 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
The Ink Plus, Ink Bold, and the Sapphire Preferred all earn Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred 1:1 to Avios instantly. You can also transfer Membership Rewards 1:1 and SPG Starpoints 1:1 to Avios.
Avios Are Distance-Based
Avios awards are totally unlike United or American Airlines awards in that the Avios price is determined by the distance of each flight. 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
Double that price for a business class flight and triple it for a first class flight. Add up the Avios cost of each flight on your itinerary to figure out the total Avios price of your award.
I hope this post helps inspire you to use your Avios in a smarter way. Where have your Avios taken you so far?