Whew, talk about a scare earlier this week! Several bloggers published the Iberia Avios award chart, which we all thought were clues to a possible major British Airways devaluation!
While I tend to preach the “earn and burn” strategy of using miles and points, I personally feel like Avios are not under an immediate threat at the moment; however, we all know big devaluations and program changes are inevitable, so as always, think about traveling with miles sooner than later.
A few days ago, I went over the British Airways Avios awards that don’t have fuel surcharges.
One of the best values with Avios is to spend 12,500 Avios each way in economy between the west coast, Anchorage, or Phoenix and Hawaii on direct American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.
But for some people, it’s a better deal to save Avios instead of paying the full 12,500 Avios each way.
Many Avios awards allow you to pay only a fraction of the normal Avios price and pay extra cash instead.
Avios Awards to Hawaii
The Avios needed to book an award depend on only two things: distance of each flight and cabin of each flight. For an economy flight from 2,001 to 3,000 miles, the cost is only 12,500 Avios.
All awards from the west coast, Phoenix, and Anchorage to the four major Hawaiian Islands on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights fall within that band and cost only 12,500 Avios each way.
I wanted to test out which of the flights would also be offered with Cash & Avios options.
Phoenix to Hawaii on US Airways
US Airways flights from Phoenix to Honolulu, Kona, Kahului, and Lihue cost 12,500 Avios + $5.60 each way.
There are several Cash & Avios options available on these flights. The best one is 4,000 Avios + $100.60 each way. That save 8,500 Avios for only $95 extra or about 1.1 cents per Avios saved. If I were Avios poor or cash rich, I would pay the 4,000 Avios and $100 instead of the full 12,500 Avios
Los Angeles to Hawaii on American Airlines
American Airlines flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Kona, Kahului, and Lihue cost 12,500 Avios + $5.60 each way.
There used to be Cash & Avios options on the American Airlines flights from Los Angeles to Hawaii, but that is no more unfortunately. The only option is to pay the full 12,500 Avios each way.
California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines flights from the west coast and Alaska to Honolulu, Kona, Kahului, and Lihue cost 12,500 Avios + $5.60 each way. These flights are not searchable or bookable on ba.com. You can search them on aa.com and call British Airways (tip: call the Singapore office for virtually zero hold time) to book the flights. Ask to have the phone fee waived.
I called to test out whether I could book Seattle to Honolulu flights with Cash & Avios options, and I could not. My only option was to pay 12,500 Avios + $5.60 each way.
Should You Book the US Airways Flight with Cash & Avios?
When you have the chance to save miles by paying more cash, it is conceptually similar to buying miles. I personally do not buy points because I have rather large balances from regular credit card spend. In the US Airways example, you save 8,500 Avios for $95. That is like buying 8,500 Avios for 1.12 cents each, which in general, might be a good deal to stretch your Avios.
Now, if you have a million Avios or not much cash at the moment, you should just pay the full 12,500 Avios each way.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card comes 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.
The 52,000+ Avios you’d earn from opening the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and meeting its minimum spending requirement is enough for two roundtrip awards from the west coast to Hawaii or 12 Cash & Avios one way awards from Phoenix to Hawaii (plus about $1200 as the cash component on those Cash & Avios awards.)
Since I’m on the east coast, there are cheaper ways to get to Hawaii from the NY area (because technically it would be 50K Avios round trip from the east coast). Better options for east coasters include using United miles and Hawaiian Airlines miles. I can touch more upon that in a future post if there’s an interest.
For my west coast readers, you guys sure have a sweet-spot redemption though. I’m a little jealous that you can take spontaneous weekend trips to Hawaii without breaking the bank!