I’m having a blast in Seoul. Turns out, there are quite of few friends that are also in town, so I am looking forward to getting together with them over some delicious dinner later today. So far, I tackled jet lag like a pro by spending quite some time at the 24-hour Dragon Hill Spa.
Last week there was a bit of a scare that British Airways Avios might be devalued because the expensive award chart of its sister program, Iberia Avios, surfaced. I explained why I don’t think an Avios devaluation is imminent here.
But yesterday, I had a second scare about British Airways Avios as I researched an award ticket for a friend. Again, British Airways Avios are the same as always, but I did learn something new about the program that I’ve never seen mentioned before.
British Airways has a separate award chart for awards that include 2+ oneworld partners that is absolutely terrible. It costs almost double the Avios to book awards on this award chart. Luckily there is an easy way to book any award you want on British Airways’ cheaper and familiar award chart.
The Partner Airlines Chart
I was searching for an award from Charlotte to Dusseldorf for a friend. A simple award came up with one segment on US Airways and one on airberlin. I expected the award to cost 24,500 Avios because Charlotte to JFK is short enough to cost 4,500 Avios and JFK to Dusseldorf is in the 20,000 Avios band. See this post for a reminder of how Avios award flights price.
In fact the award priced at 60,000 Avios, about 2.5x what I was expecting!
There was also award space in business class on the transatlantic flight. I expected an award with Charlotte to JFK in economy and JFK to Dusseldorf in business to cost 44,500 Avios. It priced out at 120,000 Avios, nearly 3x what I was expecting!
I actually panicked.
I looked up the Iberia Avios award chart to see if these prices matched it, and these prices were even worse. What was going on?
I looked up British Airways Avios’ page on Spending Avios to see if there were any changes. There were not, but I found something at the bottom I’d never seen before. (It’s not new. It appears on cached version of the page going back at least several months.)
There is actually separate award chart if you book an award with two oneworld partners other than British Airways, and it’s atrocious.
Charlotte to New York to Dusseldorf is just over 4,000 miles, so it costs 60,000 Avios when booked on two partners. It costs double that in business class. Those were the prices I saw on my searches.
The good news is that there is no need to pay that much. You can book each flight separately and pay the 24,500 and 44,500 Avios prices I was expecting instead of 60,000 and 120,000 Avios. (Click to enlarge.)
This will cost an extra $5.60 in taxes if you book as two awards, but that’s a small price to pay to save 35,000 to 75,000 Avios.
Booking as two separate tickets will require you to check in twice and could open you up to trouble if the first flight is late.
If there is a delay, your first airline is normally only responsible for getting you to the destination of your first ticket, not to your final destination. On this trip, that would mean that if there were a delay getting from Charlotte to New York on the outbound, US Airways would only be responsible to get my friend to New York, the end of the first award, not to Dusseldorf, the end of her trip.
American Airlines has a stated policy that if you have two or more tickets on oneworld airlines, American will take responsibility to get you to the end of your trip. See here. I am not sure whether British Airways and other oneworld carriers follow the same policy.
British Airways has a separate, terrible chart for awards that contain 2+ partner airlines.
You can avoid your award falling onto the chart by booking each segment separately at the cheaper, normal Avios award chart. Doing this could open you up to trouble in case of irregular operations, so understand and mitigate the risks.
Has anyone else encountered this before?