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Why I Always Redeem Avios for Flights to the Caribbean

Juan Ruiz's image
Juan Ruiz
Juan Ruiz's image

Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

119 Published Articles 721 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 41U.S. States Visited: 28

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

101 Published Articles 710 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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I’m based in sunny South Florida and frequently fly out of Miami, which serves as American Airlines’ primary gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Several airlines, including JetBlue, Delta, Southwest, and Spirit, offer flights to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Miami International Airport (MIA). However, American dominates the number and frequency of routes throughout the Caribbean.

Using the American Airlines AAdvantage program to book these flights may seem like the ideal way to book award tickets, but that’s not always the case. Today, I’ll explain why I nearly always use British Airways Avios instead of American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book flights to the Caribbean.

Why Avios Are So Valuable

British Airways utilizes a distance-based award chart, so flights of shorter distances will require fewer miles compared to longer flights. This is where the British Airways Executive Club loyalty program really shines.

Here is a chart from British Airways showing how many Avios are needed for travel on partner airlines based on the distance in miles between the origin and destination:

British Airways Avios Partner Award Chart

SCROLL FOR MORE

Zone (Distance)

Economy

Premium Economy

Business

First

Zone 1 (1 to 650 miles) (not available within North America)

6,000

9,000

12,500

24,000

Zone 2
(651 to 1,151 miles)

9,000

12,500

16,500

33,000

Zone 3
(1,152 to 2,000 miles)

11,000

16,500

22,000

44,000

Zone 4
(2,001 to 3,000 miles)

13,000

25,750

38,750

51,500

Zone 5
(3,001 to 4,000 miles)

20,750

41,250

62,000

82,500

Zone 6
(4,001 to 5,500 miles)

25,750

51,500

77,250

103,000

Zone 7
(5,501 to 6,500 miles)

31,000

62,000

92,750

123,750

Zone 8
(6,501 to 7,000 miles)

36,250

72,250

108,250

144,250

Zone 9
(7,001 to 100,000 miles)

51,500

103,000

154,500

206,000

Since I live in South Florida and am in close proximity to the Caribbean, I have the luxury of redeeming Avios at favorable rates for short-haul award tickets with American Airlines and other Oneworld alliance partners to fly to the Caribbean with points and miles.

American Airlines aircraft at MIA
Avios is one of the best airline currencies to use for American Airlines flights to the Caribbean. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

While I could book directly through the American Airlines AAdvantage program, I’d probably end up paying more than I would by using Avios — and for the same exact flight.

Even if I weren’t based in South Florida, there are plenty of affordable routes available using Avios from other cities along the East Coast, as I’ll demonstrate in the following section.

Hot Tip:

Avios are a valuable reward currency shared by Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Qatar Airways, and, later this year, Finnair. In addition to its co-branded card, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, the program partners with American Express, Bilt, Capital One, Chase, and Marriott Bonvoy, so there are plenty of ways to earn Avios.

Maximizing Avios for Flights to The Caribbean

Let’s explore some award redemption options from the U.S. to the Caribbean, comparing the rates using Avios to booking with the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

1. Miami (MIA) to Montego Bay (MBJ)

Let’s say I wanted to go to Montego Bay, Jamaica. First, I’d search Google Flights to see what the cash fares are like from my home airport, Miami International Airport (MIA), to Montego Bay (MBJ).

As you can see, I can get a one-way ticket on American Airlines from Miami to Montego Bay for $200 on my selected day over Labor Day weekend.

image 1
Image Credit: Google Flights

Now that I’ve determined the cash cost, I’ll go to the British Airways Executive Club and American Airlines websites to price out award tickets.

First, I’ll go to the British Airways website and check for award availability. Once I know award tickets are available, I select the cabin type and wait for the award rate to appear. The same $200 one-way trip I found on Google Flights costs 8,250 Avios and $49.60 in taxes and fees with Avios.

image 2
You can fly one-way from Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for 8,250 Avios. Image Credit: British Airways

To ensure I have my bases covered, I go to the American’s website, enter the same city pair, and check for award rates. For the same flight, American charges 11,500 miles for the one-way journey.

MIA MBJ American Airlines Award
You should always compare award rates before booking a ticket with points and miles. Image Credit: American Airlines

By using Avios instead of AAdvantage miles, I can save approximately 3,000 miles on this American Airlines flight to Jamaica.

Montego Bay Hyatt Ziva
I saved 3,000 miles by using Avios to book flights to Jamaica and stay at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. Image Credit: Juan Ruiz

This will allow me to maximize my travel rewards, especially as I book for multiple travelers, while keeping my expenses in check.

Hot Tip:

Find out where else you can go with 10,000 (or fewer) British Airways Avios

2. Charlotte (CLT) to Aruba (AUA)

Now, let’s explore some additional real-life examples of how you can make the most of Avios to obtain superb value.

Interested in visiting Aruba? Booking a trip from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) is possible for just 14,500 Avios and $15.60.

Avios CLT AUA 627
Fly from Charlotte to Aruba this summer for only 14,500 Avios. Image Credit: British Airways

Booking this exact flight through American Airlines would mean spending an extra 2,500 miles, which would cost you 17,000 miles for a one-way trip.

AA CLT AUA AA Award Rate
Image Credit: American Airlines

By checking Avios rates before booking, I saved 10,000 miles on 4 tickets to Aruba.

Baby Beach Aruba
Visiting Baby Beach in Aruba with kids. Image Credit: Juan Ruiz

3. Washington D.C. (DCA) to Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)

For the nearly 3-hour flight, a one-way ticket on American from the Washington, D.C. area to the Bahamas can be pretty expensive. In the height of summer, you could pay 25,000 AA miles for a one-way ticket from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas.

DCA NAS AA Award Price
AA wants a whopping 25,000 miles for the one-way flight to the Bahamas from D.C. Image Credit: American Airlines

However, you should always compare rates before purchasing an award ticket. By heading to the British Airways Executive Club website, you’ll see that the identical flight to Nassau on American Airlines can be booked for just 11,000 Avios.

Avios DCA NAS 1
By booking this AA flight to the Bahamas with Avios, you can save a considerable amount of miles. Image Credit: British Airways

In other words, you’re saving more than half of what you would have if you had used American miles to purchase this flight.

4. Miami (MIA) to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS)

I absolutely love visiting the islands of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. The destination offers magical turquoise waters, delicious food, and a luxe vibe, but the cost of getting there can be prohibitive.

Turks and Caicos Beach
Some of the most beautiful waters can be found in the islands of Turks and Caicos. Image Credit: Juan Ruiz

Booking AA flights through British Airways instead of American Airlines for your trip to Turks and Caicos can sometimes help you save some miles. However, for those seeking to fly in business class and indulge in a more comfortable experience, there may be even more significant savings to be found.

A one-way business-class ticket from Miami to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos in late August costs 70,500 American miles.

AA MIA PLS Business
Image Credit: American Airlines

You can get the same business class ticket for just 16,500 Avios when booking with British Airways. That is a significant disparity in award cost.

MIA PLS AA Avios Business
Image Credit: British Airways
Bottom Line:

As a general rule of thumb, short-distance, nonstop flights on partner airlines offer the best value for your Avios.

Final Thoughts

I’m a big fan of the airline currency and absolutely love using British Airways Avios to book American Airlines flights for short-haul routes to the Caribbean.

Over the years, the airline currency has proven to be quite valuable for me. I’ve saved a substantial amount of cash (and miles!) by using British Airways Avios to book numerous trips to destinations like Aruba, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic, and several others.

And because there are so many ways to earn British Airways Avios, it’s quite easy to build up a large balance and use this valuable rewards currency to book expensive flights to the Caribbean.

Juan Ruiz's image

About Juan Ruiz

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been featured in various prestigious publications, such as USA Today, CNN Underscored, Forbes and The Points Guy. Juan is the visionary behind JetBetter, a premier award booking concierge service.

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