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The Best Ways to Use 10,000 (or Fewer) British Airways Avios

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Andrew Kunesh

Andrew Kunesh

Former Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 22

Andrew’s a lifelong traveler who puts in over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew’s worked at Th...
Edited by: Kellie Jez

Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

Countries Visited: 10U.S. States Visited: 20

Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s c...

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One of the best things about British Airways (BA) Avios is how easy they are to redeem.

British Airways and its vast network of Oneworld partners operate thousands of short- and long-haul routes worldwide. Combine great routes with the airline’s excellent distance-based award chart, you can redeem some flights for super low mileage — yes, including some routes under 10,000 miles one-way.

Note that some of these redemptions offer better value than others, but everything you need to know about redeeming 10,000 or fewer Avios is detailed below so you can make the most of your Avios.

Redeem for Short-Haul Awards

British Airways Economy. Image Credit: London Air Travel

As mentioned earlier, BA employs a distance-based award chart. This means that shorter flights cost fewer points than a long flight. While this can be detrimental for booking long-haul awards, it opens amazing value for booking short-haul awards.

This may not be the most exciting use of your points, but it can provide excellent value. This is especially true when booking last-minute short-haul award flights as these tickets can often be exceedingly expensive, especially on business routes like O’Hare International in Chicago (ORD) to LaGuardia in New York (LGA).

However, since not all British Airways short-haul tickets are priced the same, here are some specifics you should keep in mind:

Short- or Medium-Haul Redemptions Start at 4,000 Points

British Airways Award Chart for British Airways Flights
(Note: Iberia flights are slightly different)
EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Zone 1
(1-650 miles)
Zone 2
(651-1,151 miles)
Zone 3
(1,152-2,000 miles)
Zone 4
(2,001-3,000 miles)
Zone 5
(3,001-4,000 miles)
Zone 6
(4,001-5,500 miles)
Zone 7
(5,501-6,500 miles)
Zone 8
(6,501-7,000 miles)
Zone 9
(7,001-100,000 miles)

** Zone 1 redemption pricing not offered for North American flights. These flights start at Zone 2.

If you’re traveling on British Airways, you can get some excellent value booking short-haul award tickets. For example, BA charges just 4,000 and 4,500 Avios for off-peak and peak redemptions under 650 miles respectively.

Furthermore, flights under 1,151 miles can be redeemed for 6,500 Avios off-peak and 7,500 miles peak. This opens up some huge value if you need to fly across Europe, for example, Warsaw to London.

Hot Tip: Use British Airways’ flight finder tool to find the price of any British Airways award ticket.

Additionally, flights under 2,000 miles can be redeemed for 8,500 Avios off-peak or 10,000 miles peak, and flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles can be booked for 10,000 off-peak.

You can find the British Airways’ off-peak and peak classifications using its flight finder tool.

If you prefer to fly in style, short-haul redemptions under 650 miles can be booked in business class for 7,750 off-peak and 9,000 peak Avios respectively. While this may not be worth it for British Airways-operated flights, it can be worthwhile on a short-haul flight on a partner flight operated by Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, or other airlines that operate select short-haul routes with wide-body aircraft.

North American Redemptions Are a Bit Pricier at 7,500 Points

Do note that British Airways doesn’t offer Zone 1 redemption pricing for North American flights. This means that all flights between 1 and 1,151 miles cost 7,500 Avios as off-peak awards when on a British Airways-operated flight.

This is still a steal compared to other mileage programs. For example, ORD to LGA clocks in at 733 miles. This flight would cost 12,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles, or just 7,500 British Airways Avios. Since American and British Airways are both Oneworld partners, the flight would be operated by American Airlines regardless.

Redeem for Upgrades on British Airways Flights

British Airways Premium Economy. Image Credit: British Airways

You can use small amounts of miles to upgrade British Airways tickets. The way British Airways prices upgrades is simple: subtract the Avios needed for the upgraded cabin from the Avios needed to book the cabin you’re booked in.

For example, if you have a paid London-Heathrow to Paris-Charles de Gaulle ticket on an off-peak economy day and want to upgrade, you’ll spend just 3,750 Avios on your upgrade.

Depending on how much you value short-haul business class, these can make for some serious value and are definitely worth considering if you’re flying British Airways intra-Europe.

Pay for Seat Assignment

British Airways won’t let you pick your seats on a paid ticket for free unless you have Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status at the time of booking in economy or business class. Recently though, the airline has started allowing customers to use Avios to cover their seat assignment fees.

The number of miles required to select your seat varies based on the flight length and other specifics but is generally not a good use of your points. Because of this, wait until 24-hours before your flight and select your seats for free—you’re almost guaranteed to get a better value by using your Avios to book short or medium-haul tickets.

Discount Off a Paid British Airways Flight

You can redeem small amounts of British Airways Avios for a discount on paid British Airways flights. Image Credit: British Airways

Booking a paid British Airways ticket? You can use your Avios to take a nice discount on your ticket. When booking a ticket, you’ll be given the option to use some of your Avios at the checkout screen.

You can use really small amounts of miles to take advantage of this discount. The discount will vary booking to booking, but the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London-Heathrow round-trip example above starts at 2,000 Avios for a $26 discount, giving you a cent per point value of 1.3 cents per point.

However, using the highest discount offered — 14,400 Avios for a $116 discount — the cent per point value drops to 0.8 cents per point. With this in mind, make sure to do the math before you use Avios for a discount.

Redeem for Hotel Stays or Car Rentals

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. Image Credit: Hilton

Finally, you can use your Avios to book a hotel stay or car rental through the British Airways portal. The cost of redemption depends on how much your hotel stay or rental car costs in cash.

For example, a 1-night stay at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue in late April costs 19,900 Avios or $126 cash, giving you a cent per point value of just 0.63 cents per Avios — far lower than a short-haul award ticket.

Given that the cent per point value tends to be lower on these redemptions, stay away from hotel and rental car redemptions. You can get far better value for another option on this list.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it’s easy to redeem relatively small amounts of British Airways Avios for maximum value — you can even book short-haul business class.

In the end, stick to redeeming short-haul award tickets. This will generally give you the best value for your miles. This is especially true if you’re booking a last-minute award ticket where the cash cost is double or triple the normal price.

What is your favorite way to redeem small amounts of British Airways Avios? Let us know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I earn British Airways Avios?

You can earn British Airways Avios by flying on British Airways or its Oneworld partners, spending on a British Airways credit card, transferring points in from a partner, or by using any one of these 19 methods.

What airlines can I book with my British Airways Avios?

British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance. You can use British Airways Avios to book flights on any one of these 15 airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines (joining by the end of 2020)
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Fiji Airways (via Oneworld Connect)
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

How long do British Airways miles last?

Your Avios stay with you as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months.

Can you combine Avios points from partner programs?

Yes, if you have active Avios accounts with British Airways, Iberia, Qatar Airways, or Aer Lingus, you can transfer your Avios between the airlines.

About Andrew Kunesh

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.

He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew formerly worked for The Points Guy and is now Senior Money Editor at CNN Underscored.


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