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I Rarely Fly British Airways — Here’s Why Avios Are Still My Favorite for Award Travel

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Juan Ruiz
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Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

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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 ...
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Chris Dong

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Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full time ...
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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I haven’t flown with British Airways in over a decade. Not a single flight on the U.K.’s flag carrier. However, this doesn’t mean that BA’s loyalty program hasn’t won my heart.

This is because the British Airways Executive Club (the airline’s loyalty program) is incredibly lucrative for short-haul partner flights, and Avios (the airline’s rewards currency) are excellent for booking Oneworld partner flights on carriers such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Cathay Pacific, to name a few.

I’m based out of South Florida and often fly out of Miami International Airport (MIA), the main hub for Latin America and the Caribbean for American Airlines. That means I have a lot of short-haul, international flight options just south of me where I can soak up the Caribbean sun or experience new countries in South America.

This is an extremely valuable position to be in, and I have British Airways Avios to thank for a lot of my travels.

Let’s dive into why British Airways Avios are my favorite airline currency and why they might soon become yours as well.

Why Are British Airways Avios So Valuable

British Airways uses what’s called a distance-based award chart. This means that flights that are shorter in distance require fewer miles than flights that are longer.

I can tell you right off the mark that I seldom redeem British Airways Avios for long-haul flights due to the high number of Avios and astronomical fuel surcharges (for flights to and from London) that are often required. I’ve also never redeemed Avios for flights on British Airways itself.

The majority of sweet spots in the British Airways Executive Club program are for short- to medium-haul flights with Oneworld airlines.

One of my favorite ways to use British Airways Avios is by booking short-haul international award tickets with American Airlines and other Oneworld alliance partners because I routinely end up using fewer Avios than if I had booked the same American Airlines flight with AAdvantage miles, for example.

Here is a chart from British Airways that shows 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

There are a couple of points to keep in mind while looking at the British Airways award chart.

First, the number of Avios required is determined by “zones.” For example, if a one-way flight from Point A to Point B clocks in at 1,000 miles in distance, this would fall under Zone 2, and you would be required to shell out 9,000 Avios to fly this segment in economy.

Second, prices are per segment, so no matter what kind of award you book, you’ll pay for each segment separately. That means that if you add a connection to your trip, you will have to pay more Avios because the distance will be longer.

How To Redeem Avios for Outsized Value

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of the British Airways Executive Club loyalty program and how it works, let’s look at some real-life examples to show how you can get the most out of your Avios by booking flights with them — and saving a lot of money.

Example 1: Miami (MIA) to St. Kitts and Nevis (SKB)

Let’s say that I wanted to go to the beautiful island of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean. First, I’d go to Google Flights and look for a flight from my home airport, Miami International Airport (MIA), to St. Kitts and Nevis (SKB).

BA Avios MIA-SKB Google Screenshot
Airfare to St. Kitts is usually very high. Image Credit: Google Flights

As you can see, American Airlines has a direct flight from Miami to St. Kitts on my preferred date that costs $482 per person, one-way. I don’t know about you, but I think that price is too high for the 3-hour flight to St. Kitts.

I’d then go to the British Airways Executive Club website, where I’d log in with my credentials, enter my flight information, and search for award availability. Once I know there are award seats available, I choose the cabin class and wait for the price of the award to show up.

British Airways MIA-SKB Screenshot
You can fly one-way from Miami to St. Kitts for 11,000 Avios. Image Credit: British Airways

You’ll notice that the identical American Airlines flight from Miami to St. Kitts with a cash fare of $482 per person would cost me only 11,000 Avios plus $15.60 in taxes and fees, which represents a 4.3 cents per point in value — much higher than our 1.25 cents per point valuation of British Airways Avios. To book this through British Airways Avios, keep in mind that there would need to be American “saver” award availability.

On the other hand, American Airlines charges 12,500 miles for the same flight with saver space, so it would be better for me to use Avios to book my flight at just 11,000 Avios.

MIA-SKB AA Award Screenshot
Image Credit: American Airlines

Hot Tip: Want to get the most out of your hard-earned Avios? Check out our guide on the best ways to redeem British Airways Avios for maximum value!

Example 2: Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL)

Let’s look at a few more real-world examples of how you may utilize Avios to get incredible value.

Want to travel to Hawaii from the continental U.S.? If there’s saver award space, you can book a trip from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii for 13,000 Avios and $5.60 with British Airways Avios.

LAX-HNL British Airways Screenshot
Fly from the West Coast to Hawaii for only 13,000 Avios. Image Credit: British Airways

American Airlines wants to charge you twice as much for the same flight — 26,000 miles!

American Airlines LAX HNL
Image Credit: American Airlines

Example 3: Miami (MIA) to Cartagena (CTG)

If you want to walk around Cartagena’s charming colonial streets and find hidden corners and beautiful architectural gems, it will only cost you 9,000 Avios to get to Colombia from Miami (again, you’ll need saver award space).

BA Screenshot MIA-CTG
You can fly to Colombia for as few as 9,000 Avios from Miami. Image Credit: British Airways

For the same flight, you would need to cough up 20,000 miles if booking directly with American Airlines.

AA MIA-CTG Screenshot
Image Credit: American Airlines

Example 4: Madrid (MAD) to Paris (CDG)

There are even better Oneworld partner award deals in other parts of the world, such as this Iberia flight from Madrid (MAD) to Paris (CDG) in late April for only 7,500 Avios and $25.20 in taxes and fees.

BA Screenshot MAD-CDG
Using Avios for intra-Europe flights can be a great deal, especially if you prefer to fly with a full-service airline. Image Credit: British Airways

If you paid cash instead of using Avios, the one-way Iberia ticket would cost you well over $200.

Google Flights screenshot MAD-CDG
Image Credit: Google Flights

As you can see, there are a plethora of excellent redemption choices available when using Avios to book short to medium-haul flights. You can search for award space anywhere Oneworld flights are offered and then use Avios to save a significant amount.

Hot Tip: Want some more British Airways sweet-spot redemptions? Check out some of our favorite ways to use 10,000 (or fewer) British Airways Avios for award flights.

Avios Are Easy To Earn

There is a myriad of ways to earn British Airways Avios besides flying with British Airways and Oneworld partners. The currency is one of the easiest to accrue because you can transfer points to British Airways Executive Club from Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. Further, you can transfer Avios between any of the participating partners in the Avios ecosystem: Qatar Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.

You may also consider earning Avios directly with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. You’ll earn 3x Avios for all flight purchases through British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Level, 2x Avios on hotel accommodations, and 1x Avios for everything else.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
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This card is great for British Airways frequent flyers, and traveling couples will find great value in the Travel Together Ticket.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
This card is great for British Airways frequent flyers, and traveling couples will find great value in the Travel Together Ticket.
Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
75,000 Avios
$938
$95
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a stellar option for travelers who regularly travel with the airline. From all of the Avios the card helps you earn, to a 10% discount off cash tickets, and the award flight statement credits, you can get tons of value out of the card each year.

Pros
  • 3x Avios per $1 on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL purchases
  • 2x Avios per $1 on hotel accommodations purchased directly through hotels
  • 1x Avios per $1 on all other purchases
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL.
  • Earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel.
  • 10% off British Airways flights starting in the US when you book through the website provided in your welcome materials.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless British Airways Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

British Airways Executive Club

Final Thoughts

I’ve been using Avios to fly with British Airways’ partner airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and others, for over a decade. My preferred use of Avios has been for expensive flights to the Caribbean and Latin America, but I’ve also used them for intra-Europe travel and flights to Hawaii.

Throughout the years, the airline currency has been good to me, as I’ve saved a significant amount of cash (and points and miles) by redeeming British Airways Avios for numerous family trips that may have not been achievable without the treasured currency. This reasoning is precisely why British Airways Avios ranks at the top for me in terms of airline rewards programs.

And because British Airways partners with many popular flexible points programs, you’ll always have plenty of chances to use your Avios to book flights while saving a lot of points and cash.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Avios?

Avios is the reward currency of the British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub, Iberia Plus, and Qatar Airways Privilege Club. You collect Avios when you book flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and more with these airlines and their partners.

Can I use British Airways Avios to book flights on American Airlines?

You may redeem Avios for flights on American Airlines, thanks to the Oneworld alliance partnership between British Airways and American Airlines. You may use Avios to book travel with other Oneworld members, including Cathay Pacific, Iberia, and Alaska Airlines, to mention a few.

How do I get the most value out of my Avios?

You’ll achieve the greatest value when you use Avios to book flights operated by partner airlines, including those in the Oneworld alliance. And, because British Airways is a member of Oneworld, you’ll be able to earn Avios (if you so choose) when you fly paid tickets with its alliance partners.

Can you transfer points to British Airways Avios?

Fortunately, British Airways acts as a transfer partner to several transferable point programs such as Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. Further, you can transfer Avios between any of the participating partners in the Avios ecosystem: Qatar Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.

Do Avios expire?

Your Avios will stay with you as long as you collect, spend, buy, or share at least 1 Avios every 36 months. If you don’t, your Avios will expire and be taken away, so make sure to do something before the 3 years are up.

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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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