How We Almost Got to Use British Airways Avios on United

British Airways parent IAG acquired Aer Lingus and the Irish carrier is expected to ultimately join oneworld and the transatlantic joint venture with BA, Iberia, Finnair and American.

Aer Lingus is a former member of oneworld — they left nine years ago to pursue a strategy as a low cost carrier. Since then they’ve built back their premium offerings. They have a good transatlantic business class, considering the short flights between Dublin, Shannon and the East Coast of the U.S. which are their bread and butter (though not exclusive) destinations.

Their European route network for connections beyond Dublin (with an all-economy product) especially is extensive.

They’ve transitioned from having a standalone frequent flyer program over to the Avios platform.

As I predicted Aer Lingus Golden Circle members got screwed with the transition to the new Aer Lingus Aer Club.

They promoted to members how great it was that 1 Golden Circle point would become 2 Aer Club Avios. However awards often cost several orders of magnitude more. A transatlantic business class one-way went from 12,000 points to:

Essentially Aer Lingus adopted the British Airways redemption chart, minus ultra long haul redemptions and first class. Here’s the distance bands and peak date pricing for economy and business:

Shorter intra-European flights may be cheaper especially for off peak travel dates considering the 1:2 transfer ratio however Aer Club members don’t wind up better off for all intra-Europe (economy) redemptions on Aer Lingus. Europe flights were 4500 points one-way regardless of distance. Dublin – Athens is about 1750 miles and now costs 10,000 Avios on peak dates.

Aer Club does let you accrue 50% of flown miles on some Cathay Pacific economy fars where British Airways allows only 25% accrual. So it can make sense to credit these flights to Aer Lingus and then move them to British Airways if you aren’t looking to earn BA status, just miles.

One interesting wrinkle is that United partners with Aer Lingus. You can earn United miles for Aer Lingus flights and vice versa. You can spend United miles for travel on Aer Lingus.

However it appears with the transition to Aer Club that you can no longer spend Aer Lingus points for travel on United.

This would have been interesting, since you can move British Airways or Iberia Avios into an active Aer Lingus Aer Club account that’s been open 90 days and has had some activity. (I told you at least here and here to get your 250 free Aer Club Avios before the program launched.)

A continued redemption opportunity with Aer Club on United would have meant the ability to redeem British Airways Avios on United.

The United partnership with Aer Lingus probably won’t survive, especially once Aer Lingus joins oneworld and the transatlantic joint venture. Whether because of the short time horizon of the partnership, or the unacceptability of redeeming BA points for United travel, they appear not to have built the redemption option into Aer Club — though no announcement has been made and the partnership itself appears to continue in all other respects.

The closest to an announcement is the statement on the Aer Lingus website that you can spend points with these partners:

And of course you can transfer Aer Lingus Avios to other active aged Avios accounts and redeem for partners of those programs. But United doesn’t appear to be included, and Aer Lingus agents don’t seem to know anything about the status of the partnership.

At a minimum though, and while this partnership lasts, you can credit paid United trips to Aer Club and move the points to British Airways, accumulating redeemable BA points for United travel (though it seems unlikely many would want to do this).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Does Lingus soak you on fuel surcharges on awards? Could this be another viable transatlantic redemption option for AA miles?

  2. @Scott D- not on their own flights, at least at this point, so once the airline joins oneworld or partners with AA it should become a good option.

    They do add fuel surcharges to redemptions in their own program, eg fuel surcharges on BA flights. And unlike BA they don’t seem to be reducing those on intra-Europe awards.

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