The British Airways Cost to Redeem US Airways Flights to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean Going Down

As I explained in British Airways Visa Drops First Year Annual Fee, Still Offers 50,000 Points, redeeming British Airways points for short non-stop flights in economy on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines are a great deal.

You can spend as little as 4500 points one-way, instead of the “usual” 12,500 with US mileage programs.

Premium cabins are relatively pricey though — British Airways charges twice the price of economy for business class awards, and three times the price of economy for first class awards.

US Airways and American both call their domestic premium cabin ‘first class’. That means it costs three times as many points as coach.

  • Washington DC – New York LaGuardia is 4500 points one-way in economy, 13,500 in first class.
  • Dallas Fort-Worth – Austin is 4500 points one-way in economy, 13,500 in first class.

American’s flights to and from Mexico, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean call their premium cabin ‘business class’. As a result, it’s ‘just’ double the cost of coach.

    New York LaGuardia – Toronto is 4500 points one-way in economy, 9000 points one-way in business class.

Especially if you don’t have elite status, this can be well worth it:

  • LaGuardia departures are often delayed, it’s a short flight but at peak times you could well spend more time on the tarmac than in the air.
  • Flying in ‘business class’ gets you free checked bags so you’re paying in points instead of cash for those.
  • You get premium check-in, boarding, and security as well. (“Priority Access’)

US Airways is different. They’ve called their premium cabin on these short-haul international routes first class. So a US Airways flight to Canada costs 3 times as much up front than it does in back.

As part of the merger between American and US Airways, fare classes are being aligned.

US Airways is transitioning from First Class to Business Class on international short-haul routes (US to/from Mexico, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean)

  • Fare class changes will be completed on January 17, 2015
  • New fares will be filed with the First Travel Effective Date of February 1, 2015
  • Old fare hierarchy fares will have last travel of January 31, 2015

Existing tickets won’t need to be re-issue, and nothing besides the fare classes are changing. This is pretty much a non-issue across the board, except for redeeming points for travel in a program like British Airways where they charge based on how the cabin is classified.

(HT: Toqueville)

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. I have BA avios first class award seats to Mexico flying US in February. I assume once the change is made in fare class to business class I should call and tell BA I was “downgraded” to first class since they now only offer business on that route? Hopefully that is a hassle free way to get a free refund in Avios.

  2. I have the same exact question. I have 4 one way tickets from Mexico to Boston in First class (30K Avios/ticket). Should I be calling BA after February to have them refund 10K/ticket avios back to my account?

  3. Wouldn’t this have the end result of reducing the Tier Points earned on these legs as well? I know it’s terrific for redeemers, but this sounds like it could end up hurting some TP runners that utilize routes to the Caribbean. :-/

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