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.
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.