When readers shared their own travel tips and several really stood out as worth highlighting.
One of the best tips ever is using the British Air avios (frequent flyer points) for short haul US flights. I’ve flown one-way Helena to Seattle and DC to Chicago for 4500 points each — would cost minimum 25K on Delta (since they book one-way ff tix at the r/t fare).
I have had my criticisms of the program. They used to be among my favorite airline currencies. Sure, first class awards were triple the cost of economy, and they added fuel surcharges onto awards where those were present in paid tickets.
But the mileage price of many awards was still reasonable and you could have nearly unlimited stopovers — a stopover at every logical connecting city. That changed in November 2011. T
But even though British Airways no longer offers a compelling value proposition for residents of North America to use for long haul premium cabin awards, there’s still a value proposition — short haul, non-stop flights.
The program now charges separately for each flight segment, so you want non-stop flights. And their pricing is (for the most part) distance-based, with short flights quite inexpensive and long flights exorbitantly priced. So you want short flights.
And since they do add fuel surcharges to awards where paid travel has those, you want to focus on:
- US Domestic routes, as well as nearby destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean. Hawaii from the West Coast not only has no fuel surcharges, but is just 25,000 miles roundtrip for non-stops.
- US-South America. South America routes don’t have fuel surcharges, and many can be had for reasonable miles (Miami – Lima is just 50,000 miles roundtrip in business class)
You can avoid fuel surcharges to Europe in a few ways:
- Air Berlin doesn’t add fuel surcharges to revenue tickets, so redeeming on them doesn’t entail fuel surcharges (but they currently offer a pretty antiquated product).
- Aer Lingus fuel surcharges are low, and non-stop from Boston you can do 25,000 miles for coach and 50,000 miles in business roundtrip.
- If you have an Iberia Avios account that’s been open 90 days and has had some activity, you can transfer British Airways Avios over — and Iberia’s program doesn’t add fuel surcharges to Iberia flights.
British Airways offers one of the best international upgrade programs around, upgrades from paid premium economy to business class cost half the miles of an economy award and there are no cash co-pays in addition to miles.
For me, I just like those last minute DC – Chicago flights at 4500 miles each way. And I’m actually looking forward to benefiting quite a bit if the US Airways-American merger closes, as I’ll get a ton of short-distance flight options from Washington National airport with my Avios.
Short distance flights can be relatively pricey, but they are downright cheap in the British Airways program now. Within the U.S. you have American Airlines and Alaska Airlines as partners for this purpose. But it also works with partners like Qantas for intra-Australia flying.
The card lets you earn a companion award ticket to double the value of your miles.
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