Efficient use of British Air Avios

By Robert Tews
This item appears on page 14 of the March 2015 issue.
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In the letter “Used BA Miles for Hotels” (Jan. ’15, pg. 15), a subscriber mentioned the high fees charged for an international flight on British Airways (800/247-9297, www.britishairways.com). I had the same experience on a round-trip flight from Chicago to Oslo, Norway. The cost was 100,000 Avios (BA’s frequent-flyer miles) plus $1,800. I promptly canceled the booking.

So where did we go wrong? The airline alliance oneworld (www.oneworld.com), which includes British Airways, has a fee structure based on zones. The longer the distance, the higher the fees. British Air flights within Europe (zones 1, 2 and 3) will have the most reasonable fees, and long-distance international flights will have the highest fees. 

You could get to Europe on another carrier at much lower fees and then tour Europe using your Avios for shorter flights in zones with lower fees. You can find the zone system on the British Air website and also on oneworld’s website. 

I used approximately 70,000 miles and under $500 in fees for seven flights on airberlin — three from Oslo to Berlin, two from Berlin to Vienna and two from Vienna to Santorini (Thira), Greece, for my wife and myself. I simply chose British Air flights that were flown by airberlin. Just remember to make them reward flights for reduced fees, IF available. 

Aside from its adding no foreign transaction fees, a very definite advantage of the British Airways Visa Signature Card is the availability of a family account within their Executive Club, which allows family members to group together their individual Avios accounts. As far as I know, this isn’t available with any other airline.

You can book flights for multiple account members at one time, making the process much easier than booking separately. 

One additional benefit to booking flights through British Air is that you can cancel flights and rebook without penalty.

To expand your flight availability within Europe, check out flights for Iberia and Finnair on oneworld’s website www.oneworld.com/
member-airlines/overview
. There are 15 members listed that may offer the opportunity to fly within the specific areas in which they fly. Look for a British Air flight operated by the oneworld partner in that location, if available.

Note the interactive network map and the oneworld hubs to assist you in locating where they fly. Also, check the individual airline flight maps for additional possibilities.

British Air Avios are good for 18 months and continue longer if you generate at least one Avio a year. Just purchasing one quart of milk a year with your card will keep those miles available still longer!

ROBERT TEWS

Edgerton, WI

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In the letter “Used BA Miles for Hotels” (Jan. ’15, pg. 15), a subscriber mentioned the high fees charged for an international flight on British Airways (800/247-9297, www.britishairways.com). I had the same experience on a round-trip flight from Chicago to Oslo, Norway. The cost was 100,000 Avios (BA’s frequent-flyer miles) plus $1,800. I promptly canceled the booking.

So where did we go wrong? The airline alliance oneworld (www.oneworld.com), which includes British Airways, has a fee structure based on zones. The longer the distance, the higher the fees. British Air flights within Europe (zones 1, 2 and 3) will have the most reasonable fees, and long-distance international flights will have the highest fees. 

You could get to Europe on another carrier at much lower fees and then tour Europe using your Avios for shorter flights in zones with lower fees. You can find the zone system on the British Air website and also on oneworld’s website. 

I used approximately 70,000 miles and under $500 in fees for seven flights on airberlin — three from Oslo to Berlin, two from Berlin to Vienna and two from Vienna to Santorini (Thira), Greece, for my wife and myself. I simply chose British Air flights that were flown by airberlin. Just remember to make them reward flights for reduced fees, IF available. 

Aside from its adding no foreign transaction fees, a very definite advantage of the British Airways Visa Signature Card is the availability of a family account within their Executive Club, which allows family members to group together their individual Avios accounts. As far as I know, this isn’t available with any other airline.

You can book flights for multiple account members at one time, making the process much easier than booking separately. 

One additional benefit to booking flights through British Air is that you can cancel flights and rebook without penalty.

To expand your flight availability within Europe, check out flights for Iberia and Finnair on oneworld’s website www.oneworld.com/
member-airlines/overview
. There are 15 members listed that may offer the opportunity to fly within the specific areas in which they fly. Look for a British Air flight operated by the oneworld partner in that location, if available.

Note the interactive network map and the oneworld hubs to assist you in locating where they fly. Also, check the individual airline flight maps for additional possibilities.

British Air Avios are good for 18 months and continue longer if you generate at least one Avio a year. Just purchasing one quart of milk a year with your card will keep those miles available still longer!

ROBERT TEWS

Edgerton, WI