One of the things that I learned quickly when I started earning points/miles and redeeming them is that the best value, often, isn’t where you expect it to be.
Many people, understandably (and logically), follow this process:
#1 – I book a flight & fly on [X Airline]
#2 – I receive miles from [X Airline] in [X Airline’s] frequent flyer program
#3 – I redeem miles on [X Airline] at a great rate because I’ve been loyal.
I was with you…until you reached #3.
Usually the cheapest awards, for the same flights, are found on partner airlines. And when it comes to redeeming miles, this is my mantra: spend less miles to fly on the same flight.
Here is a situation…you want to fly from Atlanta, GA to Chicago, IL (ATL-ORD) one-way in economy. The date that you need to fly to Chicago is 25 days away (basically a last minute ticket) which means the prices could be bananas. As you expected, you do some research and discover that this last minute ticket to Chicago is going to cost thirty-seven paychecks on EVERY AIRLINE. Don’t act like you haven’t seen prices like this before. 😉 Fortunately, you remember that you have miles in various programs and determine that you would rather use miles than depart with hard-earned cash.
Logically, you search Delta because ATL is a delta hub so they probably have award availability to Chicago, right? The cost…
Total: 11,500 miles + $5.60
You also discover that American Airlines also flies direct flights from ATL-ORD. The cost…
…and almost everyday has economy availability.
Total: 12,500 miles + $5.60
ARE THOSE THE BEST VALUE? NOPE!
THE SECRET: *BOOK WITH A EUROPEAN AIRLINE TO FLY DOMESTIC ROUTES IN THE USA*
Would you be impressed if I said “to fly this domestic route, it’s cheaper if you book through a European Airline. You will pay less miles and pay the same taxes you would’ve paid booking with a US-based Airline.”?
Well, that’s exactly the case. British Airways is a Oneworld alliance member (or, for simplicity, a partner with American Airlines). And you can use your miles from British Airways to fly on American Airlines planes in the United States.
I picked January 23rd as a random date in the future for our award flights so we can compare rates.
Did you notice the date from the Delta flight (above)?
Did you notice the date from the American Airlines flight (above)?
Now, take a look at the date from the British Airways flight (below).
…and the costs…
Yup, you got it. British airways is cheaper! However, the best part is that the flight is operated by American Airlines. That’s right…the 7:21AM flight is THE. SAME. EXACT. PLANE. that you would have used 12,500 miles if you would’ve booked through American.
There are two reasons why I love BA redemptions in the USA:
1) Prices for flights are based on distance, and the cheapest awards in North America start at 7,500 Avios (& 4,500 Avios else where else in the world) for a one-way flight
2) You can create a household account to pool your points in one place. That means if you get your household involved in this process, everyone could flying in style. In fact, forward this blog to them so they understand how col this is and how important it is to you. 😉
HOW DO I GET BRITISH AIRWAYS AVIOS?
There are 3 ways to get BA points:
1. Fly on BA planes and credit the miles to BA
2. Fly on Oneworld alliance member flights (e.g. American Airlines) and credit them to BA
3. Get a credit card with transferrable miles (e.g. miles you can transfer to BA)
British Airways Avios can offer some great value! If you can find a flight that matches these criteria:
1) American Airlines flight
2) Direct flight
3) Expensive in cost (actual dollars)
4) Short in distance
…you can redeem Avios for a real win!!!
HINT: Just to get the ball rolling and you have a real life example…take a look at the prices ($) of this flight [ MIA-SKB ] and then compare the amount of BA Avios it would require for the same flight. Do your own research and let me know what you find.
Will you be using this secret soon? Tell me about your plans.