“The Cheapest/Quickest way to get a free flight”
For Today’s post on Tips and Tricks I was to spend a few moments talking about the Frequent Flier Program for British Airways called Executive Club. This is a frequent flier program that most Americans would assume only makes sense for people who fly back and forth from Europe or London. However, I think this may be a great program for people just begging to collect miles and point for travelling.
Why do I like the British Airways Frequent Program?
I like the British Airways program because there are some very valuable ways to use it for free travel. The executive club program is distance based for Award flights. This means that the number of Avios (This is what they call the points in their program) you need for a free trip is directly based on how long the flight is. This is different than most other programs which tend to price awards based on the region of the origin and destination. Some of the most valuable ways to use Avios are for short trips. This airline program needs the fewest points to get a free ticket that is a good value. That is why I recommend it for those just starting to collect points. For example, if you bought a round-trip flight from DC to LA, airlines will usually give you 5000 miles in their frequent flier program. 4500 Avios points is all you need to redeem a free trip from DC-Chicago using Avios. You could literally start getting free travel after one Paid trip.
What is the best way to use Avios point?
Because this program is distanced based, the best rewards tend to be for short non-stop trips. I have used my own Avios points recently on a trip from Lima, Peru to Cusco, This trip is only 364 miles but can easily cost a few hundred dollars roundtrip. In this case I was able to book this flight on one of British Airways airline partners (LAN Peru) for 9,000 Avios points roundtrip. There are some caveats. Avios are best when used on non-stop flights. So if you home city does not have a lot of non-stop flights on a British Airways or partner airline, you would get limited value out of Avios points. Here in the Washington DC area where I live, there were only a handful of flight that were non-stop (Mostly on American Airlines). on March 31, 2014 however this will change drastically. On that date US Airways will join the Oneworld Airline Alliance. This is the alliance that currently includes British Airways, American Airline, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, LAN, Qantas, and a number of other airlines. When US Airways joins Oneworld, you will be able to use you British Airways points on US Airways flights. This is great for anyone that lives in a US Airways HUB city as suddenly a huge number of non-stop flights will be available for booking. A great post about this change was posted a few months ago on one of my favorite blogs (The Flight Deal). Here are some highlight below.
Great Deals from DC
Washington to Chicago – Oneway in Economy 4500 Avios Points
Washington to Montreal – Oneway in Economy 4500 Avios Points
Washington to Bermuda – Oneway in Economy 7500 Avios Points
Who Should Collect Avios Points?
I think this biggest determining factor is geography. If you live in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Seattle or Phoenix, or use these airports frequently then I think you should collect British Airways Points. These are all hub cities for airlines partners of British airways and there are lots of options for great deal awards if you live in these cities.
When to avoid spending Avios points?
Avios points to not makes sense if you are looking for a free ticket on a long distance flight. I think there are other airlines programs that are a better value for these awards. I especially do not like using Avios for flights on British Airways. Thats because most of these flight transit through London, and there are usually high taxes and fuel surcharges. You could easily spend hundreds of dollars just on these fees, so I would avoid using Avios for travel on British Airways itself.
How do I get Avios Points?
I have gotten 100% of my Avios points using credit cards. British Airways has partnered with Chase bank for its US customers and has a pretty good bonus for 50,000 avios when you spend $2000 on the card in the first three months. They also occasionally have 100,000 point bonus offers but these usually require you to spend $20,000 on the card within one year to get the full bonus. You will earn 1.25 Avios points for each dollar you spend on the BA credit Card. You can also transfer points from American Express Membership rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards program, and Several Hotel Partners including Starwood hotels. You will also earn points while flying partner airlines like American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines.
If you are new to collecting points and live in metropolitan Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Seattle or Phoenix, I strongly recommend you look into the British Airways Executive Club program. Its not for everyone, and its not good for all flights, especially those that have a connection or for long distance flights. However, you can earn some very valuable reward travel, very quickly.