Best Small Money Ways to Fly Short Distances After the British Airways Change
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. Update: Beginning July 23, 2017, Citi ThankYou points with the Citi Prestige card will be worth 1.25 cents each toward flights.
Starting February 2, 2016, you’ll pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points for short-haul flights that begin or end in the US.
Currently, flights under 650 miles cost 4,500 British Airways Avios points each way in coach.
This is not-so-good news for folks who fly short distances. Even though it was a fantastic deal, it can still be a good deal going forward.
You can still book travel until early next year. And, you have other options for short travel within the US after the new prices start.
I’ll show you what they are!
Effective February 2, 2016, British Airways will no longer offer 1-way, short-haul (under 650 miles) coach award tickets on partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines in North America for 4,500 British Airways Avios points.
That means a round-trip coach award flight will cost 15,000 British Airways Avios points instead of 9,000 points like it does now.
What Else Is Left?
I’m disappointed to see this change, but current and new reservations made before February 2, 2016 (even if you travel after that date) are NOT affected.
After that, you’ll have other options for booking short flights.
1. Find the Good Deals That Are Left15,000 British Airways Avios points is still a good deal for a round-trip coach award flight, just not quite as good as it once was.
Most domestic airlines, like American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines, charge 20,000 to 25,000 miles for a round-trip flight. If you want to fly cross-country, that’s still a great way to use your miles, especially if the flights you want to book are very expensive.
But for short flights, some folks might decide to pay the new price with British Airways Avios points.
That’s because there’s no charge for booking a last-minute award flight, and you’ll pay a set amount of mile or points.As always, take it case-by-case and run the numbers to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
And remember you can always instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 ratio to book a flight!
2. Focus on Southwest
It’s no secret that I love to fly Southwest domestically. That’s because you get perks like:
- NO change fees
- Easy cancellation with NO fees
- 2 free checked bags on every flight
- No blackout dates on award seats
- New international flights to visit more places
Remember, you can transfer to Southwest from Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. But, the number of points you’ll need is tied to the price of the ticket. So if you need more than 15,000 points, British Airways Avios points might still be a better deal.
But if you want to use your Southwest Companion Pass, Southwest is usually the better choice!
3. Pay 20,000 or 25,000 Miles on Other Airlines
The most unique feature about British Airways Avios points is that they charge per flight segment. So a round-trip coach award flight with 2 segments each way will cost 30,000 British Airways Avios points.
Folks near smaller regional airports might need to take a connecting flight to get where they want to go.
In that case, you’ll actually pay fewer miles on American Airlines, Delta, or United Airlines. That’s because they all charge a flat rate of 25,000 miles for low-level award seats, except for United Airlines, which charges 20,000 miles for flights under 700 miles.
Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Earn more American Airlines miles by opening an American Airlines credit card. You’ll earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card. (EXPIRED.)
You can also transfer Starwood points 1:1 to American Airlines. And, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer!
Delta is a great option for flying from smaller airports, and you’ll only pay 25,000 Delta miles regardless of how many connections you need to make.
Earn more Delta miles by opening the AMEX Gold Delta card. For a limited time, you’ll earn 50,000 Delta Airlines miles after spending $2,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months. (EXPIRED.)
You can also transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points or Starwood points to Delta miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Another reason folks might prefer Delta miles is because they’re a great way to visit Europe – even from the West Coast!
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
United Airlines is another great option, especially if you have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s because they transfer to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. So if you need more, you can instantly transfer them over to book your award flight!
If you have the Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus cards, you can combine all your Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to airline or hotel partners like United Airlines or Hyatt.
And if you open the Chase United Airlines Explorer card, you’ll earn 30,000 United Airlines miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within 1st 3 months of opening your account. Here’s my review of the card and my ultimate guide to United Airlines miles. (EXPIRED.)
You can also transfer Starwood points to United Airlines, but you’ll only get a 2:1 transfer ratio, so it’s not something I usually recommend to folks.
Short round-trip award flights (under 700 miles in each direction) are only 20,000 United Airlines miles. So if you have connections, you’ll pay 10,000 fewer miles than the increased British Airways price!
So always check United Airlines for short flights, especially if they serve your home airport!
4. Pay With Points
Link: Citi Prestige
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
Certain cards earn points you can use to pay for flights. But, the downside is the amount you’ll pay is tied to the cost of the flight.
Again, take it case-by-case, but this could be a good option in some situations. For example, there are NO blackout dates on flights. If a seat is available, you can redeem points for it. This might also be convenient for last-minute or holiday travel, or for an unexpected trip.
Each Citi ThankYou point you earn with Citi Prestige is worth 1.6 cents on American Airlines. Or 1.33 cents per point on other airlines.
You can earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account. (EXPIRED.)
So if you use your points to fly on American Airlines you can get a value of up to $800 (1.6 cents per points x 50,000 ThankYou points)! Plus, you’ll get a $250 flight credit each calendar year to use on ANY airline. So this card can be worth up to $1,300 toward short flights on American Airlines!The same is true for folks with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
These are other options that could come in handy!
5. Consider Budget Airlines
Link: Allegiant Air
Link: Frontier Airlines
You can get a fantastic deal on a budget airline if you can plan ahead and pack light. That’s because they charge fees for printing boarding passes, checking bags, and even putting a carry-on in the overhead bin!
But if the fare is right, you might consider taking a short flight on a budget airline. They’re convenient for weekend trips, quick getaways, and visits to nearby cities.
Be sure to check the fees involved, but if your base fare is $19, it could be well worth it to pay for a checked bag.
Keep in mind you won’t be able to use TSA PreCheck on budget airlines, though.
Or, You Can Try This Trick!Hidden city ticketing is a more advanced option, and has a couple of risks involved. It’s basically when you buy a ticket to cheap destination that connects in the city where you actually want to visit. Then you don’t take the connecting flight.Skiplagged is a site that can help you find these types of tickets. It’s not for everyone, so always do what you’re comfortable with!
You’ll pay more British Airways Avios points for short-haul flights that begin or end in the US starting February 2, 2016. I’m disappointed to see this price increase, but it’s still a good deal, just no longer a great one.
Remember current and new reservations made before February 2, 2016 (even if you travel after that date) are NOT affected.
After that date, you’ll have several other options, like:
- Flights on Southwest
- 25,000-mile award flights on American Airlines, Delta, or United Airlines
- 10,000 United Airlines miles for 1-way flights under 700 miles
- Pay with points with Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, or Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Budget airlines like Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit
- Using hidden city ticketing
You might also decide to pay the new price, because it can still be a very good deal, especially on last-minute or very expensive flights.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)