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Update: Beginning February 2, 2016, British Airways will no longer offer 1-way, short-haul (under 650 miles) coach award tickets on partner airlines in North America for 4,500 British Airways Avios points. Instead these flights will cost 7,500 British Airways Avios points.
I’ll show you how to find and book these flights! And how much you’ll save!
About British Airways Avios Points
Link: British Airways
Even though British Airways is not a domestic airline, you can still use their points to book flights on any of their partner airlines, here at home or anywhere in the world!
What’s unique about this program is British Airways uses a distance-based award chart. For all flights under 650 miles, you’ll pay 4,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight.
And for flights over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles, you’ll pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points. (I’ll show you how to easily calculate these later.)
With these distances, you can see several countries in Europe!
British Airways adds large fuel surcharges to certain international flights such as the US to Europe, but they’re much less on flights within Europe.
You can book flights on these European airlines directly on the British Airways website:
Between these 5 options, you can visit several countries in Europe!
How (and Why!) to Book an Award Flight With British Airways Avios Points
To get started, you must sign-up with British Airways Executive Club (free to join!), or log into your account.
On the website, hover over “Executive Club” then click “Spending Avios.”
Scroll down to the “Reward Flights” section and click “Book a reward flight.”
Add your flight details and when you want to travel. I checked Paris to Vienna for award flights in May 2016.
I’ll happily pay that amount!
That’s because the same flights sell for ~$201! I’d rather save that money and use my points instead.
Keep in mind though, you may still have to pay for checked bags, depending on the route.
Air Berlin charges ~$39 to check a suitcase on this trip. But, I’d still be saving a lot of money, even with a checked bag.
Let’s look at another example.
Maybe you’d like to fly from Berlin to Helsinki?
A 1-way coach flight in March 2016 costs ~480 Euros (~$536)!
You can book the exact same flight for 7,500 British Airways Avios points and $74 on British Airways partner Finnair, which saves you lots of cash!
You can also book a Business Class award on this flight.
But, it costs double the amount of points. Because the flight is only ~2 hours long, most European airlines don’t fly planes with bigger seats in Business Class.
Instead, they section off the front coach rows, and block off the middle seats.
Some airlines do have a nicer seat for Business Class. But I’d rather save my points to be more comfortable on longer flights! That said, you may save on checked luggage costs with a Business Class ticket, so do the math for your situation.
And remember, if you want to extensively explore Europe, you can save money flying on budget airlines, too!
Note: I’ve noticed it’s better to start looking for flights within Europe at least ~1 month or more in advance. Because seats on flights in Europe tend to fill up a month before they depart.
You can book award travel for British Airway’s European travel partners on the British Airways website.
But if you call to book instead, you’ll be charged 15 Euros (~$17) in award booking fees.
Check Where You Can Go
Wandering Aramean built a calculator to figure out how much flights cost with British Airways Avios points.
Enter your starting airport, and you’ll see a color-coded map of all your options.
For example, from Paris, you can use 4,500 British Airways Avios points to fly to cities including:
And for 7,500 British Airways Avios points, you can fly to Madrid.
Keep in mind British Airways charges for each flight segment. You won’t save points by adding a connecting flight.
In fact, it will cost you more points. So it’s better to search each flight segment 1 at a time, and then piece them together.
But the great thing about that is, you can stay as long as you want in each place! So British Airways Avios points are fantastic for seeing more places when you visit Europe.
Earn More British Airways Avios Points
It’s possible to earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways.
But to get the full bonus, you’ll have to spend:
- $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (earn 50,000 British Airways Avios points)
- $10,000 (total) on purchases in the 1st 12 months of opening your account (earn an additional 25,000 British Airways Avios points)
- $20,000 (total) on purchases in the 1st 12 months of opening your account (earn another 25,000 British Airways Avios points)
So you’ll have to make $20,000 in purchases during the 1st year to earn all 100,000 British Airways Avios points.
Even if you signed-up for the card to earn 50,000 British Airways Avios points, that’s still enough for:
- 11 one-way coach award flights under 650 miles (or 5 round-trip flights)
- 6 one-way coach award flights over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles (or 3 round-trip flights)
If each short-haul 1-way flight under 650 miles costs $200 out-of-pocket, that’s over $2,000 you’ll save by redeeming British Airways Avios points instead. And of course, you can earn up to 100,000 British Airways Avios points and save double that!
Here’s my full series about how to earn & use British Airways Avios points for Big Travel with Small Money!
Remember you’ll pay 4,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight under 650 miles. And 7,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles.
And keep in mind there are lots of ways to get Big Travel with Small Money in Europe!