Best value with BA miles?

Discussion in 'British Airways | Executive Club' started by honkon, Nov 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. honkon

    honkon Member

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    Hi guys,
    I'm located in Charleston, SC and have 104,000 BA miles. What's the best way to use them?

    I'd like to visit Rome next year, but it seems like using the BA miles (out of Charlotte, NC for example) is MUCH more costly than with American Airlines.

    For example, if I fly NYC to Rome with BA, it's 48,000 miles + $564.84 in taxes! By comparison, flying the same dates CLT-FCO, it's only 40,000 miles and $50! So, next I checked using my BA miles through American Airlines. The exact same flights as the AA rewards ticket cost 60,000 miles and $500!

    So, what can I do with these miles that isn't super expense?
     
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  2. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    Non-US based frequent flyer programs pass on the fuel surcharge (YQ) onto award tickets. BA is no exception, and thus you're paying YQ on whatever award you redeem with them. So you want to find an airline that doesn't have YQ or low YQ.

    In general, LAN doesn't have YQ. So South America is a great redemption. Plus you can take advantage of nice stopover policies. E.g. jfk-lim(stopover)-scl(stopover)-ipc(destination). Of course you can make either stopover be a week or two, while destination may be a day or two. (In effect it's a cheap way to see the Easter Island, which is otherwise expensive to get to.) Unfortunately as is the case for all BA partner award charts, it gets expensive if you mix and match carriers, so with the cheap LAN redemption you'd need to get positioning flights to JFK or MIA on your own. (MIddle of nov, BA is going to a distance-based redemption model. Flights to Europe might get slightly cheaper [but same YQ], but the great deals to Asia or South America are likely getting more expensive. So if you do want to book LAN, you want to do so in the next couple of weeks. Of course can fly within a year after booking.)

    If you don't want South America, the two better redemption options are AA and CX. Both do have YQ but it is lower than what BA has. Probably stings more on an economy redemption, but it doesn't go up much for business class. So if you want to do business for 100k+$400ish, it may be easier to take.

    Final note, in general UK has relatively nasty departure tax if you stay for more than 24 hours (based on length of departing segment and its class of service). So if you're aiming to minimize taxes, avoid spending much time in London.
     
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  3. David
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    David Silver Member

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    This doesn't really have anything to do with tax avoidance!
     
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  4. Globaliser
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    Globaliser Silver Member

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    Without a doubt: buy World Traveller Plus (premium economy) tickets on BA during a fare sale, and then use the miles to upgrade to Club World (business class). Trans-Atlantic to London: 25,000 miles per person round-trip (and soon to be only 20,000 miles on some routes) - so you have enough to do two round-trips for two people.

    Redeeming these miles for economy award tickets is such a waste that it ought to be made a criminal offence.
     
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  5. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    Do remember reading a good analysis of a case where total taxes paid by airline came as a percentage of base fares. With that said, yes, there are other reasons - YQ is easier to change, and there are arguable marketing advantages fo lower base fares.
     
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  6. David
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    David Silver Member

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    Again I'd dispute marketing, given that within the EU your forced to display tax inclusive prices.

    With regard to taxes, the airlines are companies and are taxed like any other. I can't speak with extreme confidence for other EU countries with regard to any specific taxes, but the companies will be taxed on profits not revenue.
     
  7. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    Marketing change is very recent. For a long while the standard advertising practice just about anywhere was "$100 EU-USA*" with a small fine print of "* - One-way price based on roundtrip purchase, flown during middle of week, with sunday night stay, and all taxes and fees not included.". Similarly, don't recall of top of my head what country the tax thing was for or how recent (and if it's still an applicable loophole now or has since been fixed).
     
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  8. David
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    David Silver Member

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    Still dispute the marketing. Fuel surcharges have continued to rise long past the time when (due to their size never mind legislation) you couldn't really market without including them - not leaset because they can be far higher than economy fares.

    Fuel surcharges are predominant to do with the fact that they can be changed more easily, and apply to all irrespective of any agreed discount on fares etc, and also apply to redemption bookings.

    Without them on redemptions, they would cost the airlines so much more that the loyalty schemes at current rates also simply would not be sustainable / viable.

    But they also apply to fares and seats provided under a huge variety of other rules and schemes (industry, inter airline, etc, etc)
     
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  9. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Welcome to milePoint honkon! Glad to have you with us and congratulations on your first post :) Enjoy!
     
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  10. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint honkon!

    BA's award chart is going to change soon (and it doesn't sound like it'll be for the better with the single partner award potentially disappearing), but for CLT-FCO you might be within a cheaper zone than they currently have (cheaper in terms of miles that is). Personally, I'd see if I could get more miles in there (american express membership rewards is a possibility) and use them for a trip on Cathay Pacific First Class before they devalue or get the Chase BA Visa, spend $30k on it in a year, and use the 2-4-1 voucher on 2 business or first class tickets (note that you'll still have to pay taxes and fees on both, but only miles for 1).
     
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  11. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    The best way to use them is not to go to Europe. Your best bets are 100K for business class to South Asia on Cathay Pacific or 80K for business class to South America on LAN. You can have unlimited "reasonable" stopovers, so be creative. Seems like many folks are enjoying a trip to Bali, Indonesia this way. You could even go to Easter Island or Tahiti through South America, assuming availability.

    Unfortunately there will still be fees, but less than going to Europe. Alternatively you could use them for domestic flights on AA, although I haven't seen what the fees are like for those awards.
     
  12. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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  13. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    I think a key question is.... are you trying to get tickets for 1 or two people?
     
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  14. Globaliser
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    Globaliser Silver Member

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    No, it's been many years now - an across-the-board requirement was made at about the same time as the current fuel surcharge episode, so we're talking about the mid-noughties.
     
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  15. dreamfool

    dreamfool Active Member

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    We also each has 100K+ BA miles from the credit card offer in Spring and we are very interested in going to Bali (along with other places, perhaps in Asia). Which carrier(s) should I consider?
     
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  16. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Cathay Pacific business class...and soon! BA's single partner award chart will change Nov 16 and while no one knows for sure what the single partner award chart will look like, it doesn't sound like it'll turn out well.
     
  17. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Welcome to milepoint!

    I find that BA miles are best used to upgrade from WT+ to Club world as already stated in this thread. To redeem them for a free ticket on BA is not free at all.

    Oh really? Strange that most of worlds largest airline loyalty programs are still able to make money without charging fuel surcharges and that BA in very recent past was able to do the same without charging an arm and a leg to redeem your hard earned miles and points.

    Award travel tickets are based on availability/capacity controlled and are usually available only when an airline predicts they can't sell a seat. It's supposed to be an award for earning a boatload of miles on an airline/alliance. The cost of that open seat is negligible, why not reward your loyal members?

    That a surcharge (that was introduced when oil prices were through the roof) is the majority of a plane ticket (in economy class) and also is higher in business/first, is IMO absolutely wrong.

    But that debate won't help our friend here enjoy his/her miles.
     
  18. David
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    David Silver Member

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    Yes I believe so.

    'most' - by what metric?

    Not disputing what happened in the past.

    You are not going to bleed cash offering award seats at a cost far in excess of the amount set aside on the balance sheet for the miles you have awarded.

    The relative cost of providing reward travel (irrespective of class) has shot up while general revenues in the industry have shot down.[/QUOTE]
     
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  19. The Saint
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    The Saint Silver Member

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    You think it's wrong. Works for me.
     
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  20. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    I didn't say I think. I said I know. ;)

    In 2010, BA lost over half a billion pounds while all the carriers in the United States (except AA) made money.

    I guess we have to agree to disagree.
     
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  21. The Saint
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    The Saint Silver Member

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    No, you said it was your opinion.

    Are you seriously claiming that there is a negative correlation between the charging of fuel surcharges on redemption bookings and profitability? If so, an interesting sample underpinning your theory.
     
  22. Globaliser
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    Globaliser Silver Member

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    How flagrantly to misuse statistics and point data, demonstrated in one easy sentence.
     
  23. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    No absolutely not. Our friend David claimed that if a loyalty program doesn't gauge their members while redeeming their hard earned miles, the loyalty programs economy is not sustainable. It's a very simplified way of stating otherwise.

    Look, we can debate this till we're blue in the face, but an undisputed fact is that the most profitable part of most airlines is the loyalty program and they keep getting more profitable.

    European airlines have tried many approaches to devalue their programs with excluding booking classes for earning miles (or earning less miles). That trend is now going away.

    As for the fuel surcharges, yes, I'm strongly against them. Because the whole foundation for a loyalty reward program is that if you spend money on us or the partners we admit to our program, you should be rewarded. And to charge a 400 dollar fuel surcharge to a 100 dollar base fare + taxes to a ticket that you can buy for 600 dollars is supposed to be rewarding? Please... I'm sitting here in my office and have a 225USD Pottery Barn rewards coupon I've earned for spending some cash on new furniture and I plan to spend it this afternoon. If they were to use BAs business logic, I should be charged for Pottery Barns logistics cost (and other costs as we all know that BAs fuel cost per passenger is not even close to being what they charge as a fuel surcharge). So instead, I would show up at Pottery Barn with a 50 dollar reward instead. Fair? Hell no.

    Look, the way loyalty programs has always been able to give away rewards seat, has been by strict capacity control. If a loyalty program is successful, they only give away a seat that they wouldn't sell anyway. In many cases, that's true. So the flights that are most popular, there are never any reward seats. And for most BA flights, that's also the case. For the flights that has availability, that seat will go empty and if it does, it has a cost, but you won't have any revenue for it. That's how it should work for award seats as well. I would love to see someone substantiate the claim that an award seat has a lot more cost than an empty seat

    What BA is doing here is having their cake and eating it too. Passengers are flying huge mileages and work hard to get enough miles to earn a free reward. Or in some cases, they get a credit card and BA gets paid well by selling their miles to the banks that has their cards. And after, when it's time to redeem, they get paid again by adding a bogus fuel surcharge. They are also stringently using the classic capacity control making it hard to use an "award" that costs up to 80% of a paid ticket.

    The only good news here is that we have sites like milepoint to make sure that people utilize their hard earned miles better.
     
  24. The Saint
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    The Saint Silver Member

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    This is your normative assessment. When analysed, there is nothing wrong with it. Plain it is you don't like it, but then being a member of the BAEC is not compulsory. Who values reward? Answer, the consumer; and for each consumer it will be different. It is for the consumer to assess whether the programme offers things that s/he values. You cite an example which many people would consider poor value (and therefore not much return). For such a person, wanting to redeem miles for economy tickets, the BAEC is not the programme best suited to what they value in a reward. Others will value the rewards offered by BAEC differently. I feel quite rewarded when I use my miles to get an F return to South Africa. Yes, I pay £500-600 in fees, taxes and charges, but for a return in F (which I can cancel for free up to 24 hours prior to departure), I consider that to be a very healthy return on my miles. Obviously, I'd like not to have to pay the monetary element, but it's my choice to continue my membership of BAEC on the advertised terms and conditions.

    The analogy is false. The true analogy would be if Pottery Barn gave you vouchers for 225,000 points and that to buy a table you were required to pay a handling and delivery fee on top. Providing those additional charges were transparent, there could be no complaint. Nobody makes you collect Pottery Barn or any other points. It is your responsibility to discover the true value of those points and to make an assessment of whether they are worth collecting depending on your own circumstances. Those who self-delude into thinking they should be able to redeem BA Miles for free flights are just dimwits.

    I don't meant to be unnecessarily blunt, but you (and I) are amateurs. We may be slightly more clued up about airline redepmtion programmes, but we are outsiders and we don't have the data. I am not going to advance homespun theories about what airlines should and should not do. But of one thing I am sure; airlines are likely to know their business better than I (or you) do. At a guess, I would say that BA's approach to redemption availability is heavily influenced by its desire to protect the value of its premium cabins. AA (and the other legacy carriers in the US) lost that game years ago. It is an unedifying business example. Just consider this. As a revenue passenger in F, I recently was unable to change to a later flight on US. Why? Because all of the avaiable seats had been released to its FF. I'm sure they are all very happy to be travelling up front. But for the airline it was not such good news. I cancelled the F ticket, got a refund and flew with a carrier that had not cannibalised its F inventory. Similar concerns, I suspect, influence the general redemption pot. If it became widely known that BA would let you upgrade for miles if there were free seats available, that would depress the market for people actually paying for them. And, as someone who pays for F, I like the fact (and am prepared to pay for it) that often the F cabin will not be stuffed full leaving me with a quieter and more pleasant experience.

    What on earth is wrong with that? Basic capitalism. If a supplier in a market can find customers willing to purchase its goods on those terms it will do so. You seem to be arguing for some command economy based solely on what you appear to think is "fair".

    Well that would be a matter of debate. It is a disservice, in my view, to propagate a sense of misplaced entitlement. The only valuable advice is: check the terms and conditions of the programme in which you are interested to see whether it offers you sufficient "value" for your individual circumstances and remember that the terms and conditions can change.
     
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  25. David
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    David Silver Member

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    I don't have time to follow this thread currently. However, that is NOT what I said!
     

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