Making Avios Work

Discussion in 'British Airways | Executive Club' started by Steven Schwartz, Jan 16, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    There's been so much said negatively about the change to Avios - and to be sure, I too am dismayed at the loss of value in terms of partner redemptions - especially South America and Asia.

    But to those of you with hoards of miles, there are still ways to make it work. We are planning a four day trip to Toronto in the Spring. Round trip airfare from NY to YYZ is $363 per person, including taxes. Plenty of availability to redeem AA miles - and the cost would be 25,000 per person, round trip. But that same flight with Avios prices out at only 9,000 miles. I'll be the first to admit that this was not the reason I started collecting BA miles and we have done very, very well with them by using the 2-4-1 Companion Passes (and paying the fees) for First Class travel to Israel and Europe. But they are far from worthless.

    Even more interesting is an opportunity I just saw this morning. BA is giving a 25% bonus when purchasing Avios miles. If you purchased 15,000, you will end up with 18,750 - just over the 18,000 needed for those two tickets. The cost for those points is $438 - while the price of those two tickets is $726.

    There are still some bargains to be had - they may be different and not as exciting, and I'm not sure it would be enough of a reason to START accumulating them, but for those of us who have them, you can make it work.
     
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  2. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

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    Yes, Avios seems to be a great program for short haul redemption, assuming there is a direct flight on AA between your airport and where you want to go. Having to connect add on the cost - but still from the East Coast to Canada it is probably the best value compared to any other program.
     
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  3. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    For my travel needs, BA's changes really were improvements. They reduced the amount of miles needed to fly to London from NY by 20% in all classes. For 120k points, and my 2-4-1 coupon and fees, I can get 2 first class tickets to London now. That is great.

    They've also made these very short redemptions very attractive too. Expensive markets like NY to eastern Canada, these can be a very good cpm value.

    While I'd like inexpensive redemptions to Bali as much as the next guy, using AA miles for that same redemption isn't too much more than BA used to be.

    It isn't all doom and gloom as many people assert....
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This strategy seems to require that someone split credits between AA and BA, thereby getting lower OW status, which is a real cost of trying to do this, assuming that one can anticipate and fine tune the miles desired in each program.
     
  5. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    I think what's hard about the snippet I quoted above is that BA miles are/were just so much easier to come by than AA miles. While AA did have a nice churn process with Citi going, BA had the 100k sign-up bonus, Amex MR points with 30-50% transfer bonuses, and Chase UR where it's easy to earn bonus points in different ways. AA really only had the Citi churns and, as far as credit card points go, the SPG Amex with 5k bonus on 20k transfer.

    That's how I ended up seeing it anyway. I definitely agree that the east coast to eastern Canada short hauls are awesome due to expensive airfare, but that's about it. I saved my BA miles for redemption on CX so the 40% increase hurt a lot.
     
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  6. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    While there was a bigger BA bonus on the chase card, there were three different cards you apply for to get 75k bonuses on AA from each.

    Basically, my BA points went up in value by 25%+ and yours went down by 40%...
     
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  7. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    I'd assume that if someone was a U.S.-based OW flyer, they'd put EQMs into AA for status, then use Chase and AMEX and credit card signups to fund short-haul BA redemptions. With the exception of Mid-to-North East Coast USA to London, int'l redemptions are now cheaper with AA.

    In my family, we have a couple of AA elites -- whenever we fly a OW paid ticket, they use those accounts for AA miles. However, for the other family members who don't collect enough miles for status or for valuable AA redemptions, we collect BA miles because of the household account, which we can fund further with AMEX and Chase.
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I guess this can work for someone who uses one world frequently or is based in a hub or focus city, but for many people, keeping track of additional account rules and expiration policies can become a hassle. I hate to see orphan miles or to monitor what I need to do proactively to keep miles from expiring, although my perspective is that of a hub captive with naturally strongly concentrated FF earnings.
     
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  9. JetsettingEric
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    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    I did the same as well. Used Avios for day after christmas YYZ-LGA flights. AC was not showing any award availability, and their cash fares weren't too friendly. AA had availability in business, but not coach for 9,000 each way. I thought it was an amazing deal. However, with Westjet entering into the YYZ-LGA market, i'm hoping for a bit of a fare war.
     
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  10. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I think there's probably a reasonable amount of positive and lack of catastrophic negative for many use-cases of people redeeming miles, particularly on BA, for flights that they would otherwise pay for. There's a huge loss in the flexibility to construct itineraries that far exceed what one would normally pay for, and to specific zones that were a great deal previously. There's certainly less room to put together something spectacular, but decent value for many more routine redemptions.
     
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  11. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    You should consider award wallet for monitoring your balances and expiries.
     
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  12. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I guess I'm generally reluctant to give personal information to third party websites.
     
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  13. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    That's because you don't realize that everyone already knows everything about you anyway! I know people who still don't use EZ Pass for similar reasons of privacy. I gave up a long time ago!
     
  14. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Your information is already many more places than you'd like it to be. Proactive tracking is the best risk mitigation technique. These aggregation sites provide the easiest means to track everything. Once a week, I log in and update all accounts. I look at changes to the balances and can tell immediately if there were a material unauthorized redemption.

    Further, in the case of aw, they have an option where you can store your passwords in a file on your computer, not theirs. While there is no guarantee that they aren't nefarious and are secretly capturing the data at the same time, the visual review (which takes a matter of seconds) is the best method to make sure no one is mucking around with you.

    In this case, the ease of aggregated transparency far outweighs one extra party potentially having access to your account details.
     
  15. tondoleo
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    tondoleo Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting this. You are correct. My wife and daughter were going on a trip together from MIA to SJO. They were each on business for their different employers. My wife's company paid for her trip on AA ($ 501). Our daughter's business did not. She found a ticket using on the same flights as my wife for 15,000 avios and $ 83.00 (She also discovered it is also only 15,000 avios and $ 59 to STT from MIA.)

    Thus, our family sees the value in avios.
     
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  16. MSPeconomist
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    I'm surprised by your comments about your wife's business not paying for your daughter's plane ticket. It's hard to imagine circumstances in which this would not be a personal expense, with no business advantage of the daughter's travel. If the company did pay, this could violate the law, require public reporting, or at least result in a tax liability.
     
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  17. tondoleo
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    tondoleo Gold Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I read my post again and realized my brain does not work well without enough caffeine. I have edited the post for more clarity. I never expected my wife's business to pay for our daughter's journey.
     
  18. Mountain Trader
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    Mountain Trader Silver Member

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    I too am burning Avios for short flights that I can't find at a cheap cost elsewhere. I think I'll be able to burn all of our household account balance in a couple of years with one last overseas flight for good measure.

    While this works for me, it's hard to see how it works for BA. Selling miles to Chase which BA then honors by buying mostly short haul flights from AA wouldn't seem to be a core part of their business plan, or even just of the Avios program. I guess I'll leave that one to them to figure out.
     
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  19. MSPeconomist
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    Sounds like unintended consequences. By now, you would think that professional FF plan management would understand that customers will react to changes in the rules and reoptimize their strategies.
     
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  20. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    I think the key to making Avios work for you is to look forward to what you can achieve instead of worrying about the glory days of cheap redemptions to Asia because those days are gone and they aren't coming back.

    For me the value in Avios will be domestic redemptions in Australia. Domestic flights in Australia are expensive. One of my regular routes is Darwin to Canberra. For an economy class seat BA redemption rate is 10k +$38. If I use Qantas points it is 18k +$52. To buy the seat outright in September the fare is $255 which is cheap as I have seen it as high as $800.
     
  21. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    Now that the unlimited stopover in S America is gone, Avios is also still useful down there with LAN's network.

    Lima to Cuzco roundtrip on LAN went for $400. Or, 9K Avios + $13.
    Santiago to Lima one-way on LAN was going for $440. 10K Avios + $40.
    Santiago to Buenos Aires via Mendoza is 9000 Avios and helps avoid the Argentina reciprocity fee for Americans at EZE/AEP, which is $131. Avios is worth 1.5cpm just for that fee!
     
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  22. Bluto
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    Bluto Silver Member

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    Avios seems to work well on intra-South America flights, too. For example, BOG-MDE is only 4,500 avios one way. It looks like the same flight is $177 on LAN. That is 4 cpm.
     
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  23. pjoalfa
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    pjoalfa Silver Member

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    It would work beautifully for Dominican Rep to East Coast USA, however BA seem to feel that they can apply the Dominican transportation tax (based on full fare) to an award ticket. There is no tax on an award ticket, it's a % of fare price, i.e. $0. (Other taxes apply, but those aren't the ones in question.) If I look SDQ-MAD on IB with Avios it's even worse. They charge more (non-existant) tax on the award ticket than the entire paid fare (tax included) from IB on the same flight.
     
  24. mileagejunqe

    mileagejunqe Silver Member

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    I have to say I love the new redemption schedule for short haul flights domestically on AA. My daughter is in DC. DCA-ORD is 9000 Avios miles round trip rather than $250-$350 or 25,000 miles on AA or UAL. If the give you lemons, you make lemonade.
     
  25. PanAm
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    PanAm Silver Member

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    We unloaded a bunch of Avios for our Australia/NZ trip this spring (family of 3) for Australia domestic flights and then across the Tasman to NZ. It's not what I had once been planning to use BA miles for, but it ended up saving us a lot of cash that we will use for other things on the trip. And we still have Avios left for other things.
     
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