Tag Archives: British Airways

Current State of Free Oneways

This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free oneways on United and US Airways awards.

A free oneway is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free oneways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free oneways on its awards last week by nixing all free stopovers because free oneways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport.

What’s the current state of free oneways with major frequent flyer programs?

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Anatomy of an Award: Last Second Speculative Domestic Booking with British Airways Avios

I’m using my miles and points very idiosyncratically at the moment to do something I’m sure none of my readers would want to do. But I think the lessons from my trip should be applicable for a lot of trips you would want to take.

Starting last weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, I’ll be following around the University of Virginia’s Men’s Basketball Team for the rest of the season. I’ve been a huge fan for about 13 years, and this is our best team in that time, so I decided before the season started not to miss any of the postseason.

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That means I am booking a lot of last second flights, hotels, and car rentals because where Virginia plays wasn’t determined until last night.

Arrival miles have been the most valuable currency to me overall for this trip because I’ve used the miles from my Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases to book flights, motels, and car rentals that form the backbone of my trip.

For the flights and hotels I knew I would need, the 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months have gotten me $456 in free bookings. I loved the Arrival redemptions because I didn’t have to search for award space, and I could choose the cheapest and most convenient option to stretch my Arrival mile balance.

But I also have to book some speculative flights.

For instance, if Virginia makes the Sweet 16, it will play in New York City 11 days from now. But if it loses in its first two games, it won’t make the trip. I don’t need to go back to New York City unless Virginia is playing, so I wanted to lock in a flight in case Virginia goes, but one that I can cancel for free if Virginia doesn’t go.

Enter Avios.

In Another Reason Miles Are Better Than Cash, I mentioned that British Airways awards can be cancelled for as little as $2.50, which was perfect for my speculative booking.

Why else did I book my next award with Avios? Why not cash? What were all the factors considered?

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British Airways 100k Avios Offer Returns

Update: D’oh! Dewey Defeats Truman. This offer is dead (and was dead at the time of publication!)

The British Airways card from Chase is back with a new 100k Avios sign up bonus. Like the other recent 100k Avios offers, you need to spend $20,000 in the first year on the card to get the full 100k Avios bonus.

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  • You will get 50,000 bonus Avios after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 25,000 bonus Avios after $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening.
  • Plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases also within the first year of account opening.
  • Together that’s 100,000 bonus Avios, which is enough for a round-trip business class award flight. Taxes, fees, and carrier charges are approximately $1,250 per adult in business class based on travel from Seattle to London.
  • Lots of other terms and conditions apply. See Pricing & Terms for more details.

The British Airways card is divisive. For some people, it is one of the absolute best cards, and for other its rewards are nearly worthless.

Who should get this card? Who should not?

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Another Reason Miles Are Better than Cash: Free Cancellations

Using miles to book trips instead of using cash has tons of advantages:

  • Easier access to First Class and flat beds: An international First Class ticket can cost $10k or the amount of miles you can get from opening a pair of credit cards.
  • Better open jaw and stopover rules: Few revenue tickets allow you to stopover without increasing in price. Most mileage awards allow free stopovers and open jaws for no extra miles.
  • Some mileage awards can be cancelled for free or close to it.

This last advantage–free or very cheap cancellations–is an oft-overlooked benefit of certain mileage programs.

I can afford this seat with miles, but not cash.

I can afford this seat with miles, but not cash.

Which program allows completely free cancellations? Which programs allow cheap cancellations, as cheap as $2.50?

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How to Get on a Qatar Dreamliner or Use American Airlines Miles to Fly Qatar to the Middle East and Beyond

Qatar Airways has fantastic Business Class award space on its Dreamliner and on its routes from the US to Doha and beyond in 2014. These routes are a high-value way to use Avios or American Airlines miles on a recent addition to the oneworld alliance.

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Your Bed in Business Class on a Qatar 787

Where do Qatar’s Dreamliners fly? Where does Qatar fly in the US? How many American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios do you need to fly Qatar?

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Gold Mine Award Space to Europe in Summer 2014 on airberlin

Update at 5:49 PM ET on 12/20/13: Many commenters are saying they’ve had problems with aa.com showing “phantom award space” on airberlin flights. I have never had that experience, so I was surprised by the reports, but I’m sure they’re accurate. My advice changes in light of this info. Search for airberlin award space on ba.com, then book on aa.com or ba.com depending on the miles you want to use.

“Reports of the award space’s death have been greatly exaggerated.” ~Miles Twain

Right now, you can lock in an incredible vacation to Europe for Summer 2014 for only 50k American Airlines miles roundtrip and award space is wide open!

Award space to Europe for Summer 2014 has been bad since award space was loaded onto award calendars several months ago. (Awards are generally bookable 11 months in advance.)

But things are looking up. And just like last year–when I declared that airberlin award space was a gold mine to Europe for Summer 2013–airberlin is again a gold mine of award space to Europe for Summer 2014.

Break out your American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios, you’re going to Europe this summer!

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 5.55.19 AMWhere does airberlin fly in the US and in Europe? What miles do you need to book awards on airberlin flights? How good is the award space picture? What simple trick can get you a big discount on your award?

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Qatar Award Space Now Bookable with British Airways Avios Online and American Airlines Miles

Qatar Airways awards are now searchable and bookable at ba.com and bookable by calling American Airlines. This is huge news because Qatar has an excellent route network from the US to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Maldives.

As announced on the oneworld site, Qatar Airways will join the oneworld alliance on October 30th. This is great news for those with large American Airlines AAdvantage or British Airways Avios balances. Doha-based Qatar Airways has a robust Middle Eastern route network and opens up connections to many places with presently poor oneworld coverage.

Qatar Route Map of Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and East Africa

The best news of all is that Qatar award space is now bookable using the British Airways search tool. For more information on searching the British Airways website, make sure to check out Scott’s post Free First Class Next Month: Searching BA.com to Find oneworld Award Availability.

How can you search for Qatar award space? How can you book it with your American Airlines miles? How many miles do you need? What regions will Qatar help you reach?

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Review: British Airways Galleries Lounge North at Heathrow Terminal 5

I recently had a chance to relax and refuel in the British Airways Galleries Lounge North at Heathrow Terminal 5 before my Dreamliner flight to Stockholm.

The lounge features incredible food, a wide selection of booze, some cool aircraft views, and a variety of seating areas. It is very crowded, but overall I’d give the lounge very high marks.

Just after passing security, the lounge was on my left.

Upon presenting a business class ticket, I was admitted by an agent who I later saw was surfing the BA FlyerTalk forum from her desk. After she checked me in to the lounge, I asked if she could change my seat because it was a middle seat, and I hadn’t been able to change it on my phone.

She quickly printed me out a new boarding pass, and I went to grab a seat. I favor the room on the far right with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of 747s.

Check out this buffet.

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British Airways 787 Dreamliner to Fly Austin to London with Incredible Business Class Award Space Next Summer

Last week, British Airways announced a new, and surprising, route to be served by its Dreamliner 787: Austin, Texas <-> London-Heathrow, starting March 3, 2014.

Image from gcmap.com

The Austin route is the third Dreamliner route announced. The plane is already flying to Toronto and starts service to Newark on October 1, 2013.

I had a chance to speak to Simon Brooks, BA’s Head of Sales for North America about the new route, for which tickets are already on sale. He filled in some of the details of the new route for me.

I’ll be following this route and all future British Airways 787 routes with great interest because my recent taste of the plane has me excited to fly it on a longer flight. See Trip Report of the Brand New British Airways 787 with Tons of Pictures.

I’ve checked into the award space on the flight, and for the moment it’s excellent for next summer. I’ve priced out several awards to find the best way to stretch your miles and get on to the route.

Why Austin? How is the award space? How many miles, taxes, and fuel surcharges to get onto the Dreamliner’s newest route?

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Angry British Airways Passenger Buys Promoted Tweet to Complain

Have you ever been mad at an airline? You probably called customer service, filled out an online form, or tweeted the customer service team.

Not Hasan Syed.

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What I’d Least Like to See Changed about Each Frequent Flyer Program

United scared me a lot on Friday when it tweeted that changes were coming to MileagePlus.

United still hasn’t told us what those changes are, but insists we’ll like them.

It’s very unlikely I’ll like them much. It could be a minor enhancement, but there are very few things I would change about United MileagePlus that United would also change. (That is, I would love for the change to be that all awards now cost 5,000 miles, but that won’t happen.)

But there are a lot of negative possible changes that could come like award chart devaluations, restrictions on routing rules, more surcharges and fees, or a throttling of ultra-premium availability.

In this post I’ll lay out my single biggest fear for each of several major programs’ next round of changes.

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Anatomy of an Award: Saving 60k Miles by Combining Avios and American Airlines Miles

I recently saved a MileValue Award Booking Service client 60,000 miles on a trip to Israel by taking advantage of the best use of American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios on the same trip.

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The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 130k American Airlines Miles (Soon) or 280k Now

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 57.5k United Miles and 10k Avios, which arose from daydreaming about booking myself more award trips.

The last few days I’ve worked myself into a frenzy planning an incredible-value American Airlines Explorer Award around the world in business class for 130k American Airlines miles and the most opulent Explorer Award possible for 280k miles.

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BA.com No Longer Showing Some LAN Flights and What to Do About It

A few months ago you could book Lima to Cuzco on ba.com with Avios. I made that redemption for family members for an incredible 4,500 Avios and $9 in taxes per person.

Lima to Cuzco meets the three criteria to be an ideal British Airways redemption.

  1. Direct flight (because each segment adds to an Avios award’s cost)
  2. Short flight (because each segment is priced by its distance)
  3. No fuel surcharges (because Avios charges nasty fuel surcharges on a lot of awards)

With my personal experience booking the award, I was surprised to get an email from a reader saying that she couldn’t book Lima to Cuzco online because ba.com doesn’t list Cuzco as a destination.

She is totally correct that ba.com no longer lists Cuzco as a possible airport in award searches. Performing the following search…

…leads to an airport code auto-correct screen…

…and trying to search by country is a dead end too.

With the intra-Peru space no longer showing on ba.com, I don’t think it’s available anywhere online. That doesn’t mean you can’t book intra-Peru space with Avios. It just means you have to call British Airways to book at 800-AIRWAYS.

I called today to test out availability. I picked an arbitrary date–October 10–and told the agent I wanted one economy class seat from Lima to Cuzco.

LAN flies the route 15 times on October 10, and there was an award seat on at least the first five flights of the day.

The wide open award availability didn’t surprise me. The story was the same when the space was on ba.com, and space tends to improve the harder it is to book like when you have to call in and specifically request it.

I told the agent I wanted to book the 7:40 AM flight. He quoted me a price of 4,500 Avios plus $34.40 “including all taxes and fees.”

He didn’t break it down, so I asked him: “Does that include a $25 phone fee?”

“Yessir.”

I followed up: “Can I have that waived because this is not bookable online?”

“Be right with you.”

He returned to the line in about 60 seconds to tell me that the price was now 4,500 Avios plus $9.40.

So it’s now a three-step process to book intra-Peru flights with Avios.

  1. Look up the LAN schedule to figure out what flight you want.
  2. Call 800-AIRWAYS and have an agent find you the space.
  3. Ask for the phone fee to be waived.

I don’t expect that it’s only intra-Peru space that’s disappeared from ba.com. If the award you want is not searchable online, you should call British Airways.

Free First Class Next Month: Searching BA.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles

This is the twenty-first post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Searching AA.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles.

Knowing how to use ba.com is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Why? ba.com displays award space for more oneworld partner airlines than does aa.com. That means you often need to search ba.com even if you are redeeming American Airlines miles. For instance, ba.com is a great place to search space on Cathay Pacific before calling American Airlines to book with American Airlines miles.

Award Searches on ba.com

First, you need to sign up for the British Airways Executive Club to be able search. The link is on the top right of BA.com. Next, you must log in.

Along the left side of the screen after logging in, click on Spending Avios. Several choices will emerge beneath where you clicked. Choose Book Flights with Avios.

On this screen, type in the details of your potential award trip. One trick is that if you’re willing to fly either of two classes, select the higher one. ba.com will always display worse classes with space available if the class you want doesn’t have space.

If you’ve selected a route British Airways flies, a screen will pop up asking if you want a stopover in London. Leave No Stopover selected, and click Continue.

If you’ve queried a route not served by British Airways, you’ll be brought directly to results.

The results are displayed by airline. British Airways is at the top and the rest are ordered alphabetically. You can change the sorting to Total Journey Time in the dropdown menu.

If your day comes back with no results, you can click on the nearby dates one at a time on the results screen or move one week at a time.

To get more info on a flight, click the linked flight number, and a new window will open with pertinent info including the aircraft and flight duration.

To see the price of an award including taxes and fees, select one and click the red Continue button.

If you don’t have enough Avios in your account, you will just be shown the Avios price and dollar amount without a breakdown.

LAX-HKG-MNL in First Class price

If you do have enough Avios, the price screen looks a bit different.

If you click on the little “i” icon, you will see how the cash component of the award breaks down. This is how the $311 in addition to the Avios needed to get from LAX to Budapest breaks down.

If you want to book the award you found with Avios, enter your credit card info, and you are all set. If you want to book the itinerary with American Airlines miles–both itineraries above are way better deals with American Airlines miles–note the flight dates, numbers, cabins, and taxes.

American Airlines will charge all the same taxes, but not the fuel surcharges. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agents the flights you found.

ba.com shows space on airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and S7, which is all of oneworld.

Continue to Using Qantas.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles.