Unlimited Free Stopovers on British Airways Awards, But No Free Oneways

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You get unlimited stopovers on awards booked with British Airways Avios

But you can’t get any free oneways on awards booked with British Airways Avios.

Huh? How can that be?

For some people, those concepts are hard to untangle, so let me state the concepts as clearly as possible.

A free stopover is the absence of a flight. It is being in a place. Let’s use yesterday’s Anatomy of an Award as an example. My friend’s award was from Los Angeles to Phuket roundtrip and has a free stopover on the return in Los Angeles.

  • Los Angeles to Phuket (outbound destination)
  • Phuket to Los Angeles (stopover)
  • Los Angeles to Newark (return destination)

If you say you want a free stopover to Newark, you are confused.

A free oneway is one or more flights added on to an award that don’t cost any additional miles. A free oneway goes somewhere. My friend’s free oneway was from Los Angeles to Newark.

  • Los Angeles to Phuket (outbound destination)
  • Phuket to Los Angeles (stopover)
  • Los Angeles to Newark (free oneway to return destination)

If you say you want a free oneway in Los Angeles, you are confused.

Getting back to British Airways awards, hopefully it’s now clearer why you can have unlimited free stopovers but no free oneways. The Avios cost of a British Airways award is determined by summing the Avios cost of each segment.

Los Angeles to Dallas to New York in economy would cost 20,000 Avios because Los Angeles to Dallas is 10,000 Avios and Dallas to New York is 10,000 Avios.

Los Angeles to Chicago to New York in economy would cost 17,500 Avios because Los Angeles to Chicago is 10,000 Avios and Chicago to New York is 7,500 Avios.

Los Angeles to New York on a direct flight is only 12,500 Avios.

Each Avios award costs the sum of the Avios price of each segment. All three of these routings have different prices.

And 20,000 Avios is the price whether you stop in Dallas for one hour or one week. That makes the stop in Dallas a chance for a free stopover assuming you are routing through Dallas either way. Just like 17,500 Avios is the price whether you stop in Chicago for two hours or two months. Why? Because the awards have the same segments–and so the same price–no matter how long you stop.

But you can never get a free oneway on an Avios award because every segment adds to the miles price.

With this information, who can answer this twitter question I got?

 

The twitter question was whether Los Angeles to Hong Kong and Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Bali were the same price.

Yes, you can stop for free in Hong Kong as long as you like, but the flight to Bali will add 12,500 Avios to the award cost. You can’t get a free oneway to Bali on an Avios award to Hong Kong.

  • Los Angeles to Hong Kong is 35k Avios each way
  • Hong Kong to Bali is 12,500 Avios each way
  • so Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Bali is the sum of that or 47,500 Avios each way

Enjoy all the free stopovers you want on your next British Airways award, but since you can never get a free segment, you can never get a free oneway.



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9 Responses to Unlimited Free Stopovers on British Airways Awards, But No Free Oneways

  1. The more intriguing analysis – and I expect we’ll see it before long – would be to dissect which situations create chart anomalies that actually make it cheaper in Avios to break up your trip by making stopovers instead of flying non-stop. It is not uncommon at all to find stopovers that are not only “free”, but have negative mileage costs.

    • I don’t know how to “dissect” those situations. A list of them would be nice though. JFK-BOS-DUB is one.

      • You’re so good at math, I thought maybe you could come up with a formula… Finding those will, of course, relate to the relative distances between A and B and between B and C, as opposed to between A and C, since the the redemption levels are bands of miles.

        The negative miles obviously will happen as a pattern when the nonstop distance falls into the lower end of an award band (say 4,100 miles flown), while the component legs of a possible connection each fall into lower bands (say 1,800 miles and 2,800 miles). I never finished my math major in college, so I’m not going to be to designing a handy device for it.

        Maybe the only thing to do is really to plug in values, though any time a proposed award redemption falls into the lower part of a band, it would be good to check for connecting options that are cheaper, if interested.

  2. Travel Is Free did a nice series of posts about saving Avios with stopovers: http://travelisfree.com/2012/09/08/breaking-ba-avios-by-adding-stopovers/

  3. To make the tittle less confusing for the newbies, just simply state its a point to point destination with Avios, nothing more simpler

  4. Agree that “free stopover” is a misnomer. It’s not free when stopping over at B in A-B-C costs more miles than just flying directly from A-C.

    • Not a misnomer, but I chose a poor example. Consider LAX-HKG-DPS. There is no cheaper way LAX-DPS, so HKG is a free stopover.

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