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When I skewered the British Airways Travel Together companion pass a few days back because of the gigantic out of pocket cost of the surcharges, a natural question emerged: how can you fly in British Airways First Class without paying $1,000 plus miles.

The short answer is to fly from Brazil to Europe with American Airlines miles. But you’re here for the long answer.

A few months back, Million Mile Secrets broke the news of no surcharges on Avios awards from Brazil.This was huge news because as I constantly write here and in emails to my Award Booking Service clients, transatlantic awards booked with Avios have huge surcharges in almost all cases.

Several other blogs picked it up, and the deal disappeared. Some people claimed that the blogs killed the deal, but then it reappeared. But now it’s gone again.

I rechecked, and as of July 27, 2012, Avios awards from Brazil to London do have surcharges again!

$337 is not just government taxes.

But intriguingly the same flight from GRU-LHR as an American Airlines award has no surcharges!

AA awards normally charge a large surcharge on awards that fly a transatlantic flight on BA planes. The surcharge is normally about $300 per direction, which is smaller than the Avios surcharges, but still frustrating.

But as you can see in the screen shot, AAdvantage awards on BA flights from Sao Paulo to London don’t have a surcharge, just government taxes. (I also priced out Sao Paulo to Budapest in BA first, and it was 90k miles and $65, so still no surcharges.)

Is it a good deal?

There is a way to step into British Airways First Class for only $36 cash. But is it a good deal? Not unless you really want to fly BA First specifically.

The award costs 90,000 miles oneway, which is incredibly pricey. The flight is only 11 hours, so about the same distance as LA to London, which only costs 62,500 miles. Plus this itinerary has no chance to gain value from free stopovers or free oneways because AA stopovers can only occur in North America.

For 90,000 miles, you could fly a much longer LAX to Melbourne in Qantas first class (72,500 AA miles) on an A380 and still have enough miles left over for a oneway trip from LAX to Lima in economy class (17,500 AA miles). Plus both those itineraries would be eligible for free oneway tack ons.

However if you’re desperate to fly British Airways First Class, this deal can’t be beaten. Plus if you don’t live in Brazil, you can get there cheaply with Avios, AAdvantage miles, or United miles on a oneway ticket.

Recap

Avios awards from Brazil to London–once darlings because they lacked fuel surcharges–now charge fuel surcharges. But AA awards in BA First from Sao Paulo to London cost only $36 out of pocket, making them the cheapest way I know of to fly BA First Class.

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