How Much Are Avios Worth? The Value of British Airways Avios Part 3

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In Part 1, we looked at the mechanics of the Avios program and how it compared to the AAdvantage program (another oneworld program.) In Part 2, we built on the rules of the Avios program to discover what awards they imply are the best values. In Part 3, we’ll value specific Avios awards. In Part 4, I’ll put a number on an Avios. And in post later this week, I’ll list every possible redemption from NYC and LA with Avios.

Now that we understand the Avios program and have thought about the types of awards that will net the highest value, let’s find those awards. I’m an LAX-based flier, so I’ll be doing this analysis for me from Los Angeles. You should do this analysis for you from your airport. I’ve broken the process down step-by-step.

1) Use my secret travel resource to list all your dream direct flights— Wikipedia. Seriously, the best way to find all the routes from your airport is wikipedia.org’s entry for your home airport under the “airlines and destinations” section. Make a list of any routes that you might want to fly that are flown by these airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7, Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, and airberlin. These are all the oneworld partners and non-oneworld partners of BA on which you can redeem Avios.

For me, this netted a list of LAX to HNL, KOA, LIH, OGG, IAH, AUS, MEX, MEL, SYD, HKG, MAD, and LIM. From Post 2 in this series, I think we can pretty safely say that MEL, SYD, HKG, and MAD will be bad redemption values. The huge fuel surcharges levied on US to Australia, Europe, and Asia flights in the Avios program will kill the value. But I will include them in this post just to show how bad the redemptions are.

2) Add in your dream destinations on which there are no direct flights. For me there aren’t many since LAX has so many direct flights, but if you live in Charlottesville, VA, this list will dwarf the former. For each destination, figure out the most direct routing. You can do that on wikipedia, kayak.com, or BA.com’s award search engine.

3) Add in other flights you might want to take from other airports. I like to hit multiple countries on one trip. Often the short hops on those trips are very expensive. If they’re served by a oneworld carrier, Avios can be a great redemption. For me, here are some non-LAX awards I have booked or considered booking:

  • LIM-SCL
  • LIM-EZE
  • AEP-MDZ
  • AEP-IGR
  • SYD-CNS-MEL
  • TPA-MIA
  • LGA-ATL
  • CHO-ORD

4) Price them on BA.com. Sign in to your Executive Club account, and choose Spending Avios then Book Flights with Avios. Plug in the dates of a desired award or some dummy dates if you don’t know when you want to go. Note the price in Avios and taxes and fees in dollars. For me, the info is below. All prices are roundtrip unless otherwise noted:

  • HNL (oneway) 12,500 Avios and $2.50
  • KOA, LIH, and OGG 25,000 Avios and $5
  • IAH 20,000 Avios and $5
  • AUS 20,000 Avios and $5
  • MEX 20,000 Avios and $144 (includes $25 phone fee to call BA to book Alaska Airlines award)
  • MEL and SYD 100,000 Avios and $785
  • HKG 70,000 Avios and $340
  • MAD 50,000 Avios and $617
  • LIM 50,000 Avios and $104

And the non-LAX originating flights:

  • LIM-SCL (oneway) 10,000 Avios and $31
  • LIM-CUZ (oneway) 4,500 Avios and $9
  • AEP-MDZ (oneway) 4,500 Avios and $31
  • AEP-IGR (oneway) 7,500 Avios and $37
  • SYD-CNS-MEL 20,000 Avios and $56
  • TPA-MIA 9,000 Avios and $5
  • LGA-ATL 15,000 Avios and $5
  • CHO-ORD 9,000 Avios and $5

5) Price them on kayak.com. Search the same dates and direct flights. If the price is below your subjective value for the trip, write down the price. If the price is more than your subjective value for the trip, write down your subjective value for the trip. (What am I talking about? “Subjective value”? See this post.) Below is the lesser of my value and the price on kayak.com:

  • HNL (oneway) $250
  • KOA, LIH, and OGG $500
  • IAH $300
  • AUS $300
  • MEX $352
  • MEL $1160
  • SYD $1240
  • HKG $1402
  • MAD $1000
  • LIM $750

And the non-LAX originating flights:

  • LIM-SCL (oneway) $250
  • LIM-CUZ (oneway) $120
  • AEP-MDZ (oneway) $150
  • AEP-IGR (oneway) $176
  • SYD-CNS-MEL $482
  • TPA-MIA $138
  • LGA-ATL $300
  • CHO-ORD $297

6) Figure out how many miles you’re foregoing on gcmap.com. Use the Great Circle Mapper to figure out the distance of your routing. Add in any multiplier for the status you have on the British Airways. This tells you how many miles you’re foregoing by using an award instead of cash for the ticket, and that’s a key component in figuring out the value of the award. I’ll skip listing this for my flights.

7) Plug the four values in the milevalue.com calculator! If you don’t quite understand how to use it, read this post.

[wpcalculator idcalc=”1″]

eight) Order your awards from greatest cents per mile to fewest. For me, the list looks like this:

  1. AEP-MDZ 2.32
  2. LIM-CUZ 2.28
  3. CHO-ORD 1.92
  4. LIM-SCL 1.90
  5. SYD-CNS-MEL 1.88
  6. LGA-ATL 1.79
  7. AEP-IGR 1.71
  8. LAX-KOA 1.65
  9. LAX-OGG 1.65
  10. LAX-HNL 1.64
  11. LAX-LIH 1.64
  12. TPA-MIA 1.40
  13. LAX-AUS 1.31
  14. LAX-IAH 1.30
  15. LAX-HKG 1.26
  16. LAX-LIM 1.11
  17. LAX-MEX 0.90
  18. LAX-MAD 0.62
  19. LAX-SYD 0.40
  20. LAX-MEL 0.32

9) Put a single number on the value of Avios. To do this, we’ll have to use our list of award values from above and make adjustments based on the other characteristics of the Avios program we talked about in Part 1. We’ll do that in Part 4, the final installment of the series.

Continue to Part 4.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Your spam comments suck… Other than that, do you think that the Alaska Airlines flights operated by Horizon out of LAX would be part of the Avios points options? Flights to La Paz (Mexico), Loreto (Mexico), Mammoth Lakes, Medford, San Jose (CA), Santa Rosa, Seattle/Tacoma
    Seasonal: Sun Valley…

    Thanks!

  2. Same comment as before with American Eagle. Would that work too? LAX to Arcata would be a nice quick flight for CHEAP with AVIOS!

  3. So I am totally new to this idea of miles and free stuff but I love it and my wife already thinks I am nuts. I am also LAX based. With the list you made, you would go about booking all those flights from the BA website and if you can’t, you call BA to book OR do you call any of the partners and use AVIOS points?

    • To use Avios points, log in to BA.com, search, and book. Alaska Air awards are an exception though. They aren’t displayed on BA.com, so you call 800-AIRWAYS, incur a $25 booking fee, and book.

      In general, you contact the airline whose points you are using, not the airline you want to fly, so to use Avios, always contact BA.

  4. Another use for Avios that will work well for some people is to cross regional lines on the partner award chart. For example, one trip I’m looking into is to Amman, Jordan. But that’s “Middle East” on the AA chart and 90K rt in economy. However, I can fly on AAdvantage miles to Larnaca, Cyprus (which is “Europe”) for 40k off peak or 60k peak, then book separately an RJ flight from Larnaca to Amman for 9k Avios rt, making a total of 49k off peak or 69k peak, a huge savings.

    Without researching it in depth, I would bet there are lots of combinations of flying to Europe on AA then on to Mideast or Africa with Avios that would be a better value than using either program alone, particularly if you can do it when Europe is off-peak.

    • Great idea! I definitely find that the more miles you have in other programs (especially AA), the more Avios are worth. The reason is that Avios are often a poor substitute, but a great complement, like in your example.

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