British Airways has just announced that it will operate Los Angeles <-> London Heathrow twice daily with A380s starting April 10, 2014.

British Airways First Class looks awesome, and its Club World Business Class is awesome. The award space on the route is incredible too with two first class seats and business class seats available frequently.

BA First Class Bed

But for most people, booking the awards would be a big mistake.

Why should most people not book the awards? Should you? What’s the award space and surcharge picture?

Let’s take a look at what an award seat on the new route costs.

American Airlines charges 20k or 30k miles each way in economy from Los Angeles to London, 50k in business class, and 62.5k in first class.

In addition, American Airlines collects taxes on all awards and fuel surcharges on British Airways flights on awards. The taxes and fuel surcharges on this route are substantial.

First Class with American Airlines miles

One person flying roundtrip in British Airways First Class from Los Angeles to London would pay 125,000 miles and $1,236.

American Airlines allows one way redemptions, and the taxes and surcharges are not evenly split between the eastbound and westbound flights. The eastbound has a cash component of $476.20, which is mostly fuel surcharges.

The return has a cash component of $583.50, which is a slightly lower fuel surcharge but about $300 in one tax called the UK Air Passenger Duty for flights departing the UK.

Note that these outlays don’t combine to equal $1,236. Instead they add up to $1,059.70, which means booking as two one ways would save over $170.

First Class with British Airways Avios

British Airways charges based on flight distance and cabin, and Los Angeles to London is far enough to cost 25k Avios in economy one way. Business always costs 2x economy, 50k Avios in this case. First class is a punitive 3x economy, or 75k Avios one way in this case.

British Airways collects the same size fuel surcharge as American Airlines does on these flights. Los Angeles to London in First Class one way costs 75,000 Avios + $476.20.

That breaks down to $24.20 in taxes and $452 in fuel surcharge.

Business Class with American Airlines Miles

American Airlines charges 50k miles each way from Los Angeles to London in business class. The fuel surcharges and taxes are the same as the First Class awards. The eastbound costs 50k miles + $476.20.

The westbound costs 50k miles + $583.50.

Business Class with British Airways Avios

British Airways collects the same taxes and fuel surcharges on these flights and charges 50k Avios per direction.

Why This Is A Bad Deal For Most People

The miles prices and cash outlays are too large for what you’re getting, compared to what you could get for the same amount or less.

Consider:

  • Los Angeles to London is 10hr20min in a world class First Class (British Airways) product and costs 62,500 AA miles + $476
  • Los Angeles to Hong Kong is 14hr45min in a world class First Class product (Cathay Pacific) and costs 67,500 AA miles + $2
  • Los Angeles to Sydney is 16 hours in a world class First Class product (Qantas) and costs 72,500 AA miles + $30

I think the latter two are far better deals because they are way less out of pocket for a similar or better product, flying quite a bit farther.

Consider:

  • Los Angeles to London is 10hr20min in a world class Business Class (British Airways) product and costs 50,000 AA miles + $476
  • Los Angeles to London is 10hr20min in a world class Business Class (American Airlines on its 777-300ER) product and costs 50,000 AA miles + $2.50

I don’t think paying for BA business class on this route makes any sense since AA flies the same route with its best plane and best business class product, and the route has incredible availability. The difference between the two Business Class products is not worth $474.

Consider:

  • Los Angeles to London is 10hr20min in a world class Business Class (British Airways) product and costs 50,000 Avios + $476
  • You can book two roundtrips in economy (on American Airlines flights) from Los Angeles to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island for 50,000 Avios + $10.

These trips are totally different, but there are some great uses for Avios from Los Angeles, and I don’t think flying to the UK is one of them.

Why This Could Be a Good Deal For You

  • If you really want to use your AA miles to Europe instead of where I think they’re better spent (Asia, Australia, round-the-world Explorer Awards, use United miles to Europe),
  • If you really want to try British Airways First Class on an A380,
  • If you live in Los Angeles and highly value direct flights,
  • If only British Airways award space is available,

this could be a good deal for you. If it is a good deal for you, you’ll be happy to know that award space is plentiful on the twice daily flights.

Award Space

Here are the flight schedules:

London to Los Angeles

BA 283 10:05 AM – 1:20 PM
BA 269 4:15 PM – 7:15 PM

Los Angeles to London

BA 282 3:40 PM – 10:00 AM +1 day
BA 268 9:30 PM – 3:45 PM +1 day

I saw much better award availability in First Class on the earlier flights–BA 283 and 282–than on the later flights. Business Class Availability is great on both flights.

I searched for the award space on aa.com because it’s much easier and faster to navigate than ba.com’s award search engine. From April 10 on, you can see that the aircraft on the route is listed as “388,” an A380.

Recap

From April 10, 2014 on, British Airways will operate Los Angeles <-> London twice daily with an A380. British Airways First and Business Classes are top notch, and award space is plentiful.

Fuel surcharges are outrageous with the total outlay for a roundtrip award topping $1,000 per person.

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