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US Airways Award Bookings Using BA Avios, as low as 4,500 Avios one way

US Airways Award Bookings Using BA Avios, as low as 4,500 Avios one way

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Old Jul 7, 15, 12:06 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: beltway
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With US joining OneWorld in early 2014, British Airways' mileage currency (Avios) offer a potentially advantageous option for redeeming for award tickets, especially on shorter flights.

What are the relevant characteristics/rules for redeeming Avios?
  • Avios is charged per individual flight segment. The cost for a single connecting itinerary AAA-BBB-CCC is the same as the cost of two separate tickets for travel AAA-BBB & BBB-CCC.
  • Avios uses a distance-based chart. (See below.)
  • First-class travel costs 3x as many Avios as coach. Unfortunately, this generally makes domestic F redemption unattractive with Avios. In general, US front-cabin seats are treated as first-class for purposes of Avios redemption.
    • Effective April 28, 2015, first-class awards will cost 4x the coach award price.
  • Business class travel costs 2x Avios. Some North American airlines consider the front cabin to be business for Mexico and Central America routes.
    • Effective April 28, 2015, business-class awards for segments >2000 miles long will cost 3x the coach award price.
  • You can redeem one-way awards with Avios.
  • Avios is region-agnostic. (That is, a given distance costs the same regardless of whether it traverses one or more world regions.) Thus, Avios can provide great value when flying to Hawaii for those who fly coach and can do so in one segment.
  • There is no ticketing fee for online booking. If you call instead of booking online, there is a $25 ticketing fee. (Some people have success in getting this fee waived when an itinerary cannot be booked online, making a phone call unavoidable.)
  • There is no close-in ticketing fee.
  • BA charges $55 to cancel or change a ticket. However, if you cancel online, your cost is capped at the amount of taxes/TSA fees paid; for domestic itineraries on US, this will normally be much less than $55. (This workaround does not apply to changing a ticket online, which will incur the full $55 fee.) You must cancel one day in advance to get the Avios redeposited.
What are the mileage bands in the Avios award chart?
  • 1-650 mile flight: 4,500 Avios
  • 651-1151 mile flight: 7,500 Avios
  • 1152-2000 mile flight: 10,000 Avios
  • 2001-3000 mile flight: 12,500 Avios

The full chart for redemptions until April 28, 2015 can be found here. Starting April 28, 2015, a new chart will apply.

One enterprising blogger has created interactive maps showing potential destinations reachable on US in each of the mileage bands from DCA, PHL, CLT, and PHX.
What's an example of Avios being better than booking an award on US using Dividend Miles?
Consider the cost to fly from San Diego to Phoenix, a route under 400 miles. US charges 25K miles R/T, plus $38 (includes $25 ticketing fee), plus a $75 close-in fee for any booking within 14 days of departure. BA will charge 9,000 Avios R/T plus the TSA security fee.

If you live in a gateway city and can fly to Hawaii nonstop, investigate whether booking with Avios is more attractive. Example:
PHX-HNL is 2917 miles. A R/T with Avios is 25K miles (12,500 each way). A R/T with US is 40K miles.
What's the process for redeeming Avios?
Go to the Avios award search page; log in; and enter your desired itinerary.
Great! That sounds easy! What's the catch?
Unfortunately, there are several practical restrictions on redeeming Avios for domestic travel on US, especially when attempting to book online.
  • Most importantly, US "low/saver" awards must be available. (You can confirm award availability at the lowest level by searching on the US site directly or by using a third-party service such as Expert Flyer.)
  • The BA search tool cannot generate partner itineraries that include more than one connection. (You can still book each segment as an individual ticket, although doing so will create problems if you wish to check luggage all the way through and/or if you miss a connection owing to flight delays.)
  • Even where US has low-level award availability, the Avios search tool will often fail to display it. This is especially true on routes with numerous flights in a single day (such as the DCA-LGA, LGA-BOS & DCA-BOS shuttles), but occurs regularly on numerous routes. There is no workaround except calling BA reservations.
    • Recommendation: Always search for one-way awards. The BA search tool is known to display no availability in either direction on round-trip searches when awards are in fact available in one direction but not the other.
  • The BA search engine will accept metropolitan area pseudo-codes (WAS, LON, PAR, NYC, etc.) as well as individual airport codes. For better results, try both (e.g., DCA, BWI & IAD as well as WAS).
OK, I managed to make an award booking despite all these pitfalls. How do I get my US FF# into the reservation in order to enjoy my US elite benefits?
The American Airlines Twitter team (@AmericanAir) can modify a reservation to enter your US or AA FF#.

Several FTers also report success using the Finnair website ("Choose manage booking and put in your BA confirmation code"). However, this method allows the FF# on a given itinerary to be changed only once; it will not allow subsequent changes.
I want to change my seat but the BA site never gave me a US record locator. What's the solution?
Look up your reservation on the US site using the BA record locator.
How can I accumulate Avios?
  • Fly British Airways.
  • Credit OneWorld flights to British Airways.
  • Open a Chase British Airways credit card, ideally with a generous sign up bonus.
  • Move Chase Ultimate Reward points (CSP, Ink Plus, Ink Bold) to your BA account.
  • Move AMEX Membership Rewards points to your BA account, preferably during the 2-3 times a year when a bonus is offered.
  • Move SPG points to your BA account. 20K SPG points yields 25K BA Avios, and bonuses have been offered once a year.
  • Form a household account (see BA forum for discussion) so that miles can be pooled.
Credit: Much of this wiki is based on post #1 by SanDiego1K.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 5:31 pm
  #136  
 
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry: BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.1030 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/417)



I would look for award availability into SNA, LGB, or LAX, and consider a one-way car rental to SAN.



If award seats to SAN subsequently open up, you can cancel the old award, and merely forfeit the $5.60/ticket cash you paid.
Good thought, but the cost to cancel, redeposit Avios is $55, not $6.50 https://www.britishairways.com/en-us...d-service-fees. With a OW ticket price of $123, I believe it is better to wait.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 5:36 pm
  #137  
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
Good thought, but the cost to cancel, redeposit Avios is $55, not $6.50 https://www.britishairways.com/en-us...d-service-fees. With a OW ticket price of $123, I believe it is better to wait.
When you cancel BA award reservations, they just refund the amount of taxes - $55, so when the taxes are less than $55, the cost to cancel is the amount of taxes.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 6:01 pm
  #138  
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
Good thought, but the cost to cancel, redeposit Avios is $55, not $6.50 https://www.britishairways.com/en-us...d-service-fees. With a OW ticket price of $123, I believe it is better to wait.
No. It is the LESSER of $55 and the actual cash you paid if you cancel it online.

In fact BA allows you to change the ticket online but the $55 would then be actually charged. While you cancel, BA online would take the LESSER amount - in your case it is that $5.60. If your cash portion is $80 for example, then BA system would take $55 and refund you the difference of $25.

When you cancel the avios IMMEDIATELY return to your account.

Better to just X it online and rebook if you see better flights.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 6:16 pm
  #139  
 
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Hope you guys are correct. There was one available award seat on ba.com for the last PHX-SNA on Mar 2; grabbed it, just in case.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 10:24 pm
  #140  
 
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Keep in mind that (to my knowledge) this is an unpublished benefit, and as such can change at any point, but it has been this way for a while. Very easy to do.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 11:41 pm
  #141  
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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry: BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.1030 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/417)

Originally Posted by diver858
Hope you guys are correct. There was one available award seat on ba.com for the last PHX-SNA on Mar 2; grabbed it, just in case.
Of course, the price of a cash ticket on the PHX-SNA nonstop is only $72.10/person, so you're only getting about 1.5 cents per Avios. But with the award ticket, you can at least switch to PHX-SAN pretty cheaply if award seats subsequently open up on that flight.
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Old Aug 8, 14, 12:08 am
  #142  
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
Hope you guys are correct. There was one available award seat on ba.com for the last PHX-SNA on Mar 2; grabbed it, just in case.
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry: BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.1030 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/417)


Worked many times for me.

Of course, the price of a cash ticket on the PHX-SNA nonstop is only $72.10/person, so you're only getting about 1.5 cents per Avios. But with the award ticket, you can at least switch to PHX-SAN pretty cheaply if award seats subsequently open up on that flight.
That looks good using my valuation.
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Old Aug 8, 14, 11:24 am
  #143  
 
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Booked more US flights using avios today--and cannot use the Finnair "trick" to change my FF# to US. Weird...worked before!
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Old Aug 8, 14, 1:01 pm
  #144  
 
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Use the Royal Jordanian site as detailed here: http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea....-simple-trick/
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Old Aug 8, 14, 3:56 pm
  #145  
 
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Originally Posted by PbodyPhoto View Post
Use the Royal Jordanian site as detailed here: http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea....-simple-trick/
That would work for AA, but they didn't have US as an option when I tried that earlier.
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Old Aug 9, 14, 1:04 pm
  #146  
 
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Why not just call US?
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Old Aug 9, 14, 3:08 pm
  #147  
 
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
Why not just call US?
US will not touch Avios bookings, even to change FF #s on the PNR.
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Old Aug 9, 14, 7:33 pm
  #148  
 
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Originally Posted by linglingfool View Post
US will not touch Avios bookings, even to change FF #s on the PNR.
Funny, I did it last night - asked nicely, was able to select exit row seats less than 1 minute after hanging up.

May help if you first provide the US record locator - can be found by searching the BA locator on the US site.
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Old Aug 9, 14, 11:10 pm
  #149  
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
can be found by searching the BA locator on the US site.
True, try changing your seat# on ba.com and you will find the US#
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Old Aug 10, 14, 8:55 pm
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
Funny, I did it last night - asked nicely, was able to select exit row seats less than 1 minute after hanging up.

May help if you first provide the US record locator - can be found by searching the BA locator on the US site.
Hmm, perhaps they've recently changed a policy or system, as I tried at least a half dozen different reps after making a booking at the end of April, and received the same answer from all of them regarding the FF# (they were able to add my trusted traveler number, however). Haven't tried since.

Last edited by linglingfool; Aug 10, 14 at 9:14 pm
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