Avios miles are to British Airways and its 13 Oneworld partners what Aeroplan points are to Air Canada and the Star Alliance airlines. A world of miles and points that everyone, beginners and experts alike, dream of optimizing on flights.
But Avios Miles are not easy to use for beginners. It requires us to master tools and use much perseverance. Let’s see what we can do to increase our skills in order to take advantage of it.
Avios Miles for flights
Collecting and using Avios miles
Avios Miles Accumulation (Earn) : several Milesopedia members have taken advantage of promotions this past year to transfer points into Avios miles. We have seen transfer promotions of 30-50% from American Express Membership Rewards, RBC Rewards and HSBC Rewards.
Avios miles are therefore quite easy to earn in Canada via credit cards.
Use of Avios Miles (Burn): The challenge remains their use because Avios Miles offer the most value in far away placed, over short distances and on non-stop flights. Below are the logos of airlines that accept our Avios miles.
Main parameters to know about Avios Miles
At the outset, let’s keep in mind several parameters.
Avios miles are optimized for DIRECT flights.
With some exceptions, if there is a stopover, the required miles skyrocket. As they are based on a chart that takes into account distances, the shortest = the least expensive.
Avios miles are best used for domestic flights.
They can be used in Japan, South Africa, Australia, the United States, between Central and South American countries or between Asian countries.
Avios miles can sometimes be used in Europe.
But they have competition from local low cost airlines.
Avios miles can take you across oceans depending on availability.
You can fly to Europe on Aer Lingus. But also to Asia with direct flights from Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver (YVR) by Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. Qatar Airways operates between Montreal (YUL) and Doha (DOH) and Royal Jordanian between Montreal (YUL) and Amman (AMM).
The Avios Mile is valued according to Milesopedia at 1.8 cents.
The way to find out about optimization is always the same: Ticket price – taxes added on the price in miles / by the number of miles.
Tools to help you with Avios miles.
To find out about existing connections between two cities or countries, the Flight Connections tool will be useful. Then, Award Flights can be used to search for flights offered by companies of the One World consortium. You can even see the type of aircraft that will be used.
Using Avios Miles internationally
Argentina and Brazil
First, between Brazil and Argentina: a round trip in business class between Sao Paulo (GRU) and Buenos Aires (EZE) is worth 42,250 Avios miles + US$109.21 in taxes. Or $1,286 US or $1,700 CAD with Air Canada.
The Avios mile here is valued at 3.7 cents. This is a 3-hour flight; the Economy class is not optimized because of the competition: you have to choose between paying with miles or cash.
Qatar Airways - QSuites
A flight in QSuites with Qatar to spoil yourself? In cash, the 6-hour flight from Doha to Paris is over $3,000, which brings the value of an Avios mile to 4.5 cents.
This is excellent – I would definitely go fot that 6-hour experience.
But if you want to pay less on a shorter flight, try this:
The sweetspots for using Avios on Qatar Airways Qsuites are for short-haul flights. One of the best routes to try is DOH-BOM or DOH-KWI.Aline, Auteure de Milesopedia
The Award Flights tool allows you to find a flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Hong Kong (HKG) on Cathay Pacific in business class for 108,250 Avios miles and $162. Since this trip costs $4,859, the Avios mile here is worth 4.3 cents.
Perfect if you have that amount of Avios miles and want to use it for this purpose.
Let’s look at a direct flight from Vancouver to Tokyo with Japan Airlines. The following screenshot speaks for itself and shows a valuation of 3.8 cents instead of the expected minimum of 1.8 cents per mile.
One last example here. A trip from Tokyo (HND) to Sapporo (CTS) costs 7,500 Avios + $6.30 tax. In cash, Japan Airlines charges $451. Bingo! Optimization of the Avios mile, now worth 5.9 cents – one of the best possible uses. Shall we go see the cherry blossoms?
I’m ending the international section with this strategy from Frederic who takes advantage of the fact that British Airways allows you to pay both in cash and in Avios miles.
He collects Avios miles to reduce the cost of his British Airways tickets. He also uses his Avios miles on short distance tickets between Edinburgh and Dublin.
With British Airways, I pay in part with Avios miles, for a $50 or $60 discount against 3,000 Avios. A valuation of 1.7 or 2 cents per Avios mile. On Aer Lingus it’s even more interesting because the Avios award tickets include luggage (cabin and hold), while paying in cash you barely get to bring your computer!Frédéric - Auteur de Milesopedia
Using Avios Miles in North America
Still from a redeeming (burn) perspective, let’s explore getaways in the U.S. with a jump to the Caribbean.
These destinations are made available by award tickets from One World’s partner airline, American Airlines.
Steps to follow
We will look for direct flights between two points. Here are the different steps to look for a plane ticket:
- Open accounts on American Airlines and British Airways, which will award the ticket. Qantas is easy to use and is an excellent complement to the search.
- Go to the American Airlines interactive map
- Enter your starting point and check the region of the world you are interested in from the drop-down menu. Stop at “Continental United States” but it could be “Mexico and the Caribbean” or Hawaii”
- Check in “more options”, round trip or one way non-stop flights from point A to B
Choices: airports and dates
Among the search results displayed on the right, the possibilities are sorted in terms of miles or city names.
In the example shown below, you can see the fares in AAdvantage miles to several direct destinations from Montreal (YUL):
|New York||7,500 miles|
AA miles are not equivalent to Avios miles. You will have to go back to the BA website to find out the cost in Avios miles and book the ticket.
Checking on airline websites
Then it’s time to check for these low cost flights between Montreal (YUL) and New York La Guardia (LGA) on the American Airlines website. (We can now go directly to the British Airways website which often displays American flights).
Then I choose among the possibilities, a direct flight in the evening. Other direct daytime flights are more expensive as well as those with stopovers. Hence the importance of choosing a direct flight.
Finally, let’s check on the British Airways website if we can book this flight with our Avios miles. Press pay in “Avios” and fill in the destination and dates.
I found my flight at the price of 7,500 Avios and $68.48 in taxes (it is a simple coincidence that the fare in Avios and AAdvantage is equivalent):
This flight retails for $262 (which values the Avios Mile at 2.5 cents).
And there is an option with Air Canada at $226 (which values the Avios Mile at 2.1 cents).
I check with Aeroplan: 5,600 points and $74.45 in taxes. It’s up to you to choose the flight and the currency that suits you!
Here are some other experiences:
- Chicago April 15-19: $512 or 25,500 Avios miles + $75.67, a valuation of 1.7 cents per Avios mile.
- Miami (MIA) – Antigua (ANU) from March 3-10: $710 or 22,000 Avios miles + $125.30 tax, a valuation of 2.6 cents per Avios mile.
- Dallas (DFW) one-way on August 15. These are two flight segments with a stopover in Charlotte (CLT): 11,000 Avios miles and $69 tax. On the market, the same flights on the same dates with AA sell for $312 CAD. A valuation of 2.2 cents.
Now you have a good idea of the gymnastics involved in finding the flights you are looking for.
<strong>Avios Miles</strong> for Rentals
In the event that you do not find a suitable flight, Avios miles can be used to purchase other services. They will be spent at less than their optimal rate, but the important thing is that they are still helping us save money.
For example, an overnight stay in August 2022 at the Marriott Pinnacle Vancouver Downtown Hotel is 48,500 Avios.
With Marriott Bonvoy points, the same hotel on the same date is worth 60,000 points or $421 at the non-refundable rate.
Rental cars can also be booked with your Avios miles.
In some cases, this can be a great way to use Avios miles! Always compare with specialized sites like Holiday Autos. But be careful with your credit card’s collision insurance! You will need to use a credit card affiliated with the Avios program (like the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card) or a card that covers you even if you only pay taxes, like the National Bank World Elite Mastercard!Jean-Maximilien - Président-fondateur de Milesopedia
Finally, you might be surprised at the experience offers that Avios miles give us access to:
- private walking or driving tours
- transfers from or to the airport
- seaplane, helicopter and boat tours
- excursions of all kinds (in the Rockies)
- gastronomic tours
- tickets to shows
- and more!
It takes time to become an Avios Miles pro.
Avios miles can be interesting for some flights but we need to be prepared for calculations, learning tools and comparing products.
While diversifying our currency portfolio is a recommended practice, let me remind you how important it is to pinpoint our travel plans before transferring any points. Find your objective first, and then the program you need to get to that goal, and not the other way around.
Finally, for those of you who, like me, already have some, remember that there are other ways to use (burn) Avios Miles. They might not be optimized, but they will still save us money.
Now that you know more about the program, check out the Ultimate Guide to the British Airways Executive Club Program.