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Australia and Japan: using British Airways Executive Club Avios miles

To the point Find out how British Airways Executive Club Avios miles are saving us hundreds of dollars on our flights to Australia and Asia.

Using Avios miles in Australia

In Australia, you cany use British Airways Executive Club Avios miles for travel with the Australian airline Qantas, a member of Oneworld.

However, it is often a good idea to compare prices with local low-cost airlines such as Jetstar or Tigerair, or even other competing airlines such as Virgin Australia.

So, in some situations, we chose to pay for our airfare to travel with Jetstar (and redeem travel points on those purchases), while in others we used our British Airways Executive Club Avios miles.

Sydney - Melbourne

Qantas offers flights every 15-30 minutes between Sydney and Melbourne virtually all day, and many seats are available on British Airways Executive Club, which can be booked with Avios miles.

There is stiff competition with other airlines on this route, but we ended up choosing to use our Avios miles for several reasons:

  • Availability of a flight in the middle of the day (rather than at 6am or 10pm to get a good price with Jetstar)
  • A connection to Melbourne Airport (MEL) and not Avalon Airport (AVV), which is much further from the city centre, but frequently “sold as Melbourne” by Jetstar
  • The inclusion of a free hold bag when using Avios miles, and higher cabin baggage allowances, while you must pay for it on Jetstar

For 2 adults and 2 children, our 3:45pm flight from Sydney to Melbourne would have cost $908.

This same flight was available for 24,000 Avios and $136.16 in taxes.

So, in this case, the Avios miles will have saved us money:

908 $ – 136,16 $ = 771,84$.

This means a value of:

771.84 / 24,000 Avios = 3.2 cents per thousand Avios (almost double the value at which we estimate the Avios mile).

24,000 Avios miles are easily earned with a card:

Earn Avios miles with this card

A card like the American ExpressMD Gold Rewards Card offers a great welcome bonus.

Membership Rewards points can be converted to Avios miles at a 1:1 rate. And personally, I took advantage of a recent promotion to transfer points between the two programs, which gave me an extra 30%!

25,000 Membership Rewards points earned 32,500 Avios miles in this promotion!

Uluru - Darwin

Another case. We decided to go to Uluru (Ayers Rock AYQ Airport) in central Australia from Melbourne.

To get there, it was not wise to use Avios miles since we got a ticket for less than $100 per person.

However, to leave Uluru and reach Singapore, the most advantageous option for us was to fly through Darwin (DRW)! We had indeed found a flight from Darwin to Singapore for $80 per person on Jetstar.

And it turns out that there is a flight twice a week between Uluru (AYQ) and Darwin (DRW) and this one was available on our dates for 4 people!

Ayq Drw Flightconnections
AYQ - DRW - Credit: Flight Connections

For 2 adults and 2 children, our flight from Uluru to Darwin would have cost $1322.

This same flight was available for 36,000 Avios and $277.40 in taxes.

So, in this case, the Avios miles will have saved us money:

1 322 $ – 277,40 $ = 1 044,60$.

This means a value of:

1,044.60 / 36,000 Avios = 2.9 cents per Avios mile.

Using Avios miles in Japan

We planned to travel to Japan from Taipei (Taiwan). Then from Japan to South Korea, and finally from South Korea to Taipei.

There is no shortage of companies linking these different countries.

However, once we sorted out the departure times, airports and luggage, we quickly realized that the Avios miles would come in handy again!

Here is an example between Taiwan and Japan.

Taipei - Tokyo

After a few days in Taipei, we decided to go to Japan for a month (if you’re looking for information about Japan, you should definitely read Aline’s recent article: How to save on transportation in Japan?).

There are 2 airports in Taipei:

  • International (TPE): out of town
  • Local (TSA): a few minutes from downtown

And the principle is the same for Tokyo:

  • International (NRT): outside the city
  • Local (HND): near the city centre

Wanting to minimize our costs and transfer times – especially when traveling with small children – I wanted to find “downtown to downtown” plane tickets!

And that’s what I got with British Airways Executive Club Avios miles!

For 2 adults and 2 children, our flight from Taipei (TSA) to Tokyo (HND) with Japan Airlines would have cost $2,059 (a sum we would never have paid of course, but that is related to the peak tourist season in Japan for spring).

This same flight was available for 44,000 Avios and $200.80 in taxes.

So, in this case, the Avios miles will have saved us money:

2 059 $ – 200,80 $ = 1 858,20$.

This means a value of:

1,858.30 / 44,000 Avios = 4.2 cents per Avios mile.

I got similar returns for other flights between Tokyo and Seoul and Seoul and Taipei.

And I am still hesitating between using Avios miles within Japan (between Tokyo HND and Osaka ITM) or buying a Japan Rail Pass.

How do I earn Avios miles?

American Express and British Airways Executive Club

American Express offers 4 cards with Membership Rewards points that can be transferred 1:1 to the British Airways Executive Club program:

Our choice is the American ExpressMD Gold Rewards Card because it offers 2 Membership Rewards points/$ (that’s 2 Avios miles/$) for:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Travel purchases

Approximately once a year, American Express Membership Rewards offers a bonus conversion of Membership Rewards points to Avios miles. It then becomes very interesting to convert your points!

RBC Rewards and British Airways Executive Club

RBC, through its RBC Rewards program, has several credit cards that offer travel points that can be transferred to Avios miles at a 1:1 rate:

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite card regularly offers promotions to earn 20,000 to 30,000 RBC Rewards points.

Two to three times a year, RBC Rewards offers a bonus conversion of RBC points to Avios miles. It then becomes very interesting to convert your points!

HSBC and British Airways Executive Club Rewards

HSBC offers, as part of its HSBC Rewards program, a credit card that allows you to transfer points into Avios miles: the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.

The transfer is done per HSBC points increments:

HSBC Rewards Points Airline Miles
25,000 10,000
35,000 14,000
45,000 18,000

Thus, 2.5 HSBC points = 1 Avios mile (or 5 HSBC points = 2 Avios miles).

Once or twice a year, HSBC Rewards offers a bonus conversion of HSBC points to Avios miles. It then becomes very interesting to convert your points!

Marriott Bonvoy and British Airways Executive Club

With credit cards

Most hotel loyalty programs allow you to convert your points into Avios miles.

This is a sneaky way to get Avios miles! Especially during conversion promotions offered by Aeroplan.

For example, it is possible to convert Marriott Bonvoy points into Avios miles.

By maximizing both programs, and converting during a promotional period (such as the one offering 30% more miles), it is possible to do this:

60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
=
25,000 Avios miles
+
30%
=
32,500 Avios miles

If you got:

But if you would like to earn Avios miles instead of using your points for free nights, this is a possible solution for you!

With two other Membership Rewards credit cards

Using Marriott Bonvoy to earn Avios miles is also a way to turn American Express Cobalt Card or American Express Business Edge Card Membership Rewards points into Avios miles!

While the other 4 Membership Rewards cards offer a 1:1 ratio of transfer to the British Airways Executive Club program, the American Express Cobalt Card and the American Express Business Edge Card do not.They only allow us to transfer their points to hotel partners!

So, if you have the American Express Cobalt Card or the American Express Business Edge™ Card and would like Avios miles, here is the way to proceed during a promotional period:

50,000 Select Membership Rewards
=
60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
=
25,000 Avios miles
+
30%
=
32,500 Avios miles

The American Express Cobalt card will be especially attractive when used at grocery stores, restaurants or convenience stores because of the 5 points per dollar it earns!

If your ultimate goal is to earn Avios miles, with the transfer via Marriott Bonvoy, it’s like earning 2 Avios miles/dollar in grocery stores, restaurants or convenience stores!

British Airways Executive Club credit cards

RBC offers 1 credit card directly affiliated with the program: the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card.

From time to time, this card offers a welcome bonus, of which this is a typical example:

  • 15,000 Avios miles on application
  • 25,000 Avios miles after $5,000 in purchases in 3 months
  • 10,000 Avios miles on renewal after the first year

In many cases, in order to get the full amount of miles, you must renew the card for another year.

Cover photo – Source: Qantas

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