Reader M.K. asks,
I have 161,878 BA Avios miles, built up almost entirely by getting the BA credit card, which we have since relinquished. The miles expire … this year.
[We] are simply not going to be able to go to England this year (and anyway, we are repelled by the gasoline surcharges). But I think we can use the points on American Airlines. I have gone to the site and punched in Vancouver from any WAS airport, anytime in July. The BA web site never shows any availability.
I cannot believe there is NO availability. Is there any way to check this out?
First, there are ways to get to Europe without exorbitant fuel surcharges.
- flights on British Airways’ oneworld partner Air Berlin have no fuel surcharges
- Aer Lingus is a British Airways partner and while they have fuel surcharges, tose are under $50 (Boston-Ireland is just 25k miles apiece in coach, 50k in business roundtrip)
- If you open an Iberia Avios account, once it has been open 90 days you can transfer your British Airways points there. Iberia Avios adds no fuel surcharges when redeeming for Iberia flights.
But yes you can use your British Airways points on other partners including American Airlines and Alaska Airlines as well.
My suggestion is that you go to the American Airlines website and search for awards there.
Any seats that have ‘saver’ (lowest mileage level) award space — and American shows both space on their own flights and also on- Alaska Airlines — can be booked with British Airways Avios.
If you want an itinerary that includes Alaska Airlines (Alaska Airlines award space isn’t available on the BA website at all), or if you find seats that you aren’t seeing on the British Airways website, then you’ll have to call.
Unfortunately the British Airways call center in the U.S. has limited hours (they close at 8pm weeknights) and their agents can be grumpy or incompetent, so it’s sometimes necessary to ring back and try a second agent that might be more helpful.
The very best uses of British Airways points, because their award chart is distance-based and gets expensive for long flights and because they charge separately for each flight segment, is short non-stop flights.
US domestic flights, as well as flights from the US to South America, have no fuel surcharges. So short flights on those routes represent an especially good value with British Airways Avios.
Best of luck!