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british airwaysBritish Airways has a different style of award redemptions, as most savvy travelers know.  It’s really the worst-kept “secret” out there.  Since BA has a distance-based award chart, it gives you lots of options, especially for short-haul flights, even in the USA (since they are part of the oneworld airline alliance and partner with American Airlines and US Airways). When I went to the Family Travel for Real Life conference a few weeks ago, I flew from CVG-DCA on US Airways using Avios. That roundtrip flight cost me 9,000 Avios, but if I had booked the flight using US Airways Dividend Miles, it would have cost me 25,000 miles!!!!

The one downside to British Airways is that on a multi-leg award, each leg is priced individually, and then the sum of the miles needed for each award is the total amount of Avios needed.  This is as opposed to Star Alliance member ANA, which calculates the redemption amount needed based on the TOTAL miles flown for the entire itinerary.

 Reward Flight Saver for Zones 1-3

Last time we talked about how British Airways has a redemption that is called Reward Flight Saver.  With RFS, any flights under 2,000 miles that are specifically on British Airways metal (as opposed to codeshares or partners) have a specific cost of $27.50 one-way that covers all taxes, fees and airport charges.  This can be a great way to avoid all the fees when traveling in Europe (and a few other places like the Middle East and the Caribbean)

Intra-UK flights

One other benefit of flying on British Airways in Europe (and specifically within the UK) is that any flights within the UK are free!  In our discussion about the differences between British Airways and ANA, we noted that one disadvantage of Avios is that you have to pay for flights for each leg, so if you don’t live in a oneworld hub, you have to pay the 4,500 avios (or more) that it takes to GET you to the hub.  But in the UK that is not the case!

British Airways flys to London from the following cities:

  • Glasgow
  • Edinburgh
  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast
  • Manchester
  • Leeds

You can fly from any of those airports into London and not be charged any additional Avios.  For example, check this flight from Edinburgh to Rome (via London)

free-uk-flights-with-avios

London to Rome is 898 miles, so it costs 7500 Avios itself, and as you can see the EDI-LGW leg is added to the itinerary for no additional cost.  You can even see that you can take advantage of the Reward Flight Saver flight which means that there are only $27.50 in out of pocket costs.

Free flight INTO the UK

It works the same way if you’re flying INTO the UK.  Let’s say that you want to visit the UK but somewhere else besides London.  You get a free connecting flight from London

jfk-edi-on-british-airways

Unfortunately because it’s not a Zone 1-3 flight, it’s not eligible for Reward Flight Saver and thus you are charged all the fuel surcharges, fees and airport charges that come with flying through London (and $296 per person, one way, for a “free” ticket is way more than I want to pay).

How can you still take advantage

One way to take advantage is similar to the way I posted about in the first article about the Reward Flight Saver:

An example itinerary from Boston (to take advantage of the BOS-DUB trick that lets you do that for only 12,500 Avios

  • BOS-TXL– 20,000 American AAdvantage miles on airberlin (we’re currently in off-peak season with American) + $5.60
  • TXL-LHR-BHD (Belfast) – 4,500 Avios + $27.50.  You can’t fly to Dublin for free because Ireland is not in the UK :-).  So you would need to make your own way from Belfast to Dublin, and also you are allowed a stopover in London as long as you want
  • DUB-BOS – 12,500 Avios + $73 – flying on British Airways partner Aer Lingus

gcmap-bos-txl-dub

Total for a roundtrip from North America to Europe is 17,000 Avios, 20,000 American AAdvantage miles.  It’s also only $106.10 out of pocket, or about A THIRD of the price of the ONE-WAY fees for a simple roundtrip to London.  And plus this way you get as much time as you want in FOUR different European cities!

My dad is really into his Scottish heritage, so I’m sure that he would love to be able to fly to EDI for the same price as just going to London!!  How about you? Leave a comment if you’ve taken advantage of free Avios flights within the UK!

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