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After discussing options on United, Southwest, US Airways and Delta and more, it looked like the clear winner was going to be British Airways. It seems kind of counter-intuitive to fly a foreign airline for a short domestic flight, but many times that’s going to be the case, and the reason is that British Airways is an alliance partner of American Airlines, AND has a distance-based award chart.
I’ve actually never booked a British Airways flight (I SHOULD have on a getaway trip to Miami last year, but I didn’t know about this trick back then, and that’s really a story for another day). So I thought that since there may be others in that situation, it might be useful to document how to do it exactly.
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Avios
Now the first thing to do is actually get some Avios. I actually don’t have any :-), but I do have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and because I have the Ink business card, I can transfer those to British Airways.
Logging on to your Chase account, you can to go https://ultimaterewards.chase.com/, and then choose “Transfer Points” from the left-hand navigation.
Clicking on the British Airways logo brings you to the following screen
The points transferred pretty much automatically.
Booking on British Airways
To actually book the flight, the first step is (unsurprisingly) to go to www.ba.com. From there, you want to go to the Executive Club link (what they call their frequent flyer program) and choose “Spending Avios”.
Once you’re there, on the left side nav, there will be a link for “Book Flights with Avios”. Click that and log in to your Avios account. Of course I can never remember mine, so I then pull up Award Wallet to look up my number.
Then you put in your flight parameters. I had previously determined that they only fly to DCA, so I put that in. I also had looked and seen that there were flight options for a same day turnaround, so I put my outbound and return flights both for Saturday August 23rd.
Luckily for us, they are partners with US Airways (becoming part of the new American Airlines), and US Air has the exact flight that we need!
BA’s website is also nice because it will show you how many reward seats are available. In this case, I only need 1, so that’s not an issue. I have not yet had to deal with booking award seats for my whole family yet – I’m sure that can be quite challenging.
Then I pick my return flight as well
Clicking Continue, we’re taken to the next page
In this case, because we already knew the right amount of Avios, we’ve already transferred them over so we have the exact amount.
At this point, you just continue, pay the $5 with the card of your choice, and get your e-Ticket!
Make sure to book with British Airways!
It seems kind of obvious, but the tricky thing to remember is that even though we’re going to be flying on US Airways, we want to book through the British Airways site. If we were to book this EXACT SAME flight on US Airways, it would cost us 25,000 miles! What a ripoff!
Now, I do still need to figure out how to get from DCA to IAD, but that’s a subject for another day!
Anything about transferring from Chase or booking on British Airways that I missed? Let me know in the comments!