Save $75 or $100 on All British Airways Flights Through October 1st

British Airways is sending emails to certain Executive Club members offering a $75 discount on World Traveller (economy) flights or $100 discount on World Traveller Plus (premium economy) flights if booked by March 31st. You can travel now through October 1st.

BAPromo

What I find interesting about this email is that they claim this is an exclusive discount that can only be booked using the dedicated link in your email. However, I found that anyone can use this link and it does not have to clicked from the targeted user’s email to access these discounted fares. By clicking this link, you will see the right-hand side of the webpage show the promotion and when searching for flights, you will see flights appear with the word “discounted” in red.

Here is the link to use to access this promotion.

I did a simple search for a roundtrip flight from NY to London for May to see if I really did save $75 or $100. While searching, I noticed the majority of flights were eligible for this promotion but not all such as the American flights with a BA codeshare (though the terms do seem indicate these should be eligible as well). In short, the fares are truly $75 or $100 cheaper when going through that dedicated page to book flights.

BA1

Booking Through Promotion Page

BA2

Not Going Through Promotion Page

 

This certainly isn’t a can’t miss deal but if you plan on booking paid British Airways flights you should at least be able to save $75 or $100.

Here are the full terms and conditions if you are interested:

“This is an exclusive discount and only available via the dedicated link on this page when booking a round-trip through fare (round-trip flights with connection to final destination, separate tickets do not qualify for discount) from US & Canada gateways to UK and beyond. These discounts are applicable to new bookings only made from January 16, 2015 – March 31, 2015, based on round-trip purchase only on any published retail World Traveller (economy), World Traveller Plus (Premium economy), for travel January 16, 2015 – October 1, 2015 on British Airways and British Airways codeshare services with BA flight number operated by American Airlines or Iberia only. Discount does not apply to open jaw journey (only round-trip with same origin and destination permitted). The exclusive discounts will not apply if booked through a British Airways call centre or travel agent. All discounted fares will be highlighted with a red ‘Discount’. All rules of any fare purchased apply. Please refer to individual rules per ticket before purchase. Subject to availability. This offer may be modified, withdrawn or limited by British Airways without notice. Other significant restrictions may apply.”

Today is the Last Day for the 40% American Express Bonus Transfer to British Airways

A quick reminder that TODAY is the last day you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways and receive a 40% bonus on the transfer. As I mentioned when I first posted about this promotion, this is historically one of the highest transfer bonuses in recent memory so I am personally taking advantage of it. One new element to consider before you make the transfer is the recent British Airways Avios Devaluation which was announced this week but doesn’t take effect until April 28th.

Last call for 40% Transfer Bonus

Last call for 40% Transfer Bonus

There have been many opinions and thoughts on the devaluation (there is a good summary of the various opinions here by Miles to Memories) that range from bloggers calling this awful and suggesting to not transfer Amex points over to British Airways while others called this a “good thing”. Here are my real quick thoughts on the devaluation:

  • The majority of the “sweet spot” rewards stayed intact. You can still fly short non-stop flights for 4,500 to 12,500 Avios in economy one way. This is unchanged and this is how the majority of people from the US redeem Avios for flights on American or US Airways.
  • If you want to fly business or first class, the amount of Avios has gone up if the flight is over 2,000 miles.  This is the only bad news to me but it is really not that big of a deal. For example, JFK-LAX in business class now will cost 37,5000 Avios instead of 25,000 Avios. The simple solution is to book with American Airline miles at 25,000 AA miles instead of 37,5000 Avios. Done. The same goes for JFK-Vancouver on Cathay Pacific which is the only award I’ve ever booked with Avios that would now increase.
  • A lot of bloggers are crying about losing Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus for 25,000 Avios one way in business class which will now cost 37,500 Avios. My thoughts? Unless you live in Boston, why do you care? You’d still have to pay or use extra miles to get to Boston and frankly unless you have a need to continuously go to Ireland, how many times would you have taken advantage of that flight at 25,000 Avios each way?
  • Some of the devaluation has to deal with earning less miles when you fly paid tickets with British Airways. Since I don’t pay for any British Airways ticket, this has no impact to me.
  • There is now peak vs off peak pricing. All partner awards default as peak and as mentioned, the economy rates didn’t go up. The peak/off peak only matters if you fly on British Airways metal and I won’t due to their crazy fuel surcharges.
  • Lastly, the changes don’t take affect until April 28th, so plenty of time to book trips under the old award chart if you would be affected by the changes.
New British Airways Award Chart

New British Airways Award Chart

In short, these changes to the British Airways program will not change my focus on how I redeem Avios. I use them for short haul flights on American/US Airways to domestic destinations, Canada or the Caribbean. For example, NY to Antigua (or most of the Caribbean) will still be 20,000 Avios roundtrip. It is still 9,000 Avios roundtrip to Canada or other spots within 650 mile radius of JFK/LGA. All of these prices are still less than what other programs charge so I’m actually thankful British Airways didn’t mess with these award redemptions.

Award Trip Breakdown: Burning the Last of the Avios to Antigua!

Update: There is now a devaluation effective April 28, 2015.

I posted the other day about the big devaluation scare at British Airways and how many people, including myself, rushed to burn our remaining Avios before they were devalued. While the devaluation didn’t happen, the false alarm on devaluation was the kick in the pants I needed to finalize our trip our next year. I had been looking at going somewhere warm in late February/early March once my busier time of year at work ended for a long weekend but I hadn’t settled on a location and did not know what miles I wanted to use.

When the news broke about the possible devaluation, my mindset immediately shifted to burning my Avios balance. As I’ve discussed previously, the British Airways Avios program is quite unique in that the mileage cost of a flight is based on the distance of flight instead of a set number. And since British Airways is partners with American Airlines in the oneworld alliance, I could book American Airline flights using British Airways Avios. Since I am based in New York, most direct flights to the Caribbean are only 20,000 miles roundtrip if I used Avios while similar flights using United, American or Delta miles would cost 35,000 miles.  With Avios, it’s almost like I got one trip for nearly free (in terms of miles) since I saved 15,000 miles compared to the legacy programs. In short, Avios are awesome for short to medium, direct flights.

I began searching for direct flights on American Airlines to the Caribbean and was hoping to find at least one option with award space in March which I thought might be difficult due to spring break/people trying to escape the end of winter in NY. I was looking at St. Thomas, San Juan, Cancun (not the Caribbean but still only 20,000 miles) but in the midst of all the “panic” going on about people furiously booking flights with Avios while we thought the devaluation was imminent, I saw a tweet from Matt @ Saverocity that would serve as inspiration for this trip.

Thanks Matt!

Thanks Matt!

I had forgotten about American’s direct JFK to Antigua flight!! When I think of the Caribbean, Antigua doesn’t pop into my mind first – it sounds too exotic to be the Caribbean and I certainly didn’t think I could get there on a direct flight (which I wanted to keep the cost in Avios at 20,000). I started searching for award space and it was a gold mine! There are a TON of award seats available – I’ve included snapshots as of 10pm on 8/27 to show all the award space for 2 peopleYou can disregard the 17.5k pricing – that is if I used American miles. If you see green space, it can be booked with Avios. 

JFK to Antigua Direct Award Space

JFK to Antigua Direct Award Space

Antigua to JFK Direct Award Space

Antigua to JFK Direct Award Space

Once I found dates that worked best for our schedules, I headed over to the British Airways website to book these same flights with Avios. It found the flights without any issues and the cost per person was 20,000 Avios + $98 a person in taxes (Antigua has an unavoidable $75 departure tax). I checked the price of these flights and American is selling them for $733 a person!!! That’s crazy but expected for a prime time trip to the Caribbean, especially on a route where there is no competition. My value per mile was a fantastic 3.66 cents per mile ($733/20,000 miles).  Even without a threat of devaluation, this was a superb use of miles and one I would make over and over. Better yet, I used all my Avios ( I now have a balance of 656 Avios) and in the event I want to make more Avios redemptions, I can always transfer points from Chase or American Express to Avios.

20k Avios instead of 35k AA Miles

20k Avios instead of 35k AA Miles

Mission Accomplished...Only 656 Avios Left

Mission Accomplished…Only 656 Avios Left

Anyone want to join us in Antigua in March?

Antigua

This looks just a BIT better than a NY winter…

British Airways Avios Devaluation Scare + Why I’m Using My Avios Now

Update: There is an Avios Devaluation as of April 28, 2015.

Late Sunday night, a post on View From the Wing caught the point and mile blogosphere by storm – there appeared to be a massive devaluation of Iberia Avios and as a result many people, including myself, thought British Airways Avios would shortly be devalued. This is because British Airways Avios and Iberia Avios are very closely tied, to the point you can transfer Avios freely between each program. This would obviously be terrible news as British Airways Avios are unique and great for direct, short to medium flights in which legacy carriers would charge 25,000 to 35,000 miles roundtrip but with Avios, the cost would only be 9,000 to 25,000 miles roundtrip. The Iberia chart showed these awards jumping up in cost to 19,500 to 30,000 miles roundtrip.

Well, the good news is that Iberia did not actually suffer a devaluation last night. These rates by Iberia have actually been in effect for 18 months. Instead, they actually just published their award chart online for redemptions on partner airlines, which apparently was not available previously.  Furthermore, experts who have been in the game for decades, weren’t even aware of a separate Iberia award chart for partner redemptions. However, this doesn’t mean a devaluation of British Airways Avios is out of the woods. In fact, I am recommending that if you have flights to book and plan to use Avios, book them soon. Here’s why:

1) British Airways Is Due For a Devaluation – It has been over three years since British Airways last updated their award chart which is right about when a devaluation could be expected. Furthermore the highlights of the current Avios program, which is redeeming 4,500 miles for $300-$400 flights, isn’t sustainable. You know the saying it’s too good to be true – well it applies here, and Iberia actually shows us that. That’s why Iberia charges the same 4,500 miles for only British Airways flights but a lot more for partner redemptions since these cost the Iberia more money (it costs more to pay American Airlines for partner redemptions, especially on expensive flights as compared to its closely linked partner British Airways which doesn’t cost Iberia as much).

2) There Is A Clear Points Arbitrage Opportunity Between Iberia & British Airways and It Can’t Last – I don’t have any anecdotal evidence to support this theory but it simply doesn’t make sense for Iberia to have a higher priced award chart when you could simply avoid it by transferring Avios to British Airways. I refuse to believe this is an intended “benefit” between the two closely linked programs because it doesn’t make sense. Yes, I know its been going on for 18 months but as exposure increases, I can see them closing this loophole either by not allowing transfers or by raising the British Airways Avios award chart to be more competitive compared to Iberia’s. And I think the latter is more likely to happen first.

3) (Most) Miles Are Illiquid – If there was a huge devaluation and you couldn’t use the miles for travel, as a last resort you could redeem them for that toaster oven or an overpriced gift card to Applebees but that’s not why you got the miles in the first place. You can’t easily convert your miles to cash without losing a TON of value. For example, you could redeem 52,400 Delta Skymiles for a pair of Bose QuietComfort headphones which retails for $269. If you wanted to sell then sell them to “cash out”, you would be hard pressed to get more then $225 after selling fees while those same miles would cover two domestic flights which could easily be worth $400-$1000 in value. Use miles for their intended purpose.

4) It’s Easy and Cheap to Cancel a British Airways Avios Award – With British Airways Avios, you can either pay a $55 cancellation fee (which is extremely reasonable compared to other airlines) to get both the miles and taxes you paid on the award flight back or you could do the “free cancellation” online in which you just get the miles back but not the taxes. So if you booked a Chicago to NY award flight, the taxes paid would be $5.60 and in this example, you are obviously much better using the free cancellation and losing the taxes paid. Your loss would be $5.60 which I would gladly pay to hedge against a massive devaluation.

The truth is no one, even the “experts” in this game, know what or when a potential devaluation could happen. It could be weeks, months, years or it could be tomorrow. We simply don’t know and that’s why its always best burning miles sooner rather then later. I’m not saying spend Avios on frivolous flights you really didn’t plan to take but make a more conscious effort to use them now. Remember its better to be weeks, even months early rather than a day late to a devaluation.

And to prove to you I follow what I preach, the following screenshot is my current Avios balance of 656. I ended up burning 20,000 Avios a person for a roundtrip flight to Antigua in March next year but I will have an Award Trip Breakdown post on this redemption so look forward to more details in that post coming soon!

BA