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.
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 people. You can disregard the 17.5k pricing – that is if I used American miles. If you see green space, it can be booked with Avios.
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.
Anyone want to join us in Antigua in March?