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Using British Airways Avios Miles on American?

I have about 200,000 BA miles and want to get to the UK. BA charges so much in taxes that it doesn't seem worth it.

Has anyone had any experience using BA Avios miles on other One World Airlines? Would I be able to fly somewhere that BA goes on another airline and avoid the taxes BA adds on?

Posted by
4600 posts

Go to The Points Guy or Flyertalk, they LIVE for this kind of stuff. I think you're right about taxes and charges on BA, they are known for that.

Posted by
5385 posts

Go via Ireland on Aer Lingus - or Germany on Air Berlin.

Posted by
16926 posts

Yes, you can fly to Berlin on Air Berlin for $17 plus Avios, but that is from LAX, not SEA. The BA website will not let you book Air Berlin from SEA because they do not serve this airport. Maybe you could get it by calling, but I don't know. Plan on a 30-minute wait if you call.

But if you want to go to the UK, why fly to LAX and Berlin on the way? To fly direct from Seattle to London on Avios, I suggest you fly Business class, which is a much better use of Avios than Economy. It will cost you around $900 RT but is well worth it. We do it once or twice a year. Book one way at a time, 355 days in advance.

We have also used Avios to fly Qantas from Australia to LAX in Business class. That could be booked online. I have also heard of people using Avios for domestic US flights on Alaska airlines----do you have any wish to see Alaska? You have to call to get that one too.

Flyertalk forums can be very helpful with this kind of question.

Posted by
792 posts

I have used AA miles to fly British Airways- and yes, the taxes were insane but with flight times and availability, that is just what worked out. On the AA website, the codeshare partners always come up when you search for flights. It's very easy. So it seems like the reverse should be true.

I know on the British Airways website, American Airlines flights do come up in the search. Just try booking an AA flight though the British Airways website, just like you would book your BA flight. See what happens. You will always see what the final taxes are before you confirm the flight.

Posted by
10363 posts

I hope someone corrects me if I'm wrong but I thought the outlandish tax kicks in if you leave from England, but not if you arrive there. Isn't it possible to leave from another country and even transit via London, the tax won't kick in.

Posted by
792 posts

Bets, my experience is that taxes are significantly higher (significant= nearly triple) compared to other airlines regardless of which direction I am flying. Airports and number of legs matter a little bit but even taking that into account, the difference is impressive.

I have heard specifically Heathrow airport taxes are high and may be part of the issue. But, at least from Chicago, there are not many British Airways flights to Europe that don't stop in London.

Posted by
16926 posts

BA adds surcharges for Avios award flights to all their flights and some partners. It is not just taxes but also fuel surcharges. We paid quite a lot to fly Qantas with out Avios, but it was worth it to fly business class on the 14-hour flight. And yes, if you are flying to the UK, it is different to fly into versus out of Heathrow, but I have never figured out which is worse.

Posted by
5385 posts

Fuel charges is an obsolete term, as they have little to nothing to do with fluctuating fuel prices any more. They are now carrier charges. They most certainly are not taxes either.

The best value redemptions on BA for transatlantic have always been in business / first class or upgrading to it and this remains so, even with the devaluation this year.

AB and IE remain the low cash costs alternatives on avios redemption, but you will need to position if you are actually starting from Seattle (first post does not make this completely clear). IB is another alternative, if you shift your avios into an IB account.

The other cost effective way of using avios is internally inside the USA, especially for short flights. These are much better value than the equivalent on USA-based programs.

Posted by
4066 posts

To repeat a point made earlier, using the telephone to arrange points awards can be more efficient and maybe even faster than struggling with on-line awards systems (my on-line points experience, woeful, has been with Delta's plan.)
BA and its trans-Atlantic partner American Airlines are notorious for dumping charges on its points customers and trying to disguise them as some sort of tax or surcharge beyond their control. They are part of the cost of doing business facing other airlines too. But some of the competitors charge a much smaller fee; don't blame London.

Posted by
1221 posts

The London departure tax runs about $200 for transatlantic. It's what Delta, which doesn't do fuel/carrier surcharges for reward tickets on their own metal, charges for a round trip reward ticket that is USA-LHR. USA-CDG round trip award ticket on Delta runs something like $100-$125 in taxes and outside fees.

So BA typically runs way above the tax floor minimum. The question here is whether you have more time or money to put toward getting to the UK. If you've got more time, there's either the Air Berlin approach (note that you pay by the segment for BA award flights so it will cost you more Avios to get to an Air Berlin gateway city) or some sort of Home airport-Boston-Dublin-London routing.

Posted by
5385 posts

Airline Passenger Duty from Great Britain to the USA is £71, ie around $110 at today's exchange rates. Charged to those 12 and over presently, to become 16 and over from next April.

From Northern Ireland it is £0, providing you fly direct to the USA.