This Monday, March 31, is a big day for those who have been waiting for US Airways to join the Oneworld Alliance. For those wishing to book domestic tickets, this day marks the time when US Airways flights can be booked with British Airways Avios to take advantage of the short-haul destinations.
To review, Avios are British Airways award currency. British Airways has a distance-based award chart. Each segment is priced separately based on the distance. Business class redemptions require 100% more Avios than economy while first class requires 200% more than economy. If you are taking a journey that is to have one or two connections and you are traveling a far distance, Avios would probably not be your number one choice to use for the award. However, when it comes to short-haul flights on British Airways partners, there is no better options.
As of Monday, US Airways will be one of the airlines that will be bookable with Avios. This means that those within 650 miles of US Airway hub airports (Philadelphia, Washington DC, Charlotte, and Phoenix – Boston, while not an actual hub, also has many non-stop destinations) will be able to travel to those cities for a mere 4,500 Avios each way. That is 9,000 Avios round-trip which is 16,000 fewer miles than US Airways will charge you for those same flights! This will allow people all over the US to reach places with very few miles that before were not that accessible. For those people who enjoy historical aspects of our country, being able to get to Philadelphia and Washington DC for so few miles is going to be a huge get. Just think – three people will be able to travel to one of those cities (from a city within 650 miles) for 2,000 more miles than it used to cost one person to make that trip!
For runners, this also opens some great doors. There are some great races in the south within driving distance of Charlotte, NC as well as some fantastic races in Philadelphia (home to the 8th largest marathon in America) and Washington DC (home to two area marathons and several other distances). Not to be left out, Phoenix will provide a great access point for runners looking to run some of the more scenic races in the country.
American About To Get Smaller?
So, how is American about to get smaller? Check out this map that shows coverage within 650 miles of each of the hub airport served by American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and US Airways. If you are within the coverage area of a city, you can expect to pay only 9,000 Avios for round-trip travel (as long as your flight is direct to that airport).
To see how much of that area is being extended by US Airways, see this map.
Booking Short-Haul Flights With Avios
Booking these short-haul flights is extremely easy. American Airlines and (soon) US Airway flights can be booked by doing the following through the British Airways website. For booking Alaska Airline flights, you must make a call to the British Airways Executive Club call center.
To start with, you need to have a British Airways account. Go here to sign up for one (it is free). To actually book the flights, you will need to have some points in the account (but we will take care of that in the next section). For now, follow the photo guide below to see how you can select American Airline flights (and soon US Airways):
As you can see, it is not that complicated to book AA/US Airway flights with British Airways Avios. These same flights that you are booking with Avios (that cost 9,000 round-trip) would cost you 25,000 miles if you booked them using AA or US Airway miles – the same exact flights! You can get almost 3 tickets for the price of 1 just by using Avios!
British Airway Avios are the easiest airline currency to get. They are transfer partners from Ultimate Rewards (Chase) and Membership Rewards (American Express). In addition, they have their own co-branded credit card (can be had at times with 100,000 Avios bonus). As another good option, you can also transfer SPG Starpoints to British Airways. If you transfer in blocks of 20,000 Starpoints, you will be given an additional 5,000 Avios as a bonus in the transfer.
So, what about it? Do you have any trips you are anxiously waiting to book come Monday? There are a couple that I will have on my schedule – hopefully, availability holds! If you want to check on the availability before that time comes, you can always search on US Airways website.