avios

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Why & How to Add Your American Airlines Number to British Airways Award Flights

I recently booked American Airlines award flights from Dallas to Albuquerque with British Airways Avios points. I booked it pretty fast and let my British Airways loyalty number auto-populate in the spot for “Membership Number.”

british airways american number

So easy to let this slide

It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” type thing and easy to overlook.

But, if you have elite status on American Airlines, or certain AAdvantage credit cards with Barclaycard or Citi, you’ll want to change it.

Why to add your American Airlines number

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Just Booked a Trip for Next Weekend in 10 Minutes (Instant Transfers Save the Day!)

Also see: 

I’ll never forget the thrill and uncertainty of booking my first award ticket. I thought I’d show up to the airport and be turned away for not paying (or something like that). Can a flight really cost ~$11 when you book with… points?

That was a few years ago. But there’s still something so novel about booking award trips. Some of them are planned in advance, like my upcoming trip to Hawaii. And some are aspirational or in the future, like the Brussels Airlines flights I booked with Etihad miles.

Mmm, love the high desert

Love the high desert!

Long story short, I needed to spend a couple of days in New Mexico to get some work done there. Looking at my upcoming weekends:

  • Next one was open
  • After that, Austin for work
  • Labor Day weekend – nothing available with points
  • Hawaii

4 weekends = a month of plans. I started poking around and realized, holy crap, I’m gonna book this trip for next weekend!

Finding flights

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Use Avios for Connecting Flights to Save Money

I’ve been thinking about taking a trip down to New Mexico recently and it got me thinking about fare constructions and how to get to regional airports as cheaply as possible.

There's still lots of value to be had from Avios

There’s still lots of value to be had from Avios

The idea here is to fly on Oneworld into a hub city or cheap destination, and then use Avios for the (usually) more expensive, shorter leg of the itinerary.

LGA-DFW-ABQ

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Trip Report: Aer Lingus NEW Business Class BOS-DUB

Also see: 

After staying at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, and hanging around in Bean Town for the better part of the day, we headed to the airport around 6pm for the 9pm flight. Check-in and security went quickly, and after only about 20 minutes, we were in the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge in Terminal E waiting to board. After enjoying the small lounge for a short while, we boarded around 8:20pm.

First impressions

There’s something so great about experiencing a brand new product. Aer Lingus recently refreshed their business class cabins (late April, according to the booklet at the seat).

We were assigned to seats 3D and 3G, both aisle seats in the middle of the cabin. I had 3G.

First impressions were… WOW. It looks so fresh. The cabin is done up in shades of gray with splashes of emerald and lime green, which is gives it a very distinct, chic look. They made sure to put their clover branding all over everything – it was done well and added cohesion. It looked and felt very modern, and I was positively giddy to have this flight experience.

The plane was an Airbus 330-300 and right away, I started to feel a little more Irish.

It was a dark overnight flight, so forgive the graininess of some of the photos below!

The seat

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Aer Lingus business class seats showing up as economy on United website?

A-ha, so now I’m finally getting to it: the crux of all my recent Aer Lingus posts.

I noticed that when selecting Aer Lingus business class seats on the United website, they are showing up as being in the U fare bucket – which is economy class.

I was perturbed about paying for business class seats (with Avios) only to see that I’d maybe been booked in the wrong fare class.

However, I called British Airways and Aer Lingus to verify that I am indeed in a business class seat. But then I went to look again on the United website to make sure it wasn’t just a glitch.

For this dummy booking, I selected economy class to Dublin and business back from Dublin.

Aer Lingus fare buckets on United

Aer Lingus fare buckets on United

It looks like economy is being booked into the T bucket and business is being booked into U – but U is economy.

I plugged in the record locator into the Royal Jordanian website, and sure enough, their system displayed the same information.

EI booking on RJ site

EI booking on RJ site

But, it still says business on the BA website.

Aer Lingus booking on BA website - business, confirmed

Aer Lingus booking on BA website – business, confirmed

Bottom line

Just in case anyone else got in (or wants to get in – space is still very open) on the lucrative amount of award space on the Aer Lingus BOS-DUB route and had the same questions I did…

Of course, I’ll be pretty miffed if it does actually end up being economy, but 6 hours over the pond isn’t so bad. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again if I have to. I’d be a tyrant to get my Avios back, though.

But that’s worst case scenario stuff. I’m gonna let this be a trust fall with British Airways and assume they’ll catch me (there is a good joke and punchline in here somewhere…).

Has anyone else noticed this mislabeling on the United website? Even better, has anyone flown the flights and can confirm they are indeed in business class? 

Either way, I will have Aer Lingus trip reports soon enough. Looking forward to it, and to visiting Ireland, so very much.

Stay scrappy out there!

Use the Royal Jordanian website to check Oneworld bookings

…and to get confirmation numbers. 

Booking those Aer Lingus flights last week with Avios has kicked up a few little issues that I’ve never dealt with, so thought this might be useful to post.

British Airways gave me a confirmation number when I booked the Aer Lingus flights… but not for Aer Lingus. I could only access the reservation on the British Airways website.

I wanted to be able to pull up my flights on the Aer Lingus website, but didn’t have the confirmation code that British Airways gave Aer Lingus.

Enter Royal Jordanian (with a HT to George at Travel Blogger Buzz via Twitter).

Royal Jordanian website interface

Royal Jordanian website interface

On the Royal Jordanian website, hover over “Plan & Book” and then click anything in the “Manage the Essentials” part of the dropdown menu.

Manage

Manage Booking

Once there, click “Manage Booking” or follow this link.

You can plug in your record locator and name and pull up a whole host of interesting services like:

  • Change frequent flyer number
  • Obtain other airline’s record locator
  • Verify fare buckets
  • Easily check flight duration and aircraft type
  • Email yourself a receipt
  • Get a ticket number

All important things for preening and double-checking reservations. I could, for example, use Avios to book a flight on American, and then add my AAdvantage frequent flyer number to make sure I get elite benefits like early boarding.

I can also simply take the record locator for the AA flight and then plug it into the AA website… something that British Airways doesn’t give you on their website or in any of their emails (someone correct me if I’m wrong – I just booked a US Airways flight with Avios and couldn’t find the freaking US Airways record locator for the life of me).

There's my US Airways record locator - how handy!

There’s my US Airways record locator – how handy!

And it shows up perfectly when I plug it into the US Airways website

And it shows up perfectly when I plug it into the US Airways website

Why this works

I noticed in the web address on the RJ website that they were pulling from Amadeus – the same system that Check My Trip uses. It’s a bit dated and still has the copyright as 2014, so take that for what it’s worth. But it works like a charm.

With regard to Oneworld bookings, you should be able to preen the following airline bookings on the RJ website:

  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian (duh)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • LAN/TAM
  • Iberia

But not AA or US Airways… they don’t use Amadeus. It is handy, however, for adding AA flights booked with Avios to your AA account. And for adding your AA number to the reso to receive elite benefits.

And who knows, sometimes they end up crediting award bookings as paid flights on accident.

Bottom line

Handy little trick, thought I’d share for my Oneworld peeps out there.

Let us know if something similar exists for SkyTeam. United is really good about showing the other airline’s record locator on their website already.

And on this note, other tips are certainly always welcome!

Good availability: BOS-DUB Aer Lingus biz class August thru November

Hi, it’s me again.

Consider this post to be that phone call right after you hang up but then discover something cool and call back again for another 30 seconds just to add another thought or two.

In researching my previous post, Booking Dublin: A Change of Plans, I wanted to verify award availability on Aer Lingus business class for the BOS-DUB route for the rest of 2014. Partially because I wanted to see where my own rebooking could fit in, and partially out of pure curiosity (because who doesn’t spend their Sundays looking at random award availability?).

Well, it’s still out there, and the clock is ticking. You have until April 28th, or until availability dries up – whichever comes first – to book yourself flights to Dublin and back.

It’ll set you back 50,000 Avios, but 50K points to Europe round-trip in business class is a great deal, especially considering that these flights are ~$5,000 each if purchased.

I went to United.com and filtered for nonstop award availability. It’s all the BOS-DUB route.

Check for the blue and green days – those are the days when the business class flight is available (the yellow is just for the economy flight, which is only 12.5K Avios each way or 25K Avios round-trip – still a great deal especially considering it’s only a ~6-hour flight).

April and May have scant availability

April and May have scant availability

June and July are dismal

June and July are dismal/nonexistent

Ah, but August and September... fall in Ireland anyone?

Ah, but August and September… fall in Ireland anyone?

October and November are great as well - maybe for Halloween or for Thanksgiving?

October and November are great as well – maybe for Halloween or before the holidays?

How to search and book

For this award, start out by finding the space on United.com

Screenshot 2015-03-29 16.28.47

Be sure to tick “Nonstop Flights Only”.

When you find the flights you want, make a note of the dates and flight numbers (or just leave it on your screen), and call British Airways.

Chosen at random, but flights on these dates would be

Chosen at random, but flights on these dates would be over $8,000

I’ve found the best number to call British Airways on is 1-800-247-9297. At the prompts, press 4, then 2. Then wait for an agent. Hold times are usually not long on this number.

Feed them the dates and flight numbers and mention it’s for Aer Lingus business class.

Also make sure the Avios are in your account if you are transferring them in from Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards (or Starwood, or wherever).

Be sure to ask them to waive the phone booking fee – I say something like, “I tried to book online, but was forced to call – can the fee be waived?” And they always take it off.

Booking 2 business class tickets cost me 100,000 Avios and ~$228.

Here is a breakdown of all the taxes, fees, and surcharges:

Cost to book Aer Lingus with British Airways

Cost to book Aer Lingus with British Airways

Bottom line

There’s still great award availability to Dublin from Boston, and at a great price, if anyone’s still interested in booking.

Just wanted to share the info, as I’d been wanting to go to Ireland for a long time. In fact, I am tempted to book another ticket in the fall because I know it will be so beautiful there. But, moderation.

If anyone does book, enjoy! I will be there in early May – say hello if you see me on the plane or around Dublin!

Booking Dublin: A Change of Plans

Also see: 

Major change of plans is more like it.

Thanks to The Points Guy, I caught wind that an award I’d long had my eye on, BOS-DUB in business class on Aer Lingus, was widely available for booking with Avios points.

The good news: it still is.

I immediately transferred over some Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards (I love combining them when I can and British Airways is perfect for that – so is Singpore) to my British Airways account, and called in to book my dates.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Get ’em while they’re hot!

Throughout April and May, and possibly into the summer months, award availability is peppered here and there.

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus (Click to enlarge)

That screen shot was taken just now. There are still some flights out there.

The best way to book this is by checking availability on the United website, then by calling British Airways to book over the phone.

I called them post Avios-hack (to change a different set of flights), and my hold time was less than 5 minutes. In fact, I was all booked and set up with flights in under 15 minutes (pre-Avios hack).

If you’re interested in booking, you have either one month or when availability runs out, beginning today. The Avios program is changing on April 28th, and this particular award will go from 50K round-trip in business to 75K, which is a pretty staggering change.

I’ve been interested in experiencing Aer Lingus business class, and visiting Ireland, for a very long time, so it’s all very serendipitous.

But what about the Delta flights?

Of course I had a pretty severe schedule change with Delta.

The mighty schedule change

The mighty schedule change

I was willing to get down to DC to take advantage of an awesome fare that Delta had earlier this year. I was even thinking I could spend a day or two in DC, maybe catch the tail-end of the cherry blossoms. But when the Aer Lingus award availability came around, I was then willing to get myself to Boston, and am now thinking of spending a day there instead.

I called Delta and explained that I had a schedule change of over 4 hours, and that those times no longer work for me – could I please cancel and get a refund? They immediately canceled the ticket and said to expect a refund in 5-7 business days. Awesome. So those are done.

It was a great deal, but then again, so is the Avios redemption on Aer Lingus, and even more so now that it’s time-sensitive.

The 2 round-trip flights would’ve been over $10,000 had I paid for them. Instead, I got nearly 11 cents per point of value by booking with Avios. An incredible deal – get on it if you can!

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

Getting to Boston

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I’m dumping the Chase British Airways Visa – and you should, too

For a long time, the Chase British Airways Visa has offered 1.25 points per dollar on non-bonus spend.

But starting April 30th, 2015, the card will become worthless. And you should dump it.

Rest in pieces

Rest in pieces

I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers saying how you can still get 50,000 Avios, without paying the annual fee of $95 the first year, and that the card is still worth it for that reason alone. No.

Dump it

I’ve long been a supporter of the Chase British Airways Visa. I’ve even toyed with the idea of putting $30,000 of spend through the card to trigger the Travel Together companion certificate, despite the outrageous (!!!) fuel surcharges. I even researched Fifth Freedom flights, in part to defend the usefulness of Avios.

But this new earning structure, combined with the changes to their business/first class award redemptions, renders the card completely useless.

In fact, many other cards offer better earning rates for British Airways Avios:

  • The Chase Ink Plus will continue to offer 5 Avios (Ultimate Rewards points) per dollar on office supply and telecommunication spend
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred will continue to offer 2 Avios per dollar on all travel (a very broad category already) and dining (also very broad)
  • The American Express EveryDay Preferred will offer 4.5 Avios (Membership Rewards Points) per dollar on all grocery spend up to $6,000 per year (after 30 transactions per month), 3 Avios per dollar on gas, and 1.5 Avios on all other spend – this alone beats the socks off the Chase British Airways Visa – and it has the same annual fee (!)

Other thoughts

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Points and miles as insurance – why it’s good to have a stash

Everyone knows I’m Mr. Earn and Burn: I typically like to keep my miles balances as close to zero as possible.

I don’t trust any mileage or point program, really. Not for a second. Every major airline has had a drastic, no-notice-given change to their mileage program this year.

That being said, I like to have a little stash.

Where to keep the stash and how many to tuck away

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Trip Report: British Airways Business Class ORY-LHR-JFK

Also see:

I won’t spend as much time on this one since I just outlined BA/OpenSkies biz class in the link above. That post talked about flying there EWR-ORY, but in this one, I want to talk about getting back.

It cost slightly more Avios points because we flew ORY-LHR-JFK instead of direct. Since it’s priced per segment, I spent 49,000 Avios + ~$400 on these flights, which would’ve retailed for over $6,000.

The differences

For the ORY-LHR segment, we got the usual intra-European “business class” which is just regular seats with the middle one blocked out. The flight was only an hour, and I wasn’t expecting much, if anything. To my surprise, we were served a course of afternoon tea.

BA tea service - SO CUTE!

BA tea service – SO CUTE!

The other big difference was that instead of a Boeing 757-200 like the flight over, we flew back on a 747-400 for LHR-JFK which had… Read More

Trip Report: British Airways OpenSkies Club World Class EWR-ORY

As part of my recent trip to Paris, I got to fly from EWR to ORY on OpenSkies, a subsidiary of British Airways that flies exclusively from NYC-Paris. They have one flight that leaves from EWR and another from JFK. Due to award availability, I dragged myself over to EWR, but was really excited to take this flight.

This is a unique product for British Airways because it’s one of the few routes they fly that don’t involve a connection at LHR, which can add a lot of extra money in dreaded fuel surcharges. I did pay ~$450 + 40,000 Avios for the flight, but in my eyes, it was completely worth it. This flight often retails for over $7,000!

Click here to read about the award redemption for this flight in more detail.

The seat and flight

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