Use Avios for Connecting Flights to Save Money

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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

Now, this first example is for getting from NYC to ABQ. But it could work for a heap of smaller regional airports like:

  • Indianapolis (from ORD)
  • Memphis (from CLT)
  • Missoula, MT (from SEA, on Alaska)
  • Albuquerque (from DFW or LAX)
  • St. Louis (from ORD or DFW)

And lots of others. (Feel free to alert me to more in the comments!)

To fly from LGA-DFW-ABQ on June 26th would cost $423.

LGA-DFW-ABQ

LGA-DFW-ABQ

Of that, it costs $282 to fly the DFW-ABQ segment.

DFW-ABQ

DFW-ABQ

I could pay $152 to fly from LGA to DFW… 

Screenshot 2015-06-07 09.36.12

LGA-DFW

…and then use 4,500 British Airways Avios to fly the same DFW-ABQ segment.

DFW-ABQ with Avios

DFW-ABQ with Avios

By not paying for the DFW-ABQ leg of the segment, I’m saving $271 off the original fare construction (LGA-DFW-ABQ was $423, but I’d just pay $152 to fly LGA-DFW).

By saving that $271, I’m getting a phenomenal value of 6 cents per dollar out of each Avios point. Best of all, I can still take the same flights and arrive at the same time as I would’ve if I’d paid cash.

What this means in application

I played around with this a bit. It’s really incredible how much cash you can save by flying into the closest major hub to the regional airport you really want to fly into, and then using Avios for the last leg.

Since Avios award flights price segment-by-segment anyway, you can wring some great value out of the program.

I usually focus on flying to nearby places with Avios from NYC, like Montreal, Toronto, Boston, etc. But then it occurred to me that I can position myself to a hub, and save money on that last expensive leg.

Another cool thing is that… if I want to fly from NYC to ABQ, there aren’t any direct flights on Oneworld anyway. (There is one on United.) But by paying less for the longer leg, I come out ahead because I pay less cash and earn more miles. Win-win.

ORD-IND

Just quickly, here’s the ORD-IND example mentioned above. I decided why not, and looked it up real quick.

It would cost $337 to fly from ORD to IND on June 26th.

ORD-IND

ORD-IND

But, this exact same flight is available for 4,500 Avios.

ORD-IND with Avios

ORD-IND with Avios

If you wanted to go to Indianapolis, you could find a cheaper ticket to ORD instead, and then use Avios to get to IND, which is where you really are trying to go. Or, if you’re in Chicago and just want to fly down to Indy, well, you’d still get a whopping ~8 cents of value per Avios point.

Bottom line

I always like to find creative ways to use Avios to wring value out of the program. It really is a little gem.

It’s too bad the Chase British Airways Visa is useless and that they’re slashing transfers from Membership Rewards by 20%. I have a feeling Chase got testy and pressured Amex into reducing the transfer ratio, in a roundabout way.

But when you think about it, the Chase Freedom card is offering 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for dining through June 30th. Or, 5 British Airways Avios per dollar, if you transfer them. Then you could get 6 to 8 cents of value out of them by using them to pay for the last leg of an itinerary, as described here. That’s a pretty sweet bargain no matter how you slice it.

Has anyone else used this trick to shave money off an itinerary? Are there any other routes or fare constructions that are prime for this? 

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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