Quick tip about booking NYC or DC flights with Avios

There are a few cities that have multiple airports, so this tip could work for:

  • New York (JFK, LGA, EWR) – NYC
  • Washington, DC (IAD, DCA, BWI) – WAS
  • Chicago (ORD, MDW) – CHI
  • London (LHR, LGW, LCY) – LON
  • Paris (ORY, CDG) – PAR
  • Tokyo (NRT, HND) – TYO

I encountered this when searching BA.com for space to get to Boston from New York.

When I search for award space, I usually just type in “NYC” – because I’m open to JFK or LGA. So I rarely specify an airport.

But BA.com will not give you the complete picture of award space if you don’t specify an airport. 

Make sure you search city code and airport code

Here’s what comes up when I simply search “NYC-BOS” for award space next week.

The search starts with "NYC"

The search starts with “NYC”

Decent amount of space

Decent amount of space

OK, so not dismal. Like, I’d probably be fine to choose 1 of these flights from the list.

BA.com isn’t showing you the full picture of award space. 

If you go click the “Change” button at the top and specify “LGA” as your departure airport, you get many more options.

The "Change" button lets you easily switch between airports

The “Change” button lets you easily switch between airports

Now specify an airport. I chose "LGA"

Now specify an airport. I chose “LGA”

And then…

Many more options!

Many more flights!

A couple of other notes

This utility is useful in a couple of ways.

  • First, if you are open to multiple airports, putting in a city code can sometimes show you space that you maybe didn’t think of. Like if you’re willing to fly out of JFK, LGA, or EWR
  • If you want to fly New York-Paris, for example, start with “NYC.” Especially if you’re OK to fly out of EWR. Then you can switch between JFK and EWR easily to see all of the available space
  • If I’d started out the example search above with LGA, I wouldn’t have known that I had two JFK flights to choose from, too
  • Being able to switch between airports gives you a better picture of space at each airport – and sometimes more options
  • This tip works with any city with multiple airports whose Oneworld space shows up on the British Airways website (That was a long sentence with a lot of prepositional phrases.)

5/25: Update regarding award space availability – and further proof that this works

A couple of people noted that NO econ award space is available is my example screen shots above. My fault, really. I picked a date a few days into the future in the original 5/24 post.

I ran another search today and selected a date about 2 weeks away – June 10th – and found award availability was great on nearly every flight – with over a dozen flights to choose from.

The search starts with "NYC" again (for June 10th)

The search starts with “NYC” again (for June 10th)

Here's what came up for "NYC - notice econ space is GREAT.

Here’s what came up for “NYC – notice econ space is GREAT.

When I switched the search to “LGA”, I got many more flights to show up all throughout the day – with good availability in econ on nearly all of them.

Award space from "LGA" to BOS

Award space from “LGA” to BOS – I couldn’t fit them all on the screen

I even got BA.com to show me an extra award flight from JFK.

Note the extra

Note the extra 10:29pm flight – with econ award space

Award space is usually great on this route AND it costs around ~$250.

$243 for most flights on this day - and some are more

$243 for most flights on this day – and some are more

So you’re getting ~5 cents of value per point. An excellent award redemption that more than doubles my 2 cents per point minimum.

Bottom line

Basic stuff, but good to be reminded sometimes. I actually booked a flight to BOS after searching “NYC” and then remembered I had to search LGA separately… and had to cancel and rebook. But also a good tip for those just starting out.

Avios are amazing for short, expensive flights all over the world. Check out my article about cool BA 5th Freedom flights – most of which are just 4,500 Avios to book!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. I’ve found lately that there’s very rarely any Y availability on BA for US Airways/American shuttle flights between NYC and DCA or BOS. I seem to remember it being much more open, but there always seems to be pretty good F availability. But obviously F (at 3x Y Avios) is wayyyyy overpriced for these routes when the Y alternative is 4,500 Avios.

    • Maybe it’s because I selected a date just a few days into the future. I just ran the search for 6/10 and there is econ AND first class space for nearly every flight – and over a dozen flights are available. I will update post to show!

      • Noticed the same thing a few weeks ago. Looks like US Airways is zeroing out all saver/partner award availability in coach on Shuttle flights (between DCA, LGA, and BOS) within a week of departure, regardless of flight loads. So for example today you can find plenty of availability for flights on June 2 or later but not June 1 or earlier. Same whether searching on AA or BA website. Probably they do this to make it harder to get outsize value from your miles, figuring if you’re looking to book within a week they’d rather get you to cough up the paid fare (exorbitant) or the first-class saver award price (also exorbitant for such short flights). Interestingly this blocking is only on Shuttle flights but not other flights, even to the same metro areas, whether operated by US Airways (e.g. DCA-HPN) or American (e.g. DCA-JFK). The latter gives a bit of hope that this may go away once US Airways’ systems are integrated into American’s.

        • Very cool observation. You’d think they’d open seats if the planes are flying empty anyway. On the flight I took, every other row was practically empty. In this age of crowded flights, I have to say, it was kinda nice…

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