British Airways is notorious for slamming you with taxes and fees. They get you by having stopovers at London Heathrow for what seems to be every flight out of Europe. Even for reward redemptions, the taxes and fees are absolutely insane. So much so, it’s typically less expensive to just flat out pay for your ticket versus using your British Airways Avios to fly British Airways. Unless you know this sweet spot, of course.
You can book an Aer Lingus flight with your British Airways points. I love this deal because you can fly economy class from Boston to Dublin/Shannon (or vice versa) for only 25,000 Avios round trip and $117.07.
Check out how much it would cost if you didn’t know about this hack! This is off-peak pricing (typically cheaper) if you book this route with British Airways directly:
That’s almost double the points and three times the out-of-pocket cost!
How do I get Avios if I don’t already have them?
- Red-hot option: Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. Remember my previous post about the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card with a killer 100,000 point sign-up bonus? That’s 4 round-trip tickets to Dublin if you exit from Boston.
- Other options, but not as lucrative at the moment: British Airways credit card (through Chase), Chase Sapphire credit card, or Chase Ink Bold business card (No, you don’t need a business to apply for this card. Put your social security number instead of a Tax ID number). Same thing with the reserve card; transfer your Ultimate Rewards to British Airways.
Here’s how to book a round-trip flight with BA points on Aer Lingus for less points AND less cash:
- You cannot search for Aer Lingus award availability on the British Airways website (No, I’ve no clue why that is). To search for Aer Lingus award availability, go to http://www.united.com.
- Type in your airport codes and travel dates and check off “Search for award travel” and “Nonstop.” All the Aer Lingus operated flights on this route are direct, so checking off Nonstop trims the fat nicely:
- You’re looking for a flight similar to the one below. Note that it is “Operated by Aer Lingus” and there is an Economy seat available. Sometimes, your dates will not align with the availability that Aer Lingus has. If you’re flexible, change the dates until you find a flight solely operated by Aer Lingus. Write down the flight details.
- Next, find your return flight. Again, you’re looking for the same details: “Operated by Aer Lingus” with Economy availability. Write down the flight details.
- Your next step is to call British Airways to book your flight cross-checking the information the agent is finding with the flights that you already know you want to book.
- Call 800-AIRWAYS from the US or 0344 493 0787 from the UK.
- Once through, tell the operator that you would like to book a flight on Aer Lingus with your Avios points. Provide them with the flight numbers and dates you have written down from your search on http://www.united.com.
- They may charge you a $25 service fee, but ask for it to be waived since you are unable to book it independently online. I’ve never had any operator refuse to waive the fee.
- The total is $117.07 and 25,000 Avios points.
You can also use your British Airways Avios to fly Chicago/Washington to Dublin or JFK to Dublin/Shannon for 40,000 Avios round trip. To fly from San Francisco/Orlando to Dublin, it’s 50,000 Avios round trip. I always fly into Boston because I value my British Airways Avios, then use my Southwest Points to fly into a closer airport to my home town.
If Dublin doesn’t interest you, keep in mind that Ryanair is the notorious low-cost carrier of Ireland, so there are crazy-cheap flights (I’ve seen them for $1.97) departing Dublin to lots of cool places. So you can certainly use it as a hub to get you to continental Europe, then jetting off from there.
Travis and I just flew from Dublin to Marrakech, Morocco on Ryanair for next to nothing. We’ve flown this route a number of times. It’s an awesome value.