New Valuable Avios Redemptions with TAM and US Airways

As you might already know – yesterday was a big day in the points and miles world – US Airways and TAM Airlines of Brazil both joined the oneworld alliance.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.43.45 AMThe good news about this new merger is that British Airways Avios went way up in value yesterday because you can now book some pretty awesome gem such as Phoenix to Hawaii for 4,000 Avios + $97 or from the United States to Brazil for 4,000 Avios + $97. In related news, my brother can now come home to visit us more often because Charlotte to New York is only 4,500 Avios each way! My family is definitely excited about that.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.43.54 AMIf you don’t already have a stash of Avios, the best way to get Avios is through the British Airways Visa Signature Card, which currently offers 50k bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months of account opening, plus 2.5 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases, and 1.25 Avios per dollar on all other purchases.

TAM and US Airways flights are currently bookable on ba.com at the same prices as all of British Airways’ other partners.

British Airways awards work differently than awards with United, American, and Delta. On a British Airways award, every flight segment has a price. The price of the flight segment depends on its distance and the cabin you fly. The total award price is the sum of each flight segment’s price.

For example, if you fly from Phoenix to Lihue, Kauai in economy, you pay 12,500 Avios. If you fly from Dallas to Phoenix to Lihue, though, you pay 20,000 Avios because Dallas to Phoenix is 7,500 Avios and Phoenix to Lihue is 12,500 Avios.

For business class awards, you pay double the price of economy awards. For first class awards, you pay triple the price of economy awards.

Here is the British Airways award chart for one way economy flights:

  • Up to 650 miles flown: 4,500 Avios
  • 651 to 1,151 miles flown: 7,500 Avios
  • 1,152 to 2,000 miles flown: 10,000 Avios
  • 2,001 to 3,000 miles flown: 12,500 Avios
  • 3,001 to 4,000 miles flown: 20,000 Avios
  • 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown: 25,000 Avios
  • 5,501 to 6,500 miles flown: 30,000 Avios
  • 6,501 to 7,000 miles flown: 35,000 Avios
  • 7,001+ miles flown: 50,000 Avios

As you can see, the best deal with Avios is to book short, non-stop flights in economy. Connections or premium cabins make the price go up substantially.

With the addition of TAM and US Airways, there are a number of new sweet spot awards with Avios. Let’s take a look:

To and From Brazil on TAM

TAM flies from New York, Orlando, and Miami to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for 25,000 Avios each way in economy. There are no fuel surcharges on the awards, and government taxes are very low at about $52 roundtrip.

From Miami, TAM also flies to some other parts of Brazil for super cheap! Belem and Manaus are less than 3,000 miles from Miami, so the flights cost only 12,500 Avios each way.

  • Belem for 12,500 Avios each way
  • Manaus for 12,500 Avios each way
  • Belo Horizonte for 20,000 Avios each way
  • Brasilia for 20,000 Avios way
  • Fortaleza for 20,000 Avios way

That means you can fly from the United States to Brazil for 25,000 Avios + $52 roundtrip!

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.45.54 AM

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Even better, look closely at the “Avios price options” above. Instead of paying the full 25,000 Avios, you can pay as few as 8,000 Avios if you put in a little more cash.

You can get a roundtrip from Miami to Belem or Manaus, Brazil on TAM for only 8,000 Avios + $242.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.47.33 AMWest Coast to Hawaii

Flights from the West Coast to Hawaii fall into the 12,500 Avios each-way band also. British Airways partners with American, Alaska, and now US Airways, who between them, offer flights from a ton of cities on the West Coast to Hawaii.

The newest option is Phoenix to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, or Kona for only 12,500 Avios each way on US Airways.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.48.33 AM

Again, you are given the option of paying 12,500 Avios plus $2.50 each way or as little as 4,000 Avios and $97.50 each way.

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Let’s work out the math on this. The British Airways Visa Signature Card offers 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months.For 48k Avios and under $1,200 you could get six round trips to Hawaii from Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, or anywhere else on the west coast with direct Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii!

Or if you want to save the cash, you could get two round trips to Hawaii for only $10 out-of-pocket,

To or From JFK, MIA, ORD, DFW, LAX, CLT, PHX, PHL, PDX, SEA, ANC

As I said, short, nonstop economy flights are the best deal with Avios. British Airways partners with American, Alaska, and US Airways who collectively have hubs in:

  • New York-JFK (American)
  • Miami (American)
  • Chicago-O’Hare (American)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (American)
  • Los Angeles (American, Alaska)
  • Charlotte (US Airways)
  • Phoenix (US Airways)
  • Philadelphia (US Airways)
  • Portland (Alaska)
  • Seattle (Alaska)
  • Anchorage (Alaska)

If you live in one of those cities or want to go to one, you will likely have a ton of direct options for very few Avios.

The best way to check your options for cheap Avios awards from your home airport is to google your home airport with the word “wiki.” That will bring up the wikipedia page, which will list every airline and destination from your airport.

Take the American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska routes of interest and figure out their distance on gcmap.com. You just type in the airport codes separated by a dash like PHX-LAX and gcmap.com tells you the distance. Refer to the chart above to see the number of Avios needed to fly a flight that distance.

In this case, Phoenix and Los Angeles are 370 miles apart. That means that a flight between those two cities is only 4,500 each way.

From your home airport, you should find some incredibly cheap Avios awards within the United States, or maybe even to Mexico, Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean. The country of your destination doesn’t matter at all, only the distance flown, so some international awards are dirt cheap with Avios.

Hopefully you can see why I’m so excited about US Airways and TAM joining oneworld. The value of my Avios just went way up, and I plan to use my Avios in three new ways:

  1. United States to Brazil for as little as 4,000 Avios and $97.50 each way.
  2. West Coast (Phoenix, Los Angeles, etc) to the four major Hawaiian Islands for 4,000 Avios and $97.50 each way.
  3. Short nonstop flights on US Airways, American, and Alaska for as little as 4,500 Avios and $2.50 each way.

For even more Avios, keep in mind is that British Airways is a transfer partner in both the American Express Membership Rewards program and the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program.

Some other Chase cards that allow you to get Avios with 1:1 transfers are the Ink PlusInk Bold, or Sapphire Preferred. All of them earn Ultimate Rewards, which can transfer instantly to British Airways Avios online.

Key Application Link: British Airways Visa Signature Card

What Avios sweet-spot redemption routes interest you?

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Comments

  1. DaninSTL says

    Great post. Very informative. I was aware of the US air opportunities but not TAM. Too bad about the Brazil visa requirements which are a pain.
    Thanks

  2. says

    @Nick: We are EWR based so the EWR-CLT options now are especially helpful!

    @DaninSTL: I believe the Brazil visa requirements are going to be relaxed soon.

  3. Cogswell says

    Is there any award availability with Avios points on internal flights within Brazil on TAM? I can’t find any

  4. Neo says

    I found plenty of flights within Brazil on TAM through BA.com; however, it gives you an error message when you try to actually buy it. “We’re sorry, we are unable to process your request. Please contact your local British Airways office.”

  5. Noah says

    I’m trying to find a one-way flight to Rio from each of the cities TAM flies from (JFK, MCO, MIA) on Avios and having zero luck. It keeps only giving me the options for American Airlines. Looking for June 3 +/- one week. Am I doing something wrong?

  6. Dave says

    Used this to book flights for my girlfriend and me to the World Cup, thanks for the tip!

    @Neo – I had the same issue, but if you call BA they will waive the phone booking fee since the website had errors.

  7. AK says

    BA website is not giving me the option to use miles and cash for an LAX-OGG flight. Is this option still available on American?

    • Dave says

      No Cash + Avios option for flights operated by AA, but US Airways flights work. If you’re flexible, try searching from PHX instead of LAX.

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