How to use British Airways Avios on nearly free flights on American Airlines – CNN Underscored | Gmx Pharm

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Travel rewards for free flights come in all types. There are first class flights to Asia, premium economy seats to Europe and even short trips to your neighboring country. But some of the best value for your miles can be found on short-haul flights.

Saving on short-haul flights with travel awards is especially useful if you’re traveling at the last minute. With American Airlines in particular, this is possible with miles from British Airways, the so-called Avios. Because British Airways and American Airlines are partners, you can use your Avios on nearly free American flights. Better yet, it’s incredibly easy to collect Avios. Even if you’ve never flown British Airways before, you could still be in luck.

Dive into everything you need to know about booking short-haul flights with American Airlines through British Airways’ Executive Club loyalty program.

While it may not seem logical – especially if you never intend to travel to the UK – US travelers should take heed to the British Airways Executive Club.

British Airways and American Airlines are both part of the Oneworld alliance, a global network of airlines that also includes carriers such as Australia’s Qantas, Japan Airlines and Spain’s Iberia. An airline alliance often offers travelers the ability to search and book flights through each other’s frequent flyer programs, and elite status travelers receive additional benefits such as free lounge access and priority check-in, even when traveling with a partner airline to travel.

With this in mind, travelers in the Oneworld alliance can search for American Airlines flights directly through the British Airways website. And yes, you can still use British Airways Avios if you’re not flying to or from the UK. In fact, some of the best ways to use Avios are right here in the United States on American Airlines flights.

Knowing that you can use British Airways Avios on free flights on American Airlines is the first step. Next you will find out how many Avios you need to get you to your desired destination. In other words, it’s time to familiarize yourself with British Airways’ awards table, which details exactly how many Avios you have to spend.

British Airways uses what is known as a distance-based award table. That means you’ll use more Avios the farther you fly, but it also means the opposite – you’ll need fewer points for short distances. British Airways has a separate award table for flights with partners such as American Airlines, which we will focus on. Line two is particularly important for domestic flights up to 650 miles.


Premium economy



Zone 1 (1-650 miles)





Zone 1 within North America (1-650 miles)


N / A



Zone 2 (651-1,150 miles)





Zone 3 (1,151-2,000 miles)





Zone 4 (2,001-3,000 miles)





Zone 5 (3,001-4,000 miles)





Zone 6 (4,001-5,500 miles)





Zone 7 (5,501-6,500 miles)





Zone 8 (6,501-7,000 miles)





Zone 9 (7,001+ miles)





It might sound difficult to figure out how many miles are between airports, but it couldn’t be easier. You can use sites like Great Circle Mapper to enter your departure and arrival airport and find out how many miles your flight will take.

With that in mind, let’s break down how many Avios you would need for short-haul flights to some US destinations.

For example, if you want to fly from New York’s JFK airport to Baltimore (BWI), you’ll only need 7,500 Avios and $5.60 in taxes and fees for an economy flight, if awards are available on your travel dates. That’s because the flight is only 155 miles away, far less than the 650-mile limit under the Zone 1 North America line of BA’s partner rewards chart.

British Airways

A flight between Charlotte and Miami is just over 650 miles away, which puts it in the Zone 2 band of the BA Partner Awards Chart. That means you’ll need 9,000 Avios plus $5.60 in taxes to book the flight in Economy – assuming there’s award availability. This is in contrast to paying for flights in cash, which can often cost hundreds of dollars.

British Airways

As you can see, you can save a lot of money by using your points instead of cash on short-haul domestic flights on American Airlines. In fact, using British Airways Avios is in many cases even cheaper than using American AAdvantage miles, as basic short-haul flights over 500 miles start at 12,500 miles in Economy Class when booking direct with AA.

British Airways

Once you’re ready to see how you can use Avios on American flights, you can check the British Airways website for award availability. You must create a free Executive Club account to search and find if award seats are available on your travel dates.

Even if you’ve never flown with British Airways, collecting Avios is easy. In fact, British Airways Avios are among the easiest points to earn. You can collect Avios by opening a British Airways branded credit card, transferring points from other credit cards or flying on a partner airline and crediting your flight to BA. Let’s take a look at the two easiest ways to collect Avios quickly.

Purchasing the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is arguably the easiest way to collect massive amounts of Avios on short-haul flights. The card has an impressive sign-up bonus that can earn you up to 100,000 Avios. You will receive 75,000 Avios after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and an additional 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 within the first 12 months of account opening. You’ll also receive three Avios for every $1 spent on purchases from British Airways and its partners Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level.

You’ll also earn two Avios for every dollar you spend on hotel accommodation when you purchase it directly from the hotel. Finally, you get one Avios for every dollar you spend on all other purchases. What’s unique about this card is that while it has a sizable sign-up bonus, it has a modest annual fee of $95, which is perfect for travelers who don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars a year to keep a travel rewards credit card open .


If you have a travel rewards credit card that collects points in a transferable currency, you might be in good shape, too. Because British Airways is a transfer partner of several programs. For example, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to British Airways on a one-for-one basis, meaning you will receive one Avios for each Chase point transferred.

The same applies to American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One Miles, where one Membership Rewards point and one Capital One mile equals one Avios. Finally, if you have a lot of Marriott Bonvoy points in your account, these can also be transferred to British Airways – albeit at a less favorable ratio of three to one.

Most of these partners transfer to British Airways immediately, so you should see your Miles in your Avios account shortly after the transfer has started.

Ultimately, being able to save money on flights is a great thing. Better yet, you can save on flights within the US using a mileage currency often overlooked by British Airways Avios. The next time you see an exorbitant airfare, consider wagering your travel rewards.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored have chosen as ours The best travel credit cards of 2022.

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