How to Spend Avios on American Airlines
This is another post in my series on how to maximise your Avios points by redeeming with British Airways partner airlines. Today we’ll be focusing on how to book American Airlines with Avios and, whilst it should be relatively straightforward, why redeeming Avios with American Airlines could help you fly further.
Let's break this post down...
The question – Can I use Avios on American Airlines?
Yes and to be honest it’s relatively simple to do through the British Airways website. I’ve set out a step-by-step guide below. Just before I jump into this I thought I’d highlight a couple of the benefits of using Avios with American Airlines.
One of the major perks of booking American Airlines with Avios is the ability to book domestic US flights with effectively no tax. As American Airlines do not impose fuel surcharges and there is no equivalent to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty a return flight between say Washington D.C. and Los Angeles would require just $5.60 in taxes (these aren’t actually taxes as we know them in the UK but are airport security fees). I’ll cover this in a little more detail later on in this review.
Step-by-Step Guide – Using Avios on American Airlines
As we all know, using the BA website to book Avios redemption flights can be relatively painful. As such to find availability you may want to head over to either the American Airlines website or alternatively the third-party website BA Redemption Finder which provides a monthly availability calendar. Unlike the BA website, you don’t need to log in to the AA website, which is handy. Below is an example of the American Airlines availability table.
Note that with BA you are unable to book the economy-anytime option offered by American Airlines (usually twice the amount of the MileSAAver rate), however fortunately in the table above there is full MileSAAver availability.
Another benefit of using the American Airlines website is that it shows possible redemption routes with connections which the ba.com website is unable to find. If the route you find is available on American Airlines but not British Airways you’ll have to give the BA Executive Club a call to use Avios to book American Airlines.
Step 1: Log In and go to Spend Avios
Go to the BA.com website here. Enter your Executive Club number and log in, then go to the Spending Avios section of the BA website found under the discover tab.
Step 2: Click on the Book a Reward Flight Button
Step 3: Enter the Flight Details under Book with Avios
If you’ve already found the flight with the American Airlines website, this section should be relatively straightforward. Under ‘Book with Avios’ just enter the details of the flight you’ve found followed by ‘Get Flights’.
Step 4: Select your Flight and Click Continue
On the following page you’ll need to enter passenger details and pay the £4.40 per person in taxes…. I just wish taxes were this low in the UK!
If you’re hoping to book an American Airlines flight with Avios but don’t have enough Avios points for the flight there are a couple of available options. For longer-haul flights you’d have the option to part pay with Avios and pay the remaining in cash. A discount of 10,000 Avios would increase the price by £90, effectively allowing you to buy points at 0.9p. Alternatively you could purchase Avios points directly from BA. However with a rate of 3.1p for every Avios point this really wouldn’t be worth it.
Depending on timescales, the final option may be to consider signing up to the (free for the first year) American Express Gold card which provides a sign-up bonus of 20,000 reward points which can be transferred to Avios at a rate of 1:1. With the card you’ll also receive 2 free lounge passes and travel insurance. You can also increase the sign-up bonus to 22,000 points if you use this link. You can read why I believe this is the best UK credit card for rewards in my full review here. You should note that at a rate of 0.9p per point this sign-up bonus could be worth somewhere in the region of £198 and that’s not including the possible added value of the travel insurance and lounge access.
Transfer Avios Miles to American Airlines
I was asked whether it is possible to transfer Avios to an American Airlines account. Unfortunately the answer is no. If you’re looking at ways to earn American Airlines miles, you can always credit your BA flights to American Airlines. By doing this you’ll earn both American Airlines Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) plus Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) which are required to reach various elite statuses.
If you’re keen to collect American Airlines miles on your everyday spending in the UK you may find my recent American Airlines Credit Card review interesting…
Earn Avios on American Airlines
Alternatively, if you find you fly with American Airlines however would like to hold the points with British Airways you can always credit the flights to BA. This will also allow you to earn tier points, however to advance through the BA Executive Club you’ll need to take a certain number of British Airways operated flights. Silver & Gold require 4 BA flights and there is no requirement for Bronze.
Summary – Flying American Airlines on Avios Points
As we’ve seen, booking American Airlines with Avios is generally a relatively straightforward affair. If you’re trying to book slightly more complex connecting flights these may not appear on the British Airways website so I’d always recommend checking the AA website if availability isn’t showing on the BA website.
One of the best reasons for using Avios to book American Airlines is the significantly reduced associated taxes for US domestic flights, with a return flight requiring a payment of just £4.40!
If you’re short of Avios points to redeem the flight you require we wouldn’t advise using the ‘purchase Avios’ option, which works out at a rate of 3.1p for every Avios. You’d be better off using the part pay with Avios where you’ll receive a rate in the region of 0.9p for every Avios. Alternatively, if you have the time, the American Express Gold Card offers the equivalent of 20,000 Avios when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months (22,000 if you use this link).