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READER MAIL : Using Miles to get to Australia a.k.a. “Help, British Airways are sh*t!”

An email popped into my inbox this week and I thought I’d answer it publicly since it’s the type of question that I get asked a lot. Hopefully it gives you some insight into my thought process and the flexibility required to get long haul premium cabin flights booked for as little as possible.

Subject: Jarvis Marcos “Help, British Airways are sh*t!”

Hi dude
Have been following you for some time on IG and now when I am faced with a mega booking challenge I find myself begging for your advice!
Basically I want to fly to Aus in Feb ‘19 with my partner. I am BA Gold and have 195k avios and he is Silver with 40k avios. He also has a companion voucher. BA are being awkward bastards about it (surprise surprise). Any ideas for the best way we can get there in Business without breaking the bank?!
Waiting by the phone for your reply 🙂

Hi Racheal,
Your subject line is certainly an attention grabber!

The problem is that those 2-4-1 seats are the best value in an otherwise mediocre mileage programme.
Routes to Oz and South Africa tend to get snapped up the moment seats are released, 354 days in advance.

The good news is that with 235k Avios between you, there a fair few options available.

I personally would avoid redeeming Avios long haul out of LHR, due to the outrageous ‘carrier surcharges’.
Beyond that, in terms of value per point, Avios has to be the worst value of any major airline currency for long haul travel.
Don’t get me wrong, Avios are great for short hops (particularly in Australia and Asia) but the system is designed to make long haul redemptions extremely expensive.

As a point of comparison AA miles are earned at a similar rate but the cost of redeeming one way business class to Australia from London are very different:

Avios : 150,000k Avios + £468.12 per person
AA Advantage : 85k AA miles + £236.71 per person

In your situation, my approach would be to find a cheap cash fare to Asia, using your Avios to get you from there to Australia.

The benefits here are:

  1. Availability concerns are alleviated since you’re booking cash fares
  2. You’ll earn miles on your flights, offsetting your expenditure
  3. You can program in a stopover in the country of your liking (rather than being limited to SIN, where BA stops)

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: You won’t have to fly BA if you don’t want to ?

Option 1 

You’ll need to get yourself to AMS for the outbound but that will only cost 4,500 or £50.
On the way back change the final leg to LGW-AMS, forcing a misconnect and allowing you to disembark in London.

 

Option 2

If you aren’t bothered about collecting Avios and want a substantially better product in the air, I’d go for this:

 

 

Option 3

Alternatively for around £150 more per person you can try Air Italy via MXP (any chance to spend a day in Milan is good in my book?).

This will allow you to collect Avios and fly on what effectively amounts to Qatar Airways.

 

Once in BKK, I’d spend a day or two at The Peninsula, Sofitel So or the St Regis before continuing on to Oz.

 

I really enjoyed my stay at the St Regis in Bangkok??. In a city of fantastic hotels the butler service at the StR is a real differentiator. I loved the in room checkin, steady supply of coffees ☕ (especially the one that followed ten minutes after my 4am wakeup call this morning!?) and given that this was a work trip, the complimentary shoe shining came in handy too?. As an SPG gold I was also offered three complimentary items of daily clothes pressing, after I’d done all my shirts I started getting my polos pressed too? Speaking of which, after a few of you inquired on a previous post, I managed to convince fellow AVGeek @niccolo_p_london to offer you all a discount on his polos which I’ve been wearing recently. Just use code JM15 on www.niccolo-p.com?

A post shared by Luxury Travel & Lifestyle????? (@jarvismarcos) on

From here, you can redeem your Avios at the utterly horrible rate of 120k + £49.50 per person to get you to Melbourne (like I said, Avios aren’t the best for long haul).

 

 

The final leg of the trip will be no fun at all but given your Avios balance, you’re out of options at this stage unless you want to pay a one-way cash fare in business ?. On the other hand, 9.5 hours of long haul flying for £254 seems astonishingly cheap, particularly for a direct flight. Intra European 3hr flights on BA often go for more than this.

 

 

Now you’re probably asking yourself: “is it worth going through all of this trouble just to use my Avios”?

 

Personally, I don’t think so. You’re redeeming 240k Avios for roughly £750 of flights, assuming a round trip fare of £1500 between BKK and SYD/MEL. I wouldn’t be happy parting with Avios for anything less than 1p each i.e. 240k Avios for £2400 of flights.

My advice to you would be to keep Avios for shorter flights:

  • Intra Europe in the summer on BA,
  • Within the USA on AA
  • Within Japan on JAL
  • Around SE Asia out of HKG on Cathay

Instead, either wait and book cash fares to Australia when they become available out of OSL/ ARN (they tend to go for around £1600 but can be as low as £1400 in business), or look into booking flights using Singapore Airlines miles. (I collect these via my Amex Platinum card and SPG Amex Card.)

The runaway value there is flying Singapore Business class from IST-PER for 62,500 miles + $43 per person (kind of puts BA Avios into perspective!)

Whatever you choose to do, good luck and have a great trip; there are few things in life that I anticipate more eagerly than a trip to Down Under ?

 

The best airport walkway ever. #qantas #spiritofaustralia

A post shared by Luxury Travel & Lifestyle????? (@jarvismarcos) on

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