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British Airways Avios award chart + When to transfer Chase points for domestic flights

by on Tue September 29, 2015 • 18 Comments

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to transfer awards points to a British program in order to purchase a flight within the United States, but it’s actually one of my favorite point-saving tricks. And now that American and US Airways have merged there are more ways to save than ever before.

The recent addition of US Airways brought more flight routes to the OneWorld Alliance family, which also includes British Airways. For Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Ink Plus Business Credit Card holders, this means that by simply transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points into British Airways Avios, you’ll be able to snag short flights for as little as 9,000 points roundtrip to many destinations, and round trips to Hawaii for a mere 25,000 points from some cities.

Let’s break it down:

Why You Should Use Avios to Buy Short, Non-Stop Flights

First of all, there’s a reason why I suggest booking both short, and direct flights. British Airways charges its points per ticket based on the total number of miles traveled on each leg of a flight:

Tiers 1 & 2: 15,000 points roundtrip (7,500 one way) – flights of 0-1,150 miles each way
Tier 3: 20,000 points roundtrip (10,000 one way) – flights of 1151-2000 miles each way
Tier 4: 25,000 points roundtrip (12,500 one way) – flights of 2001-3000 miles each way

To put that into perspective, a ticket purchased through US Airways/American Airlines on their separate point system will cost a minimum of 25,000 points. But by converting your points to Avios, you’ll save between 5,000-10,000 points on non-stop trips of less than 2,000 miles.

Here’s an Avios award chart with the price in Avios points for the total distance flown on a trip for flights within North America (effective February 2016):


So why non-stop flights only?

To put it simply, you are charged for each leg of the trip, meaning the more flights you take to get to a destination, the more points you are spending. For example: If you book a trip that has a connection, say Phoenix to Boston stopping in Charlotte, you will be charged points separately for Phoenix to Charlotte (1,773 mile distance = 10,000 points) and Charlotte to Boston (728 mile distance = 7,500 points) for a total of 17,500 points each way. But if you book a nonstop flight, the distance flown is just 2,300 miles so it’s 12,500 points each way.

Folks living in U.S. Airways hubs such as Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Phoenix are now in convenient position to take advantage of nonstop US Airways flights with a simple conversion to Avios. That’s on top of the American and Alaska hubs that also enjoy many flights that can be booked nonstop with Avios such as Chicago, Dallas, New York, Miami, and Seattle.

Here are the non-stop flights from American’s Chicago hub.

Avios chicago routes

How to Use Avios to get to Hawaii

You may be surprised to learn that flights from the West Coast to Hawaii are only about 2,500 miles in distance, landing you square in the middle of that Tier Four points range. By transferring points to Avios, you can fly on Alaska Airlines round trip to Hawaii for 25,000 points, and can depart from Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, Bellingham, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, or Seattle.

My parents live just outside of Bellingham, Washington and frequently fly to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines. If they book their tickets using American Airlines miles, they will pay 10,000  – 20,000 more miles per round trip ticket. But since BA is partnered with Alaska, they are able to use Avios to save big time their annual winter getaway.

How to Find and Book American / US Airways / Alaska Award Flights with Avios

So we know that converting Chase points to Avios helps you to save overall, but which site should you use to check availability, and what the best way to book the ticket?

There are two ways to go about it:

1. Your first option is to head to the American Airlines website, type in your desired flight and check the results (be sure to tick the “redeem miles” box). If an American, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flight is available at the MileSAAver level (shown in a light green box), then you can book that flight with BA Avios.

AAdvantage award search

2. Or, you can set up a free British Airways account and search for desired flights through their system. You’re going to need to set up an account anyway if you end up transferring your points to Avios. Note that Alaska Airlines flights do not show up on the British Airways searches, but you can book them through BA directly by calling 1 800 452 1201. You can also check for Alaska Airlines flights on the American Airlines site.
Once you’ve found a desired flight, log into your Chase account and transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Avios (see how here). You can then redeem those points and book your ticket on the British Airways site.

What’s the Catch?

You need to find seats at the lowest “MileSAAver” level. It can be tricky as the airlines can be stingy with frequent flier seats at this level, but it’s worth the search for rewards like these.

Booking flights for Alaska through BA over the phone will cost $25 per ticket. There are tales of intrepid negotiators getting the fee waived by mentioning that booking Alaska flights through the BA site simply isn’t an option, but it all depends on the generosity of the booking agent. Worth a shot though!

Taxes and fees still apply on tickets purchased with points, but usually less than $50 roundtrip in most cases. And if you decide to change plans you can cancel your ticket get your points re-deposited into your Avios account with no cancellation fee. They’ll just keep the small taxes you paid.

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Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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18 thoughts on British Airways Avios award chart + When to transfer Chase points for domestic flights

  1. Championdog

    We are wanting to convert Chase miles to Avios. The one way PAR-WAW is available on BA that we want.
    Can you explain the procedure. We have opened a BA Executive Club membership to get started.
    Thank you,

  2. Joanna

    I’ve just applied for the new Chase sapphire reserve card. Since my elite status is on American Airlines,
    can I transfer my points to British air then book my flight on AA? Is there a BA charge for this?
    And if I book my AA flight this way, can I then use my AA frequent flier miles to upgrade this flight?

  3. Sky

    I am a bit confused as to how to actually use BA Avios miles to book domestic tickets on the American website. Can I directly login to the account on the AA website or do I need to call BA to book. The same applies to international flights using Singapore miles to book on Swiss or using Korean miles to book on AF. It always says that there are no flights to the destination you have chosen even though it is service by its partner airline.

  4. Kyle

    Is there any sort of downside for this? Two of my preferred programs, Chase and AMEX, both transfer to British Airways. But do you lose anything or have any surcharges when booking AA travel? Is the best way to book through or

  5. Nancy Breitbarth

    I received a notice that I have 22,500 Avios, and that they would expire soon. How can I transfer them to my Alaska Air mileage plan?

  6. Nancy Breitbarth

    I received a letter some time ago stating I had 22,500 avios, and that they would expire soon. How can I transfer these to Alaska Airline miles?

  7. Steve

    Here’s the run down of my situation. Myself and three friends are planning a trip to Hawaii after my graduation in May. (Thinking of leaving on May 12th..ish) Leaving from Portland, Oregon.

    I have almost 60k points on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

    Here’s where it can get tricky. I was thinking about opening up a new credit card, like the Alaska Airlines credit card, so I could get the bonus miles and potentially upgrade myself to first-class. In addition, I would put all of the other three flights on my credit card, assuming the Alaska card, to take advantage of the companion flight.

    To effectively use my points, I was planning on booking my flight through the chase program in order to make my points worth 20% more. Do you know if I would be able to upgrade my ticket with miles if I didn’t buy the ticket on Alaska’s website?

    I could also pay for a friends flight with my points, pay for my flight on the Alaska card, and then upgrade my flight that way, while still being able to use the companion ticket.

    Sorry to throw this all at you, but I hope it makes sense.


      @Steve – Yes you can upgrade a ticket using your Alaska miles if you originally purchased with Chase points, since Chase is just buying a cash ticket on your behalf. The catch is, it must be a fare in the Y, S, B, M, or H classes of service if you want to upgrade.

      When booking on the Chase site it won’t disclose which fare code your are getting, or let you specify one. So you’ll need to call Chase and ask for the specific fare letter (for example “H” which is the lowest upgradable fare). They can do that search, quote you a price, and book it. Of course, you’ll only want to do this if upgrade space is available, so do a flight search on the site and select ‘Mileage Upgrade’ to see what’s available.

      As for your friend’s flights, perhaps you pay for one of them using your points as well, since it’s just 25,000 points roundtrip for a flight on Alaska if you book using Avios. Though that starts to limit your options as you need Super Saver award space available on the same flight.

  8. Esther

    Hi there! I have a bunch of chase rewards miles. We want to travel to Spain in april. Can i transfer the points to BA and then book the trip with Iberia or US airways…? Thanks


      @Esther – That is certainly possible, though make sure you check the flights you want are available before you do the transfer. Also don’t forget to consider transferring to United miles as well, which can get you there for 30,000 Chase points each way. In fact one strategy to give you more options convenient for your schedule is to consider using BA points one way and United miles the other direction.

  9. Neal

    I have a flight from SFO->SCL on AA and LAN airlines. Can I use Avios to upgrade this flight, and if so, how to I do that? Thanks.

    SFO->LAX on AA
    LAX->SCL on LAN with stop in Lima
    SCL->Mia on LAN
    Mia->SFO on AA


      @Neal – Unfortunately you can’t use Avios to upgrade the flights. You can use Avios to book a flight outright in Business or First Class, but can’t use them to upgrade a paid ticket for these flights.

  10. muhammad chaudhry

    can I book award ticket using ba avois from usa to London or beyond on American or usair flights.can it be done on ba website

    1. MileCards

      @Muhammad – Yes you can, and yes you can see the flights on the BA website. Just note that the American flights will have surcharges. For now the US Airways ones don’t have surcharges, but that could change.

      1. Joanna

        If I purchase a flight using my credit dollars , say through BA, then can I use my AA miles to upgrade?
        Does this ticket come through AA or your website or BA?
        I basically fly AA, but discovered the hard way that one needs to have travel cards from multiple banks. when Citi opened its Costco card, we longtime elite cardholders were completely unable to reach an agent for nearly a week…not good .
        so I’m excited to have this new card


          @Joanna – You need to buy a ticket via American Airlines with an American Airlines flight number to be able to use American miles for an upgrade.

          With Chase points or BA points, you could upgrade an American Airlines flight, but you’d need to buy the flight from British Airways. And generally only the most expensive fares are upgradable this way.

          Best bet to upgrade is to buy BA flights and use BA points to upgrade them.


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