In short, the shorter the route, the more valuable the redemption.
The British Airways redemption chart is distance-based and longhaul flights in premium cabins rarely make sense, especially when competitors offer the same flights for so much cheaper.
But in terms of shorthaul awards, BA is not to be beat. For as little as 4,000 miles in economy class or 7,750 miles in business class during off-peak times, you can travel on Iberia or British Airways flights 650 miles or under. During peak times and on partner airlines outside of North America, flights start at 4,500 miles in economy class and 9,000 in business class. In North America, American Airlines and Alaska flights 1,150 miles or under are 7,500 miles in economy class (premium cabins get a bit more complicated: they’re 15K on AA and 22.5K on Alaska).
Think about it: why pay several hundred dollars for a last-minute economy class ticket when you can book an award on BA with no close-in processing fee and very low taxes/fees?
40% Transfer Bonus from American Express to British Airways
American Express is currently offering a 40% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to Aer Lingus, British Airways, or Iberia Avios. Think what that does to my pricing above.
A 4,000 miles economy class award becomes about 2,858 Membership Rewards points. I’ll give you another example. I traveled this week from London to Bilbao for 7,750 Avios in business class. A paid ticket would have run 497GBP (656USD).
Instead, I paid only 5536 AMEX points with the transfer bonus. Although by no means a sexy redemption, it is difficult to beat the value there.
While I would not have actually paid $650 for the flight, I would have paid $200 for it. I value AMEX points at 1.5 cents each, meaning my out-of-pocket for the points was $83.04. Throw in the $40 tax for departing Heathrow in business class and I still paid what amounted to less than $125 for a business class ticket to Spain booked the day before travel.
Even longer flights become more attractive Avios redemptions with the 40% transfer bonus, but you simply cannot beat the value of shorthaul redemptions. I’ll be moving in at least 100K Membership Rewards points into British Airways just to maintain a stash of them. How about you?
Transferring to Iberia also represents a remarkable deal. Stay tuned for a post on that.