Why You Should Consider British Airways Avios for Parks Travel

The British Airways frequent flyer rewards program Executive Club’s currency of points, called Avios, offers considerable route and redemption options for traveling to airports that are near national parks; these routes are often at a premium when paying cash, so we like this option for both its versatility and cost effectiveness.

Avios is a distance based program, with flights starting at 7,500 Avios points, for flights up to 1,115 miles in distance. As you can see by the chart below, the further you fly the more Avios it will take to redeem for the flight.

Redemption zones/bands using Avios

Redemption zones/bands using Avios

In the US, the Zone 1 sub-650 mileage band is NOT available, the lowest band is 0-1,115 which costs 7,500 Avios one way.

These awards can be redeemed domestically on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, by booking through the British Airways website. You will need to join BA’s program, Executive Club, to book awards and earn Avios points.

To best search for flight availability, begin at the American Airlines website, search for your desired flights, clicking the “Use Points” box.

 

AA booking page, be sure to click "Redeem Miles."

AA booking page, be sure to click "Redeem Miles."

From there, we are looking for Economy Mileage Saver awards, the light green box.

For Avios availability, you'll need the light green MilesSAAver to be available.

For Avios availability, you'll need the light green MilesSAAver to be available.

AA showing some non-stop direct routes that will be almost certainly be available for the 7,500 Avios redemption on the British Airways booking website.

AA showing some non-stop direct routes that will be almost certainly be available for the 7,500 Avios redemption on the British Airways booking website.

Please note that for Avios, you pay the award fee for each leg, so only use Avios if you are booking a direct flight. If there is a direct flight available, as a flight with connections will cost 15,000 Avios, minimum.

Most domestic airline redemptions(Delta, United, American) start at 12,500 points in their respective programs. So if it’s a short distance flight, say from Los Angeles to Denver to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, instead of paying 12,500 AA or Alaska miles you can redeem the same flight for 7,500 Avios, a massive savings.

Domestically, any flight that is less than 2,000 miles distance wise will be a good bargain with Avios. Also, using Avios to get to Hawaii from the West Coast is a great deal, as most West Coast airports are in the fourth redemption band (Zone 4) for Avios, meaning the flight is 12,500 Avios one way with Saver availability (AA charges 22,500 miles for the same flight ! Alaska charges 20,000.)

To calculate distances, use a flight distance calculator like airmilescalculator.com
We also like Avios because there is no booking fee, even when booking close to departure dates; American charges $75 for award flights booked within the window of 21 days of departure. Also, you can cancel or change the Avios award ticket up until departure and will only forfeit the flight taxes, about $5 per ticket. Less enticing, when using Avios for Business Class flights, do know thatthe rates for business class are not the best use of Avios.

To earn and accumulate Avios points, there are several co-branded credit cards available from Amex and Chase that often offer generous signup bonuses. Avios is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Chase Ultimate Rewards.