How to earn extra British Airways Tier Points and Avios for cheap by flying domestically in the USA

May 25, 2020

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If you’re heading to the United States, you can still earn British Airways Executive Club Tier Points and Avios on flights within the country. In addition, there are ways to maximise the number of Tier Points and Avios you’re earning.

While British Airways and its partner airlines fly nonstop from the U.K. to dozens of destinations in the U.S., if you have the time and energy, it can be very savvy to fly indirect — especially if you are trying to reach that next status level faster.

Here’s why.

Related: What is Tier Point running?

For example, if you are travelling from London (LHR) to Las Vegas (LAS), you can fly nonstop for just less than £500 return in economy. This is a good deal for the cash ticket.

If you have no status with British Airways, you’ll only earn 40 Tier Points return for this Economy Basic Q class fare and 2,612 Avios — not a huge amount.

But, you’ve also been considering a stopover in New York along the way because you’ve seen super cheap flights to New York. You’ll still earn 40 Tier Points return but only 1,730 Avios.

So you’ve saved yourself around £200, got your New York stopover and have earned the same Tier Points, but you still need to get yourself between New York and Las Vegas.

You can earn Avios and Tier Points flying with American Airlines, the Oneworld partner of British Airways in the U.S. American doesn’t fly the route from NYC to LAS nonstop, so you would need to connect. The trick is, as you earn Tier Points and Avios per flight, the more connections you make, the more you earn.

For just £108, you can choose to connect twice each way if you wish.

So, for less than it takes to fly nonstop one flight in each direction, you have the option of taking four flights in each direction if you wish.

Why would American or BA sell four flights in each direction cheaper than a single flight? There are all sorts of different factors that go into airfare pricing, but one big reason is that many travellers would pay a premium for a nonstop flight rather than connecting numerous times. If you were a business traveller heading to Vegas for an industry conference, you would probably value the efficiency of a nonstop flight.

But if you have some time up your sleeve and want to earn those Tier Points and Avios, while your direct LHR–LAS–LHR itinerary in basic economy would earn 40 Tier Points + 2,612 Avios, the indirect LHR–NYC–DFW–PHX–LAS–PHX–CLT–NYC–LHR Economy Basic fare would earn 75 Tier Points + 3,138 Avios.

Related: The most comfortable way to earn British Airways Silver status

This is just one example in Economy Basic. Where this gets really lucrative is in the premium classes.

Rather than flying in Economy Basic, let’s look at a domestic destination from New York that has reasonably priced premium fares — I’ve picked Houston (HOU). Given this is a United hub, American Airlines has first-class return fares for under £400.

Or, you can choose to connect twice in first class each way for only around 10% more.

So just for this New York to Houston indirect routing (which books into I class), you would earn a huge 240 Tier Points and 4,530 Avios. If you were chasing Executive Club status, this can be a smart way to reach it quickly.

Related: The craziest things I’ve done for airline elite status this year

Bottom line

I recognise this won’t work for everyone, every time. If you only have a few days for a cheeky New York long weekend away, it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend it flying indirectly across the U.S. But if you are seeking a big boost to your Tier Point balance (and Avios balance as well) and have the time and energy, the U.S. can be a treasure trove by flying indirectly with American Airlines, especially in premium cabins.

Featured photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images.

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