Secret Avios Redemptions — the British Airways Multi-Carrier Award
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British Airways has a completely different redemption chart for redeeming flights on one ticket including two or more BA oneworld partner airlines.
These “Multi-Carrier Awards” are hidden in the depths of the points enthusiast’s arsenal, but their rarity is astounding, when looking at some of the potential value that can be had by booking one of these tickets.
With the recent news that Avios will make redemptions on partner airlines more expensive, British Airways has confirmed to TPG that Multi-Carrier Award pricing is not set to increase, and while the devaluation is not extreme, there may now be even greater value in these special awards.
- You must include two or more BA oneworld partner airlines on the ticket.
- Multiply the Avios cost x1.5 for Premium Economy, x2 for Business, and x3 for First.
- You must still pay taxes in cash.
- Tickets can only be booked via the BA call centre.
How Much Does a Multi-Carrier Award Cost?
British Airways usually charges journeys per sector when using Avios, but it prices these awards based on total mileage per the above chart. This allows multiple flights to be built into the ticket, and is likely to produce a very beneficial cost, especially if a number of shorter flights are included on the ticket.
Use Great Circle Mapper to input your routing and work out the total mileage, and apply that to the chart.
A great advantage can be gained on premium classes. BA usually charges x3 Avios for Business Class and x4 for First Class, but this chart maintains the old BA multiples, charging x2 and x3 for first and business, respectively, so there are huge savings to be found on these premium tickets.
How Do I Book a Multi-Carrier Award?
The most complicated part of the process is finding availability for all the separate flights, that then marry up in a neat ticket with dates within the desired range of each other.
You need to be methodical, patient, and have a sprinkling of luck as you search BA.com for award availability on the various flights.
For some flights, availability may not show properly on BA.com, and you may be better off checking that airline’s own programme for award availability. For example, Qantas Connect flights do not show on BA.com, and rather than calling the BA call centre and painstakingly requesting different dates and times, you can use the Qantas website to search availability.
Once you have all of the flights lined up, call up the BA Executive Club call centre, list each of the flights one by one, and book away!
A Real Life Example
I booked one of these tickets and flew an epic trip last year, making huge savings on both what the cash price would have been (£20,000!) and the Avios cost had I have booked the segments separately. The routing was LHR-HKG-TPE-HKG-PER-LEA-PER overland SIN-LHR with a total mileage of 18,851.
The mileage falls in at the top end of the 14,001-20,000 band, meaning the cost for an economy redemption would have been 100,000 plus taxes and fees.
The actual pricing of a ticket can be hit and miss, and you can only be sure when you call up, but because my longest sector (SIN-LHR) was in business class, the entire trip booked at business class pricing, even though some segments were in first class. The total was 200,000 Avios + £549.77
At the time, I had also checked the price with the first leg as CDG-HKG to avoid some UK taxes. The Avios amount remained at 200,000, but taxes dropped to around £300, a savings of some £250.
In the end, because of flight times, the cost of travel and accommodation in Paris, and maximising days out of the office, I decided the extra cash was worth it to fly from from London. However it is always worth thinking about starting your journey outside of the UK to save on tax.
Here is each separate flight broken down, and the corresponding cost had I booked these outside the multi-carrier award chart:
|Route||Airline||Class||Regular Avios Cost (Cost post-30 May)|
|London Heathrow – Hong Kong||Cathay Pacific||First||120,000 (123,750)|
|Hong Kong – Taipei||Cathay Pacific||First||18,000 (24,000)|
|Taipei – Hong Kong||Cathay Pacific||First||18,000 (24,000)|
|Hong Kong – Perth||Cathay Pacific||Business||60,000 (62,000)|
|Perth – Learmonth||Qantas||Economy (one-class aircraft)||7,500 (9,000)|
|Learmonth – Perth||Qantas||Economy (one-class aircraft)||7,500 (9,000)|
|Singapore – London Heathrow||British Airways||Business||105,000 (no change)|
As this shows, the savings in Avios is significant at 200,000 for the Multi-Carrier Award vs 336,000 if booked separately. Even if the ticket had priced at x3 for First Class (300,000 Avios), it still would have been cheaper to book this way.
The difference is even more stark in light of the increase in Avios pricing for partner airlines. Booking all the separate flights above after 30 May 2019 will likely jump another 20,750 Avios to 356,750.
The Multi-Carrier Award Chart may be one to avoid when booking much shorter Avios trips with multiple oneworld airlines. The end of the chart with lower distances is definitely less lucrative.
However, on much longer and round-the-world type tickets in premium classes, the savings can be significant, especially given the upcoming hike in Avios pricing for partner rewards. Always check the Multi-Carrier Award chart before booking this type of trip to see if a saving can be made, or consider building a trip specifically with this in mind (as I did) to maximise a large stash of Avios.
Featured image by Anna Zvereva via Wikipedia
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