Rate my redemption: open-jaw first and business class to the United States, using 155,000 Avios

Aug 1, 2022

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a series to help you redeem your miles and points for maximum value. If you would like our loyalty experts to rate your redemption please email  ben.smithson@thepointsguy.co.uk with a description of what you redeemed your airline, hotel or credit card points or miles for, and why. Please do not include any personally identifying information like PNRs, or passport details.


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Today, TPG reader Nick shares his most recent redemption.

One of my bucket list items is to drive Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, however as my wife works in a school we are tied into peak dates for holidays. 

Armed with my British Airways Amex Companion Voucher, I booked 2 x Club World seats for the London (LHR) – Chicago (ORD) sector (using 60,000 Avios) as soon as they were released online at 1.00am 355 days before departure.  I added the return Los Angeles (LAX) – London leg by phoning BA the day they were released, so overall I was very happy to have been able to use my voucher & 135,000 Avios in total to secure 2 x Club World seats on a popular long-haul route in peak season.

I also have SeatSpy alerts set up for First availability on both sectors, so when I received a notification recently that First seats had been released for the Chicago flight, a quick call to BA ensured that I grabbed those (for an extra 20k Avios & even a small refund on the taxes previously paid!).  Here’s hoping that I’m similarly lucky for the return flight from LAX…

Overall, the flight cost for my wife & I (LHR-ORD in First, LAX-LHR in Club World) is 155,000 Avios & £1,245 in fees/surcharges/taxes.

You might already know the British Airways Companion Voucher from American Express can be used for mixed-cabin redemptions which are handy when you can’t find availability in the higher class of service on both legs, or perhaps you only have enough Avios for the higher class in one direction.

By using the handy Seat Spy tool, which the TPG U.K. team uses all the time, Nick was alerted as soon as two first class seats opened up and it was a simple matter of calling BA to move up to the higher class by paying the extra Avios required. The small refund of fees and taxes doesn’t sound quite right and may have been a lucky error in Nick’s favour.

A little-known perk of the already valuable Companion Voucher is that it can be used for open-jaw itineraries. This is where you fly into one city and out of another. This could be useful if you are doing a land journey like Nick is from Chicago to Los Angeles and you don’t want to backtrack to fly home, or perhaps you can’t find availability to fly out of the same city you flew into, so are willing to travel in order to fly home in the desired class of service (for example, you may fly into Miami, but out of Orlando).

The rule for open jaws is that the distance between the airport you are flying into, and out of (so in Nick’s case, the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles) cannot be longer than either of the flights you are trying to use the Companion Voucher for. You can use the free gcmap.com tool to work out the distance by entering the various airport codes.

Related: Open-jaw Companion Vouchers mean 2 holidays in 1: TPG reader success story

In Nick’s case even though the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles ‘as the crow flies is 1,744 miles, it is much shorter than either flight to/from London, so this open-jaw itinerary is allowed with a Companion Voucher.

While the £1,245 in fees, taxes and surcharges will sting, there’s, unfortunately, no way of getting around these especially if you wish to commence your journey in London.

Related: Why are the fees, taxes and surcharges on Avios redemptions so high?

Hopefully, the two first class seats open up from Los Angeles for Nick’s return journey, but regardless I rate this as an excellent redemption and savvy use of both Seat Spy and the Companion Voucher’s generous open-jaw rule.

Featured image by by Ann Kathrin- Boppv/Unsplash

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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