Have Avios But Don’t Live in London? Here Are Some Ways to Redeem From Your Local Airport

May 30, 2019

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There are more than 60 million people living in the United Kingdom and many of us love to travel. Not everyone lives in London or close enough to the city’s six airports to make the most of all of the points, miles and deals advice that is focussed on our capital. So it’s important to also highlight how to maximise your points and miles in cities other than London.

As British Airways is our nation’s flag carrier airline, there’s a lot to know to know about its mileage currency, Avios. There is more than meets the eye than just British Airways redemptions from London — you can redeem Avios with different airlines from airports across the UK. The great thing is, to work out how many miles your flight will cost you, you just have to use the same reward chart as Ben explains in his ultimate guide to BA Avios. There’s just one other thing to remember: Flights with partner airlines will always be priced at the ‘peak’ rate even if the date is showing fares with BA at an ‘off peak’ rate.

Before jumping into Avios redemptions, it’s important to note that you don’t need to have a full Avios account balance right now. Avios can be earned in a number of ways — and not only by flying. American Express Membership Rewards points, which are earned from a number of credit cards, can also be transferred to the British Airways Executive Club program at a 1:1 rate.

Aer Lingus

Dublin is a popular weekend break destination from the UK. You can fly direct with Aer Lingus from most UK airports including Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS), Cardiff (CWL), Glasgow (GLA), Edinburgh (EDI), Jersey (JER), Isle of Man (IOM), Leeds Bradford (LBA), Manchester (MAN), Newcastle (NCL) and Newquay (NQY).

To book, there are two options:

  1. Book online by logging into avios.com
  2. Call British Airways and book over the phone, as Aer Lingus flights do not show using ba.com.

Aer Lingus is currently waiting for delivery of its first brand new A321LR aircraft, which it will operate primarily on transatlantic routes to North America. So as well as using Aer Lingus for your weekend trips to Dublin, it could act as a great, modern alternative than flying to North America via London (LHR) on British Airways’ rather aging fleet of Boeing 777s and 747s.

American Airlines

In addition to London, American Airlines operates a direct daily flight from Philadelphia (PHL) to Manchester (MAN) and Edinburgh (EDI). If you’re able to find availability, it’ll cost you around 60,000 Avios and £419 in fees.

You can also fly this route via London, which seems to have a lot more availability. This can take more than double the time that a direct flight with American would take, depending on the connection time in London. Be wary when doing this that not all options include connections in the same London airport, so you may end up flying from Edinburgh (EDI) to London City (LCY) and then from Heathrow (LHR) to Philadelphia (PHL).

The cost via London is 10,000 Avios less, but £140 more expensive in taxes. It depends what you value more here, but I personally feel the direct flight and less up front cash makes the American Airlines option more appealing.

British Airways

British Airways operates all of its long-haul flights out of either London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW). Depending on where you live in the UK, it might not be easy for you to get to those airports. If you absolutely did want to redeem your Avios with British Airways, then you can connect on direct flights from various cities around the country to at least one of the airline’s London hubs from Aberdeen (ABZ), Belfast City (BHD), Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA), Jersey (JER), Leeds (LBA), Manchester (MAN) and Newcastle (NCL).

Domestic connecting flights to Heathrow don’t actually incur a higher Avios cost but only an increase — sometimes quite substantially — in taxes.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is arguably one of the world’s best airlines connecting Hong Kong to the rest of the world, including Manchester. The A350 aircraft that the airline uses for the route is one of the best currently in the skies.

The best way to book is through ba.com where you can find availability in business class for around 90,000 Avios and £246 in fees.

It’s actually 15,000 Avios less expensive to fly via London with British Airways, but the fees to be paid in cash are twice as much as going direct. Using TPG UK’s current Avios valuation of 1.2p, the 15,000 Avios surplus to fly Cathay has a value of £180 but the indirect flight is £257 more expensive in tax. Overall this makes the indirect flight technically more expensive. So, not only would you be paying more for an indirect flight, you’d also be getting an inferior business class product.

Hong Kong also acts as a great gateway to the rest of the world. Let’s use Tokyo as an example. A flight from Manchester (MAN) to Tokyo (NRT) connecting in Hong Kong (HKG) will cost you about £1,600 including taxes as per TPG UK’s current Avios valuations.

The same journey but via London with British Airways immediately appears cheaper, as it only costs 75,000 Avios and £477 in fees. When converted into cash value, it comes out at £1,377 — a bit cheaper than Cathay Pacific. In this instance, it would come down to personal preference as to which option you deem most valuable. Personally, I think I would pay the extra to fly Cathay Pacific’s business class rather than British Airways’ Club World.

Finnair

Finnair is the flag carrier for Finland and boasts more than 200 connections from Europe to Asia. The airline markets its routes to Asia from Europe as being the quickest thanks to the latitude of Helsinki, the airline’s hub, and the ability to then take shorter routes thanks to the curvature of the earth. The majority of Finnair’s long-haul fleet is made up of the new Airbus A350 aircraft, which would more than likely offer you better comfort than flying one of British Airways’ older aircraft on the long flight to Asia. Finnair has direct flights from Helsinki to London (LHR), Manchester (MAN) and Edinburgh (EDI).

It was difficult to find availability on ba.com from Manchester (MAN) to Tokyo (NRT) with Finnair, but I got results by splitting the two journeys up. The first leg is only around 7,500 Avios and £59 in economy.

The long-haul flight from to Helsinki (HEL) to Tokyo (NRT) is around 75,000 Avios +£75

Doing the same trip with British Airways but via London (LHR), will cost you around 75,000 Avios and £503 in taxes. While the BA-operated option from MAN via LHR will save you 7,500 Avios, flying Finnair will save you more £300 in fees, making the option via Helsinki very interesting.

Iberia Express

Iberia Express, a subsidiary of the Spanish flag carrier Iberia, has direct flights from Madrid to Birmingham (BHX), Edinburgh (EDI) and Manchester (MAN). Availability for these flights doesn’t show up using BA.com so the best thing to do is call British Airways. The same BA award chart prices apply to these flights.

Qatar

Qatar Airways is one of the big three Middle Eastern airlines that flies Brits from Birmingham (BHX), Cardiff (CWL), Edinburgh (EDI) and Manchester (MAN) to destinations all over the globe via Doha (DOH). The airline revolutionised business class travel with the first-of-its-kind suite-style business class and even has a very good economy class product, especially on the airline’s A380 aircraft, which I recently flew from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR).

Let’s use Cardiff as the example this time. You can fly from the Welsh capital to Hong Kong for a total of around 120,000 Avios plus £322 in taxes. Finding availability was easy, and as British Airways doesn’t have a connection from any London airport to Cardiff, this is an excellent way to redeem Avios if you live in Wales and want to get to Doha and beyond.

Bottom Line

If you live outside of London, there are plenty of ways you can look at using your Avios for the redemptions you’ve always wanted to make. Using British Airways’ partner network can help get you closer to your trip, and thanks to easy searching on BA.com or by making a quick phone call, you can get on your way to redeeming your points.

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