I’m currently in the process of booking my trip for early January 2015 for a quick weekend trip with my family to watch my brother run in the 10k race as part of the marathon weekend. I normally would have booked this trip much earlier but things have been busy (and a little procrastination) so just getting around to getting everything finalized now. With christmas coming up I was looking to make this trip as frugal as possible which meant minimizing as many costs as I can.
With the date getting close I wanted to find and book my flights first because those prices can vary the most. Flight prices can become especially expensive as you get closer to the departure date so with under a month to go I had to book!
Doing a Kayak.com search showed that flights were going for between $250-300 depending on the exact dates. I’d much rather save the $300 to spend on Christmas so I started looking into my options to pay for my flight down using points.
My first stop was Southwest.com to see what rates were for flights on points. We were limited to having to fly down as early on Thursday morning as possible so my brother could pick up his race information at the expo so an early morning flight on Thursday was our only option.
After looking at Southwest they were charging a whopping 14,781 points one way for the Thursday morning flight which is very high, more than I wanted to shell out for that flight. I also checked out the flights home on Monday 1/12 and flights were going for 14,000+ points as well.
Not wanted to drop 28,000 points for for the flight down I decided to look into another option that not many people are aware of – British Airways Avios points.
British Airways calls their miles Avios (not sure why they have a special name) but they’re the same as any other frequent flier mile.
But British Airways? How am I going to use those miles to get to Orlando??
British Airways is part of the One World alliance that includes American Airlines and US Airways. That means that you can redeem British Airways Avios miles for US Airways flights.
One very unique thing about Avios is how they determine how many miles are needed for a flight. Their pricing for flights is based on the distance of the flight which makes sense – shorter flights cost less miles, longer flights cost more miles. Check out their chart below:
To find out the distance between Philadelphia and Orlando I enter those two airports into this WebFlyer tool to find out that the distance is only 863 miles. Looking at the chart my flight each way would only be 7500 miles for a total of 15,000 roundtrip – much less than the almost 29,000 miles that Southwest was asking for.
To find my flights I searched on the British Airrways website that allows you to search for flights on US Airways or American. After logging into the British Airways site I search for award flights using Avios with my locations and dates that I wanted to fly.
Luckily there are many flights with award availability open for the dates I wanted to travel and the ideal times too. All I need to do is select the flights what I want that are marked Available and complete the checkout process.
British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and you can also earn Avios points through the British Airways branded credit card. I had about 20,000 points from my recent Chase Freedom card signup so I transferred them off to British Airways.
After the points transferred over in about a day I went ahead and booked flights, total cost: 15,000 points + $11.20 in fees/taxes. If I were to pay outright it would have been about $250 which means I’m getting about $0.016 in value from my miles – not the best but it saves me $250 in the end.
I wanted to share this post with you to show you what there are many ways that you can use miles and points to fly to Disney for pennies on the dollar. Not many people know about British Airways Avios miles but as you can see for short flights they can be incredibly valuable for flights within the US on American or US Airways.
My go-to airline is still Southwest because of their lack of fees, free checked bags and flexible frequent flier program but in this case British Airways Avios miles for a US Airways flight worked out much better in my case.
Now that I have my flight to Orlando booked for my quick weekend trip in January it’s time to start looking for a hotel for my stay using points of course. I have plenty of SPG and Hilton points so I’m hoping that I can leverage those to reduce or eliminate the cost of my hotel stay.
This was a more complex award booking using British Airways, Chase Ultimate Rewards and US Airways – if you have any questions about how I did this post in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond to each question!