Today’s post is about how to redeem your Avios on short haul European flights which are flown by long-haul aircraft (ie a 747, 777, A380, A330, A340 etc).
Why would you want to do this? Well, for fun!
European business class flights are rarely exciting. Yes, BA offers you an empty middle seat, free champagne, some average food. At the end of the day, though, you are still sat in pretty much the same seat – with another inch or two or legroom and width – as everyone else.
However, wouldn’t it be great if you could fly a long-haul plane around Europe? It may only be a couple of hours to Madrid, but if you could get yourself a flat-bed seat – and for the same number of Avios as a seat on a standard plane – that would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?
The reason you can (very occasionally) do this is mainly due to ‘fifth freedom’ flying rights. This allows an aircraft to fly between two countries as a ‘tag’ to another flight. The flight would not be viable if the aircraft could not drop passengers in both cities.
(British Airways has a number of ‘fifth freedom’ flights of its own, around the Middle East and Caribbean. See this post for details, and how you can book them as Reward Flight Saver.)
This post from US blog Hack My Trip offers a pretty comprehensive list of all of the ‘fifth freedom’ flights currently operating. All of those under the ‘oneworld’ heading can be booked with Avios.
There is one European oneworld flight which is worth knowing about.
LAN Chile operates a flight from Madrid to Frankfurt using a long-haul Airbus A340 aircraft. At some point this year, this should be switching to a brand new Boeing 787 which would be very interesting to try out.
(EDIT, 14 January: “LAN is temporary suspending Frankfurt service from 01APR13 to 29JUN13. During this period, LAN will only operate Santiago de Chile – Madrid sector. With the latest service adjustment, LAN’s Boeing 787 aircraft remains on schedule to enter service to Madrid from 01APR13, but Frankfurt service will be postponed until 30JUN13.”
Here is the LAN A340 business class seat, which becomes fully flat albeit sloping to the floor:
It is certainly better than your standard European business class seat. LAN also has a good reputation for service and crew.
You can book this flight using Avios via ba.com. Search for January 24th, for example. A one-way flight from Madrid to Frankfurt in business class is 15,000 Avios plus roughly £16 in taxes. The flight is 2 hours 50 minutes.
You could tie this in with another long-haul oddity. Iberia runs a long-haul A330 or A340 from Heathrow to Madrid most days.
Typically, it is one of the flights leaving between 5pm and 7pm. This would get you the Iberia long-haul business class seat:
You could even do a special weekend with this, flying from London to Madrid on the A340. You could return on the Madrid to Frankfurt LAN flight, and then catch a standard flight from Frankfurt to London!
Finally, Qatar Airways is due to join oneworld during 2013. This will open up some other interesting redemption options and give you a chance to try their fantastic business product.
Qatar runs the following ‘fifth freedom’ routes in Europe according to the Hack My Trip post I mentioned above:
- Budapest – Zagreb
- Baku – Tbilisi
- Bucharest – Sofia
There are also some ‘fifth freedom’ routes in Europe you can redeem using Star Alliance and Skyteam miles. The Hack My Trip list I mentioned above lists:
- Munich – Athens (Air China, Star Alliance)
- Manchester – Munich (Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance)
- Vienna – Zurich (Korean Air, Skyteam)
(Thanks to Jonathan for the idea for this post)