How to get a better Avios Oz / New Zealand deal using the multi-partner chart

I get a steady stream of emails asking about how to book Avios tickets to Australia or New Zealand.  My honest answer is – don’t bother.  Use cash.

There are three reasons for this:

Avios availability, if using a 2-4-1 voucher, is exceptionally hard to get.  You need to route via Singapore which means you are competing with people who just want an Avios ticket to go there. Capacity on the route has also shrunk massively since Virgin withdrew and BA downsized to a Boeing 777.  This means that it is rare to see more than the two guaranteed Club World seats in premium cabins.  It is rumoured that BA actually makes a profit on the Sydney service these days after years of losses.

The taxes and charges on rewards are disproportionately high.  Using British Airways, a Club World redemption costs 300,000 Avios (peak) or 250,000 Avios (off-peak) plus £700 per person.

Cash tickets to Australasia are disproportionately low.  On a ‘pound per mile flown’ basis, Australasia is astonishingly cheap if you pay.  Malaysia Airlines was selling business class for London for £1,500 return in its January sale.  Qatar Airways has been selling Auckland from various European cities for £1,600 recently.  Garuda Indonesia was selling Sydney for £1,900 from London a few weeks ago.  When you factor in the taxes on an Avios ticket, plus the huge amount of miles earned back for paying cash, plus the ability to pick and choose when you go, it is no surprise that redemptions look second best.

To put the availability issue in context, at the time of writing there are just 7 days between 1st October 2017 and 31st August 2018 when you get ONE Club World seat between Singapore and Sydney.  In the six months between 1st October and 31st March there are just two days you can fly.

There is, however, one way to get an Avios reward flight to Australasia with far fewer availability issues and using far fewer Avios.  The only snag is that you can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

95% of British Airways Avios collectors do not know that BA has a second redemption chart.

Many of you will never have seen this chart before (click to enlarge) or at least not before you started reading HFP:

OneWorld Avios redemption chart

You can see the original by clicking here to ba.com and scrolling down to click on ‘Partner Airlines’ and then ‘Avios costs for booking on two or more oneworld airlines’.

This is the reward chart that British Airways uses to price redemptions which include two or more oneworld partner airlines, excluding British Airways.

If, for example, you flew from London to Amman on Royal Jordanian and then caught a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, it would be priced using the chart above.

The chart above is for economy travel.  Multiply by two for business class and by three for first class.

Take a moment to note what I just wrote.  Whilst a standard Avios redemption in Business Class on BA costs 3x an economy redemption, using the multi-partner chart only costs 2x.  This makes the multi-partner chart very good value for Business or First Class Avios tickets.

How to use this chart to get to Australasia

If you use oneworld partner airlines to get to Australasia, you have a lot of options.

You have Finnair, which flies to many key cities in Asia.  Cathay Pacific can get you into Hong Kong and then down to Australasia.  Japan Airlines can do the same via Tokyo.  Qatar Airways can do the same via Doha.  Malaysia Airlines can do the same via Kuala Lumpur.  And, of course, there is Qantas too.

You will struggle to find a way of not finding business class availability when you have all these airlines to choose from.

Here is a real example from a Head for Points reader which was sent to me recently:

Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda (Japan Airlines)  5,957 miles

3 day stopover

Tokyo Narita to Brisbane (Qantas)  4,426 miles

Holiday

Cairns to Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific)  3,451 miles

3 day stopover

Hong Kong to Manchester (Cathay Pacific)  5,988 miles

Because this involves three non-BA oneworld airlines it prices off the multi-partner chart above.  As he is travelling 19,822 miles, the total cost in Business Class is 200,000 Avios plus £571 of taxes.

This is a far better deal than 300,000 Avios (peak day) plus £700 of taxes if you booked London to Sydney on British Airways in Club World – and you won’t be doing that anyway, because availability is virtually non-existent.

The itinerary above is actually a very simplistic way of using the multi-partner chart.  If it wasn’t for the fact that this itinerary is so close to the 20,000 mile threshold, you could have added in a number of domestic flights on Qantas or Japan Airlines.

What else can you do with the multi-partner reward chart?

Here is an example, courtesy of Flyertalk, of a round-the-world routing using the multi-partner chart.  London – Delhi – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Los Angeles – New York – London is just under 20,000 miles.  This would be 200,000 Avios in Business Class for the whole trip.

It is worth noting that I have never seen a firm list of the rules for booking multi-partner reward tickets.  Most BA call centre agents will never have booked one.

In theory you are limited to eight sectors with just one overland sector – although a recent Flyertalk example had multiple overland sectors and was ticketed.

In theory you need to have every segment in the same class as just one in a higher class will reprice the entire itinerary.  However, some people have reportedly had agents charge based on the longest class flown, ie if 60% is economy and 40% First then they were charged economy!

In theory you can book a segment in economy – and the rest of the itinerary in business – and upgrade that segment later for free if availability in business appears

In theory, there are no rules on backtracking.  One example I saw was basically multiple holidays from London to somewhere, back to back, to get to eight sectors!  It seems that you can book, say, London to Qatar and home, London to Hong Kong and home, London to Tokyo and home, London to Kuala Lumpur and home as one booking – as long as you are using at least two oneworld carriers – and save a huge number of Avios on booking four holidays separately!

In truth, no-one seems clear.  The ‘eight flights maximum’ rule does seem to be firm – but that still gives you a huge amount of flexibility to put together a great trip.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Can you book OW partner redemptions with any OW carrier? I want to book a cathay pacific flight from PVG to BKK via HKG. Do you know if I can book this via iberia plus, rather than BA as it seems that it requires less avios with iberia plus?

    • You cannot cancel oneworld partner flights if booked via Iberia – be warned.

      But, yes, they can book it – phone only with IB I think? – if you move Avios across.

    • Mind you, Ib+ only allows return rewards on oneworld partner flights. As Rob said, not cancellable. You should be able to search it online.

  2. ‘You cannot cancel oneworld partner flights if booked via Iberia – be warned.’

    Rob – does this mean that booked Iberia metal flights on Iberia’s website are safe for a points refund if you have to cancel? What about the Iberia flights which are booked with avios through BA’s website – are those points refunded if you have to cancel

  3. Off topic, If I booked a Qatar airways flight to Bangkok via Doha that did not have a BA codeshare, will I still get 560 tier points if I credit the flight to my BA Exec account?

    • Yes, normal One World rules apply, just make
      sure you add your BA exec club number to the booking and ideally check it’s there when you check in. Partner airline credits can take a bit longer to appear but should come through automatically eventually.

    • Yes, no problem. Qatar is in oneworld so you get Avios.

  4. Prins Polo says:

    is there any rule on the maximum allowed length of the overland sector?

  5. Does anyone know if flights have to start and end in the same place – for example, can I fly from LHR-DOH-SYD, then HKG-LHR using this? I have a load of Star Alliance miles I can use to get me from SYD-HKG so don’t necessarily have to use Avios for that leg.

  6. Rob can I ask is there any way of checking availability on Partner sectors online or do I need to check each proposed sector with a telephone agent? Thanks

  7. If you want to get to NZ from the UK, maybe just worth paying £3100 for CX business class. Lots of dates at that price over the southern hemisphere summer period, and they are starting to fly from HKG direct to CHC as well as AKL. Loads of flights from the UK, great lounges, HK is a fab city for a stopover…..

    Some of these super-cheap business class deals seem to involve jumping through hoops that add stress and complexity that defeats the point of travelling business class in the first place !

  8. Leor Franks says:

    Hi. Has anyone managed to book using these rates? I’ve tried five times but each person I speak to at BA claims it doesn’t apply or can’t be used. Thoroughly confused! Thanks