Aer Lingus & Avios Part 1 – Why you should redeem your Avios on Aer Lingus

In one of her tougher Head for Points assignments, Anika spent a few days in Boston recently as the guest of Aer Lingus.  With the bankruptcy of airberlin, Aer Lingus is now the clear choice if you want to redeem Avios points for long-haul business class tickets to North America without paying a fortune in taxes.

The even better news is that Aer Lingus has an excellent business class seat which is now available on all of its aircraft.  It offers, in probably every respect, a better experience than British Airways Club World.  It is ironic that IAG, which owns BA and Aer Lingus, is actually trying to position Aer Lingus as a lower cost option from Europe to North America when it actually has the superior product.

We will be running a series of articles over the next couple of weeks covering:

  • the Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2
  • the immigration pre-clearance experience, and the new pre-clearance airport lounge, in Dublin
  • the Aer Lingus long-haul business class experience

Aer Lingus gave us a return business class ticket free of charge.  As per usual HFP policy, we paid all of our other expenses, except for the hotel in Boston which Hilton gave us in return for a review.

Where does Aer Lingus fly long haul?

The Aer Lingus long haul network has expanded sharply in the last couple of years as new aircraft have been delivered.

They fly almost exclusively to the US – Toronto is the exception – to benefit from the US customs and immigration facilities in Dublin and Shannon.  What this means is that Aer Lingus services land in the US on domestic gates.  If you have no checked baggage, you will be in a taxi within minutes of touching down.

If you live outside London, changing planes in Dublin on the way to the US is no more difficult – and probably smoother – than changing in Heathrow.  Even if you live in the South East, the trade off between changing planes in Dublin but avoiding the queue for US immigration on arrival means that Aer Lingus is still a serious option.  For Avios redemptions, the incentive of a huge taxes and charges saving is also a big incentive!

Aer Lingus will be running the following long-haul services next Summer (ie from March 2018) from Dublin:

  • Miami (3 per week)
  • New York (21 per week)
  • Boston (14 per week)
  • Chicago (14 per week)
  • San Francisco (7 per week)
  • Orlando (4 per week)
  • Philadelphia (4 per week)
  • Toronto (7 per week)
  • Washington (7 per week)
  • Los Angeles (7 per week)
  • Hartford (7 per week)

Aer Lingus business class cabin

How to redeem Avios for Aer Lingus

As a bit of background before we start the reviews, I wanted to briefly run though how you can redeem Avios for Aer Lingus services.

It used to be the case that Aer Lingus seats could only be booked with Avios via a telephone call to British Airways Executive Club, with no way of checking availability online.

This changed in December 2016, when Aer Lingus reward availability was loaded into avios.com.

At the same time, Aer Lingus introduced peak and off-peak pricing.  The list of peak dates does NOT match the British Airways list of peak dates.  You can see the Aer Lingus 2018 peak and off-peak calendar here (the BA and Iberia calendars are here).

Taxes are very low when redeeming Avios for Aer Lingus long-haul flights.   Avios has still found a way to make it confusing, however.

There are now TWO ways of booking a redemption on Aer Lingus:

Option 1 is to use avios.com.  You can book online and you get the widest choice of dates.  You will pay around £200 in taxes and charges for a long-haul flight from Dublin to North America.

or

Option 2 is to use ba.com.  You cannot book online, only by telephone.  Anecdotally, there is less availability than you see via avios.com, and you cannot check availability online before you ring.  However, you will only pay around £75 in taxes and charges for a long-haul flight from Dublin to North America.

Remember that these taxes figures assume you start your trip from Dublin.  If you add in a connection from the UK on the same ticket then you will be hit for long-haul Air Passenger Duty of over £100.  You will probably want to buy or redeem for a separate connecting ticket to Dublin although you should try to stick with Aer Lingus as they will be more inclined to help if your inbound flight is delayed.

But what is it like flying Aer Lingus?

Glad you asked.  Keep an eye on HFP over the next few days!

Aer Lingus & Avios Part 2 - Review of the Aer Lingus Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2
TODAY ONLY: Win a return luxury London airport transfer with REAL Transfers
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Comments

  1. Re: calling BA for £75 taxes. Is this return or one way?

    I recently booked flights to North America return for £150 in taxes (£75 each way) on avios.com with Aer Lingus. This may not always be the case, but I guess it proves it’s possible to find low taxes redemptions on avios.com too.

  2. Good point.
    Rob are we talking £150 return with BA and £200 ret on Avios.com? Just so we are all clear here…

    • The Avios number you can check yourself with a dummy booking but has usually been around £200 Dublin to US. Redemptions via the BA call centre are usually about £75 return based on the reports I’ve seen.

  3. Sorry for the OT, but can anyone tell me, if I cancel a 241 redemption, do the voucher and Avios go back to my account instantly, i.e. can I cancel and then make a new booking right away during the same call?

    Thanks

    • The Avios certainly go back immediately …. would imagine the 241 does too.

      • Not always. I cancelled a 241 on LHR-BKK a couple of months ago and it took around a week to get the Avios back and when I complained it was not instant / near instant, they said it could take overnight to update (nonsense) and then they said up to 3 days.

        I did not need the Avios but they did say I could use the ones refunded but not returned though only via the telephone.

        I would suggest not cancelling online if you have an immediate need to use elsewhere and doing it all on the phone, even if using T355.

      • Simon Bostic says:

        It goes back quickly – perhaps not instantaneously?
        What can be very delayed in the issuance of the voucher in the first place from Amex when you qualify for it.

    • I had to do a redemption cancellation over the phone (to make an open jaw booking), the 241 voucher reappeared straight away, the avios recredited straight away, and the avios seats were rebookable straight away. The BA operator did give a big warning beforehand that she didnt know what would happen.

  4. No bits today so apologies for this OT query.

    I’ve just upgraded fro gold to plat amex. I have a supplementary card on my gold account (did this for the 3000MR points). Given that 1st supp card also gets lounge access would they issue a new supplementary card to replace the current gold one or would I need to make a fresh application for this?

  5. OT – best executive lounge in London with hotel at “reasonable” cost.

    Thinking about a few days staying in London. Last time stayed at the Conrad in St James and would return but if staying 5 days and not just 3, we may need more in hotel facilities than the Conrad provides.

    We like lazy hours between outside things in the lounge and before heading out for dinner. Reasonably quiet, decent selection of wines and nibbles, not full of riff raff on Lastminute.com bargains etc.

    Junior suite / family room or 2nd room prices probably more important as is the ability (if required) to negotiate as this would be the week or so before Christmas and thus quiet on the hotel front.

    • “may need more in hotel facilities than the Conrad provides”

      such as??

      • Sorry, primarily the fact that the Conrad doesn’t have a pool, which we probably wouldn’t use on a 2 night stay but we would possibly miss if there for 5 or 6 days.

    • For the “best executive lounge”, I would suggest the IC Park Lane but it is likely to be pricey.

      Depending on which parts of London you are planning to visit, the IC O2 could also be a good option and will probably be much cheaper.

      IMO, both are far superior (especially the club lounge offerings) to the Conrad St James.

      • Staying West End, Central, possibly Kensington. Could make an argument for Islington as I lived in Angel but not really enough there for 5 days.

        No reason to go to the Docklands really.

        I take the point on the IC Park Lane and the relative cost.

        Any knowledge on the top end Marriott hotels around town ?

    • Similar Q just yesterday, Hilton Waldorf and Canary Wharf also mentioned….

  6. Kilburnflyer says:

    *Redeeming Avios on Aer Lingus: BA over phone v Avios.com *

    Previously booking via BA over the phone meant that all Aer Lingus bookings were charged at the peak (no off-peak at any time) partner rate.

    Would I be correct in saying you can now book with Avios off-peak rates using both BA over the phone AND avios.com?

    Essentially I’d rather pay lower tax component (ie with BA over the phone) but not if avios cost is higher: eg. DUB-YYZ = 13,000 avios off-peak v 20,000 peak in economy one-way

  7. I have redeemed avios for an aer lingus flight, but unable to pick seats or do anything on the aer lingus website as it is classed as a third party booking.
    Looking forward to the worst seats on the plane

  8. OT – Sorry.
    If you register your credit cards withe the BA shopping portal for “In Store” purchases, do you get the bonus Avios in addition to any rewards that you would normally accumulate with that particular card? i.e. If I registered my Virgin Atlantic Visa card would I get Avios for the purchase as well as the usual 0.5 VA mile/£?

    If so, I think I’ve been missing a trick for some time.

    • Yep, you’ll get your normal points that you get via your card and then extra points for shopping in certain stores that are available on Instore avios. It’s very lucrative!

      • I should really pay more attention!

        Thanks Lewis, I’d best get my cards registered when I get home this evening.

  9. Are there other sweet spots for aer lingus?
    OH will have nearly 40 or 50,000 mr points, and has around 10,000 avios(not as much as some of you, but hoping to get our first flight redemption soon) I’m hoping to work towards the same too by him referring me to amex gold.

    He will be closing his amex plat soon and was wondering on some decent redemption routes, so we know where to move MR points
    Thinking of sq or aer Dublin?
    Would love to travel east, ideas anyone?

    • East – Moscow with BA?

      • Was thinking Asia, maybe Bali

        • It really does take a year or two to build up the number of avios required for Asia. If you were able to, it might be better to take advantage of the next good Qatar sale and fly from Europe. Best deals appear to be from Scandinavia. You could use your avios for your positioning flight. That way you get to enjoy J class, and earn avios too.
          But do keep referring each other. Your hubby will get another 18k for referring you to gold. And you will earn 9k for your spend. So they do add up.
          Your hubby ought to get referred for the BAPP Amex which would give your avios another boost of 26k. Once you earn your 241 voucher you can refer the other one, and then cancel for a pro rata refund. There needs to be a lot of careful planning timing wise etc, as you must have cancelled the card for at least 6 mths before being referred again. So always hold onto the card for well over 6/12 before either of you refer the other back. Lots to learn about but it takes time. Therefore one of you has a BA Amex at any one time whilst the other has MR card. Not for the faint hearted, needs guts!

    • The 50k SQ redemption to the Middle East mentioned in the other thread today is a bit of an MR sweet-spot east.
      Otherwise you should probably choose between using your avios for shorthaul RFS, or playing the long-game and going for longhaul business class: get a BA Ames and earn the voucher (£10k spend, £195 fee, earning 40k avios in the process). Then you need 175k for Singapore for example, and £1100 in fees.

      • Thanks Polly and pauldb
        Can’t really get the ba amex as we don’t have that much spend. Will try the gold amex route though.
        I’m thinking to maybe do it one way and pay the other fare.
        Can’t justify the spend for Qatar sale too even though one route I saw for around 850 sounds so good, would need a lot of convincing oh. How much avoid would one of those routes earn?

        • Are you aware of preparing your bills to up the spend. Get pay point cards from utilities tv licence gas elect council tax if poss pay by amex at local co op. Plus prepay mobile on by amex. Most take amex. If near the 10 k spend then top up with your grocery store like Tesco gift cards. Or pre authorise a bill in advance with billhop linked to your amex card. Use PayPal option on line if they don’t accept amex..then pay by amex. Loads of ways to use amex out there. Really worth shooting for a 241 in your case…then once banked refer oh while u wait another 6 months. It does work rotating bapp and Gold…with each other..

  10. OT: need 4 Club reward flights to Nassau for Nov next year. My worry is that I book the outbound 355 days before when they come out and then do not succeed to get 4 inbound when they are released. I guess then to cancel the outbound will cost £300.

    Does BA always tend to release 4 club tickets Lon -Nassau?
    What do you think are my chances?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks

    • It would cost 4 x £35 = £140 to cancel, no?
      No guarantee of 4 J tickets being released. Only 2 J and 4 Y.

    • Using baredemptionfinder and setting up alerts can help to build an upcoming picture for a location, but obviously not an exact science and carries significant risk. In my experience 4x J to Caribbean destinations are not likely at peak times.

    • I get the same flight to GCM every other year, they hardly ever release more than 2 CW seats. If you do a full year search on the redemption finder there are maybe 3 days in the whole year with 4 x CW seats. Last year I got 2 redemption seats and paid for one cash seat, other times we get 3 x CW to somewhere like New York or Miami for an add-on stay and get connecting flights separately.

      • Be aware as well that unlike other Caribbean destinations, BA 253 to NAS/GCM departs from Heathrow.

  11. the real harry1 says:

    O/T- massive Airbus order for WizzAir – implications?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/airbus-record-deal-indigo-partners-430-planes-a320-aviation-manufacturers-a8055636.html

    WizzAir have just ordered another 146 planes (72 A320neo, 74 A321neo)
    [cf current fleet
    87 in service
    171 on order]

    this obviously marks massive expansion plans by WizzAir – going from 87 planes to 404, ie over 450% increase – I don’t think there’s double counting or substitution of one model on order for another, but an element of that is possible (the Independent article says these are new orders)

    BA fleet is 273 planes, presumably with larger average capacity per aircraft

    whilst WizzAir is listed on the LSE, it has effective private equity ownership (Indigo Partners) who will want an exit in due course

    WizzAir’s concentration on East Europe presumably makes it a fairly good fit with all of the West Europe big 3 (IAG, AF/KLM, Lufthansa), less of a good fit with Ryanair and EasyJet though not bad

    will be interesting to see how this develops – in the short to medium term looks as if the cheap end of European air travel will stay amazing competitive and decent chance of WizzAir opening up many new routes to/from UK

  12. Hey guys. I need some off-topic advice re Stockholm lounges. We are flying out of Stockholm to Bangkok and have a few hours to kill at the airport. We are flying with Qatar. Any advice as to most comfortable and luxury lounge much appreciated.,

    • I’ve only been to SAS lounge which was very comfy and food was exquisite (disclaimer: I have a soft spot for Scandi food which I think is the best food in the (Western) world). But you are unlikely to get there if you fly with Qatar… They also have another independent lounge, Mingis, if I recall correct, (I’ve only been to reception area though) but that didn’t look promising.

      • Thanks Alex, actually here now in Stockholm Terminal 5 waiting for Qatar flight, there was only one choice of lounge, access after passing through passport control. No hot food, no spirits (was dieing for a whisky!), and no more than 6 people for the three hours we had here.

  13. Doing some rough calcs there for a family of 4 travelling from Glasgow to North America, once return flights and baggage fees from GLA to DUB are factored in there doesn’t seem to be much of a saving versus going with BA through LHR, even if you managed to achieve £75 per head fees for the transatlantic sectons.
    Plus the BA off peak calendar is more generous towards Scottish school holiday times so there’s more opportunity to save on Avios consumption with BA.

    • Really? Aren’t taxes GLA-North America c.£600 pp on BA? Assuming the avios price is the same, surely you can pick up a GLA-DUB flight with luggage for less than c.£525? Even if there is a difference in the calendars and at 1p avios valuation, you can get the GLA-DUB flight for less than £325 per person?

      • I’ve already booked GLA to YYZ next summer with BA. Taxes/ fees were circa £900 in total. Plus with one leg being off peak we saved 28,000 Avios compared with Aer Lingus.

        • Are youse talking economy here? Most times UK to USA is 500 quid plus with BA. That’s why we go IB via Easyjet and Madrid!

        • FYI Colin, I am talking economy. Don’t know the ins & outs but the BA fees for GLA to YYZ in total were £900 for 2 adults & 2 kids.

          I did look at Iberia but they don’t fly to Toronto. Maybe another time…

    • No option for using Norwegian out of EDI? They dont penalise on one way fares, so you could look at mixing up Norwegian with one way avios redemption for the return leg.

      • Cheers, maybe one to consider in future.

        We had the option of a direct flight from GLA to YYZ with Air Transat for around a grand extra, but tbh I’d rather splash the Avios and save the cash if it means crossing the pond in a 787 as opposed to a 30 year old A310. Even if that also means enduring LHR.

  14. Wakewakewake says:

    O/T

    Amazon have started early Black Friday deals. Decent prices on Echo and Echo dot (£69 and £35 respectively).

    Not sure if anyone’s aware of any current offers/promos on Amazon / Amex to combine. Used up the £15 off for £25 on my account and OH’s a long time ago…

  15. OT but Award calendar related. Iberia shows 1-4 Nov 2018 as off peak and 26-31 Oct plus 5-11 Nov as peak. However the whole period 26Oct to Nov 12 is pricing as peak.