Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

“What is a good destination for an Oct / Nov redemption using an Amex 2-4-1 voucher?”

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Over Easter, I will be answering a number of the reader questions that were submitted via this article.  If you didn’t take part this time, don’t worry as I will be re-running this feature in the Summer.  Feel free to expand on or critique my answer using the Comments section below!

Today’s question is from Ben who asked:

I’ve got my (British Airways American Express) companion voucher and 100-120k Avios to spend, looking for flights in oct/nov… Any recommendations for destinations to look at? I’ve had very little success on the BA site. Do they release further reward seats at later points?

BA Premium Plus Amex

The second part of the question has no simple answer.  In general, BA has moved away somewhat from opening up a lot of redemption seats 355 days in advance to a more drip-drip approach.

This has some benefits – you don’t necessarily need to plan a year ahead – but does make planning more hit and miss as you’re finding.

The way around it is, in part, linked to the issue of where you want to go.

Let’s say you wanted to go to California.  There are direct flights to San Francisco and LA, of course.  However, BA also flies to San Diego and Las Vegas, and all four of these cities are a good place to start a California driving holiday.

Similarly, a driving holiday in New England is a great thing to do in October during the ‘leaf peeping’ season.  Flying to Boston is the obvious thing to do, but you can also do it via New York (just get in the car at JFK and drive north, avoiding NYC itself) or even via Washington – a connecting flight is short and cheap using Avios.

Remember also that you can arrive and depart from a different airport with a 2-4-1 voucher, which gives more flexibility.  Some car rental firms are also happy, especially in California, to let you drop the car at a different location without charging large penalties.

If you are fixed on a route and a date, then my advice is ‘get on the plane’.  If all you can get is World Traveller Plus, then book that.  You have your seats, you can focus on booking hotels etc, and if better seats open up in First or Club World then you can make the change easily.

(Remember also that, whilst you don’t have enough Avios to fly First to California, 120k IS enough for First Class one way and World Traveller Plus in the other direction.  You need to ring BA to mix classes on a 2-4-1, it can’t be booked online.)

Other options for October?

Mexico is fantastic.  A holiday mixing Mexico City with an internal flight to the coast for a few days is something everyone should do.

India is good at that time of year, with the heat subsiding.  The Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – possibly Udaipur triangle is something to do once in your life.

Barbados is outside peak season then, and Barbados rarely (literally twice a century) gets hit by hurricanes.

The Middle East is still pleasantly warm.

I’m not sure about Asia in the Autumn, I can’t think of a holiday down there I have ever done at that time …

Please chip in with other suggestions for good October / November redemption destinations!

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Comments (21)

  • Craig says:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned South Africa. Cape Town is fabulous in Oct/Nov, as well as safaris in Namibia, Botswana, etc.

    Also Mauritius is a great beach destination for that time of year…

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      I believe it’s quite hard to find availability to CPT or even JNB.

    • Roger says:

      South Africa was my first thought, especially for game viewing before the foliage gets too dense.

      But years of experience tell me that there is almost zero chance of getting BA First or Club award flights to SA when you want them.

      Disclaimer: that’s for advance bookings. Availability sometimes opens up at short notice, but that then becomes a gamble so no good for planning.

    • Trevor says:

      If you are prepared to go a little earlier, CPT is good in Sept/ Oct as there is whale watching and the Namaqualand’s desert blooms (as well of course as everything else it has to offer, and the benefit of winter foliage for safaris), but weather can be a bit patchy still in the south.

      • Trevor says:

        PS oh yes, and regarding flights, BA now has the monopoly on this route, so expensive at any time and hard to find redemption availability. Redemps are available tho if you are very flexible, but then high surcharges almost make them pointless as far less value for your points.

  • John says:

    I am doing 100k on 241 to Orlando, business class both ways, I am hoping that hurricane seaason is over but willing to take the chance. The weather is, in the main, very pleaseant at that time of year and certainly warmer than UK.

  • Peter says:

    I’d be interested to know about any ‘tricks’ for using 2 x 241 vouchers with kids (will be 4&1, or 5&2 year after)

    Maybe looking to go to Oz with a stopover somewhere?

    I’ll have around 400-500k avios.

    • Rob says:

      “Don’t do it!” is the answer! We did Barbados last year when ours were 4 and 1 and that is about as far as I’d want to take them. Since then we have done 2 x Dubai (still here!) and the 7.5 hour return is, again, pushing them. Our eldest is fine but 6 hours of non-stop TV / ipad is more than enough, and the youngest just likes to run up and down the plane all the time.

      The time difference really hits kids as well. Our (nearly) 2 year old has adjusted 1 hour per day – which the books say is all the body can cope with – so it took 4 days to get him back to his normal eat and sleep pattern. Wouldn’t want to push the time difference much further. At least Dubai is ‘the other way’ – in Barbados he was waking at 5am if not earlier.

      If you insist … you will need 2 x 2-4-1s. Both need to be from the Premium Plus card for 2 years validity, because Oz seats need booking a year in advance. This makes the 1 year validity on the voucher on the free card no use. Your wife would need her own BAPP Amex, perhaps with you have a supplementary card on hers if you do most of the spending.

      Club World is the way to go, keep the kids blocked in the middle pair of seats with the parents riding shotgun on either side. BA status would be a massive help to you (Cathay Gold via Amex Plat would do the trick) to get you free seat selection, otherwise you’d be looking at a pretty chunky bill to pay for seat selection together, which would be essential on such a long run.

      I will do a longer piece on flying with kids in a few weeks when we’re back in London.

      • Peter says:

        To be honest, it’s something we’ve always done – travelled with kids.

        We do NY every winter, Dubai every summer and other places in between; Caribbean, Orlando etc and short haul flights.

        I know Oz is a long flight which is why I mentioned the stopover… Maybe HK or somewhere for a few days.

        We’re ticking all the boxes so far:

        2 x 241s – will have 2 by end of 2013 (already have one valid till end of 2014.

        BAPP – check. But why would we both need one?

        Cathay Gold – check.

        I guess it just all the tricks of how to book Oz a year in advance, nice places f

        • Peter says:

          Pressed send too quickly!

          Nice places for stopover and how to book them… Internal flights to other places using Avios,

          I’m thinking there will be other people in similar positions to us.

          Even maybe not Oz, maybe other places would be good!

          Just want to get best value out of the vouchers…

          I’d love 1st class but just don’t think it’s viable with kids!

        • Rob says:

          If you got your wife a BAPP as well (her own card, not a supplementary on yours), you would (assuming you could hit the £10k target on each) generate 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers each per year, which – given your list of destinations above – you would have no trouble using.