(EDIT: British Airways started adding fuel surcharges to US Airways flights in July 2014. The information in this article is now out of date unfortunately.)
The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from them. Click here to see the other articles.
This series of articles covers the best ways to get maximum use for your Avios points. Other articles look at, for example, airberlin, TAM and Iberia amongst others. All of these airlines charge a fraction of the taxes and surcharges asked by British Airways for redemptions on their planes.
Save money by redeeming on US Airways
US Airways joined the oneworld alliance on 31 March 2014. If you are keen to minimise the amount you pay in tax and fuel surcharges, they offer an interesting option.
These are the routes currently flown by US Airways from the UK and Ireland. All require 80,000 Avios in Business Class.
Take a look at the taxes number (these figures all relate to Business Class return flights – remember that BA would want roughly £550 for a BA or AA flight):
Dublin to Philadelphia – £28 (says £49 then reprices, see screenshot)
London to Charlotte – £194 (say £215 then reprices)
London to Philadelphia – struggled to find but imagine as above
Manchester to Charlotte – £165 (says £186 then reprices)
Manchester to Philadelphia – £165 (says £186 then reprices)
Edinburgh to Philadelphia – £162 (says £185 then reprices)
Glasgow to Philadelphia – £161 (says £170 then reprices)
US also flies Dublin to Charlotte and Shannon to Philadelphia over the Summer.
Now, you may never have wanted to go to these places. However, US Airways has major hubs in Philadelphia and Charlotte, and can connect you from there to pretty much anywhere else you want to go.
Philadelphia, in particular, is close to New York and the East Coast and it is an easy connection by air or rail.
It is worth noting that the taxes are especially low if you are just flying TO the UK from the USA. Charlotte to Heathrow has tax of just £1! Compare that to £260 for a one-way British Airways redemption from the US in Club World. This is the same £1 price that airberlin charges for one-way business class redemptions from the US to Germany.
The easiest way to search for US Airways availability is to use the usairways.com website. You don’t even need to log-in to search for miles seats. Make sure you tick the ‘US flights only’ box and the ‘use miles’ and ‘direct flights’ boxes.
If the US website shows availability at the 50,000 mile level then ba.com should be able to pull up the same seat.
Ignore any days where US wants a higher figure – these are premium awards which you cannot book with Avios. Make sure you click through from the calendar to the summary page on usairways.com to double-check that business class seats are there – sometimes it shows availability at the 50k level when it actually involves a connection.