Read Ian’s tier-point run diary …. 1390 BA tier points for Brussels to Hawaii!

A couple of months ago I posted a link to Will’s online diary of his slightly crazy tier point run to reach British Airways Gold Guest List status in the quickest time possible.

It was a popular post, so I am pleased to also recommend this mini-blog from Head for Points reader Ian on his tier point run.  Because the posts are listed ‘latest first’ you need to start at the end and work forwards!

It shows how Ian earned 1,390 British Airways tier points – leaving him just short of Gold – and 36,574 Avios points from just one trip.


He booked a flight from Brussels to Hawaii, routed:

Heathrow – Brussels (separate ticket to the main trip)

Brussels – Heathrow

London City – New York JFK

New York JFK – Phoenix

Phoenix – Honolulu

… and back.

The clever thing here is that New York to Phoenix and Phoenix to Honolulu are both just over 2,000 miles.  This means that you earn long-haul tier points for the flight – 210 per leg if booked on a 2-class American Airlines flight under an AA flight code.

(American Airlines domestic flights are often two class, sold as ‘Domestic First’ and standard.  If you book these flights with a BA flight code – most are BA codeshares and will sell you a BA-coded ticket – BA treats Domestic First as business class and gives you the appropriate miles for business.  If you book these flights with an AA flight code – which usually means booking your entire trip on – BA treats Domestic First as First Class and gives you First Class miles and tier points.)

The trip cost him £1,854 plus the positioning flight.

You obviously need to have a certain mentality to want to do this (!) but if you break up your trip effectively it can work well.  I think there is actually a more extreme version of this routing possible, going Brussels to Helsinki to London, which adds an additional 80 tier points each way for the Helsinki sector!

(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. Thanks for this, i start my “extreme” run on Wednesday via HEL.
    Though I’m going JFK-LAX, which is 3 class, so only get 140 TP, total of 1360 –

    • Danksy says:

      Tell us more Hugh!

      • well my routing is AMS-HEL-LHR-LCY-JFK-LAX-HNL, and back

        got the routing from a mix of flyertalk and ita matrix

        Elected to go via JFK-LAX being as its the new A321 Transcon on AA – with the lie flat seats
        if you look on flyer talk BAEC there’s a live report on a tier point run to Hawaii going on a tthe moment

    • I think that’s a good move. I did DUB-PHL-PHX-HNL-LAX-CLT-DUB with US (for £1,600) but US domestic first was appalling, I think you’re much better going for that nice business class option on your JFK-LAX flight, even at less TPs.

    • Col A-B says:

      Yes Hugh tell us all about it please!

  2. Danksy says:

    Haha…love it!

  3. FIRSTclstraveller says:

    I hope Will is ok and not stranded in Hawaii, his blog seemed to stop in June for some reason!

  4. Erico1875 says:

    I wish there was a button to put first post first order
    These upside down blogs involving trip reports are hard to read in the default format.

  5. He seems to have come back via Amsterdam, rather than Brussels…

  6. Colin MacKinnon says:

    Can you break the journey on these tickets?

    We have family moving to the Phoenix area – and the CX card expiring later this year! – so this could be an option!

  7. Cheshire Pete says:

    I got a slightly better return £/Tier point wise earlier this year with AA This scenario works out at £1.33 per tier point.

    On my YUPP AA 1st class return when I was in LAX had short break to Florida MCO. £498 return for 420 Tier points. £1.19 per tier point. Amazing service on that route as we’ll.

    Also did a number of shorter hops YUPP £125 for 60 Tier points. That’s £2.08 per tier point. But in the 3 weeks earned 3 of them plus Florida trip was 600 tier points for total £875. Not bad as my year had just reset so attained Silver in 3 weeks from reset! For total of £1.45 per tier point.

    • Col A-B says:


      • Cheshire Pete says:

        Special upgraded fare class to 1st with AA. Arguably the cheapest way to quickly earn tier points in One World. Best used internal flights over 2000-2500 miles. (210 tier points) Check this in the BA tier point calculator. You must book direct with AA to get full First class points.

  8. Serrano says:

    Can someone let me know how to book these flights for ridiculuously cheap prices? (ie £1800) Only LCY-JFK-LCY would cost over 5000 any given day. What am I missing?

    • You need to leave ex-EU rather than ex-UK 😀 BRU/AMS/LUX/DUB all reasonable options to consider.

  9. Can’t compete on the Tier point run stakes but the family holiday starts on Wednesday and we are off to Hawaii. route is LUX LHR DFW HNL KOA / LIH LAX LHR BRU. I get the 777-300 on AA for Transatlantic sectors but to complete the 4 sectors on BA I chose the BA code share on the way back. Its a 767 with slidey seats for the 8 hrs from DFW to HNL. The fare does not permit a stopover but I have bagged 23hrs 59 mins in Dallas and 22 hours in LAX. It means getting my silver card again through to April 2016 whilst being comfortable and enjoying the service on AA brilliant flights across the pond.

    • I hope your holiday goes well – BBC News is reporting that Hawaii is due to be hit by a hurricane (typhoon?). 🙁

  10. We wanted to go back to Forida this year and economy was around £1K. We were lucky enough to pick up the following :

    DUB – LCY – JFK – MIA – MCO – JFK – LCY – DUB

    In J and F for £1050. Great result

    • Definitely – great price and as you say particularly good to be only a tiny bit more than Y!

  11. Just wondering if on the return leg JFK-LCY-AMSif he got off at London city and didn’t carry on to AMS would he forfeit the tier points and miles for the entire trip or just the LCY-AMS leg? Just wondering if it’s necessary to fly to AMS and then take a repositioning flight back

  12. How do you go about looking these once you’ve found the flights? Do you add the segments individually or try and search AMS-HNL?

    • I would suggest that you go over to flyertalk, have a look under Airlines and Mileage programs, then click on British Airways Exec Club. In there is a thread called BA Tier Point Runs – 2014 Master Thread.

      All the info is there – if you post a question, then the experts will be able to answer them for you – they’re really friendly. You may be able to get a BA employee to book the run for you, you give them the run details, and then you ring up BA to pay for it

  13. johnjane says:

    What is the best way to view the Avios and TPs applicable.

    Can it be done without going through a simulated booking ?

  14. How many tier points do you need to get a Silver BA card? Any good runs to make this as cheap as possible?

    • 600.

      Cheapest way is to fly to the US in economy and then do a tier point run of the sort described in the Flyertalk BA tier point runs thread.

      Slightly easier is a business class flight to New York booked ex-EU and connecting to the City Airport flights (since City flights are treated as First for tier points). That would get you 40 + 210 + 210 + 40 = 500 which is most of the way. Start in Helsinki or Budapest and the short-hauls are 60 tier points so you are on 540 in total. An economy connecting flight to pick it up would get you part of the rest.

      Or, more boringly, book some Club Europe flights ex Jersey via Gatwick. These are cheap and you get 160 a pop, although you’d still need to do 4 iterations – JER – Gatwick – wherever – Gatwick – Jersey at 40 per leg.

  15. Mac Clellend says:

    Just a quick query on this… Can we (in the UK) apply for a AAdvantage Platinum Challenge and do a 10,000 EQP on British Airways. As per the AAdvantage rules it is possible to earn EQP on British Airways flights and with a return flight LON-SIN in full-fare economy it would cover the miles.

    I understand there is a cost for the challenge (£140) but it would be a lot less expensive that a long flight run. Also, Platinum only gives you BA silver but with the 100% bonus miles, pick-your-seat and the business class lounge access that is what a lot of us need.

    Am I missing something here?

    • According to this BA flights do count now.

      Note that there is no ‘soft landing’ with AA. With BA Silver, after a year you drop to Bronze and that still gives you priority boarding and seat selection 7 days in advance. With AA Platinum, you would drop to nothing after a year. BA Silver does have longer term benefits on that basis.

  16. Douglas Read says:

    Hi All,

    Am really new to all this and have to say struggle a bit to understand how this is done, terms like nesting and how to work this out just confuse me!

    Does anyone know of a blog where this is explained in simple terms maybe with some illustration in crayon for those who are new to this.

    If not could someone explain to this idiot how for example the LON – JER – AMS Tier point run works and how I would book it.


    • For better or worse, you won’t find things explained more clearly anywhere outside HFP! I do try to avoid acronyms.

      ‘Nesting’ is booking another ticket which sits inside an existing booking. If you book Gatwick to Jersey on Monday, returning on Wednesday, and then on Tuesday fly a separate ticket booked Jersey-Gatwick-Amsterdam-Gatwick-Jersey, the 2nd ticket is ‘nesting’ inside the dates of the first one.

      Very rarely, airlines get a bit snotty about this. You wouldn’t have any problems though.

      Jersey to Gatwick to Amsterdam to Gatwick to Jersey in Club Europe would be 160 tier points. This is 25% of the way to a Silver card.

      One other thing about Jersey is that you can do an immediate ‘back to back’ as long as you have only hand baggage and have printed your boarding pass at home. You can get off the plane from Gatwick and immediately get back on again to start your nested trip.

      Note that this is not necessarily the most effective (£ per point) way of earning BA tier points to get status quickly but it is convenient – very short flights and 40 tier points in Club Europe per leg.

  17. Sorry for not responding earlier, on family hols in the USA at the mo. I did manage a LAX-LAS-LAX day out on AA in First to get 120TP and tip me over the edge into Gold.

    1. Yes I returned to Amsterdam not Brussels. On the day in question BRU-LHR was ridiculously expensive in Y, no Avios seats available and I envisaged that I’d be knackered beyond belief so thought that going easyJet BRU-LGW then train home – or coach to Heathrow to collect the car – would finish me off. So opted for Amsterdam (which upped the price by £80 or so) as then I could choose Heathrow or flybe back home to Southampton. I booked Heathrow, didn’t get offered an upgrade for extra Tier Points. Then realised that thanks to HeadForPoints I could redeem the Heathrow Reward points from some earlier promo trailed on here for £20 (I think) off the car park, so booked the short term for £60 instead of £80. As it turned out, I was far less tired than usual after a transatlantic flight, perhaps because as a solo traveller I wasn’t going mad on free booze. Well, I know that’s the reason. Plus the US carriers were particularly good with rehydration.

    2. I could have skipped the last sector to Amsterdam but I needed the Tier Points for that (40) plus the 10 for the positioning flight back to Heathrow. So that didn’t even factor for me.

    3. I agree that the jargon on flyertalk is intimidating, but if I can get it, you can too. It’s nice to have a job where I can spend breaks doing research (90 min on, min 30 min off!), maybe that helps. I understand that non-travel/aviation types may struggle more, but please ask for help on this forum or PM any of us, it’s not a secret, competitive dark art!

    4. I wholly agree that blogs are hopeless for telling a story and normal people won’t bother to sort the posts in chronological order! It’s fine as a diary for friends, family and others in real time but awful after the event. I’ll re-order my blog into a story one day.

    I reiterate my thanks to HeadForPoints and flyertalk for the help.

    If anyone out there really needs help with any aspect of booking trips like this, email me and I’ll do my best to help.


  18. We own vacation rental property on Oahu and the Hurricane(s) turned out to be a non event. We had a guest flying in from California and it was nail biting time watching when their departure time and watching the weather. They arrived on Friday and it was sunny and beautiful.

    I have Bronze status and I would like to move up to Gold status. I already have lifetime platinum status on AA. From reading the posts, looks like this would work in reverse? Book on but put my BA FF# in instead of my AA #? Would that mean though that I would loose any perks that come with my AA status as AA will think I’m a BA flyer? Per heck, upgrades, 1st on, etc.

    • mac Clelland says:

      Just an update on AA/BA elite status. I phoned AA desk in the USA And paid £150 for a platinum challenge. One leg in BA world traveller plus to Asia got me the points required for AA PLATINUM which gives the equivalent of BA SILVER. I know that we have already mentioned above the soft landing in BAEC. But for somebody with a lot of travel coming up in a short time it is a worthwhile investment I think for the extra luggage and lounge access, etc.

      Now all I need is for a star alliance status match!

      • Yes, I will try to remember to do something on the AA challenge once all the free Cathay Gold cards start to expire!

        • Col A-B says:

          Both me & my husband have had letters from CX extending the gold cards by 6 months – is that the general experience? We haven’t used them other than to gain lounge access, choose seats free & take some extra luggage.

        • Mine was extended recently by another 6 months to Apr-15

  19. Having been a Gold for less than a month, I’m finding it to be way more worthwhile than I imagined.

    As a Gold, one’s interaction with BA via the Gold Exec Contact Number feels like getting through to the boss rather than the secretary (no offence to secretaries intended); my experience is that you’re speaking to an interactive person who is empowered to sort things out.

    My first contact was in a fairly annoyed state after BA had lost 3 of our 4 cases on the outbound sector of family hols to the USA; we were reunited with them all on the 4th day of holiday, but with several items missing. The suggested route was Amex Plat and their insurer AXA, who were nice enough but the claims procedure was too long winded for my jet lagged brain and online patience to cope with. I rang BA Gold where one person sorted everything very pragmatically so most of the loss was paid within 48hrs (by comparison the email complaint requesting some sort of compensation for e.g. screwing up our hols, distress to my 16yo who had all her birthday cards opened and contents ‘lost’ etc) has not been answered yet.

    Second contact was when fiddling with Xmas bookings home from Bangkok. I was sitting on 4 Club seats back from Chengdu then noticed 2 Club come up on BA10 direct back to Heathrow, so rang to get these and put the kids in economy. This time the human on the end of the phone asked if I was aware that I could put the kids in Club for double miles even though there was no Avios availability and then should BA release any Club seats just ring in and change the booking for the fee and get the extra Avios back. All very much like speaking to someone on this forum rather than BA. I guess I should have been aware of this aspect of Gold membership – I understood the economy guarantee – just hadn’t processed that Avios-wise it applied to any cabin.

    So far, Gold is exceeding my expectations!!