Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

No free suitcase on domestic US Avios flight redemptions – and what to do

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I don’t know if this is a new policy or if it is simply a coincidence.  However, two Head for Points readers contacted me recently to make the same observation.

Economy Avios redemptions on US Airways and American Airlines for domestic travel no longer come with any free checked luggage allowance.  None at all.

This is, to be fair, made clear on when you book although it is easily overlooked if you don’t normally read the baggage rules.

US Airways American Airlines

Here is an example:

New York to Boston, 4500 Avios + £3.60 tax on American or US Airways

Baggage allowance: “Hand baggage only fare. No checked baggage allowance.”

When you click the link to the AA website, you see that your first suitcase will cost $25, the 2nd $35 and the 3rd a shocking $150.

Looking at this page, a BA Bronze (oneworld Ruby) gets one free bag, a BA Silver two free bags and a BA Gold three free bags.

There is a way around this – book a business class or first class redemption.  Note that some US domestic flights are two class aircraft but sold as Economy and First – and that British Airways treats the premium cabin as a First Class redemption and prices it accordingly.

A First Class redemption between New York and Boston will cost 18,000 Avios + £3.60 one way.  However, a First Class ticket comes with THREE free pieces of checked luggage.

Given that you will have to pay for your luggage if you book in economy, I would be tempted to book First Class if I had no airline status and was checking in multiple bags.   If there are two of you, perhaps one flies in economy for 4,500 Avios with hand baggage whilst the other books into First for 18,000 Avios and checks in two or three cases for free?

This is not a no-brainer decision – if you are not ‘Avios heavy’ then you may still prefer to conserve your miles and pay the baggage fees.  Part of it will depend on whether your domestic flight is two-class (so your only option is First) or three-class (where you could book into Business for fewer Avios and still get two pieces of luggage).

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (64)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • HayMow says:

    Related but OT – just how strict are US carriers on the checked bag SIZE? One of our cases (which we wouldn’t consider particularly large) is right on the limit, so could fall foul of the 157(.5)cm/62″ total dimensions rule that now seems to be applied by all in US. Since the XS Size fee is generally $200 per bag (min. $100) we don’t want to get there & get stung by the charges! Considering mainly American Airlines, also Jet Blue & others. Not used to this with BA! Advice appreciated, thx.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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