I wanted to find a cheap way to get home. Virgin had no availability on my preferred date whilst British Airways wanted £306 of tax for the one-way Avios flight. I didn’t like the sound of that.
Luckily, there are three ways of flying from the United States to Europe without incurring huge taxes and charges bills.
The one I have booked is airberlin. I have used them before from New York and it is a perfectly fine experience with fully lie-flat beds.
The tax for a one-way flight from New York JFK to Dusseldorf is £3. Yes, £3. And, of course, 60,000 Avios points.
As well as Dusseldorf, airberlin also flies to Berlin (surprise!). I booked a BA Reward Flight Saver redemption as a connection to get me back to London.
There are two other ways to fly back cheaply across the Atlantic.
Aer Lingus is a great option, dropping you into Dublin or Shannon for an easy connection back to the UK.
By September 2016, Aer Lingus will be flying to New York, Washington, Orlando, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, Los Angeles and Hartford.
The key thing to remember with Aer Lingus is that you cannot book on ba.com. You need to ring BA and enquire about availability. There is no online resource which accurately matches what BA can offer you – other airlines which offer Aer Lingus redemptions online, such as United, have access to a different range of seats.
And the tax? For a return flight to the USA, you will pay around £75 in Business Class. That is around £475 less than a British Airways redemption in Club World.
Finally, we have Iberia.
Iberia is now offering fully flat business class seating on the majority of its aircraft.
You can find out more in my Iberia ‘Avios Redemption University’ article. Because of a quirk in the Iberia Avios redemption table, New York redemptions can be exceptionally cheap in Avios terms – as low as just 34,000 Avios one-way in Business Class.
Had I been able to get availability – and I couldn’t – my one-way from New York would have been 34,000 Avios plus £56. That is a better deal than 60,000 Avios plus £3 on airberlin, although the connection back to London is cheaper from Germany.
One thing to remember, however, is that there are no ‘off peak’ dates when booking a redemption on Aer Lingus or airberlin. You may need to use more Avios than you would when using BA.
With Iberia, remember that Iberia has a totally different calendar of peak and off-peak dates! 68,000 Avios return is their off-peak return cost. On some days, which BA treats as peak and Iberia treats as off-peak, the saving is 52,000 Avios compared to paying 120,000 with BA.
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.