Hilton

Avios Redemption University – Lesson 11 – Saving taxes on US redemptions with Aer Lingus

Links on Head for Points pay us an affiliate commission. A list of our partners is here.

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 article explains how to redeem your Avios points on Aer Lingus.

One of the biggest issues with redeeming Avios for long-haul flights is the level of taxes and surcharges imposed by British Airways. These usually run to around £500 per person in Club World and £350 in Economy, return. For Club World, I can live with this – after all, I would be paying a lot more for a cash ticket. For Economy seats it often makes your Avios close to worthless.

British Airways Executive Club has two partners who offer long-haul flights from Europe without excessive surcharges. I have looked at Iberia already. In this article we will look at Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus is now a sister company to British Airways since it was bought by IAG, BA’s parent company, a couple of years ago.

You may not know that Aer Lingus has an impressive long-haul operation, focused exclusively on the United States and Canada.   Recent investment in new seats and new aircraft means that it has a Business Class product which is, frankly, superior to British Airways Club World in many respects.

If you redeem your Avios for a transatlantic flight on Aer Lingus, you will obviously need to start your trip in Dublin.  There are two upsides here though:

  • You won’t be paying long-haul premium cabin Air Passenger Duty to the UK Government as long as your connecting flight to Dublin is on a separate ticket
  • Aer Lingus lets you clear US immigration in Ireland, allowing you to land as a domestic passenger and saving a potentially long queue at immigration there

We recently reviewed the Aer Lingus Business Class service between Dublin and Boston in Business Class.  The flight and seat is reviewed in this article and other articles in the series cover the Aer Lingus lounges in Heathrow, Dublin and Boston and the pre-clearance lounge (once you’ve cleared US immigration) in Dublin.

Here is the current Aer Lingus long-haul Business Class seat – it looks pretty good, I’m sure you’ll agree:

and here is the seat map, which varies from 1-2-2 to 1-2-1:

Aer Lingus Business to Boston

What routes are available?

Aer Lingus will be running the following long-haul services during Summer 2018 from Dublin:

  • Miami (3 per week)
  • New York (21 per week)
  • Boston (14 per week)
  • Chicago (14 per week)
  • San Francisco (7 per week)
  • Orlando (4 per week)
  • Seattle (4 per week)
  • Philadelphia (4 per week)
  • Toronto (7 per week)
  • Washington (7 per week)
  • Los Angeles (7 per week)
  • Hartford (7 per week)

There are also services from Shannon to New York and Boston.

aerclub-membership-cards

How to book Avios reward seats on Aer Lingus

It used to be the case that Aer Lingus seats could only be booked with Avios via a telephone call to British Airways Executive Club, with no way of checking availability online.

This changed in December 2016 when Aer Lingus reward availability was loaded into avios.com.

There are now TWO ways of booking a redemption on Aer Lingus:

Option 1 is to use avios.com.  You can book online and you get the widest choice of dates.  You will pay around £200 in taxes and charges for a long-haul business class flight from Dublin to North America.

or

Option 2 is to use ba.com.  You cannot book online, only by telephone.  Anecdotally, there is less availability than you see via avios.com, and you cannot check availability online before you ring.  However, you will only pay around £75 in taxes and charges for a long-haul flight from Dublin to North America.

Can use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Aer Lingus?

No.  You cannot use a 2-4-1 voucher on Aer Lingus or any partner airline.

You CAN use ‘cash and Avios’ to replace some Avios with a cash payment if you do not have all of the points you need for your redemption.  The cost per Avios varies depending on your class of travel and how many Avios you are short.

Aer Lingus 350

How many Avios will I need?

Here is the Aer Lingus reward chart showing zones and mileage, which is identical to the general Avios reward chart (click to enlarge):

AerClub Aer Lingus reward chart

…. which means you need this many Avios:

Aer Lingus Avios needed for redemption

However, Aer Lingus has been rather sneaky.

Dublin / Shannon to Boston SHOULD be in Zone 4.  It used to cost 75,000 Avios for a return business class flight from Dublin to Boston – which is what you expect to pay for a partner airline flight of 2,986 miles which is how long the Dublin flight is.

Aer Lingus has now moved Boston 14 miles to the west.  Dublin to Boston (and Shannon to Boston) have been moved into Zone 5 which means it now costs 100,000 Avios off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak – the same price as Dublin to New York.

And there is peak and off-peak pricing

Aer Lingus introduced peak and off-peak pricing last year.  The list of peak dates does NOT match the British Airways list of peak dates. 

Here is the Aer Lingus 2018 peak and off-peak calendar:

Aer Lingus Avios off peak calendar 2018_1

Aer Lingus Avios off peak calendar 2018_2

Aer Lingus Avios off peak calendar 2018_3

For comparison, the BA and Iberia 2018 calendars are here.

Three periods are noticeably different from the BA calendar.  Aer Lingus doesn’t have an October and February peak season during the UK half terms, the April peak season is one week shorter and there’s also no peak season towards the end of May / early June.

February is also off peak on Iberia, but if you are travelling in October Aer Lingus is the only IAG airline with Avios off peak redemptions.

On short haul the cost differences are modest.  If you had wanted to fly from London to Dublin in Economy on 12th February 2018 you would pay 4,000 Avios with Aer Lingus (off peak) and 4,500 Avios (peak) with BA, one way.

On a long haul flight the saving would be way more, of course.  It makes the Aer Lingus long haul services from Dublin to North America particularly attractive during weeks where BA is charging peak prices and Aer Lingus is not.

Just to be clear the Aer Lingus peak and off-peak dates apply to Aer Lingus flights wherever you book them.   If you book an Aer Lingus flight on ba.com then it goes by the Aer Lingus calendar and not the BA calendar.  

What do I pay in taxes?

Taxes are very low when redeeming Avios for Aer Lingus long-haul flights.   Avios has still found a way to make it confusing, however.

As I mentioned above, there are now TWO ways of booking a redemption on Aer Lingus.  Book via avios.com and you will pay around £200 return for a Business Class return.  Book via British Airways Executive Club (on the telephone) and you will pay around £75 return.

Remember that these tax figures assume you start your trip from Dublin.  If you add in a connection from the UK on the same booking then you will be hit for long-haul Air Passenger Duty of over £100.  You would need to buy or redeem for a separate connecting ticket to Dublin.

However, when you are on separate tickets, Aer Lingus has no liability to you if you miss your connecting flight due to the late arrival of your incoming flight. You may therefore need to travel to Dublin a day earlier, or give yourself a long connection time in Dublin. You need to factor all this in when considering whether this is a better deal or whether you should swallow the APD and book UK – Dublin – North America on the same ticket to guarantee you are protected if you miss the connection.

How do I check availability?

The obvious thing to do – given that taxes are lower if you book via British Airways Executive Club via telephone – is to book that way.

You can check availability at avios.com online first before calling British Airways.  However …. anecdotal evidence suggests that avios.com has better availability than ba.com.

It is possible that you can see a seat available for booking via the Avios website which British Airways cannot see.  If this is the case, you should try calling BA back.  You may simply have had an agent who doesn’t understand how to find Aer Lingus flights.  If a second agent cannot find the flight, you need to decide whether to change your dates or book via avios.com and pay the higher taxes.

These taxes are still a lot cheaper than booking on British Airways from London.

Coming back to the UK, you CAN book your connecting flight in one ticket.  It makes no difference as there is no Air Passenger Duty on flights TO the UK.

Moving your Avios around between avios.com and British Airways Executive Club is free and instantaneous via ‘Combine My Avios‘ on ba.com (under ‘Manage My Account’ once you are logged in).

Conclusion

If you are heading to Toronto or the USA, Aer Lingus offers you a great way of saving a substantial amount of money in taxes and charges – around £250 per person in Economy and around £400 per person saved in Business compared to a BA redemption!  Even if you want to have your ticket from the UK to Dublin on the same ticket, to avoid any risk of misconnecting, you will still save between £100 and £250 after adjusting for Air Passenger Duty and get an arguably better Business Class experience than BA offers.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

What are the best credit card deals for February? - plus a news round-up
HFP EXCLUSIVE: Get an extra Hotels.com Rewards free night credit on your next stay
Click here to join our email list and receive all of the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

IHG
Amazon ad

About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Andrew M says:

    Rob/anyone! Any idea of rough taxes and charges if booking Y to N America via BA call centre (so vs the £75 in J)? Thanks!

  2. Eli Gold says:

    let me throw in an experience from only yesterday:
    My brother in-law from Gibraltar had booked an EasyJet Nowegian flight from Malaga to Miami return for this weekend. In the meantime his father (lives in New Jersey) has become sick, so he wanted to alter his flight to spend a day with his father.
    cancelling or altering the EasyJet flight wasn’t an option, I therefore advised him to take the outbound leg but ditch the return.
    here comes the Avios rescue package-
    I found him (on Avios.com) an Air Lingus flight from EWR-AGP of course via Dublin (American low cost flight from Miami to Atlanta City NJ costs only £30). now getting back to this article – on Avios.com this ticket would cost £101 in tax. taking the advice from a previous Avios lesson i told him to call BA and book it on the phone. he paid £51 tax for EWR-DUB-AGP.
    this entire change is costing him £82 and 20000 Avios.
    This is what you call awesome value for points

    Thank you Rob for such valuable info

    • Agree Eli. The number of times l had to jump on BA or EI when mum was ill, uncountable the amount it would have cost me in cash, last minute flights. I tell everyone but people just can’t be interested enough in this aspect of it. You have demonstrated just how useful it was too. In the recent snow stoppage at Dub, l got literally the last avios seat out of Dublin to LCY that evening it was over £300 cash one way. It cost me my 4000 avios and about £11. So yes it’s a real bonus this hobby.

  3. I called BA on Sunday to price Dublin to Orlando return, park dates over Christmas. The taxes were £110.40.

    • Update. … just called BA to book. Avios showed no availability for the return date I wanted but BA had the 4 seats in economy. Taxes £87.40 each. Value compared to cash price – 1.8p per Avios.

  4. Mal Sleight says:

    This Aer Lingus is really intetersting. I’m relatively new to this hobby, so please forgive me if this is a silly question. If i choose to fly one way with Aer Lingus but return direct to LHR with BA do I still avoid the taxes that would have been levied if i flew from London?

    • You don’t pay Air Passenger Duty because that is only levied on the outbound. Neither do you a pay a BA ‘fuel surcharge’ on the outbound

      However, you will be whacked for a fat BA fuel surcharge on your return flight if you choose BA.

    • Best to fly back EI via Dub to LON. Know it’s stopover, no terminal change unless they put you on ba, but unlikely. That way no ba apd etc. And you are protected if any delays. Very smooth for us.

  5. Eli Goldberg says:

    All said and done isn’t there a way (legal or not) to require airlines to post all availability on their website and out an end to all this confusion?
    Also how can Avios explain their inflated tax charge for air lingus?

    Hasn’t all this gotta end in today’s day and age?

    • BA is actually better than virtually every other airline and is a real trailblazer in this. Lufthansa and Singapore, for example, only started adding the bulk of Star Alliance carriers to their sites in the last 6 weeks – and a lot of airlines are still missing.

  6. Would it be possible to book Aer Lingus to America, then book B.A. back America to LHR using a 241 voucher what would the aprox cost/savings, using Avios plus 241 only,

    • No. The 241 must be used on a BA flight.

      You CAN use a 241 for a one-way BA flight but it must be FROM the UK. You cannot come back home on a 241 one-way.

  7. How many J and Y seats do Aer Lingus release? Is it do-able for families?

    • Seems to be 4 economy, 2 business, but not necessarily released at 355 days. Note that unlike BA Aer Lingus doesn’t seem to release many additional seats because it is a very small business class cabin compared to, say, the ‘high density’ BA 777.

    • I did some dummy searches over the weekend. I could see 5 Y (on average), and usually 0 or 1 in business. Not good.

    • Sometimes you might have to fly to BOS and take a train to NYC on EI. Works fine for us. NYC usually a very busy route.

  8. Rob, I seem to recall reading on a previous H4P article that the ability to clear US International immigration via the Aer Lingus route was going to be ceased?

    • Would be very surprised. It’s one of the attractions Dublin has over london . Who knows. It’s a very busy area at the airport atm.

      • Agreed on this been a major plus point Polly – quite possibly displaying some poor recall but I thought I read the report (which I cannot actually find…) stated that the US Administration wanted to bring all of their immigration work/staff to the US mainland for security and cost reasons.

    • No. In fact, other airports are bidding to introduce it despite the astronomical cost.

      It is the BA London City service that is likely to go, because of Global Entry and Crossrail.

  9. Hi Rob,

    Just a question regarding Aerclub: do you have any idea when Aer Lingus will allow miles from partners like United to post as Avios? It has been a year (or more?) since they rolled out their new program and I haven’t heard any changes regarding this issue.

    Thanks!

    • Honestly, don’t hold your breath. They are absolutely useless up there in aer club. Most of their own staff don’t even understand it if you phone them. Next to useless, no better than old gold circle. In fact worse.

      • Ok, thanks. Guess I’m not posting my UA miles there. Was hoping to combine them with existing avios.

  10. Hi there,

    I should have asked this last week, but have been rather busy at work.

    You say “Aer Lingus has now moved Boston 14 miles to the west.” Does this mean that BA also now charges DUB-BOS etc. in the 3000+ mile band? I don’t get how EI can tell BA how far apart two airports are.

  11. Would the taxes be similar if you were booking from Boston to Dublin? Also, you don’t have take the train to NYC from Boston. That route is heavily flown and you can find flights for around $100 on American, Jet Blue or Delta into JFK. United will fly to Newark

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.