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How to get a better Avios Oz / New Zealand redemption using the multi-partner chart

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I get a steady stream of emails asking about how to book Avios tickets to Australia or New Zealand.  My honest answer is – don’t bother.  Use cash.

There are three reasons for this:

Avios availability, if using a 2-4-1 voucher, is exceptionally hard to get.  You need to route via Singapore which means you are competing with people who just want an Avios ticket to go there. Capacity on the route has shrunk massively since Virgin withdrew and BA downsized to a Boeing 777.  This means that it is rare to see more than the two guaranteed Club World seats in premium cabins. 

The taxes and charges on rewards are disproportionately high.  Using British Airways, a Club World redemption costs 300,000 Avios (peak) or 250,000 Avios (off-peak) plus £700 per person. £700 is based on booking two one-way tickets – a return on one ticket is nearer £900.

Cash tickets to Australasia are disproportionately low.  On a ‘pound per mile flown’ basis, Australasia is astonishingly cheap if you pay.  Over the last couple of years we have seen business class cash fares from the UK – not starting in Europe – as low as £1500 on Malaysia Airlines and as low as £1400 to Auckland with Qatar Airways.  Those deals are unlikely to return, I admit, but you can virtually always find cash tickets ex-Europe for under £2,000.  When you factor in the taxes on an Avios ticket, plus the huge amount of miles earned back for paying cash, plus the ability to pick and choose when you go, it is no surprise that redemptions look second best.

To put the availability issue in context, as of yesterday afternoon there were just seven days between now and the end of the year when you get two Club World seats between Singapore and Sydney.  Even then, you would also need to match up suitable London – Singapore, Sydney – Singapore and Singapore – London availability, which is virtually impossible.

There is, however, one way to get an Avios reward flight to Australasia with far fewer availability issues and using far fewer Avios.  The only snag is that you can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

95% of British Airways Avios collectors do not know that BA has a second redemption chart.

Many of you will never have seen this chart before (click to enlarge) or at least not before you started reading HFP:

OneWorld Avios redemption chart

You can see the original by clicking here to ba.com and scrolling down to click on ‘Partner Airlines’ and then ‘Avios costs for booking on two or more oneworld airlines’.  This is the reward chart that British Airways uses to price redemptions which include two or more oneworld partner airlines, excluding British Airways.

If, for example, you flew from London to Amman on Royal Jordanian and then caught a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, it would be priced using the chart above.

Importantly, this reward chart did NOT change when BA recently increased the redemption costs for partner airlines.

The chart above is for economy travel.  Multiply by two for business class and by three for first class.

Take a moment to note what I just wrote.  Whilst a standard Avios redemption in Business Class on BA costs 3x an economy redemption, using the multi-partner chart only costs 2x.  This makes the multi-partner chart very good value for Business or First Class Avios tickets.

How to use this chart to get to Australasia

If you use oneworld partner airlines to get to Australasia, you have a lot of options.

You have Finnair, which flies to many key cities in Asia.  Cathay Pacific can get you into Hong Kong and then down to Australasia.  Japan Airlines can do the same via Tokyo.  Qatar Airways can do the same via Doha.  Malaysia Airlines can do the same via Kuala Lumpur.  And, of course, there is Qantas too.

You will struggle to find a way of not finding business class availability when you have all these airlines to choose from.

Here is a real example from a Head for Points reader which he sent to me:

Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda (Japan Airlines)  5,957 miles

3 day stopover

Tokyo Narita to Brisbane (Qantas)  4,426 miles

Holiday

Cairns to Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific)  3,451 miles

3 day stopover

Hong Kong to Manchester (Cathay Pacific)  5,988 miles

Because this involves three non-BA oneworld airlines it prices off the multi-partner chart above.  As he is travelling 19,822 miles, the total cost in Business Class was 200,000 Avios plus under £600 of taxes.

This is a far better deal than 300,000 Avios (peak day) plus £700 of taxes if you booked London to Sydney on British Airways in Club World – and you won’t be doing that anyway, because availability is virtually non-existent.

The itinerary above is actually a very simplistic way of using the multi-partner chart.  If it wasn’t for the fact that this itinerary is so close to the 20,000 mile threshold, you could have added in a number of domestic flights on Qantas or Japan Airlines.

What else can you do with the multi-partner reward chart?

Here is an example of a round-the-world routing using the multi-partner chart.

London – Delhi – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Los Angeles – New York – London is just under 20,000 miles.  This would be 200,000 Avios in Business Class for the whole trip.

It is worth noting that I have never seen a firm list of the rules for booking multi-partner reward tickets.  Most BA call centre agents will never have booked one.

In theory you are limited to eight sectors with just one overland sector – although a recent Flyertalk example had multiple overland sectors and was ticketed.

In theory you need to have every segment in the same class as just one in a higher class will reprice the entire itinerary.  However, some people have reportedly had agents charge based on the longest class flown, ie if 60% is economy and 40% First then they were charged economy!

In theory you can book a segment in economy – and the rest of the itinerary in business – and upgrade that segment later for free if availability in business appears

In theory, there are no rules on backtracking although this may be down to badly trained agents.  One example I saw was basically multiple holidays from London to somewhere, back to back, to get to eight sectors!  If the agent allows it you could book, say, London to Qatar and home, London to Hong Kong and home, London to Tokyo and home, London to Kuala Lumpur and home as one booking – as long as you are using at least two oneworld carriers – and save a huge number of Avios on booking four holidays separately!

In truth, no-one seems clear.  The ‘eight flights maximum’ rule does seem to be firm – but that still gives you a huge amount of flexibility to put together a great trip.

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Comments

  1. nigel whitehouse says:

    I’ve been researching this some more, it seems that for legs into Melbourne, eg HK, Tokyo, KL, Doha and even Singapore, there are Bus class flights available for my dates on Qantas and Qatar sites, but nothing at all showing on BA.com, not even economy. Does this surpise anyone ?

    • Tim Cross says:

      I have found the same, I think to book it you have to call the BAEC with your intinary and see if they can book it for you.

      Its crazy that BA does not show partner award flights on its website

  2. Is it possible to book
    txl-doh-akl-lax

    Or it must be round trip ending in the same country?

    • No need for a round trip AFAIK.

      • Yes your itinerary will work absolutely fine. I booked a WAW – DOH – SYD – PER – SIN – DOH – CPH – LHR, was a cracker with a mix of QR, QF and BA. Only £400 odd avios too. Highly recommend departing ex-Central/Eastern Europe to save even more on those taxes/fees.

  3. Can you change a multi carrier ticket midway through your journey to a different destination(s) or remove a sector? And If you can remove a sector will you get a refund in Avios and taxes?

    • You can’t change anything after you’ve taken the first flight in the itinerary.

      • However if you haven’t flown any of your sectors you can change sectors/routes for an admin fee of £35 per person. However there won’t be any avios refund as such because here you are being charged for a total amount of distance within that bracket not per segment. But for example if the total miles was originally 19000 (Which is 200,000 avios business class) and after you’ve changed/removed sector it’s become 13500 (Which is only 180,000 avios business class), you will get 20,000 avios back.

        • Liz (a different one) says:

          To clarify – £35 +/- the change in “taxes”. In my case the “taxes” had increased more than 20% when I wanted to change the date of one segment a month after booking (and they refused to provide a breakdown).

  4. Saleem Butt says:

    OT

    I am partly through my Lloyd’s voucher and amex is finished. If I spend another 5k on MasterCard do they give me upgrade voucher?? Anyone know this answer.

    PS very nice Etihad offer I wish I could accept but o have other plans.

    • Alex W says:

      No. And it’s 7k spend not 5k.

    • I thought the letter was very clear – but do check the actual text of the letter. You have until the end of your membership year to collect your last voucher – even without the Amex. Of course, you’ll barely earn any on that Mastercard.

  5. Tony watt says:

    Slightly OT – but Rob did mention Ooen Jaw redemptions.

    I still find it so frustrating after many years that open jaw Avios redemptions are still not able to be booked via the BA website.

    My last 4 2-4-1s have all been open jaw (and have also all been mixed class) and booking each one had involved 30+ minutes with the call centre, even though I’d checked all the availabilities before hand.

    Surely this wouldn’t be too hard to implement via the website?

    • Bonglim says:

      I agree should be online. But last couple of times BA were really good at their call centre with me.

  6. Aston100 says:

    Planning a couple years ahead. What would be the likelihood of good availability for LHR – Vancouver / Toronto – LHR using a 241 voucher in summer 2021? Is this a very popular pair of flights?
    Was planning first class on the outbound and (hopefully) the new club suite on the return.
    Or is this another trip that can be commonly obtained at reasonable cash price and/or utilising the multi partner chart referenced in this article?
    Thanks.

    • memesweeper says:

      http://rewardflightfinder.com/ will give you a view of the availability for 2 people across the whole year very easily. Should tell you how popular it is (relatively speaking).

    • Jake Mc says:

      You won’t be able to use multi chart as there are not two one world carriers that cover North America – you could come up with some bizzare routing but it’s probably not be worth it.

      Cash prices for business / first will be relatively high. Relative however to your income and how you collect Avios etc etc. Look now for May / June 2020 to get an idea. You should be able to get good pence per Avios to North America premium cabin in the summer.

      With regards to Avios, as mentioned use redemption finder to get an idea. If you can’t go direct I would recommend tagging on another city e.g. fly first into Seattle and go to Vancouver. Domestic / NA internal flights are cheap and for an hour or so I’m sure people on this blog can stomach economy 😜😜

      • Nick_C says:

        Aer Lingus and AA?

        Would there be savings to be made flying to the US via Ireland?

        How do you price these up?

      • the_real_a says:

        There is 5th freedom Cathay flight from NYC to Vancouver which is very useful.

    • Flew to Vancouver using a 241 in January and it was very easy to get a redemption in first if that helps

      • Aston100 says:

        Thank you Dave. How was the the in-flight experience?

        • Jake Mc says:

          Be aware: availability in winter or summer for Vancouver is very different. Has something to do with the sub zero temperatures… ❄️!

          Summer will be a lot more popular.

          If you do want to go in winter then I would pay cash. It was £1009 per person in club this last winter.

          • ankomonkey says:

            Isn’t Vancouver close to Whistler ski resort? I’d have thought it’s fairly popular in winter too…

          • Scallder says:

            Yes we went to Vancouver in Feb/Mar 2016 to do a week in Whistler and then a week on Vancouver Island. Was a lovely time of year to visit the Island and of course for ski season. Vancouver itself doesn’t tend to get such the cold temperatures that the East Coast does.

        • It was good, stewardess very keen to feed me as much Glenfiddich as possible in an attempt to get me to go to sleep 😂 I don’t sleep well on planes in any seat. T3/747 experience less though. Was planning to fly club, but as I was checking availability leading up to T-355 loads of F seats started appearing.

          • Also Vancouver/Whistler/Vancouver Island is what we did. Anyone considering this kind of trip should consider flying harbour air seaplanes to get to Vancouver Island, great experience, they also fly to Whistler in the summer and land on the lake. Weather wise it was warmer than it was in this country!

  7. Optimus Prime says:

    Do you have to create an account in Qantas website in order to use their partner reward search?

  8. Andrew M says:

    Any idea if a Lloyds upgrade voucher could be used on a multi partner award? Obviously the partner flights couldn’t be upgraded but what if the majority of the flights were with BA (perhaps several trips, returning to London each time) with a couple of token OW flights to make it a multi partner redemption?

  9. An obvious question – if cash tickets are so much better, and by a wide margin, why would you still face such poor reward availability?

    • Peter K says:

      Because if BA can sell tickets for cash they make more actual money… Plus the cheap tickets are not on BA.

  10. Try getting first into Vancouver in June next year Non existent! Better to fly to Seattle then take the ferry from there, if you plan to go to Vancouver Island. Much easier option, two flights per day and F availability is good.

  11. Fourseas says:

    So the below is allowed on JL+CX only at 320k avios?

    hkg-jfk-nrt-syd-hkg-ord-nrt-fra-hkg

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