How to get a better Avios Oz / New Zealand flight 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. Jacqueline says:

    Interesting. Last year I did a routing to Sydney via Hong Kong on Cathay. There wasn’t full Club avail on all my routes so I did Club to Hong Kong plus a stopover. Prem Econ HK to Sydney. Sydney to Hong Kong Club. Hong Kong to London First. Cost 350K miles. The booking agent told me that whereas BA had off-peak pricing, Cathay didn’t, and the same routing on BA would have cost fewer miles.

    • Yes, because this chart only applies when you use TWO oneworld airlines that are not BA.

      • Yes! As John said, but just for clarity you can have BA in the mix provided you have 2 other oneworld carriers in the booking. I booked a WAW – DOH – SYD – PER – SIN – DOH – CPH – LHR (QR, QF, BA) for 200,000 earlier this year and only £400 odd taxes. Brilliant value.

  2. Mikeact says:

    I should have mentioned that your ticket is of course, only valid for 12 months from the start. Rob’s example of 3/4 trips out of London is fine, assuming you can fit in all 4 trips within the 12 months !
    I’m looking to really maximise our trip to South Africa to include a further trip to the States….for us this means SA within the next 3 months or , followed by the States during the following 9 months.
    This can make availability more difficult to find on Business…I guess book Economy where necessary and hope to upgrade when possible.

  3. Steve says:

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

    Oh, please stop it. Some people do understand FFPs and have been using them long before HFP came on the scene.

    • There are 4m BAEC members in the UK. How many of them do you think know this exists?

      I get emails on a regular basis from long term HFP readers who don’t even know, to take one example, you can book a 241 as an open jaw.

      Or, put it another way, if our readers all knew this existed then I have totally and utterly failed in marketing this site to the ‘Mr/Mrs Average’ business traveller it is aimed at ….

    • That is right. Some would. Many wouldn’t.

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Good for you Bob.

      I didn’t – and I do now ! Thanks Rob…

  4. This is a load of fabricated rubbish.

    Good luck with back tracking etc when you try and book. It’ll get flat denied. Just shows the posters lack of knowledge.

    • David says:

      (Are you sure your name isn’t Dennis? – bmi joke)

      Seriously, many of us have been playing this game for 20+ years or longer. Nobody is saying you have an absolute right to back track, but they may let you. There will be situations where back tracking is essential to get from A to Z. Also, BA fudge things too – look at some of the zones certain cities are in.

    • Charlieface says:

      I’d say probably the ticket must be pieced together and priced manually so if the agent doesn’t follow the rules it would still ticket. As opposed to standard Avios tickets which I believe there isn’t an easy way for them to override anything.

    • Mikeact says:

      I’m not sure you are quite correct…. I’ve spoken to two agents, reasonably knowledgeable, and they both said I could do anything I wanted within the mileage limits, including back to London with a weekend away in Amsterdam to finish up the mileage. And there is certainly no problem with my proposed 2 trips within the mileage I’m looking at, S Africa first and then States 6 months later…..positioning start in Istanbul…finishing at Gatwick.

    • Well that’s a ridiculous statement. Take UL for example, you connect via CMB. HKG-MEL via CMB is a backtrack of several hours, but it’s a valid route, and I’ve booked it that way (this was before UL stopped flying HKG-CMB, but it’s now operated by CX, so a true multi-partner award).

  5. Nathan says:

    The partner chart can be awesome but finding availability can be just as exhausting, although there’s fun to be had in the search if you’re that way inclined.
    Last time out, I ended up not using it as I had time pressures and not the luxury of stopovers. I will use it again for NZ next time, targeting AKL via SCL, but last time out ‘normal’ redemptions provided optimal positioning and worked out cheaper.
    LHR-SIN-KUL-SYD-AKL-ZQN-DUD-AKL-MEL-SIN-LHR in a mix of J/W/Y for 140k-ish avois and c. £500 taxes (95%+ of which were LHR levies)
    Hat tip to Qantas Premium Economy, I found it to be a great product and would actively choose to fly it again.
    One thing to note, those were point-to-point tickets. Not for the front of heart. Caveat emptor!

    • Nathan says:

      ^’front of heart’? Damn you autocorrect.
      Feint. Or. Faint. ? No there’s a question to ponder 🤔

  6. Its a little bit misleading to cherry pick a few success stories from FlyerTalk and ignoring the hundreds of frustrated failed attempts.

    In order to save the poor BA staff manning the phones this weekend, bear in mind that the odd weird routing has been known to slip through but generally common sense prevails and you cannot do silly stuff, obviously. It takes a stupid amount of time to piece availability together and its so frustrating for it to be shot down by the BA computer, phone agent, ticketing back office etc etc.. many hurdles along the way!

    • BA agents have been very good. It took me 2 phone calls (and actually it would’ve been one had I made my mind up) and I was all ticketed and sorted. Yes it takes time to research but wouldn’t you research when buying a cash fare too and tinker around with dates and airlines accordingly? I suppose if you’re rolling in it you wouldn’t but I wouldn’t have thought majority of the UK are rolling in it anyway lol!

  7. Eugene says:

    Slightly OT
    I took a revenue flight on Cathay from Auckland to HKG last month in Club. It was codeshare with Air NZ who ran the flight.
    I discovered that unlike flying Emirates on a QF codeshare – zero Tier points or Avios were permitted by Cathay to be ported across. My straight Cathay flight down there credited as normal. As it was 150 tier and 7k Avios I wasn’t best chuffed.

    • Well, this information was available before you booked, and not sure why you thought CX would do the same thing as QF.

      • Eugene says:

        Not al of us are points obsessive, checking every wrinkle to maximise earnings ( which is perfectly fine of course), some of us travel to fit work requirements and then get caught by wrinkles which the hawk eyed avoid. I wasn’t looking to be criticised, just to warn others . You have a great day now..

    • This is normal. Earning via EK on a QF codeshare is an anomaly, and I’d expect this to be more surprising to most people than not earning via NZ on a CX codeshare.

  8. Andy Carr says:

    Although the majority of my big flights come from air miles, they are always with BA because of using the companion voucher each time.

    Do you have any tools/online calculators to help people calculate the distances for a journey like this:

    “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.”

    Or do you just go on to google maps and put in the 2 cities and take that as the distance between?

    Thanks for your help and keep up the good work!

    • Great Circle Mapper (gcmap.com)

      • Andy Carr says:

        Superb, thanks!

      • Andy Carr says:

        Apologies, one more question!

        I just calculated that the following trip of:

        Heathrow – St Lucia – Lima – Miami – Heathrow comes in at 13,342 miles.

        Which is 180,000 airmiles + taxes in Business… but to book such a trip, is the ONLY way possible to do it over the phone with British Airways, or can all of this be done in a single booking online?

        Kind Regards

        • It has to be done over the phone. Though looking at your itinerary you’ve suggested I don’t believe it would work. You would be charged per segment and not using the multi-carrier chart. The reason being the sectors you’ve mentioned appear to be either BA or AA, but I can’t seem to see where there are 2 Oneworld carriers being utilised (except BA) unless I’m missing something?

          Just to clarify this will only work if you’re using a minimum of 2 different Oneworld carriers, so if by chance you managed to make this work with AA, LATAM, then you can have BA on top, but I don’t actually see how your itinerary is going to Work. The issues I see are:

          – BA are the only ones who flight LGW (not LHR) to St. Lucia
          – There are no flights between St. Lucia and Lima directly

          Unless you’re getting yourself separately between St. Lucia and Lima and from Lima to Miami you’re taking LATAM and AA from Miami to LHR, I honestly don’t see how else your itinerary is going to work.

          • Andy Carr says:

            Very interesting stuff, thank you for your help Nik,

            It was more a hypothetical trip, although one I’d very much like to go on!

            So it would be wise to add an additional flight, possibly even just to a European city first, to add the extra airline required. Will BA automatically use their airline when booking, even if the same route is covered by another partner e.g. Iberia? Or on the phone, can you specifically request an airline, not just a destination?

            Did you know this information at a glance, or did you have to research on my behalf?
            – BA are the only ones who flight LGW (not LHR) to St. Lucia
            – There are no flights between St. Lucia and Lima directly

            Do you have any resources that you use too, when planning a big trip like this?

            Kind regards and thank you for your time,

            Andy

  9. Can one or more of the segments be with BA as long as you have 2+ OW carriers?

  10. Keith says:

    Having never done it before and only ever having used my avios to redeem on BA metal with a companion voucher, how does one check availability for this sort of stuff?

    If I did want to try to piece together a multi partner flight what site do I go to to check if (for example) Cathay Pacific had redemption availability for the cairns to Hong Kong leg?

    • I’m confused on this to.

      Also what happens if one flight is cancelled, do we lose the whole perk?

      • If very close to departure time, the operating airline will need to find you an alternative.

        If further away the agent (BAEC in this case) would need to sort you out. Easiest option may be to change date or time, but other options might include just deleting that flight and refunding any taxes or fees – there may be no refund of Avios if within the same price band and/or if the rebooked option takes you over a price band you may need to pay more avios.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, you will need to have checked availability for all the flights you need on the dates you need individually before you phone to book, and have them all to hand for the agent.

      • But how do you check that availability for partner redemptions?

        • Gavin says:

          You should be able to see availability on the BA website for most partners

        • Virtually all on BA.com except for Aer Lingus.

          • Stu N says:

            Qantas site is very good – you need to register to use it but if BA is doing weird things, it can be very helpful. (I wouldn’t entirely rely on it for Qantas’s own availability or BA availability as FFPs often have extra availability for their own members).

  11. I’ve seen this before but never understood how to book it. Do you just put the departure/destination in BA’s website i.e. LHR-DOH and hope it throws up a partner connection i.e. LHR-AMM-DOH? I’ve never worked out (we’re lazy!) how to book multiple trips on BA’s website so book each one individually.

    • You have to book it on the phone. You won’t get the special pricing online as it won’t show itineraries with 2 or more oneworld airlines

    • Alex W says:

      You search for availability for each leg individually online, can be BA but Qantas website is good for one world. Once you know each leg you want you have to call BA to book.

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