Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to redeem Avios points for low tax American Airlines US domestic flights

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In this series

This article explains how to redeem Avios for domestic flights in the United States.

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from it.  Click here to see the other “Avios Redemption University” articles.

With the US being a top tourist destination for Brits, it is worth remembering that Avios can have substantial value when you redeem them for American Airlines or Alaska Airlines domestic flights.  The acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines a couple of years ago has added a lot of new route options.

The good news is that there is minimal tax to pay when redeeming for internal US flights.  Neither AA or Alaska impose fuel surcharges and there is no US equivalent to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty.

Using Avios on American Airlines

For example, a return flight from New York to Boston on American Airlines has just £9 of taxes in Economy.

To make your life complicated, however, there are special rules for the pricing of short domestic redemptions in the United States.

Here is the standard Avios pricing chart – click to enlarge. Note that flights on partner airlines such as American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are ALWAYS priced at peak day rates, whatever day you fly.

Reward flight prices on BA partner airlines (plus taxes, fees and carrier charges)
Zone Distance Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class
1* 1—650 miles 6,000 9,000 12,500 24,000
2 651—1,150 miles 9,000 12,500 16,500 33,000
3 1,150—2,000 miles 11,000 16,500 22,000 44,000
4 2,001—3,000 miles 13,000 25,750 38,750 51,500
5 3,001—4,000 miles 20,750 41,250 61,000 82,500
6 4,001—5,500 miles 25,750 51,500 77,250 103,000
7 5,501—6,500 miles 31,000 62,000 92,750 123,750
8 6,501—7,000 miles 36,250 72,250 108,250 144,250
9 7,001+ miles 51,500 103,000 154,500 206,000
* zone 1 does not apply to internal flights in North America
North America 1—650miles 7,500 15,000 30,000

In 2016, Avios introduced a new rules specifically for short domestic US redemptions.

For flights under 650 miles:

  • Economy class redemptions are now 7,500 Avios one-way instead of 4,500
  • Business class redemptions are now 15,000 Avios one-way instead of 9,000
  • First Class redemptions (on three class aircraft) are now 30,000 Avios one-way instead of 18,000

Pricing on routes over 650 miles remains the same.

One other issue which often crops up when pricing US domestic redemptions is that to get the pricing in the chart above, you must travel non-stop, without a change of plane.  If you change planes, you will be charged each flight separately.  This can make redemptions very expensive if there is no direct American or Alaska flight to where you want to go, which is often the case.

You can also see how many Avios are required for a flight by making a dummy booking on Unfortunately Alaska Airlines flights are not (yet) shown on, although they are likely to be once Alaska Airlines joins oneworld in Summer 2021.

The following routes are generally regarded as examples of flights inside North America which offer great value, either because they just scrape into the top end of their Avios pricing band or because lack of competition leads to high pricing:

  • New York to Montreal (7,500 Avios each-way, American)
  • San Francisco to Honolulu (12,500 Avios each-way, Alaska)
  • Los Angeles to Honolulu (13,000 Avios each-way, American)
  • San Francisco to Los Angeles (7,500 Avios each-way, American)
  • Detroit to New York LaGuardia (7,500 Avios each-way, American)
  • Atlanta to Chicago (7,500 Avios each-way, American)
  • Miami to Key West (7,500 Avios each-way, American)
  • Toronto to Chicago (7,500 Avios each-way, American)

Long – and expensive – flights which still drop under 3,000 miles and thus cost just 26,000 Avios return in economy include:

  • Miami to Lima
  • US West Coast to US East Coast
  • Hawaii to West Coast USA and Alaska

If you are struggling to find flights from the UK to the Caribbean, you can also take advantage of American Airlines connections to transfer cheaply from the US mainland. Perhaps you could have a ‘city and beach’ holiday instead?

Miami to Cancun, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay or Turks & Caicos is only 7,500 Avios one-way (Barbados etc is further, so 10,000 Avios each way)

When thinking about using your Avios for US flights, you will find the highest number of routes out of the main hub airports.

For Alaska Airlines, that means Seattle, although it has smaller hubs in Portland, Anchorage, San Francisco and Los Angeles

For American Airlines, the main hubs are Dallas, Chicago, New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Los Angeles and Miami. It also has the ex-US Airways hubs in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix and Washington National.

American Airlines bookings with Avios

What baggage allowance do I get?

Domestic flights in the US booked with Avios usually come with no baggage allowance if booked in Economy.  Click through for our full article on that topic.

Annoyingly, you won’t realise this unless you click the ‘Your Baggage Allowance’ dropdown box during the booking process.  It may make more sense to use extra Avios to book Business than pay for a bag in Economy.

How to book US domestic tickets with Avios

American Airlines flights can be booked on without difficulty.  If you need to connect, may struggle to put together a routing so you may find it easier to look up individual flights and then ring BA to book the whole itinerary.

(One tip is to do a dummy redemption booking on – you don’t need to log in or even have an AA account. This will often show you potential redemption routes with connections which was not clever enough to find. You can then ring the BA call centre and ask it to book the flights that were shown as available on

Alaska Airlines flights can only be booked by telephone with British Airways Executive Club.  A later article in this series will look specifically at Alaska and its routes to Hawaii.

Want to learn more about how to maximise your Avios redemptions?

You can see the full list of all 15 articles in the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series here.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

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

Comments (6)

  • Peter K says:

    I though US domestic flights were only economy and “first”, not business?

    • Chabuddy geezy says:

      Some of the transcontinental flights have business and first.

    • ChrisC says:

      Depends on the airline and how they describe it.

      ‘Domestic First’ is not the same as Transcontinental or International First.

      And remember that with most US airlines Lounge access comes via status or paying for a membership than via the travel class of your seat.

  • Jody says:

    We’ve just rebooked a holiday next Jan/Feb using my returned Amex companion voucher.

    It was fortuitous this article came out today, as it made me look at a one way flight we need from Miami to Panama City. 11000 avios each, plus taxes of £5.50 each. On top of that a checked bag each IS included, unlike internal flights where they’re not. Well chuffed with that!

    I looked at the flight the other way (was a toss up between two cruises) and the taxes from Panama City to Miami were £129 each. Weird!

    Flights and cruise all easily cancelled if things not back to normal by January (and I think it’s a 50 50 chance to be honest). Just needed something to look forward to!

    • Mikeact says:

      We found, although a bit annoying, the £30 per case was not a problem compared to checking the actual fare for the day….and ‘First’ was usually difficult to get on Avios due to AA upgrade vouchers etc that many regulars were presenting at the gate etc. But all in all, a really good way to get around the US, particularly if you have Skyteam miles to use with Delta as well.

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