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How to earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – at higher rates than BA for Economy

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As there are four separate Avios loyalty schemes – British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus AerClub and Vueling Club – which each have their own partners, you would expect some oddities to turn up.

This is one of the biggest ones.  Bizarrely, Aer Lingus AerClub lets you earn Avios when flying United Airlines, which is a member of the competing Star Alliance.

With United Airlines soon to be the biggest airline between Scotland and the US as we covered this week – and with 22 daily US flights timetabled from Heathrow for Summer 2022 – I thought it was worth taking a look at how this works.

Earn Avios flying United Airlines

United Airlines of the US is a long-standing Aer Lingus partner.   Under the old Gold Circle loyalty programme – before Aer Lingus was bought by IAG – it was possible to credit United Airlines flights to Aer Lingus.

To be honest, I was expecting this feature to go away when IAG bought Aer Lingus, closed the Gold Circle scheme, launched AerClub and adopted Avios.  I was wrong.

United Airlines remains an Avios earning partner

As you can see from this page of the Aer Lingus website, United Airlines remains a partner.  

You can earn Avios points in AerClub when you credit United Airlines flights at the following rates (click to enlarge):

Avios chart Aer Lingus United

The % figures are based on the number of miles flown.

What is interesting about this chart is that it is very generous for discounted economy tickets:

  • If you fly British Airways to the US in a cheap economy seat, you will earn either 25% or 50% of miles flown, irrespective of whether you credit the flight to British Airways Executive Club or AerClub
  • If you fly United Airlines to the US in a cheap economy seat, you will earn either 50% or 75% of miles flown when you credit to AerClub

If you have British Airways status then these numbers will change.  However, if you have no BA status and are flying to North America on a non-refundable economy ticket, you will earn more Avios (but no tier points) by flying on United and earning Avios in AerClub.

You cannot use a British Airways Executive Club number.  You need to join AerClub and move the Avios across to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’.

Where will United fly in 2022?

United is slowly building back its London Heathrow schedule. From late Spring 2022 it will be flying:

  • one daily flight to Boston
  • two daily flights to Denver
  • seven daily flights to Newark
  • three daily flights to San Francisco
  • one daily flight to Los Angeles
  • three daily flights to Washington DC
  • three daily flights to Chicago
  • two daily flights to Houston

These are, of course, routes where British Airways and its partner American Airlines operate too. If United is substantially cheaper, however, it is an option if you still want Avios and are willing to sacrifice tier points.

Daily services from Edinburgh to New York will resume in March with seasonal flights to Chicago and Washington DC resuming in May.

PS.  It is no longer possible to redeem Aer Lingus miles for United flights.  This would have been very interesting indeed.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2022)

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 with attractive sign-up bonuses.

There are special sign-up bonuses on both of the BA American Express cards until 28th February 2022. The bonus on the free card is doubled to 10,000 Avios and the bonus on the Premium Plus card is increased from 25,000 Avios to a huge 40,000 Avios.

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an Economy 2-4-1 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 (SPECIAL OFFER) and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 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 – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel 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 30,000 Avios.

30,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 4th February 2022.

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

30,000 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 and has a 45,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

45,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 28th February 2022.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

45,000 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 (14)

  • bafan says:

    Must be good transfer traffic through DUB for United right? When I was in college EWR-DUB-LHR was way cheaper than a non stop.

    • Phil W says:

      I’ve always done Aer Lingus EDI-DUB/SNN-NE US over any EDI-NE US route, way cheaper and going through US Immigration in Ireland is far better than in the US. With connection times consistently around 1hr in Ireland, I’m guessing it might even be quicker not flying direct.

  • Richie says:

    Btw if you need to move avios between and your BA account, the e mail addresses need to match.

  • MisterE says:

    Does this work for all United flights, or just transatlantic to/from UK?
    What about codeshare flights (eg Lufthansa operated flight but United flight number)?

    • Trent says:

      All standard United Airlines flights are included – the whole network.

      No idea about the codeshares though.

  • Joe A says:

    When I did this a few years back it took months to post the Avios.

  • manilabay says:

    Any likelihood of this going as Aer Lingus join the Atlantic JV?

    • Trent says:

      It may well still only be there due to a contractual agreement. People have been expecting it to go, but it hasn’t yet.

  • ADS says:

    Are the “F, I, X” booking classes with 0% avios the redemption categories?

  • Mikeact says:

    If/when IAG align their Avios programs, I guess this route will then disappear.

    • Andrew says:

      Isn’t the risk that a few Scots will benefit from the earning of Avios on United flights significantly offset by the sheer volume of Irish-Americans travelling to visit the home country?

  • Richie says:

    Can United frequent flyers earn points on Aer Lingus operated flights?

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