Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The easy way to use Avios points to fly to Australia and New Zealand

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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 to Sydney, 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 Atlantic withdrew and British Airways downsized to a Boeing 777.  This means that it is rare to see more than the four 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 few years we have seen (and written about) business class cash fares from the UK 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 pre-covid you could 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 evening there were just six days between now and the end of the year when you can 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 an easier way to use Avios to Australia and New Zealand

There is a 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 with two or more oneworld partner airlines’.

What is the Avios ‘multi-carrier reward chart’?

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 increased the redemption costs for partner airlines back in 2019.

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.  (Well, you will have a lot options when flight schedules return to their pre-covid patterns.)

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.

Avios multi partner redemption chart

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:

Heathrow to Tokyo (Japan Airlines)  5,957 miles

3 day stopover

Tokyo 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 the reader travelled 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 I have seen examples where multiple overland sectors were 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 have seen 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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

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

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

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

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

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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 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 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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 (93)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • S says:

    Articles like this with ancient anecdotes and no recent first hand data points are lazy and misleading. The last thing BA needs is a load of chancers adding to the long phone queues in vain in the hopes of achieving anything like the wild successes highlighted above. Those days ended a long long time ago. At this point, even getting a simple and totally legitimate itinerary ticketed is a tiresome ordeal of repeated HUACAs

    • BJ says:

      It’s neither out of date or misleading as far as I can see. Not that many will have the number of avios required, and those that do can, and presumably would, plan their trip and check availability sector by sector using BA and AA etc sites before calling. The problems experienced calling BA are largely of their own making, not the customers.

    • Stuart says:

      This is neither. Earlier this month I booked a trip to Australia over Easter for 240,000 avios and £500 taxes and fees. Routing MAN-HEL-NRT-MEL-BNE and return. You need to do your research first, sector by sector, testing different combination, but relatively easy to do. Then be patient when you call because the agents, even on the Gold line, have little experience. My route had to go to fares and back then ticketing before the ticket was issued but all done inside 24 hours. I can also confirm their is an 8 sector limit.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Why is your “simple and totally legitimate itinerary” more important then what somebody else wants to book?

    • H says:

      I had a very similar itinerary to the one above booked with about half an hour work on the phone to Delhi – sadly I cancelled it as I did not think it likely that all the countries would open up

    • Sean says:

      I have an Australia trip booked on this chart. I researched the one way availability for each sector and called up and booked successfully first time. It ticketed within 24 hours:
      LHR-HKG (CX)
      HKG-MEL (CX)
      MEL-SYD (QF)
      SYD-DOH (QR)
      DOH-LGW(BA)
      It is booked for April so might not come off but that is not due to inability to book. If you do research before then there is no reason why this should significantly add to telephone queues.

    • Track says:

      Key question though: why knowing the pressure on call volumes, BA and IB agents are so woefully inadequate. Except BA Newcastle CS. But generally

      They don’t seem interested. They have very bad connections and headsets, 90% of time line sound quality.

      They need like 30 minutes to confirm every rule with internal desk/chat with supervisor. Basically, they are untrained in the rules and systems and each booking is tedious experience for them, trying to remember Amadeus commands or something.

      They are abrupt and immediately like to say ‘not possible’, ‘never’ — to changes that are clearly possible under airline’s own published (on web) policies.

      90% I was met with ignorance and agent saying “buy a new ticket”, that’s Iberia mostly, of course.

    • VerdantBacon says:

      Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t make it ancient. Not sure what a “legitimate” itinerary is either.

  • BJ says:

    Great article. Don’t forget Sri Lankan though as they also fly to Australia and could open up some great southern route adventures for the creative. For couples using an amex companion voucher open jaw to Africa, India or the Middle or Far East might be worth considering and then using that as the jumping off point for a multicarrier award.

    • Sinewaves says:

      So you would fly to one of those places return with voucher from U.K. then use the multi for the test to Aus?

      • BJ says:

        Suggesting that if a couple wanted to use a companion voucher then nesting a multipartner reward within an open jaw 241 reservation opens up a world of adventurous itineraries. Not only to Oz but other places too.

        • Sinewaves says:

          Thanks, but are they separate bookings as the article says you can’t use a voucher?

          • BJ says:

            Yes, they would be separate bookings. If you have Virgin miles too then don’t forget to explore mix and match with those. There are some great value Virgin partner rewards but they can be a little tricky to use and/or difficult to find availability.

          • Rob says:

            BJ suggests finding an outward date you want and then a random return in 11 months or so, then coming home from trip one – and then returning to Oz in 11 months – using a multi-partner trip. Only works if you want 2 trips to Oz within a year.

  • Paul says:

    This article misses the obvious point.

    The cheapest way is to convert those Avios to Nectar points, use it for your food shop, then use the cash saved on a £1,500 One World flight to Australia.

    Much cheaper than 200k avios plus £600, and you get miles + tier points on the flight.

    • BJ says:

      Flexibility which is rare with cheap cash tickets will be important for some. Some will not want to shop Sainsbury group. Still, a good point to never forget the Nectar alternative.

    • Andrew J says:

      Totally agree Paul, Avios flights are so 2019 – it’s all about Nectar and cash tickets now.

      • BJ says:

        Very much a case of horses for courses Andrew. Sure if you want something simple at a cheap time then miles and status earning cash tickets are fine. But if you need flexibility, peak dates or adventurous itineraries avios is still your friend.

      • MD says:

        @Andrew If you wish to convince yourself that trading in all your avios for 0.8p’s worth of slightly overpriced and subpar groceries is a great deal, then go nuts. All the more arbitraged reward seats for the rest of us.

    • Will says:

      Honestly where do you get a £1500 return J to Syd over Christmas from, without wasting precious holiday for a trip downunder?

      • Toby says:

        Christmas before covid I got £1800 to Auckland in the school hols – 4 tickets business class on virgin / air Nz.

        Found it on google flights booked it on last minute.com

      • John T says:

        You would struggle to get one under £2200 right now

    • Jonty says:

      The first point the article makes is don’t bother, use cash

    • VerdantBacon says:

      This reader missed the first line of the article

  • John says:

    Hardly the easy way

  • Susan says:

    I used this for a Paris-Lhr-HK-Brisbane-Christchurch-Auckland-Sydney-Adelaide-Doha-Paris routing in Jan 2020. Mostly J including Q suite to Doha. Easy to plan using websites which show which destinations available from any given airport.

  • Julia Swain says:

    We’ve been lucky enough to book LON-SYD-LON in First using Avios and BA AMEX 2-4-1 for Christmas 2022. However, trying to find easy ways to see Avios availability on partner airlines to add my stepdaughter to the holiday was awful. I’ve used QF and AA in the past but QF seemed to be wanting upwards of a million points ? Where’s the easiest way to see availability please ?

    • Will says:

      If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Patience usually pays off, or put your hand in your pocket for a cash ticket. Have had a lot of success with AAdvantage partner redemption searches but not always identical availability when booking via BA

    • Alex W says:

      The Qantas website is a good tool for searching Oneworld reward availability (Qantas account required). You would probably need to search one sector at a time. Do not pay attention to the Qantas miles price shown. Once you have found the flight you want, search for it on the BA website and it should tell you their price in Avios and fees. Again you may need to search for each sector individually.

  • Andrew J says:

    I’m not sure it’s going to be “easy” to get to NZ for a number of years.

  • Slotski says:

    I could net over £4,000 in shopping if I converted my avios to nectar. But in my circumstances the key advantage of a redemption booking is flexibility – being able to cancel for a refund.

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