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 (August 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 with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up 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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit 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.

Comments (93)

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

  • felim says:

    I’ve booked multiple business class family trips this year ( Bermudan, Vancouver and Doha) all on BA ex Dublin using finnair points for BA and Qatar flights. Using the “Partner” points and multi stop facility is fantastic

    • Willmo says:

      Hi, can you explain this a bit more. What exactly did you do to get great value from your Finnair points? I have a whole load, but as far as I can tell, the partner redemptions values are very poor. What am I missing?

      • Michael says:

        Finnair partner table is actually quite good in Australia/Pacific on Qantas flights in Business Class, if you manage to be successful in regards to booking the flight to Australia …

  • Stuart says:

    Now Alaska is part of One World, you could use Finnair / Iberia as part of your route out plus AA and Alaska to have a good tour around the US

  • Dude26 says:

    Interesting that it says this on the landing page for ‘multi carrier’ redemtpion:

    The price you pay for your flight will be either:

    i) full Avios plus taxes, fees and carrier charges or
    ii) Avios & Money plus taxes, fees and carrier charges.

    Now the question is – how the heck would you be able to have them charge you based on option “ii)”? And what would it cost?
    Guessing it’s a tiresome game of trial and error with agents? Or does anyone maybe have a data point on this?

  • Dermot says:

    Do you have to call an agent to do this – or can you plan it out online?

    • Rob says:

      You need to look up each individual flight online then call BA and read our all the details so they can stitch it together.

      A very simple one (eg Lon-Doh-HKG, HKG-Hel-Lon, using Qatar, Cathay, Finnair) may work online.

  • Richie says:

    I’d like BA to fly LHR-SGN and QF to fly SGN-SYD at some point.

  • david says:

    In my experience redemptions involving 2 or more carriers never work online. Even if you do get a CSA at BA on the phone who understands multi-carrier mostly the booking has to be sent away to ticketing to work out the tax and this sometimes takes 24 hours. In the mean time keep an eye on the booking as some carriers will cancel a booking if its not a confirmed booking. Also check the baggage allowance as I once had a Finnair business booking with no baggage – a mistake on BAs part. If you are short of a carrier fly to madrid first with Iberia.

    • Mikeact says:

      You’re right.. who knows whether or not the overall charges are correct. We decided that based upon the very acceptable charges involved, we’d go for it…quick..just in case. And we had a shortish leg across the Tasman Sea which we had to accept ‘down the back’ because of a prior engagement. The helpful agent said that this had a big impact on the overall charges, but how… I had no idea. We just booked it..quick.
      Amendments while away were pretty easy, change of date/time, but rerouting was more challenging…mostly down to the kindness of the agent…’can we go via Darwin instead of Cairns’ etc….furrowed brow, quick phone call…yes.
      But you should not expect any changes outside of your itinerary.

    • Babyg says:

      Cathay + Malaysia work online… booked that via BA.COM

  • YC says:

    Assume no issues booking this with household accounts?

    • Rob says:

      No, as long as a HHA member travels of course (or Friends & Family member).

  • PJJ says:

    Anyone done Aus on Emirates ?
    Believe it is 185k miles (correct me if I am wrong) but what is availability like in Business
    Solo flyer so happy to go ex UK
    T.I.A.

    • VerdantBacon says:

      Haven’t checked recently, but as of Nov 2021 EK had pulled all rewards inventory to Australia. Generally pretty difficult to find availability anyway.

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