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