As there are four separate Avios loyalty schemes across the IAG airlines – 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.
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):
The % figures are based on the number of miles flown.
As you can see, whilst the figures for Business Class are worse than you’d get from a British Airways flight (BA flights earn 150% or 250% of miles flown), the Avios you earn in Economy Class are competitive. BA flights earn earn Avios at the rate of 25%, 50% or 100% based on fare class.
If you have British Airways status then these numbers will look less attractive because you won’t be getting a status bonus from United. However, if you have no BA status and are flying to North America on an economy ticket, you are unlikely to be worse off (albeit you earn 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’. We explain how ‘Combine My Avios’ works here.
Where does United fly in summer 2023?
As far as I can tell, United is currently flying from Heathrow to:
- Boston (routes closes October 2023)
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
From Edinburgh you can fly to:
From Heathrow 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. From Edinburgh this is a way to earn Avios to the US on a direct flight.
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 from UK credit cards (September 2023)
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:
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.
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 10,500 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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.