Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

  • themightywab 5 posts

    Hi all,
    I’ve recently got an Amex 2 for 1 voucher and am planning a joint celebration trip next summer for post GCSEs for my kid & a significant birthday year for me. Currently planning a West Coast adventure (LA to Vancouver or vice versa), but keen to get some feedback/advice on how best to do this.

    1. Is it worth trying to redeem for First class for at least one of the legs (I fancy using the Concorde lounge at Heathrow)? Is First for one/both of these legs worth it over Club World, especially when traveling with a vegetarian teenager who can’t take advantage of the booze ;-)?
    2. In terms of booking the open-jaw tickets, I phone up at midnight (or 1 am BST) on the 355th day prior to the date I want to travel out, book the ticket one way, and then phone back at the same time 355 days prior to the date I want to return and get them to amend the booking? I’ve seen some info that First tickets aren’t always released in this way?
    3. Any idea when/if 2023 peak/off-peak dates will be announced? I may need to purchase some additional Avios if both dates are Peak?

    Many thanks!

    ChrisC 956 posts

    Rob wrote an article a couple of weeks ago re the peak / odff peak dates

    https://www.headforpoints.com/2022/03/28/2023-british-airways-avios-peak-and-off-peak-flight-dates/

    To dare is to do 133 posts

    No guarantee of any first seats being released only 4 club seats. Your best bet is to nab them then if first becomes available call and upgrade. Remember there’s not a lot of first availability anywhere atm. Of course if 1st is released at the time grab them.

    themightywab 5 posts

    Many thanks @ChrisC (apologies, I missed this when searching) and @Todare – duly noted.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    We have got GCSEs this year so I feel your pain! Having finally managed to do another trip in F (after 3 years) I would say it’s definitely worth going for, if you can. There are seats to be had if you’re prepared to be flexible, e.g. use your 241 to a different US city (and possibly have a few days there) then connect to the West coast. Try and do F on the outbound as the only CCRs are in LHR and JFK, and most return flights are overnight so you don’t get the benefit. F out and CW back is my ideal form of travel.
    F to BOS gets released for Tuesdays and Wednesdays most weeks, but I’ve also seen seats available for NYC, ATL and a few others. There’s even the odd pair to LAX but they are few and far between and rarely get released at T-355.
    If you’re quite flexible on dates, aim to fly on the off peak dates in summer (again Tuesdays and Wednesdays a lot of the time so that would tie in well if you did F to BOS as it’s only 68k avios outbound).
    Do some research before booking as there are issues with the surcharges on US flights.
    We’ve taken advantage of the end of the exams plus off peak dates to shave a good chunk off avios off our GCM flights this year.
    Hope you manage to put an amazing trip together!

    themightywab 5 posts

    Awesome – many thanks @northernlass – I hadn’t even thought of connecting somewhere, but will definitely look into it! Good luck with the GCSEs this year!

    memesweeper 1,299 posts

    1. Is it worth trying to redeem for First class for at least one of the legs (I fancy using the Concorde lounge at Heathrow)? Is First for one/both of these legs worth it over Club World, especially when traveling with a vegetarian teenager who can’t take advantage of the booze ;-)?
    2. In terms of booking the open-jaw tickets, I phone up at midnight (or 1 am BST) on the 355th day prior to the date I want to travel out, book the ticket one way, and then phone back at the same time 355 days prior to the date I want to return and get them to amend the booking? I’ve seen some info that First tickets aren’t always released in this way?
    3. Any idea when/if 2023 peak/off-peak dates will be announced? I may need to purchase some additional Avios if both dates are Peak?

    Many thanks!

    1. Yes, even if you decide never to do it again!
    2. There are no guarantees on F tickets, phone up, ask, if it’s not available then book Club and keep an eye on two seats opening up later

    Others might suggest F on the way back to London is a bit of a waste, as you are asleep so much of the time, however, the ground experience in JFK is worth it on it’s own, and from LA the flight is so long you will the benefit even if you sleep for a good chunk of it.

    I’ve always been of the view that the best way to do long-haul travel for leisure is open jaw, I’d stick with that part of your plan if I were you. I’m less convinced I’d add a stop-over just to get a BA First seat over a Club one. I guess with enough time in the stopover city it would make sense.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    I agree re open jaw, just don’t get done over for the surcharges when booking the return leg – call BA and ask them to ADD the return sector (and recalculate the cash element). DON’T book it then ask them for the extra back as you will only get the avios and not the extra money.

    Obviously I’m not going to suggest going somewhere rubbish in F but this would be an awesome trip for a teenager:

    F to NYC or BOS, a few days shopping and sight seeing (whale watching in Boston if teenager likes that stuff or ride up the Empire State Building in NYC), then connect to the west coast for a road trip/beach/other city. Back overnight in CW which would give you evening lounge access and a long sleep in a flat bed.


    @themightywab
    – thanks, I am just grateful that they are getting some leniency with the grading this year 🤦‍♀️😂

    marks7389 425 posts

    It may also be helpful to note that you don’t need to phone to book the outbound. The only advantage of doing that is, for a destination seats redemption seats disappear rapidly, the call centre can hold the seats whilst completing the booking. The challenge at the moment is timing to get them to pick up just before midnight given the long hold times.

    In practice, the online booking process is quick if you know what you want. Assuming it is your 2for1, your details will be pre-populated as the lead passenger. If you are in a household account, your son/daughter will need to be also (or on your friends and family list), so check that ahead of time but it then really is a case of select your flight and booking class, select 2nd traveller details from drop-down, enter payment details and submit.

    Adding the return may be a bit more challenging as I believe it can be hit and miss as to whether they will do it if you call the US number at midnight. May be worth having fallback options prepared (route and/or date) just in case you don’t get your first choice but unless you are going for a route where the minimum release is being snapped up over night you may well be fine anyway.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    Agree with the above, and have a plan B or possibly C. I wanted to spend Xmas and New Year in the Florida Keys but knew that avios seats would be like unicorns on the one off-peak day in the run up to Xmas. Sure enough, the 3 CW seats to MIA I tried to bag at midnight had gone by the time I got to the payment page. But my plan B was to spend a few days doing Xmassy stuff in one of the east coast cities before connecting to the Keys for some sun and sea so I quickly changed tack and managed to get 2 x F and 1 x CW to Washington DC, and subsequently avios flights on AA direct to Key West from there. I think that’s actually going to be more fun than doing the whole thing in Florida on reflection. So being flexible and adapting to what’s available can work out really well.

    Rui N. 858 posts

    OK, so the general advice for booking an open-jaw with the BAPP companion voucher is:
    1. Book the outbound online.
    2. Call to add the inbound to the same reservation. What do I say here? “I have the booking XYZ123 booked with a companion voucher, I want to now add a return that doesn’t start on the same airport”? Does having an infant in the reservation might create a problem here?

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    1,2 – yes. As long as the infant is on the outbound journey there shouldn’t be an issue with the return.

    Rui N. 858 posts

    Thanks very much NorthernLass. Yes, infant is travelling on both directions.

    Wally1976 202 posts

    I would suggest practising the online booking a few times to get it as fast as possible if you want specific seats on specific dates. I did this for Orlando last August (for this August) and got the dummy booking time down to about 30 seconds (right up to but not including the final submit)! When it came to the real booking I took slightly longer (about 44 seconds I think) due to double checking things.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    I’ve also got this down to a fine art – often including connecting flights and a night a LHR on the outbound! It’s always nail-biting on the return booking, as I have to wait an extra day for the domestic connection back to MAN to appear.

    chelseafifi 54 posts


    @NorthernLass

    Your plan B for Xmas sounds great and helpful info. I have been considering something similar for my next trip, rather then Atlanta return, I was thinking of Philadelphia or Boston on way out for couple nights, with Avios AA flights for the single connection. Do I just book the AA Avios flight separately and then I just pay at check in for the luggage? I always struggle to find details on the whole process, lots of experienced travellers on here mention these options but as I organise everything, I just like to be clear on how the whole thing works.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    @chelseafifi – I’ve also got Philadelphia on my list to visit at some point. Yes, book the AA flights then at check in they have card machines to pay for your checked bags, it’s the norm in the US and they will be expecting you to hand over your credit card along with your passport lol. I’ve even checked in on the pavement outside the terminal and done this.
    If you can find award flights in AA domestic F (which is not as good as CW but better than CE), you’ll get bags included, plus F & B, but not lounge access, unfortunately.

    marks7389 425 posts

    but not lounge access, unfortunately.

    BA Silver/Gold status would get you lounge access though… In fact any OneWorld Sapphire/Emerald status except, ironically, AA or Alaska.

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