Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

  • jamesturk 49 posts

    Hi all,

    I’m looking to book flights for me & family to Houston on a one-way ticket (scheduled to take a cruise from there back to Europe).

    FYI – I live in Northern Ireland, & not too far from the border so either Belfast or Dublin suits.

    My current options below, and I have a couple questions of my own:

    BA Belfast – Heathrow – Houston, looking at approx. 30,000 avios + £75/ per person

    Aer Lingus unfortunately don’t fly direct to Houston, but I had a look and could potentially fly Dublin – Miami, for 16,251 avios + £121.90. Not bad, and nearly half the Avios of BA, although I’d obviously need to sort a Miami – Houston leg.
    American Airlines fly several times per day between MIA & IAH.
    Is there any way for me to include both the Aer Lingus and AA flights in one single avios booking? Or would it have to be seperate?
    Can I even book a seperate avios booking for Miami – Houston with American? Or would it have to be cash?
    If seperate bookings, then I presume I’d have to go and collect bags, check them in etc?

    Any feedback or clarity on the above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks v much in advance.

    NorthernLass 7,490 posts

    AA may well have reward seats, you can check this via BA.

    Generally you can’t have connecting flights on redemptions when it’s 2 different airlines, however as I understand it you have to collect your bags at the first stop in the US anyway (so someone said the other day, I don’t recall having to do this but might be remembering wrong!)

    Your best route is going to be either Belfast or Dublin to IAH via LHR, in terms of simplicity and cost, unless you decide to spend a few days in the US before the cruise. From Belfast you won’t pay for the connection to LHR. Dublin can be cheaper in surcharges but I think it only makes a difference if you’re flying in F since RFS was introduced.

    jamesturk 49 posts

    Thanks NorthernLass for the response. Yes, think I’m swaying towards the BHD/ LHR/ IAH route.

    I have enough avios to go PE for all of us, which would be good. Plus given there’s no PE between BHD/ LHR, I think I’m right in that it would be business class on the first leg, and also lounge access at the Belfast City airport.

    Also, bags checked straight through, which with 2 small kids, probably makese the most sense.

    Thanks again

    masaccio 714 posts

    If you end up finding IAH redemptions difficult, Austin is only a 2.5hr drive from Houston and you’ll be in your hire car 30 minutes after the plane door opens.

    LittleNick 127 posts

    If you end up finding IAH redemptions difficult, Austin is only a 2.5hr drive from Houston and you’ll be in your hire car 30 minutes after the plane door opens.

    Not my experience arriving into IAH last September, we were first off BA plane but had to wait at least 1 hour to get to an immigration desk due to the amount of people from lots of flights. Yes Bags were there once cleared immigration but it must have been at least 1.5 hours from touchdown to taxi rank

    masaccio 714 posts

    If you end up finding IAH redemptions difficult, Austin is only a 2.5hr drive from Houston and you’ll be in your hire car 30 minutes after the plane door opens.

    Not my experience arriving into IAH last September, we were first off BA plane but had to wait at least 1 hour to get to an immigration desk due to the amount of people from lots of flights. Yes Bags were there once cleared immigration but it must have been at least 1.5 hours from touchdown to taxi rank

    I said Austin. There are very few international flights coming into Austin and the immigration line is typically very short, especially if you’re at the front of the plane. Baggage handling is also good. The rental car lot is opposite arrivals.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,052 posts

    AA may well have reward seats, you can check this via BA.

    however as I understand it you have to collect your bags at the first stop in the US anyway (so someone said the other day, I don’t recall having to do this but might be remembering wrong!)

    .

    You are definitly remembering it wrong. Absent a couple of routes from South America into a couple of US airports like MIA and flights arriving from pre clearance airports you always have to collect you luggage at your port of entry in the US and clear customs no matter how short a time you’ll be in the US

    If OP could book DUB-MIA-IAH on one ticket then their bags would be checked right through but given these would be separate tickets that’s not possible as I don’t see EI interlining on separate tickets.

    Blair Waldorf Salad 1,108 posts

    +1 re DUB flights allowing baggage to be thru-checked (if on same itinerary)

    What time of year is this trip? It strikes that all other things being equal, MIA is not the US connection point I’d choose due to tropical storms.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,052 posts

    I have enough avios to go PE for all of us, which would be good. Plus given there’s no PE between BHD/ LHR, I think I’m right in that it would be business class on the first leg, and also lounge access at the Belfast City airport.

    Also, bags checked straight through, which with 2 small kids, probably makese the most sense.

    Thanks again

    With a little ones this is the best way IMHO to go. Bags checked through to IAH and simply walk of the Belfast flight into T5 departures with no security check just a BP scan

    I think however that PE on long haul actually puts you in economy not club on short haul so I don’t think you’d get lounge access at Belfast

    jamesturk 49 posts

    +1 re DUB flights allowing baggage to be thru-checked (if on same itinerary)

    What time of year is this trip? It strikes that all other things being equal, MIA is not the US connection point I’d choose due to tropical storms.

    Trip is March 2026

    jamesturk 49 posts

    I have enough avios to go PE for all of us, which would be good. Plus given there’s no PE between BHD/ LHR, I think I’m right in that it would be business class on the first leg, and also lounge access at the Belfast City airport.

    Also, bags checked straight through, which with 2 small kids, probably makese the most sense.

    Thanks again

    With a little ones this is the best way IMHO to go. Bags checked through to IAH and simply walk of the Belfast flight into T5 departures with no security check just a BP scan

    I think however that PE on long haul actually puts you in economy not club on short haul so I don’t think you’d get lounge access at Belfast

    I thought that too, but went through a dummy booking there for the same flight 355 days from now as a test, 28th Jan. And when going through, it came up as business to LHR, and then PE to Houston.

    NorthernLass 7,490 posts

    @Flyer/Stayer, it must be the case then, I am relying on my recollections of doing a very convoluted (but cheap) itinerary on DL 20 years ago which involved the horror of MAN-JFK-ATL-MIA or something similar!

    PE does automatically put you in economy on a domestic connection HOWEVER some flaky BA IT means that if you select the stopover option, you can select whichever cabin you like (depending on availability), whichever class the long haul is. It’s a nice little perk and I hope BA doesn’t get round to fixing it!

    jamesturk 49 posts

    For that dummy booking I mentioned above, 355 days from now, only the morning flight option has PE availability. No other options later that day has (be it either the later domestic flights to LHR or the later daily IAH flight).

    Any reason why that would be? Surely the PE seats wouldn’t have been booked already; are BA random in their avios/ seat class availability?

    ekposh 186 posts

    @Flyer/Stayer, it must be the case then, I am relying on my recollections of doing a very convoluted (but cheap) itinerary on DL 20 years ago which involved the horror of MAN-JFK-ATL-MIA or something similar!

    PE does automatically put you in economy on a domestic connection HOWEVER some flaky BA IT means that if you select the stopover option, you can select whichever cabin you like (depending on availability), whichever class the long haul is. It’s a nice little perk and I hope BA doesn’t get round to fixing it!

    For the same miles? Annoying as I’m flying PE (with Y connection).

    But as you say, by default, they stick you in Y.

    NorthernLass 7,490 posts

    @ekposh, well no miles on a domestic connection of course!


    @jamesturk
    , BA only guarantees a minimum of 2 PE award seats and they are often very popular. Consider flying to LHR the night before, this is what we usually do so as not to risk missing a connection but also to break up the journey and get a good night’s sleep before the long-haul stretch.

    Gagravarr 61 posts

    Singapore Airlines MAN-IAH flight is often pretty cheap. Since you’ll have to connect anyway, before booking with avios (and a noticeable amount of taxes+fees), make sure you price up a normal cash ticket first!

    jamesturk 49 posts

    Singapore Airlines MAN-IAH flight is often pretty cheap. Since you’ll have to connect anyway, before booking with avios (and a noticeable amount of taxes+fees), make sure you price up a normal cash ticket first!

    I’m fairly new to avios. I didn’t think Singapore was part of the avios setup?

    Also I checked and don’t see that MAN – IAH flight. Only see Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

    As NorthernLass said, think Belfast – Houston via LHR will be my best option. Will cost more avios but less hassle, bags checked straight through and can afford to book PE on BA.

    NorthernLass 7,490 posts

    One-way cash tickets are usually extremely expensive. I don’t know if there’s a roundabout way of booking this with avios, they are not one of the official One World partners.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,052 posts

    Indeed Singapore aren’t in One World so can’t use avios

    I know the person who suggested is trying to help but I don’t think that sugegsted route would help you. You’d liekly need a separate flight to MAN which adds complications with connections and luggage and child.

    If your still exploting options 9and you have plenty of time) does your cruise company offer one way fares? These can be a lot cheaper than booking direct with the airline

    Lady London 2,035 posts

    I have enough avios to go PE for all of us, which would be good. Plus given there’s no PE between BHD/ LHR, I think I’m right in that it would be business class on the first leg, and also lounge access at the Belfast City airport.

    Also, bags checked straight through, which with 2 small kids, probably makese the most sense.

    Thanks again

    With a little ones this is the best way IMHO to go. Bags checked through to IAH and simply walk of the Belfast flight into T5 departures with no security check just a BP scan

    I think however that PE on long haul actually puts you in economy not club on short haul so I don’t think you’d get lounge access at Belfast

    Isn’t there something about lounge access being allowed if in Y without status, provided you’re connecting to/from a flight in Club or First the same day?

    Lady London 2,035 posts

    Singapore Airlines MAN-IAH flight is often pretty cheap. Since you’ll have to connect anyway, before booking with avios (and a noticeable amount of taxes+fees), make sure you price up a normal cash ticket first!

    I’m fairly new to avios. I didn’t think Singapore was part of the avios setup?

    Also I checked and don’t see that MAN – IAH flight. Only see Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

    As NorthernLass said, think Belfast – Houston via LHR will be my best option. Will cost more avios but less hassle, bags checked straight through and can afford to book PE on BA.

    Up to you but I”d take the Austin advice.

    Landing in the US is no picnic and anything that reduces potential immigration queues at huge airports has got to be worth considering seriously.

    BBbetter 635 posts

    Singapore Airlines MAN-IAH flight is often pretty cheap. Since you’ll have to connect anyway, before booking with avios (and a noticeable amount of taxes+fees), make sure you price up a normal cash ticket first!

    I’m fairly new to avios. I didn’t think Singapore was part of the avios setup?

    Also I checked and don’t see that MAN – IAH flight. Only see Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

    It was a suggestion in case other options don’t work for you. It can be cheap (as it’s a 5th freedom flight) and is miles better than any European carrier.

    BBbetter 635 posts

    On a related note, is there any reason smaller airports like MAN or LGW cannot offer pre-clearance? Is it because government wants to protect LHR (where there is no space) or due to LHR lobbying?

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,052 posts

    On a related note, is there any reason smaller airports like MAN or LGW cannot offer pre-clearance? Is it because government wants to protect LHR (where there is no space) or due to LHR lobbying?

    Firstly it costs as the US Government and Congress insists that any new pre clearance facilities are fully funded by the airport as are any extra cost of salary and e.g. housing allowances for CBP officers deployed to pre clearance airports. So it’s not cheap.

    Then there is the whole legal issue of having foreign officials on your soil but there is a precident for that with French immigration oficers being deployed at e.g. St Pancras and Dover.

    MAN left shell space in its recent development for a pre clearance facility.

    But it also just takes an age. The CBP announced BRU would get pre clearance in September 2020 yet almost 4 years on … ARN was announced long befor that and still nada

    EDI applied years ago as well.

    I’m sure LHR would love it but as you say there is no space and it would need to be a facility easily accessible by all airlines that fly to the US. And given the number of connections involved to the US there is the whole MCT issue to consider.

    And finally given the vast improvement in US immigration processes (not just Global Entry) it’s not as useful as it used to be for a lot of people.

    jamesturk 49 posts

    Singapore Airlines MAN-IAH flight is often pretty cheap. Since you’ll have to connect anyway, before booking with avios (and a noticeable amount of taxes+fees), make sure you price up a normal cash ticket first!

    I’m fairly new to avios. I didn’t think Singapore was part of the avios setup?

    Also I checked and don’t see that MAN – IAH flight. Only see Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

    As NorthernLass said, think Belfast – Houston via LHR will be my best option. Will cost more avios but less hassle, bags checked straight through and can afford to book PE on BA.

    Up to you but I”d take the Austin advice.

    Landing in the US is no picnic and anything that reduces potential immigration queues at huge airports has got to be worth considering seriously.

    The only thing putting me off Austin, is that it’s 2.5hours from Houston, but the Galveston cruise port is another hour away from Houston so just adds more travel time/ expense after the long haul flight.

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