Is Redeeming British Airways Avios On Aer Lingus Still A Good Deal?

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Back in 2012, one of the hottest award redemptions was redeeming British Airways Avios for transatlantic travel in Aer Lingus business class. There were two thing made this redemption especially sweet:

  • While British Airways had huge carrier imposed surcharges for travel on their own flights, the surcharges on Aer Lingus were much smaller
  • British Airways has a distance based award chart, and they charged 12,500 miles for economy and 25,000 miles for business class for a flight of under 3,000 miles — Boston to Dublin covers a distance of just under 3,000 miles

Suddenly everyone was redeeming their Avios for flights from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus, be it in economy or business class. I wrote a report about my experience flying from Boston to Dublin and back.

It has been several years since this redemption value was widely talked about, so I figured it would be fun to revisit this, a couple of British Airways Executive Club devaluations later.

How many Avios are required for Aer Lingus award redemptions?

British Airways devalued their award chart in 2014, during which time they introduced peak and off-peak pricing. All partner awards price at the peak level. Here are the current rates, which are the costs per segment (if you’re flying multiple segments, they use additive pricing):

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

With that in mind, how many Avios are required for one-way transatlantic redemptions on Aer Lingus?

  • Aer Lingus flights covering a distance of 3,001-4,000 miles cost 20,000 Avios in economy, or 60,000 Avios in business class
  • Aer Lingus flights covering a distance of 4,001-5,500 miles cost 25,000 Avios in economy, or 75,000 Avios in business class

In other words, Aer Lingus flights to/from Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York, Toronto, and Washington, fall in the 3,001-4,000 mile range, while flights to/from Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and San Francisco, fall in the 4,001-5,500 mile range.

You might say “wait a minute, I thought Boston to Ireland was under 3,000 miles one-way? It sure is, but unfortunately British Airways selectively modifies geography when it works in their favor. In this case they decided it was too good of a deal, so they now pretend that it’s a 3,001-4,000 mile flight.

What are the fees like?

The great news is that while a one-way business class award ticket from the US to London on British Airways would cost you $500 in carrier imposed surcharges, it’s significantly cheaper when booking travel on Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus has the seem fees if traveling in economy or business class. You pay everything other than the base fare.

For a flight from the US to Dublin, that should run you a total of $34.47.

Meanwhile from Dublin to the US, that should run you a total of $81.37.

Searching & booking awards on Aer Lingus 

These awards aren’t bookable on British Airways’ website, so you’ll have to call to make your booking. If you want to search award availability, you can do so on ExpertFlyer. That’s probably the easiest place to do so. Award availability is wildly inconsistent — sometimes it’s easy to come across, while other times it isn’t. The toughest destinations for award space are Los Angeles and San Francisco, so don’t expect to find availability on those flights.

In terms of the award fare classes, you’ll want “U” class for business class and “T” class for economy class.

So, are Avios redemptions on Aer Lingus still a good deal?

On one hand it’s hard to feel like they are, when between Boston and Dublin economy has gone from costing 12,500 miles to 20,000 miles, and business class has gone from costing 25,000 miles to 60,000 miles. That latter award is 240% of the price it used to be.

At the same time, Aer Lingus does have a new business class product. They used to have angled seats.

Now they have fully flat seats, with a majority of seating featuring direct aisle access.

But in absolute terms, it can still represent a good deal.

For example, for a few more days there’s a 40% bonus on transfers from Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Executive Club. So that’s like paying 43,000 Amex points for a one-way ticket on most of Aer Lingus’ routes from the US to Dublin.

When you factor in the accelerated rate at which you can earn Membership Rewards points on cards like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American ExpressThe Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressThe Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, etc., this represents a solid deal.

So no, this isn’t the no brainer, “must do” redemption that it used to be. However, there are still plenty of circumstances under which this represents a great deal. It’s just too bad that British Airways doesn’t consistently use their distance based award chart, or else Boston to Dublin would cost fewer Avios.

I just recently completed the minimum spend on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, and I plan on using some of those Avios for an Aer Lingus business class award.

Has anyone redeemed Avios on Aer Lingus recently?

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben,

    You wrote “All partner awards price at the off-peak level”.

    Then shouldn’t the 3001 to 4000 mile band cost 13000 Avios for economy and 50000 for business?

  2. What about if transferring the avios to AerClub/ avios.com?

    Does that change the calculus? I honestly don’t know since I haven’t looked into it.

  3. Does EI charge more in fees if you transfer your BA miles to avios.com and book there? I just made a booking this week via the avios site and it was $280 in fees for JFK-DUB rt in business. A lot less painful than dealing with BA hold times, but did it cost me an extra $165 vs your example above?

  4. I am confused. Do you need avios points with avios.com to redeem, or can you use avios points with British Airways Executive Club?

  5. @steve you need to move your avios.com avios to BA avios. I assume you might be able to use them through Aer Lingus or Iberia avios as well?

    This seems like a great deal if you fly it in business but if flying economy not so much. You can typically find round trips on the BOS-DUB route for $400-$450 including taxes on Aer Lingus and less on WOW, etc. But business class is very high in cash.

  6. @ Cliff Brown- the space BA can see is what is shown on Avios.com. Some of that shows up on united.com, but by no means all. But if you can see it on Avios.com, you can call up BA and book it with BA Avios.

    Did 2 economy roundtrip redemptions from the US West Coast to Dublin for 50K miles this summer for family (didn’t have enough for business). Surprisingly, on different flights, both had relatively empty economy sections and got to stretch out over 2-3 seats. Fees for a roundtrip in economy were $114. That’s about $70 than the fees United charges for a roundtrip economy award US-Ireland.

  7. @DanInMCI- Agreed about economy not being a great deal, except in the summer from SFO or LAX, I think 50K Avios plus $114 is a pretty good value, as those tickets are in the $1,000 range or so- that’s what other family members paid for the same flights. Not as many cheap options from the West Coast as there are from the East Coast.

  8. I think that it’s true that although you can book aer lingus online on avios.com (although you may need to be UK based to have an account with them?). If you book over the phone with BA you get the cheaper taxes where avios.com charge about £100 each way for economy. I think avios.com also now charges peak and off peak prices though for aer lingus so not sure if BA does the same if you book over the phone.

  9. Lucky, their ground service isn’t world class, but I’m a huge fan of Aer Lingus for transatlantic from Dublin. I don’t think I consistently feel genuinely more welcome in J or F on any airline in any country. You should give them a spin. And we should clarify that it’s not direct aisle access from every seat, but the majority of seats. A330 alternates between 1-2-2 and 1-2-1 and 757 alternates between 1-1 and 2-2.

  10. Looking at EI’s new MIA/DUB route on Expert Flyer, I’ve found many dates with business class availability. But when looking for it on avios.com or calling BA, it’s not there. Aer Lingus have told me that they reserve inventory for their own AerClub members. So unfortunately Expert Flyer doesn’t seem a reliable method of finding seats that can be booked with Avios.

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