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Many of you will know the need to plan well ahead when it comes to getting award flights. Firstly, you need to know which airline you are going to be redeeming on, so you can concentrate on collecting points in that programme. Secondly, award flights tend to get snapped up quickly, so you need to have your points in place ready to book that redemption as soon as it becomes available.
With this in mind, I was recently examining the options for getting home (to Dublin) from LA as part of a holiday I intend to take in October 2017. What I decided on as being the best option ended up entirely different from what I expected at the outset. The assumptions in the following is that we are travelling in Business Class. The costs are worked out for two people.
The options, considered
1) Do the direct Aer Lingus LAX-DUB, or SFO-DUB. Job done you’d think. However, it appears Business Class seats never become available on these flights for Avios redemption. These seats are in high demand as they are mostly used by Californian tech companies to get to their European base in Ireland.
2) Get to Boston and fly BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus. Why Boston? Even after a recent BA devaluation, this is still the cheapest Business Class seat across the Atlantic, @ 37.5K Avios plus around £90 in cash per person, so you’d think a plan involving this flight would be sound. The LAX to BOS segment on AA on the cheaper MileSaaver award ALWAYS involves a connection, to do it direct you need to go for the AA Anytime reward which is 45K AA miles per person. Its not possible to book this with Avios.
Cost… 75K Avios + 90K AA miles plus £190
3) Do the entire journey on AA. Although most of the MileSaaver awards presented for LAX-DUB involved 2 connections, to my surprise on a few dates it presented a single connection via JFK, ORD or PHL, although the non-transatlantic portion sometimes was in Economy (see the image). What was more surprising is that the cost for this was 57.5K AA miles. This was more like it! Cost… 115K AA plus £8.40
4) Book the above AA flights using Etihad Guest miles. Etihad has a relationship with AA which means you can book AA flights using Etihad miles. Etihad prices Business Class flights USA to Europe at 50K miles and it allows a connection within the US. I already have 35K Etihad miles, and have enough American Express points to make up the difference. This also allows me to use Etihad miles that might otherwise go to waste.
Cost…100K Etihad plus approx £120
You do have to bear in mind that between now and November 2016 (when Oct 2017 AA flights will be bookable), the rewards I’m looking at might not surface, or pricings might have changed, but as it stands what started out as a redemption that I assumed would involve Aer Lingus, turned out to be a redemption entirely on AA booked using Etihad Guest miles!