Flight Redemption Options – A Quick Case Study

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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.
Cost…NOT POSSIBLE

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

aa_award2

 

 

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

Summary

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!

Comments

  1. Ian Perry says

    BOS – DUB is a good shout, as it just fits into a lower distance band than any other transatlantic route. You might want to look at JetBlue for your coast to coast trip. I did the reverse last year BOS – SFO and paid about $120 IIRC. They run Embraer 190 and A320 aircraft and have a handful of premium seats with a bit more legroom, but not proper business class as such. In flight wifi is free, and fairly decent. Food and drink is paid for onboard. They also have a loyalty scheme.

    • Ian Macky says

      Thanks for that. $120 is an amazingly cheap fare for a USA coast-2-coast, I’m guessing $30-$40 for a bag ? I generally only look at the major airlines as those are the ones with which I have points options. But for sure if we do consider doing it in economy, I’ll take a look.

      • Ian Perry says

        That was one way, and looking now it’s more like $230 (it’s either gone up a lot, or my memory is failing). Checked bags are an extra $15, and highly recommended. On my flight almost everyone had the maximum size carry on, and one stewardess was running up and down shuffling them in the overhead lockers to get them all to fit while we were taxiing. It looks like they have also improved their premium offering, “Mint”, since I flew, as the seats on their website look a *LOT* better than what I saw up front., but they’re $600.

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