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On Tuesday, Aer Lingus announced a new Dublin-Miami route for 2017. I’d already run an article a couple of weeks back citing my reasons for concluding this would be the much rumoured new Aer Lingus route to the US. Somewhat surprisingly, the first flights don’t begin until September next year. I’d have expected flights over the summer.
Not only is Miami a great destination in it’s own right, it brings many Caribbean and Mexican destinations within reach of a 1-stop itinerary from Dublin. Also MIA is an AA hub. When Aer Lingus eventually joins Oneworld, a large range of North and South American connections will be available. Finally, MIA is a major cruise port. I expect this announcement will herald a stronger focus on Ireland for Caribbean cruises.
Aer Lingus will fly the route 3 times a week. For those of us interested in redemptions, I’m happy to note that business redemption seats are showing as available, both on expertflyer and united.com. United has historically not been a good indicator of BA’s ability to book an Aer Lingus redemption seat. However, given that in another couple of weeks Aer Lingus redemption seats will be bookable online using Avios, I’d be very surprised if BA isn’t seeing the full allocation now.
Pricing up a redemption
www.gcmap.com tells me, somewhat annoyingly, that DUB-MIA is 4165 miles, putting it just 165 miles into band 6 on BA’s award chart.
This means booking a one-way economy seat on Aer Lingus will be 25K Avios year round. Business seats will require 75K Avios year round (BA does not have off-peak pricing for partner airline redemptions). So a return in business class is 150K Avios. Taxes on Aer Lingus are traditionally very low, and of course there is no UK Air Passenger Duty. Expect to pay around £160 for a business return.
Looking at it from a mainland UK perspective, this will potentially provide an interesting redemption option for those that would normally have to fly into LHR from ‘the regions’.
Direct out of LHR, MIA is also in band 6, thus a business class seat on BA costs 62.5K offpeak /75K peak. So that’s 125K/150K for a return. Taxes & fees are around £520. As you can see, flying out of Dublin costs 25K more avios at an off-peak time of year, but there is a year round saving of £360. Of course you have to make an allowance for the regional return flight to Dublin, but you’ve got £360 to play with.
Now the above are the prices and mileage that BA currently charges for Aer Lingus redemptions when you phone. In a couple of weeks time, you will be able to move your avios from BA.com to AerLingus.com, and booking flights online. It is possible that Aer Lingus will have a different redemption chart compared to BA.
An added benefit of flying out of Dublin is that you clear US immigration in Dublin. This means you don’t have to suffer the notorious MIA immigration queues.
Aer Lingus also announced they are upping Chicago to twice daily, and also increasing the frequency to LAX for summer 2017. Unfortunately, I still can’t see a single business class redemption available on the LAX route.
It is clear that Aer Lingus is set to become increasingly central to IAG for USA destinations. There are already rumours that Willie Walsh is keen to see another west coast route out of Dublin in 2017. With the upcoming integration of Aer Lingus into the Avios platform, I expect more UK-based flyers to be looking towards Dublin as an alternate means of getting redemption seats.