4 times it’s better to book American Airlines award flights with British Airways Avios

American Airlines is one of the largest and most popular airlines in the world. However, when you go to book an award ticket on AA, don’t automatically assume your AAdvantage account will be the best loyalty program to use. Did you know that you can book American Airlines flights on partner carriers? And that it may cost you fewer miles?

Since British Airways is a fellow Oneworld alliance member, members of the British Airways Executive Club can redeem Avios, BA’s loyalty currency, on partner airlines; this includes American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Since you can transfer most credit card points to British Airways, it is worth considering which program you should book with.

Here are some scenarios where it can make sense to book an American Airlines award flight with British Airways Avios rather than American’s own AAdvantage miles.

Related: British Airways Executive Club: Guide to Avios, elite status and transfer partners

Short-haul flights in peak periods


AAdvantage still operates using an award chart. However, in 2023, it shifted its charts to reflect more of a dynamic pricing model with flights on AA “starting from” 7,500 miles within the U.S. and Canada. However, American will sometimes have award flights priced lower than the award chart.

Meanwhile, Avios redemptions for domestic AA flights start from 8,250 Avios points, each way in economy as follows:

  • Zone 1 (up to 650 miles): 8,250 Avios
  • Zone 2 (651-1,151 miles): 11,000 Avios
  • Zone 3 (1,152-2,000 miles): 14,500 Avios
  • Zone 4 (2,001-3,000 miles): 16,000 Avios

On off-peak dates, like midweek in winter, you can often find flights through AAdvantage for as low as 7,500 (or sometimes lower). This is a better option than the 8,250 Avios BA would charge.


However, if you want a flight at a specific time or need to fly to a specific airport, using Avios is a cheaper option once the AA prices start to rise dynamically.

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For example, flights from Miami International Airport (MIA) to New York area airports in September start from a reasonable 8,500 AAdvantage miles.


However, if you want to take the first flight of the day and fly into LaGuardia Airport (LGA), AA prices this flight at 12,000 miles.

You could book the same Zone 2 flight through British Airways for 11,000 Avios (plus the same taxes and fees AAdvantage charges), saving you 1,000 miles.


If you are looking to book this same flight in first class, you will pay more than 83,000 miles. If you book this same flight on British Airways using Avios, you’d pay just 20,500 Avios.

Related: A review of American Airlines in first class on the Airbus A321neo from Philadelphia to San Francisco

Nonstop economy flights to Hawaii


Another sweet spot in the Avios versus American Airlines battle is nonstop flights between the West Coast and Hawaii on either American- or Alaska-operated flights. Booking one-way, nonstop award flights less than 3,000 miles long through British Airways will cost just 16,000 Avios plus $5.60 in taxes and fees each way.

American Airlines offers flights between the U.S. and Hawaii starting at 20,000 miles each way, so you can save at least 4,000 miles by booking through BA’s Executive Club rather than AA’s AAdvantage program.

Note that these prices apply to flights on both American and Alaska Airlines, so in either case, you’re likely better off redeeming Avios for awards to Hawaii from multiple West Coast gateways. Remember, too, that the Avios pricing only applies to nonstop flights; if you start adding connections, you’ll want to compare prices in each program before deciding which offers the best value.

Related: The best time to visit Hawaii for good weather, smaller crowds, deals and more

Nonstop flights to South America


Like domestic flights, you can find some sweet spots with shorter international flights using Avios rather than AAdvantage miles.

Looking at routes like:

  • MIA to Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) in Barranquilla, Colombia
  • MIA to Rafael Nunez International Airport (CTG) in Cartagena, Colombia

They are just less than 1,150 miles long and cost 11,000 Avios in economy class.


These flights start at 12,000 miles each way when booked with AAdvantage miles; booking with Avios instead saves only 1,000 miles. However, with American’s dynamic pricing, on the sample date of Dec. 4 above, the same flights are priced at 20,500 (plus the same fees and taxes) — almost twice the number of points.


Nonstop flights to Japan in economy


When booking with AAdvantage miles, flights from the West Coast to Japan in economy cost 35,000 miles each way.

However, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) requires just 25,750 Avios that would otherwise cost 35,000 AA miles.

You can also book Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) and HND for 31,000 Avios instead of 35,000 AA miles.

Unfortunately, the business and first-class awards aren’t cheaper with Avios than AAdvantage miles.

How to earn Avios


The easiest way to earn a meaningful number of Avios for everyday spending is by applying for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.

This card is currently offering new applicants 85,000 Avios after they spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.

The British Airways Visa Signature has a $95 annual fee and earns 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level. Plus, you can earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 Avios per $1 spent.

British Airways is also a transfer partner of Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Wells Fargo Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making Avios one of the easiest currencies to earn.

The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios:

Bottom line

Avios are valuable because they are easy to earn and redeem. The surcharges on British Airways-operated flights can be high. However, the sensible award chart means, unlike on other programs that price flights dynamically, you’ll rarely see a six-figure price for a single premium cabin flight on BA.

Therefore, booking American Airlines flights through British Airways can sometimes be a much more lucrative redemption option. So, it’s always best to double-check both programs before purchasing your award ticket.

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