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I must admit, I am a travel airlines points addict. For example, if given an option to use one airline over the other, I do pick an airline that I know I already have a few points accumulated so that I won't have so many points scattered all over the places over a few different airline points cards.
This spring when I had my quarter-life crisis and decided to hop on a plane to Europe for 10 days, I was choosing flights through Kayak.com as I usually do to get cheap airfare. When looking at flights, I was consciously more drawn to the flights that had were Oneworld partners because that is my main airline points program. I don't see the problem with doing this since most of the flights were the same price anyway, might as well opt for a flight that will give you points towards more flights in the future, right?
As I inputted my Oneworld Airlines points program number, I couldn't help but think whether I should have applied for a British Airlines points program card and inputted those points in there instead. See, the reason why I thought this is because although you can accumulate points through Oneworld affiliate airlines (and you get the same amount of points when you collect them, no matter which points program you use), when you redeem your points this changes.
For example, with American Airlines, you might need more points in order to get on a flight during high season. With British Airlines, if you have an Royal Bank of Canada Avion Visa credit card, you get to redeem your Avion points for a good amount of British Airline points.
So I thought I would analyze this through this blog post.
First off, it would help to know who are the OneWorld Affiliate airlines:
- Air Berlin
- American Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- LAN (LAN Chile, LAN Argentina, LAN Peru)
- S7 Airlines (Globus etc.)
As you can see, basically OneWorld covers… well, the world. With Asia covered by Cathay and Japan Airlines, North America covered by American Airlines, Europe covered by Iberia (Spain) and British Airways, and even Australia covered by Qantas, if you were to pick one airlines points program to sign up for, Oneworld would be it.
Well, lets compare British Airways with American Airlines:
The Executive Club and its Avios points can be collected via any one world partner (in addition to shopping and other Avios partners, much like other airlines). As mentioned, a few times a year, the RBC Avion credit card points can be converted to British Airways Avios points, essentially reducing the “cost” of the ticket that you buy with your points. Their website has a great one way calculator of how many points you will need.
The great thing is that you can do a “tiered” approach e.g. use less points and pay a bit of money (starting at $35 each way) in addition to the taxes, fuel surcharge etc. It's not an “all or nothing” approach like many other airlines.
For example, looking at a flight from Vancouver, Canada to London, UK, it costs 25,000 Avios points to fly one way (plus taxes and fees). So a return flight will be 50,000 points.
American Airlines recently unveiled a new interactive way to calculate how many points you will need, an Award Map. Unfortunately, American Airlines points redemption isn't so cut and dry. The value of your points fluctuate, depending on the date that you want the travel (e.g. high season or low season) and the city that you want to fly into. Certain places are are less traveled (e.g. Saarbruecken, Germany compared to London, United Kingdom) cost 30,000 points less. Looking at a flight from Vancouver, Canada to London, U.K. it costs “at least 90,000” points for a return flight. As you can see, it is almost double what it would cost with British Airways. That's why I would avoid American Airlines AAdvantage like the plague if I could.
Others are better too…
On a curious note, I plugged in Vancouver, Canada to London, United Kingdom with Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific's frequent flyer program) and I came up with 45,000 points for a return flight. This is even cheaper in terms of points than British Airways but it doesn't have the cash + points feature and you can't transfer Avion points to Asia Miles points.
Readers and fellow Airline Points addicts, any other favourites?
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