I knew Aer Lingus has a direct flight from Boston to Dublin. Over the years, I’ve read blog posts about how you can get a good deal on this flight with British Airways Avios. I had to do a bit of digging to book our roundtrip flights to Dublin for just 33,000 Avios per person. Here’s exactly what you need to know when booking Aer Lingus flights with British Airways Avios.
A Quick Background on Avios
What exactly are Avios? I’ve always been confused by this. Basically, this is the points currency for British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia. You can transfer Avios between these loyalty programs, but different programs allow for redemptions on different airlines. For Aer Lingus flights, you can book with British Airways or Aer Lingus. Later in this is post, I’ll explain why you want to book Aer Lingus award flights with British Airways rather than Aer Lingus. The easiest method for earning Avios is to earn Chase or American Express points and then transfer them to British Airways Executive Club. When redeeming Avios, award flights are distance-based so it’s generally not a good idea to use them for long haul flights.
British Airways Avios Award Charts
British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus use the following award chart for flights on their own metal. Flights from the US (East Coast and Midwest cities like Chicago) to Ireland fall into Zone 5. In economy, this will cost 20,000 Avios one-way during peak season and 13,000 Avios one-way during off-peak season. If you are flying from Los Angeles, you will pay 25,000 Avios during peak season since the distance falls into Zone 6. Peak season tends to be in the summer, but you can verify Aer Lingus peak and off-peak pricing here.
|Zone 1 |
|Zone 2 |
|Zone 3 |
|Zone 4 |
|Zone 5 |
|Zone 6 |
|Zone 7 |
|Zone 8 |
|Zone 9 |
Searching for Aer Lingus Award Availability
When searching for Aer Lingus award availability, I find it is easiest to use united.com. If you’re seeing the flight pricing out at 30,000 miles one-way, then the flight should be available to book with British Airways Avios.
When searching for Aer Lingus award flights on British Airways, you won’t have much luck. If you have an Aer Lingus AerClub account, you can use avios.com to search as well.
Sometimes the availability won’t match up exactly on United vs. Aer Lingus. It’s always best to call British Airways Executive Club and confirm what flights are available before you transfer any Avios from Chase or American Express.
Why Not Book Aer Lingus Flights with Aer Lingus Avios or United Miles?
Earlier I showed how you can search and book these flights online with both United and Aer Lingus (via avios.com). So why do you have to bother calling British Airways to book?
If you book using Avios through Aer Lingus, the flight will price out the same in terms of points, but the taxes are drastically different.
In this example, I’ve included a flight from Boston to Dublin and a flight back to Boston during off-peak season. This comes to 33,000 Avios roundtrip and $262.95 in taxes and fees. In contrast, the same flights booked by calling British Airways resulted in 33,000 Avios and $119.62 in taxes and fees. The taxes when booking with Aer Lingus are more than double than what you would spend by calling British Airways!
As for United, a trip to Europe from North America is always 30,000 miles or more. This same itinerary prices out at 60,000 miles and $50.95 in taxes and fees. You save on the fees for sure, but it’s not worth it since the amount of miles used is much higher.
Calling British Airways to Book Aer Lingus Flights with Avios
Once you’ve identified flights that might work, call British Airways Executive Club at 1-800-452-1201. The agents are aware that you can’t book Aer Lingus flights online so the process should go smoothly. As I mentioned earlier, do not transfer points from Chase or American Express to British Airways until the agent confirms that the flights you want are available. Transfers from Chase and American Express to British Airways process instantly so this will not be an issue.
If you are looking to fly from the United States to Ireland, using Avios to fly Aer Lingus is your best bet. However, you should never book an award flight on Aer Lingus using Aer Lingus AerClub. Instead, book Aer Lingus flights with British Airways Avios. It may take longer to call, but the savings in taxes and fees are well worth it.