Tag Archives: british airways

A redemption! The culmination of furious miles collecting – saving six grand!

Utila, Honduras. Heading here on Iberia Business Class for 72 quid!

What is the point in obsessively collecting miles and points if you can’t use them? I made a large redemption yesterday and I am sharing the details in order to inspire you to spend some miles and prove that it is very possible to use them in a great way!

I managed to extract 5.5 pence of value out of each mile, which is an excellent return. This is of course based on the equivalent full cash price of the tickets which is somewhat arbitrary as I would never pay £4k for a business class flight to Guatemala!

My redemption did highlight the fantastic value offered by Iberia in business class due to their very low taxes. I should also mention that there was availability to Rio de Janeiro and Bogota (Colombia) for a discounted rate of just 37,500 avios and about £50 tax.

Route

Airline

Class

Miles Mogul Paid

Cash Price

Value per avios

Saving

London > Madrid

British Airways

Club Europe

£25 + 15,000 avios

£488

3p

£463

Madrid > Guatemala City

Iberia

Business Plus

£72 + 50,000 avios

£4,050

8p

£3,978

Roatan (Honduras) > Miami

American Airlines

Main Cabin Extra

£70 + 7,500 avios

£499

5.7p

£429

Miami > New York

American Airlines

Main Cabin Extra

£1 + 7,500 avios

£111

1.5p

£110

New York > London

British Airways

World Traveller Plus

£150 + 30,000

£1,165

3.4p

£1,015

£318 + 110,000 avios

£6,313

5.5p

£5,995

Please be in touch if you would like any help with your next redemption. I am considering offering this as a proper service – it would be great if you could let me know if this is something you would be interested in.

As always, please feel free to comment with any questions or additional tips you may have. Please follow the blog by entering your email below to get posts straight to your inbox, and follow the Miles Mogul on Facebook!

Nicky

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Spending Avios – Low taxes on Air Berlin

Another way to avoid extortionate UK taxes on air travel is to use your Avios with Air Berlin.

Air Berlin has a good network of routes from Germany, and you can use Avios to book these flights, quickly and easily on ba.com.

How much can I save?

The savings on taxes are truly astounding. I have taken a couple of screen grabs to illustrate the difference. Here I have selected dates in November for return flights from London to New York on British Airways, and then Berlin to New York on Air Berlin.

Here is the cost of the British Airways flights:

And now the price of the Air Berlin flight:

This is a huge 82% saving of almost £300! You must factor in the cost of the connecting flights to Berlin, but these can be picked up extremely cheap, especially by using a Reward Flight Saver (read about these here).

This is just one small example. You should check the Air Berlin website for their full list of destinations, and try some dummy booking to see how cheap this can actually be.

I like luxury, what about Business Class?!

It should also be noted that Air Berlin is essentially a low cost carrier, but have an excellent business class product. The hard product is actually improving as we speak, as Air Berlin’s partnership with Etihad bears fruit, and the Etihad business class seats are installed on Air Berlin’s aircraft. This is a way of making even more significant savings, and enjoying some premium travel!

The new Air Berlin business class product:

Here is another astounding price/tax comparison between BA and Air Berlin for a return business class flight to New York:

British Airways: £530 taxes

Air Berlin: £65 taxes

It should be noted that Air Berlin only release 2 business class redemption seats per flight, so availability can be hard to judge, and you will not be able to redeem seats for more than 2 people in business class on the same flight.

Where can I go with Air Berlin?

They have a huge network, you should check out their website to see if they can take you where you want to go, but here is non-exhaustive list of some of their most interesting destinations from their various bases in Germany along with the amount of Avios and taxes due:

From To Avios (Return business class flight – half for economy, half again for one way) Taxes
Berlin Abu Dhabi 50,000 £48
Dusseldorf Cancun 100,000 £82
Berlin Chicago 100,000 £62
Berlin, Dusseldorf Los Angeles 120,000 £62
Berlin, Dusseldorf Miami 100,000 £62
Munich Mombasa 80,000 £79
Berlin, Dusseldorf New York 80,000 £62
Abu Dhabi Phuket 80,000 £27
Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf Varadero (Cuba) 100,000 £50

How do I book?

Due to Air Berlin’s different bases you may be best to find what you want on the Air Berlin website first.

Then sign into your executive club account on ba.com, click on ‘spending Avios’, and ‘book flights with Avios’. You can then search for your flights and book directly through this service.

Is there anything I need to be careful of?

Yes, here are a few issues you should be aware of:

· You will have to pay or use Avios for a flight to Germany (although this should be insignificant compared to the saving you stand to make).

· When booking your flight to Germany to catch your Air Berlin flight, this will be a completely separate and unrelated booking. As such, if this flight is delayed or cancelled, and you miss your onward flight, Air Berlin will have no responsibility to help you. It is often sensible to plan ahead, for example, fly to Germany the night before a morning flight.

· Some destinations, e.g. Los Angeles, will cost you more Avios on Air Berlin than they would do by catching a BA flight because being that little bit further away in Germany, they fall into the next bracket up. However this can work in your favour! Certain destinations such as Abu Dhabi cost less Avios. In all cases, taxes will be a great deal less with Air Berlin!

· If you book your flight from London with Avios to connect to your Air Berlin flight on one ticket, you will be charged the full Air Passenger Duty, thus wiping out much of your saving.

In conclusion

Using Air Berlin is a way to may enormous savings, especially on premium travel, to a huge range of destinations. Be sure to consider it as an option for your next long haul flight, and maybe even take it as an opportunity to explore a German city on the way!

As always, please feel free to comment with any questions or additional tips you may have. Please follow the blog to get posts straight to your inbox, and follow the Miles Mogul on Facebook!

Nicky

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Bagging a cheap upgrade

However enthusiastic you are about air travel, one thing unites all travellers… the desire to turn left on the aeroplane.

Much of what I write on this blog is focussed towards attaining premium classes without paying premium prices. Upgrading Using Avios, as per this previous post, is one of the most cost effective ways of having a fully flat bed in the sky, and will extract the maximum value for each Avios if done correctly.

Along with paying full whack, shameless begging, and using Avios, there are other methods of bagging an upgrade, and today I will look into Pro-active Online Upgrades (fondly known as POUGs). Just like trying to avoid extortionate UK air taxes, there is no exact science behind chasing a POUG, but there are games to be played!

What is a Pro-active Online Upgrade (POUG)?

After you have booked a British Airways flight, you may be offered to upgrade to the next class of travel through “Manage My Booking” (you can sign into this on the British Airways site to look at details of your flight, select seats, book hotels etc.)

BA will charge a cash fee for the upgrade.

BA may also offer similar cash upgrades in the airport at check in, and a trial of on-board upgrades is also being conducted.

Here is what a POUG offer looks like for an upcoming flight of mine to Madrid:

Now the outbound offer is nothing to shout about, but on the inbound flight, an offer of £79 may represent excellent value. I went on to check how much this upgrade would have been by simply booking business class on the website, and this would have come in at £239. This is £145 more than what I paid for my ticket. By upgrading after booking, utilising this POUG, I stand to save £66.

This is on a short-haul flight. The savings on a long-haul upgrade could be more significant.

So in the first instance, you should always check on Manage My Booking, by clicking on “upgrade using cash” to see if you can have yourself a bargain upgrade.

Can I speculatively chase a Pro-active Upgrade?!

In short, YES! As they say, you must speculate to accumulate.

Here is method that can be tried, but should be exercised with maximum caution. I would only advise doing this with a flight that you definitely want to take anyway, just in case anything goes wrong.

The loophole that shall become your friend is BA’s policy of allowing you to request a full refund of any flight (including non-refundable flights) within 24 hours of booking. This is in place to assist people who have accidentally booked tickets with the wrong name, or for the wrong date.

However, nothing stops you cancelling if you haven’t managed to find a cheap enough POUG!

Here is how it works:

1. Book your desired flight in the class of travel below that you would really like to travel in (you may only be able to upgrade by one class)

2. Immediately log in to “Manage My Booking” using your name and booking reference

3. Follow the links to “upgrade using cash”

4. Check if BA are offering you a POUG, and if so, check the price.

5. If this is satisfactory, upgrade, pay, and you’ve won!

6. If not, immediately cancel your flight (or keep it if you still want it in that class of travel!)

Can this go wrong?

It would be foolish to conduct such a plan with full confidence you will receive a refund. You should check BA’s terms and conditions carefully, and be aware that they may change. To be safe, only try this trick when booking flights you are happy to take anyway, that way, you can’t be disappointed.

How much is the average POUG?

There is huge variation between prices offered (if offered at all). However, the magical world of Flyertalk has a thread titled “Pro-active Upgrade Cost Tracking Thread” (click here to view). There are currently over 1700 posts detailing how much people have been offered upgrades for and is a fantastic place to get a good feel for POUGs. I have put together a few recent offers from the board in the chart below as a quick reference guide:

Route Class of upgrade Price
London – Cancun World Traveller Plus £150
London – Sydney World Traveller Plus £189
London – Madrid (and many other European destinations) Club Europe £79
Houston – Heathrow Club World £525
London – Hong Kong First Class £399
London – Hong Kong World Traveller Plus £199
London – Kingston, Jamaica World Traveller Plus £179

WARNING – you may still earn tier points and miles in accordance with your original booking class.

In conclusion

If you are after an upgrade, this is a method that may well suit your circumstances. It is ALWAYS worth checking both online, and at the airport. You may get lucky and get your upgrade for bargain price.

As always, please feel free to comment with any questions or additional tips you may have. Please follow the blog to get posts straight to your inbox, and follow the Miles Mogul on Facebook!

Nicky

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Spending Avios – Avoiding Extortionate Taxes

Taxes are the thorn in a miles collector’s side. As outlined in my posts about Reward Flight Savers, and Upgrading Using Avios, taxes can prove to be extortionate, making redemptions in economy terrible value. Avoiding these taxes is not an exact science, therefore the following advice will work in some situations and not others, but you can have a go with all of them to try and get what you want!

How much tax am I paying?

Let’s take a Club World British Airways flight to Sydney as an example. Amongst an assortment of taxes, you will pay:

· £188 “Air Passenger Duty” for the pleasure of departing from a UK airport; and

· £494 “Fuel Surcharge”.

These amounts are obscene. By comparison, a return flight between New York and Los Angeles attracts taxes of just £3.20!

Here is the full chart of Air Passenger Duty rates:

Bands (approximate distance in miles from the UK) Reduced rate (lowest class of travel) Standard rate (other than the lowest class of travel) Higher rate
From 1 April 2011 From 1 April 2012 From 1 April 2013 From 1 April 2011 From 1 April 2012 From 1 April 2013 From 01 April 2013
Band A (0-2,000) £12 £13 £13 £24 £26 £26 £52
Band B (2,001-4,000) £60 £65 £67 £120 £130 £134 £268
Band C (4,001-6,000) £75 £81 £83 £150 £162 £166 £332
Band D (over 6,000) £85 £92 £94 £170 £184 £188 £376

How can I avoid extortionate taxes?

1. Spend your Avios using Reward Flight Savers

2. Use your Avios for redemptions elsewhere once you are already abroad, such as the NYC to LA flight with American Airlines mentioned above.

3. Fly “ex-EU”

What do you mean “Fly ex-EU”?!

This is the nick-name given to flying from a European airport, and can be done to avoid Air Passenger Duty (APD) – this can be as much as £188 on a long haul flight and so avoiding it can lead to a significant saving. Also note that British Airways will often run sales on flights that originate from airports other than London, use Flyertalk to keep on top of these developments.

If you fly from another airport but transfer through London for less than 24 hours, you will not pay APD.

Popular airports to fly ex-EU are Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome. Significant savings can also be made on taxes by using Avios to fly with Air Berlin from Germany, or Aer Lingus from Ireland, but I will post about both these possibilities later, and concentrate of flying “ex-EU” with British Airways.

How does it work? A New York example

1. Book a redemption flight or even cash flight to New York from Brussels, thus avoiding high taxes.

2. Book a cheap one way flight to Brussels to arrive in time for your flight (allow as much time as possible to connect, the airline will not be responsible if you miss your onward flight!)

3. Now take your flight you have originally booked (BrusselsàLondonàNew York).

4. On the return journey, take you flight from New York to London, but then miss the last section of the flight to Brussels, you are already home!

A personal example

My business class seat on a low-tax Air Canada flight to Santiago, Chile:

I travelled in South America last year and managed a fantastic redemption. I first caught a very cheap flight to Frankfurt in order to avoid high UK taxes.

I then began my full itinerary in Frankfurt. I flew to Buenos Aires with Lufthansa, and on to Santiago a couple of weeks later with Air Canada. My return flight picked me up a few months later in Bogota, taking me to New York for a week, before returning to London on Continental.

These flights were all in Business Class, and cost just 32,500 miles and £400 in tax. The true value of this route was in excess of £5,000!

In conclusion

If you are willing to put the time into researching different options and departure points, huge savings can be made. Always see how much cheaper you can get to your destination by starting your flight in a nearby European airport, or use your miles elsewhere!

As always, please feel free to comment with any questions or additional tips you may have. Please follow the blog to get posts straight to your inbox, and follow the Miles Mogul on Facebook!

Nicky

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Spending Avios – Upgrade Using Avios

Following on from the last post about Reward Flight Saver redemptions, today I will deal with one of the ways to get maximum value for your Avios.

British Airways allows you to buy a ticket for cash, and then use Avios to upgrade to a higher class of travel. BA call this “Upgrade Using Avios” (UuA).

Here is a quick picture guide to British Airways’ cabins, pay attention to the abbreviations, I’ll be using them from now on:

World Traveller (WT):

World Traveller Plus (WT+)

Club World (CW):

First (F):

What are the rules?

Here are some of the key rules associated with UuA:

1. You can only upgrade by one class (e.g. from CW to F)

2. You cannot upgrade a discounted WT ticket (i.e. cheap economy tickets).

3. You can upgrade almost any WT+ or CW ticket

4. You can only UuA on British Airways, although if you are connecting onto an American Airlines or Iberia flight, you may be able to upgrade all legs.

5. You will still earn Avios and tier points on the ticket you pay for with cash (i.e. when upgrading from CW to F, you will still earn CW Avios and Tier Points)

What upgrade is the best value?

By far and away the best UuA, and potentially the best use of avios overall, is to buy a WT+ ticket with cash, and UuA to CW.

To best demonstrate why buying a WT+ ticket and then upgrading to CW produces the best value, I have calculated upgrades between all classes for a RETURN flight from London to New York or Tokyo, using dates of 2 – 9 September 2013. All these options are freely available on ba.com.

Destination Type of Upgrade Avios to upgrade Avios Earned on cash part of ticket Net Avios to upgrade Price of original ticket Cash value of upgraded ticket Difference in price Value per Avios
New York WT to WT+ 20000 6916 13084 £1516 £872 WT+ is cheaper! WT+ is cheaper!
WT+ to CW 20000 8646 11354 £872 £2506 £1634 £0.14
CW to F 40000 10374 29626 £2506 £6210 £3700 £0.12
Tokyo WT to WT+ 30000 12444 17556 £2000 £1248 WT+ is cheaper! WT+ is cheaper!
WT+ to CW 30000 15556 14444 £1248 £3242 £1994 £0.14
CW to F 60000 18666 41334 £3242 £6505 £3264 £0.08

This clearly shows how upgrading from WT to WT+ is terrible value, as a fully flexible ticket in economy (only this type of economy ticket can be upgraded) is an absolute fortune!

How do I book?

1. Sign into your British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) account, click “Spending Avios” then “Book with cash and upgrade with Avios”

2. Book your flight as usual, then sign into “Manage My Booking” on ba.com and follow the option to upgrade using Avios.

3. Call the BAEC

How do I check availability?

You can sign into your BAEC account, and click “Book flights with Avios”. By searching this way, you can see all the redemption availability for each cabin and route. You can also utilise BA’s helpful “availability calendar” to see a wide range of dates. The availability is identical for UuA and booking flights with Avios outright.

How many Avios do I need to upgrade?

I have put together a chart of how many Avios are needed to upgrade from WT+ to CW for a range of destinations from London.

These are the amounts for a one-way flight, so double for a return flight. You can also double to get the correct figure for a CW to F upgrade.

REMEMBER – these amounts do not take into account the amount of Avios you will earn on the cash part of your ticket. This loophole usually means you will actually pay about half of the amount shown.

Destination Avios to upgrade
New York 10000
Bermuda
Dubai
Cape Town 12500
Mumbai
Los Angeles
Las Vegas
Barbados
Rio De Janeiro 15000
Bangkok
Tokyo
Buenos Aires 17500
Sydney 25000

In conclusion

UuA used in the right way can extract up to £0.14 value or more from each and every Avios! It also puts into context the value of your 20,000 bonus points from the Amex gold card. You could use these 20,000 for a return upgrade to Club World to New York and back worth £1634!

For more information on this process from BA themselves, click here.

To get these posts directly to you inbox, follow my blog by clicking on the follow button at the bottom of the page, and follow the Miles Mogul on facebook!

Thanks for reading!

Nicky

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Getting Started – Preferred Rewards Gold Card

Image

This is where it all begins.

The key to the deals and offers I will talk about each day will rely on possession of an American Express card.

For about two years I was singing the praises of the BMI Amex Credit Card, even though there was no referral bonus for me! Many of my early followers signed up. It was a deal without parallel, and many were devastated to see it go. One blogger (a true miles and points oracle called “Raffles”) went as far as to write a eulogy for the card. (Click here to read it).

The best card for you will depend on your circumstances, and the current special offers. However right now the Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express is truly unbeatable. The deal will end just like the BMI card, so I urge you not to delay!

Key information

  • Earn 22,000 bonus membership reward points (“MR”) – see below what these are worth (you must be referred by me or another cardholder to get 22,000, otherwise you will only receive 20,000 – you must also spend £2,000 in the first three months to qualify)
  • Earn 1 MR per pound spent. You’ll also get double points on travel and supermarket spend in the first year. I have actually being getting quadruple points on much of my spending.
  • 2 x airport lounge passes
  • Travel insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • The annual fee has been waived for the first year.
  • The card is charge card. It therefore has no limit, but must be paid off in full at the end of each month.
  • You can take advantage of some amazing Foursquare offers (more on this later!)

I have taken advantage of this offer, but I intend on cancelling my card after the first year when the £125 annual fee kicks in. The benefits gained may make it worth it for many of you to keep the card and pay the fee, but for me I will transfer my points out and continue spending on other cards. (Stand-by for further posts on these!)

What can you do with membership rewards?

Once your 22,000 bonus gets posted you will have a hefty chunk of points. These points can be used on the American Express website for buying almost anything, but they can be also transferred into a huge number of programmes. I have outlines some of the key ones before. This is not a comprehensive list, you’ll find them all on the Amex website.

Airlines (this also includes the entire alliance the airline is a member of)

  • British Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Etihad
  • Delta
  • Finnair
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SAS

Hotels

  • Starwood (Sheraton, Westin, W, Le Meridien etc)
  • Hilton
  • Club Carlson (Radission, Park Inn, Park Plaza etc)
  • Jumeirah

I will write comprehensively on how far these points can take you, and how to use them, but to use British Airways as an example, 22,000 Avios is enough for 2 return flights in Europe (9,000 each).

If you would like to sign up, it would be greatly appreciated if you could sign up via the link I have posted on the Miles Mogul Facebook page (click here! – then click on the link on Facebook). This will ensure you get 22,000 instead of 20,000, and it will send referral miles my way! Give the facebook page a “like” whilst you’re there.

Once you receive you’re own card, you should refer people yourself to take advantage of this offer!

IMPORTANT! – Please check out all the finer details on the Amex website before signing up and make sure this is right for you.

Contact me for further information or help with referrals.

If you decide to go ahead, welcome to the club!

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