Best uses of Avios for Award Tickets (British Airways, Iberia, Qatar, and Aer Lingus)

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Avios is a rare airline currency in that this isn’t just the name of points used by the British Airways frequently flyer program, but rather Avios are the currency for four different airline programs — British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus Aer Club, and Qatar Airways Privilege Club (with Finnair Plus to join the Avios currency in 2024). While all four airlines share the same points currency (and you can move your Avios from one airline program to the next), they each have some of their own strengths. This post explains best uses of Avios.

Avios sweet spots
Iberia business class can be a fantastic use of Avios and a decent way to get between the US and Europe.

General Avios tips

Get great value with short flights

One key sweet spot for Avios is short flights on oneworld airlines. Since British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Qatar Airways use distance-based award charts, you’ll pay fewer Avios for shorter flights. Avios can sometimes be a great way to transition & position since a small number of Avios may be all you need to fly to a nearby city or country. Those short country hops are sometimes especially useful when moving between nearby countries on the borders of different “zones” on the award charts used by other airlines.

Many of the best uses highlighted below focus on the best values to/from North America in economy class and business class, but keep in mind that Avios can come in handy when you’re looking to take a short hop on Japan Airlines from Tokyo to Seoul or to fly between Melbourne and Sydney on Qantas or between the Maldives and Sri Lanka on Sri Lankan. In some cases, flights like those can be quite expensive with cash but quite a value via Avios.

Also note that those looking for a better travel experience than economy class without the business class price tag might consider premium economy awards. In many cases, international premium economy is similar to domestic first class within the US and rings in at a price between the economy and business class sweet spots seen below.

In order to determine distances between cities, I most often use the free online map tool gcmap.com (just enter the airport codes separated by a dash like “JFK-LHR” and then click “distance” or “Map”).

An Avios sweet spot for new parents: lap infant awards via British Airways

a man taking a selfie with a baby

For those traveling with a lap infant, British Airways is one of the few programs to charge a percentage of the award cost rather than a percentage of the cash cost. Lap infant award tickets booked via British Airways Executive Club cost 10% of the Avios for an adult ticket. In other words, if an adult ticket costs 60,000 Avios, the lap infant ticket costs 6,000 Avios.

Unfortunately, Iberia follows the more common pricing model of 10% of the cash fare and Qatar Privilege Club charges 15% of the cost of a revenue fare (and the process sounds difficult). If you’re traveling with a lap infant, you definitely want to book via British Airways in most cases.

Carrier-imposed surcharges vary dramatically between programs

British Airways is well known for very high carrier-imposed surcharges on its own flights, so if you must fly British Airways you could easily be on the hook for well over a thousand dollars round trip in premium cabin carrier-imposed surcharges.

That said, British Airways has made it easier to pay more Avios to reduce the surcharges. For instance, an off-peak Business Class award from New York to London was long advertised as costing 50,000 Avios one-way — and $950. These days, while you can still pay that amount, the default option when I search on an off-peak date is 80,000 Avios and $350. One still has the option to pay 50K + $950, but the alternative of paying an additional 30K Avios to avoid $600 in fees yields a reasonable value of $0.02 per Avios.

a screenshot of a website

By contrast, using Iberia Avios to fly on British Airways is not as good a deal as booking with British Airways Avios. The same British Airways business class flight from New York to London shown above via British Airways Avios for 80,000 Avios and $350 booked via British Airways Executive Club would cost 80,000 Avios and $981 via Iberia Plus Avios.

a screenshot of a website

Iberia charges much milder fuel surcharges on its own flights booked via Iberia Plus Avios. For instance, on the same off-peak date used above for the example on British Airways from New York to London, one could alternatively fly from New York to Madrid on Iberia in business class for 34,000 Avios and $117.10.

a screenshot of a computer

In that instance, British Airways charges the same 34,000 Avios and $117.10 one-way on Iberia. If you’re a parent traveling with a lap infant, you’ll be better off booking via British Airways Executive Club since they will charge 10% of the adult price for a lap infant ticket.

If you’re looking to travel from New York JFK to Doha, Qatar, you’ll probably want to book using Avios in the Qatar Privilege Club program. That’s because Qatar charges 70,000 Avios and $98.75 in business class and only has a $25 cancellation fee if plans change and you cancel at least 24 hours in advance.

a screenshot of a flight information

British Airways Executive Club charges the same number of Avios (70,000) but $103.75 in taxes and fees and has a $55 change / cancellation fee. That said, if you’re traveling with a lap infant, British Airways would be the way to go since the lap infant ticket would cost you 7,000 Avios (versus 15% of a revenue fare with Qatar Avios).

a screenshot of a flight ticket

You definitely don’t want to book via Iberia Avios — Iberia charges the same 70,000 Avios but tacks on $529 in taxes and fees — and since this is a partner flight, it would be completely nonrefundable via Iberia. No thanks!

a screenshot of a computer

Again, remember that you can move Avios between the various programs. Therefore, if you have Iberia Plus Avios, you can easily move those Avios to British Airways Executive Club or Qatar Privilege Club to book via those programs. See full instructions in this post: How to transfer Avios between Aer Lingus, BA, and Iberia.

Note also that you may sometimes notice differences in availability between the programs. While I would generally expect that Qatar may release more availability to their own members, on the first example date I used for this post I found availability via British Airways for 70K on a date when Qatar was charging the flexi rate of 140K Avios, so it pays to check both programs.

Beware of differences in cancellation policies

Another huge point point of variance comes in flexibility. Change and cancellation policies vary wildly:

  • British Airways Executive Club has a reasonable $55 change/cancellation fee if you need to change your flight or cancel and redeposit Avios. If the taxes & fees were less than $55, you can alternatively forfeit the taxes and get the Avios back (though in practice you sometimes get the taxes back anyway).
  • Qatar Airways Privileges Club charges $25 to change or cancel more than 24 hours in advance or $100 to change or cancel between 3 and 24 hours before departure. Awards not changed or cancelled at least 3 hours prior to departure are forfeited.
  • Iberia Plus only allows changes or cancellations on British Airways, Iberia or  Aer Lingus operated flights (and they charge 25 Euro in those cases). Other partner awards are completely nonrefundable. This means that if you must cancel your flight, there is no way to get your Avios back – they are just lost. For this reason, I only recommend using Iberia to book partner awards when travel is imminent and certain.

Collecting Avios

Credit Cards

The following credit cards earn Avios. Remember that you can move Avios between British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qatar (see the section on combining Avios below).

Card Offer
75K Avios after $3K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: Expired 7/4/22: 100K after $5K spend
Card Offer
75K Avios after $3K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: Expired 7/4/22: 100K after $5K spend
Card Offer
75K Avios after $3K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: Expired 7/4/22: 100K after $5K spend

Transferable Currencies

The following table displays which transferable currencies can be transferred to Avios. Keep in mind that some currencies may not partner with all Avios programs, but you can combine Avios yourself and move them between programs (see “Combining your own Avios” below).

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer RatioChase Transfer RatioCiti Transfer RatioCapital One Transfer RatioBilt
Aer Lingus Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar, BA1 to 1 via BA1 to 1
British Airways Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar1 to 11 to 1
Iberia Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar, BA1 to 1 via BA1 to 1
Qatar Privilege Club Avios1 to 11 to 1 via BA1 to 11 to 1 via BA1 to 1 via BA

Combining your own Avios

Avios can be combined across Aer Lingus, British Airways, and Iberia. For more on how to transfer between these programs, see: How to transfer Avios between Aer Lingus, BA, and Iberia.

Note that you can link your British Airways and Qatar Airways accounts to see your combined Avios balance and when booking awards on the Qatar Airways website it is possible to use your combined balance between the two programs.

Avios Award Charts

When booking an award via British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, or Qatar Airways operated flights, the number of Avios required depends on which airline program you use — the charts are similar but not identical.  Whether you book the award from your BA account or you Iberia account, the number of required Avios will be the same.  Strangely, the taxes and fees may be different, so it makes sense to lookup award prices on both websites to find the cheapest option.

The British Airways (BA) and Iberia (IB) award charts are similar but not identical.  Both offer peak and off-peak pricing based on the date flown.  Each has different charts for flying partner airlines such as American Airlines (covered below).

British Airways and Iberia award charts

If you intend to fly British Airways or Iberia, then the following award charts are in effect:

a table of numbers and numbers
All prices shown above are in thousands. For example, a first class flight with a distance between 2001 and 3000 miles costs 42,500 Avios.  Each segment flown is priced separately. For example, a 1,000 mile segment would be in the 651-1151 range and would cost 6.5K Avios to fly BA or 7.5K Avios to fly Iberia. Cells colored green indicate where that carrier’s award pricing is cheaper than the other carrier’s.

As you can see above, during off-peak dates it is almost always a bit cheaper to fly BA economy vs. Iberia economy.  However, to fly business class, BA is only cheaper for short flights whereas Iberia is much cheaper for long flights (32% cheaper where highlighted in green, above).

Peak dates follow a similar pattern, but the award price differences are more modest:

a table of numbers and a number of numbers
Cells colored green indicate where that carrier’s award pricing is cheaper than the other carrier’s. Cell’s colored yellow indicate where the pricing is identical.

British Airways partner award charts

If you intend to fly a British Airways partner (American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, for example) using BA Avios, then the following chart is in effect:

a table with numbers and a price

Unfortunately, As reported by FlyForMiles and TPG in 2021, British Airways introduced slightly different pricing for flights in certain zones on specific partners.

For example, zones 1, 2, and 3 follow a different chart for Cathay Pacific:

  • Zone 1 (0-650 miles): 7,500 economy / 16,000 business
  • Zone 2 (651-1151 miles flown): 10,000 economy / 25,000 business
  • Zone 3 (1152-2000 miles flown): 11,000 economy / 25,000 business

They also introduced similar new zone prices for travel on Japan Airlines.

  • Zone 1 (0-650 miles): 7,500 economy / 12,500 business
  • Zone 2 (651-1151 miles flown): 10,000 economy / 24,000 business
  • Zone 3 (1152-2000 miles flown): 11,000 economy / 24,000 business

Finally, there is a separate chart for the shortest zones on Qatar Airways:

  • Zone 1 (0-650 miles): 7,000 economy / 16,000 business / 21,000 first
  • Zone 2 (651-1151 miles flown): 10,000 economy / 24,000 business / 39,000 first

If you plan to fly multiple BA partners on a single award, then the following chart comes into play:

a table with numbers and text

Iberia Partner Award Chart

If you intend to fly a OneWorld partner using Iberia Avios, then Iberia uses a different chart for each partner.  That said, they’re all almost identical, so this chart which shows rates for flying on carriers like American Airlines or Cathay Pacific is likely to be all you need:

a table with numbers and lines

Iberia used to require round trip booking and price awards based on cumulative distance, but in recent years they ended both practices. You can now book one-way partner awards on American Airlines and itineraries are charged by segment rather than cumulative distance.

Qatar Airways partner award chart

Qatar recently simplified its program and now offers the same distance-based award chart for all partner awards:

a screenshot of a graph

This chart can be a notable deal given the fact that Qatar has some unique partnerships. For instance, Qatar Airways partners with JetBlue. We recently saw the introduction (and then what we hope is just the temporary elimination) of JetBlue awards via Qatar Privilege Club.

Aer Lingus Award Chart

Aer Lingus offers a simpler zone-based award chart for their own flights as follows:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Note that you can only book awards for travel on Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling through Aer Lingus Avios.

The key sweet spots for US-based members are the final two entries in the chart, which show that economy class awards from the New York or Boston to Ireland or Manchester start at 13K Avios off-peak or from other US cities to Dublin or Manchester from 16.25K Avios off-peak. Even peak-priced business class redemptions can be a solid deal from Boston or New York given that Aer Lingus sometimes offers better availability to its own members and surcharges on Aer Lingus flights are reasonable at just over $100 one-way to Ireland.

Best uses of Avios for Economy Class

Domestic US from 6K one way on JetBlue

  • The short story: Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers distance-based award pricing on JetBlue, which can be a decent value for economy class in some instances.
  • Miles required: From 6K Avios each way in economy class on the shortest routes in the US (under 651 miles) or 9K Avios for routes of 651-1151 miles flown.
  • How to find awards: You may be able to search for space via QatarAirways.com. Otherwise, we believe you'll need to find "P" class space for economy class awards. You can find this via a paid tool like ExpertFlyer or with advanced routing codes via ITA Matrix.
  • How to book awards: Some routes may be available on QatarAirways.com via the home page search tool. Otherwise, you'll need to submit a booking request here (see instructions in this post).
  • Change and cancellation fees: $25
  • Key warnings: The Qatar Airways website sometimes can not find major airports. We hope this is a temporary glitch.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Citi, Marriott, Bilt

Europe from 13K one-way

  • The short story: You can use British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus Avios to fly on those airlines for low mileage prices on nonstop routes.
  • Miles required (Note that this gets confusing, particularly for Iberia. For more on the Iberia charts, I recommend reading this post at Travel is Free):
    • For flights on British Airways or Aer Lingus booked via British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 13K / 20K for flights 3,000-4,000 miles flown
      • 16,250 / 25K for flights 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown
    • For flights on Iberia booked via Iberia Avios only (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 17K / 20K for flights 3,001-4,000 miles one way
      • 21,250 / 25K for flights 4,001-5,000 miles one way
  • How to find awards: Search for British Airways available space at britishairways.com for Aer Lingus at United.com or Avios.com. For Iberia, use the Advanced Avios tool. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book British Airways flights online at britishaiways.com or over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. You can book Aer Lingus over the phone with British Airways or use Avios.com
  • Key warnings: Note that it may be worth checking all 3 booking options (Avios.com, BritishAirways.com, and Iberia.com) to determine your best deal, though keep in mind that things like cancellation policies differ (note that Iberia offers no changes or refunds at all on most partner flights whereas British Airways offers cheap cancellation). Aer Lingus and British Airways charge for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly (Iberia charges based on cumulative distance each way, which can be cheaper on connecting itineraries).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Hawaii for 13K from the west coast

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the West Coast of the USA on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines can be a great value with Avios.
  • Miles required: 13K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments between west coast cities and Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.

South America from 17K one-way via Iberia

  • The short story: Iberia Plus offers a distance-based award chart that matches British Airways. However, since they don't allow changes or cancellations on American Airlines awards, you're probably better off booking via British Airways
  • Miles required: From 11K miles each way depending on distance. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines. See our Avios Complete Guide for a full award chart.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at iberia.com. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool.
  • How to book awards: Book online at iberia.com. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool.
  • Key warnings: Most Iberia partner bookings, including those on American Airlines, are completely nonrefundable and can not be changed. Because of that policy and the fact that Iberia's chart for American Airlines flights now matches the British Airways chart for the same flights, you're probably better off booking via BA. Only book AA flights with Iberia if plans are certain.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase

Best uses of Avios for Business Class and First Class

South America from 22K one-way via British Airways

  • The short story: British Airways has excellent award pricing for shorter distance American Airlines award flights, whereas you're better off booking with another program for longer flights or if you need connections (since British Airways prices each segment separately). Keep in mind that while LATAM has left oneworld, their flights should still be bookable with Avios.
  • Miles required: From 22K miles (Miami to Bogota falls in this distance band) to 92,750 miles (Los Angeles to Buenos Aires is in this distance band) each way in business class. The best deals will be from Miami to Northern South America for 22K or 38,750 miles one way depending on distance (and assuming direct flights). See the full award chart here at One Mile at a Time. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at BritishAirways.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at BritishAirways.com
  • Key warnings: Note that British Airways periodically stops showing American Airlines award availability. When this happens, phone agents are generally unable to book the space either and your best bet is to keep searching or book through another partner.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Europe from 34K one-way via Iberia

  • The short story: Iberia charges as few as 34K miles one-way in business class on its own flights from New York, Boston, Chicago, or DC to Madrid during off-peak season. Sometimes they run a winter travel promotion for even less.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. Best deal are the cities above to Madrid: 34K during off-peak dates or 50K during peak dates on Iberia metal. Fuel surcharges are very mild (Around $175 in total taxes & fees round trip. If booking one-way, surcharges are higher leaving Europe than flying to Europe.)
  • How to find awards: Search Iberia.com using the Advanced Avios Search Tool
  • How to book awards: Book at Iberia.com after using the Advanced Avios Search Tool.
  • Key warnings: Iberia's website can be challenging to navigate and availability can be challenging to find. There are some surcharges, but at under a hundred bucks from the US to Europe, they are much milder than when using British Airways Avios. Note that Iberia's award chart is distance-based, so itineraries with connections will require more miles.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Domestic US Transcontinental JetBlue Mint class for 38,750 Avios one-way

  • The short story: Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers distance-based award pricing on JetBlue, which can be a great value for Mint (business) class.
  • Miles required: Distance-based, but this works out to 38,750 Avios for a one-way transcontinental Mint flight.
  • How to find awards: You may be able to search for space via QatarAirways.com. Otherwise, we believe you'll need to find "I" class space for economy class awards. You can find this via a paid tool like ExpertFlyer or with advanced routing codes via ITA Matrix.
  • How to book awards: Some routes may be available on QatarAirways.com via the home page search tool. Otherwise, you'll need to submit a booking request here (see instructions in this post).
  • Change and cancellation fees: $25
  • Key warnings: The Qatar Airways website sometimes can not find major airports. We hope this is a temporary glitch.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Citi, Marriott, Bilt

Europe from 38,750 Avios one-way on JetBlue

  • The short story: Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers distance-based award pricing on JetBlue, which can be a standout value for Mint (business) class to Europe.
  • Miles required: Boston to Dublin is 38,750 Avios each way; other JetBlue routes to Europe cost 62,000 Avios. Taxes & fees departing the US are $10.10.
  • How to find awards: You may be able to search for space via QatarAirways.com. Otherwise, we believe you'll need to find "I" class space for economy class awards. You can find this via a paid tool like ExpertFlyer or with advanced routing codes via ITA Matrix.
  • How to book awards: Some routes may be available on QatarAirways.com via the home page search tool. Otherwise, you'll need to submit a booking request here (see instructions in this post).
  • Change and cancellation fees: $25
  • Key warnings: The Qatar Airways website sometimes can not find major airports. We hope this is a temporary glitch. Note also that the website only charges mandatory taxes ($10.10 departing the US and between ~$40-$100 departing Europe) with no additional carrier-imposed surcharges.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Citi, Marriott, Bilt

Fly Qatar Airways to Doha for 70K one-way

  • The short story: British Airways normally offers a distance-based award chart, in what is an exception they charge 70K Avios each way for business class between the US and Doha on Qatar Airways (these flights do not follow the distance band).
  • Miles required: 70K miles each way in business class between the US and Doha. Taxes and fees add around $250 round trip.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Change and cancellation fees: $55
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Taxes & fees also increase substantially with further segments on Qatar.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott, Bilt

Oceania / Multiple Carrier tickets (build-your-own-round-the-world)

  • The short story: British Airways offers an award chart for travel on a single partner and a lesser-known chart for travel on two partners. That second chart could save you some Avios if you were to mix AA and Qantas for example.
  • Miles required: From around 200K "round trip" in business class from most US cities (can vary based on distance). See the mixed partner chart along with an excellent explanation for how to leverage it here. In short, you could turn this into a multi-stop, multi-carrier journey and the number of miles required will vary some but be less than booking separately via British Airways
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on each segment separately at britishairways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. According to Head for Points, there isn’t a clear methodology for pricing mixed-cabin awards. I suspect some agents may be less well versed in this mixed chart.
  • Key warnings: This secondary chart would save miles over the single-carrier chart, which would price a one-way to Australia at 154K one-way assuming a single carrier and single segment (add more for additional segments). However, as this is a lesser-known chart, some agents may not be well versed in using it. Be prepared to hang up and call again. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Airways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Bottom line

Avios can be a helpful currency to keep in your tool belt for great deals on Iberia business class and for short oneworld award flights all around the world. The ability to move your miles freely between British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus gives you the ability to pivot as necessary to easily take advantage of all of the various Avios sweet spots.

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