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Over the weekend, British Airways finally updated its booking engines to allow customers to book Aer Lingus awards through ba.com using Avios. Unfortunately, while the ability to see and book more awards on ba.com is always welcome, anyone booking Aer Lingus awards this way may end up paying considerably more than they should be.
Issue 1 – Surcharges for flights originating in the US are ridiculous
US-based Avios collectors took a big hit a couple of years ago when British Airways suddenly increased the surcharges that it charges on award bookings originating in the United States. Some of the surcharges added to British Airways redemptions are nothing short of ridiculous so I was hoping that once Aer Lingus awards became available on ba.com, they may be spared the same treatment. Sadly, that’s not how things have turned out.
Here’s ba.com showing award availability for an Aer Lingus flight between Philadelphia and Dublin:
And here is what British Airways will charge for a one-way Aer Lingus Business Class award between Philadelphia and Dublin:
The £536 in surcharges that British Airways is charging equates to approximately $730 and when you take a look at what Aer Lingus is charging for exactly the same flight…
…you’ll see why you shouldn’t be booking Aer Lingus awards through British Airways.
I’ve no idea how British Airways thinks it can justify charging almost $600 more in surcharges than Aer Lingus…but that’s exactly what it’s happy to do.
Issue 2 – BA will rip you off going in the other direction too!
As I’ve explained above, it’s not unusual to see British Airways gouging flyers who originate in the United States, but it’s a little more unusual to see the airline blatantly overcharging flyers who originate on the European side of the pond.
Earlier, I priced up a Dublin – Philadelphia Business Class award on ba.com and on avios.com, and this is what I found.
A booking through ba.com would have charged me £276.40…
…while a booking through avios.com would have charged me £227.80.
That’s a difference of £48.60…and for what?
There was absolutely no difference in the flights that I was pricing up – the results returned by ba.com and avios.com were for the same airline, the same aircraft, the same timings, on the same dates, and for travel in the same cabin, and yet ba.com wanted to charge me 21% more than avios.com.
There’s no excuse for this, it’s a rip-off.
How to avoid using ba.com for Aer Lingus awards
It’s relatively straightforward to avoid paying the British Airways surcharges and to get considerably better value out of your Avios balance.
- Sign up for an Aer Lingus Aer Club account (link)
- Use your Aer Lingus login details to access Avios.com
- Use the ‘combine my Avios’ function on Avios.com to transfer Avios from your British Airways Executive Club or Iberia Plus account to Avios.com (it’s easy to transfer them back if you don’t end up using them).
- Book awards via Avios.com and not BA.com
Readers based in the UK and Ireland may already be aware of Avios.com but for readers based in the US, this is what you need to know:
- You should have no issues creating an Avios.com account using a US address – I just did it and had no trouble at all.
- Avios.com only allows you to book awards on IAG airlines (BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling) so you cannot use it to book oneworld partner awards.
Yes, it’s a little annoying that you need to use another two logins to use your Avios considerably more economically, but it’s definitely worth it.
British Airways now allows you to book awards for travel on Ar Lingus via ba.com but it looks like anyone taking advantage of this new functionality will be paying over the odds. Using avios.com to book Aer Lingus Avios awards can save you a considerable amount of money so if you don’t already have an avios.com account, now may be a good time to set one up.