How to Book Aer Lingus Award Tickets with British Airways Avios (Call BA to Save $100+ on Taxes & Fees)

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  Yesterday, I was looking for a flight from San Francisco to Dublin and found this roundtrip, nonstop Aer Lingus flight for $895.36 in economy.  Aer Lingus is the only airline that flies this SFO-DUB route nonstop.  I wanted to see if there was award space on Aer Lingus (there was), award space on United Airlines (there was), award space on Iberia (nope), and award space on British Airways (yes, but not bookable online).  In this post, I will show you how I searched for award space, booked the award ticket using British Airways Avios, and saved hundreds of dollars in taxes/fees compared to booking the same flight using Aer Lingus Avios.

Since I am most familiar with the United Airlines website and award search engine, I searched for award tickets there first.  I plugged in my search criteria and clicked the Find Flights button.

For the outbound flight, there was only 1 nonstop option available: Aer Lingus for 30,000 United Airlines miles + $5.60 in taxes & fees.  Strangely, the flight times differ from the Aer Lingus website.  I will assume the flight times listed on the Aer Lingus website are correct (since they are the airline operating the plane).

For the return flight, there was only 1 nonstop option available: Aer Lingus for 30,000 United Airlines miles + $45.63 in taxes & fees.  The flight times differ on this flight too.

The total cost of the award ticket would be 60,000 United Airlines miles + $51.23 in taxes/fees.  Let’s see how much value I would be getting for each United Airline mile.  Subtract the taxes/fees from the original $895.36 cost of the Aer Lingus flights and then divide by the number of miles needed to book the award ticket.  $895.36 – $51.23 = $844.13 / 60,000 miles = 1.41 cents per mile (CPM).  That is not a great deal since you can pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and get 1.5 cents per point (CPP) if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card.  If I paid with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, I would only need to use 59,691 points ($895.36 / 1.5 cents = 59,691) and I would also earn United Airlines miles or British Airways Avios.


Up next, let’s check the cost using Aer Lingus Avios.  You need to link your Aer Lingus account with the Avios.com website.  Once you do that, sign into your Avios.com website, click the Spend link, then click the Search for Flights link.

I plugged in my search criteria and clicked the Search Flights button.

For the outbound flight, there was only 1 nonstop option on Aer Lingus available, but there were several British Airways flights with connections.  This flight is considered Off-Peak, so the price is lower than average.

For the return flight, there was only 1 nonstop option on Aer Lingus available, but there were several British Airways flights with connections.  This flight is also Off-Peak.

Aer Lingus, like British Airways, will give you several payment options that have various amounts of Avios and cash.  More Avios and less cash, or less Avios and more cash.  I will compare the top and bottom options to see which is a better deal.  At the top end, you can use 32,500 Avios and $309.77 in taxes/fees.  Let’s see how much value I would be getting for each Aer Lingus Avios.  Subtract the taxes/fees from the original $895.36 cost of the Aer Lingus flights and then divide by the number of Avios needed to book the award ticket.  $895.36 – $309.77 = $585.59 / 32,500 Avios = 1.80 CPM.  That is a pretty good use of Avios and higher than the 1.5 CPP you would get if you booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

At the bottom end, you can use 11,400 Avios and $559.77 in taxes/fees.  Let’s see how much value I would be getting for each Aer Lingus Avios.  Subtract the taxes/fees from the original $895.36 cost of the Aer Lingus flights and then divide by the number of Avios needed to book the award ticket.  $895.36 – $559.77 = $335.59 / 11,400 Avios = 2.94 CPM.  That is a great value for Avios, but you are basically paying 62.5% of the original cost of the ticket ($559.77 / $895.36 = 62.5%).


Up next, let’s check the cost using Iberia Avios.  I plugged in my search criteria and clicked the Flight Search button.

Unfortunately, the Aer Lingus nonstop flight did not show up.  I could only see British Airways flights with connections.

Unfortunately, the same was true for the return options.  The Aer Lingus nonstop flight did not show up.  I could only see British Airways flights with connections.


Last but not least, let’s check the cost using British Airways Avios.  I plugged in my search criteria and clicked the Get Flights button.

Unfortunately, the Aer Lingus nonstop flight did not show up.  I could only see British Airways flights with connections.

Unfortunately, the same was true for the return options.  The Aer Lingus nonstop flight did not show up.  I could only see British Airways flights with connections.

Not to worry, I read online from Travel Miles 101 and Head For Points that you can call the British Airways Executive Club (US number: 1-800-452-1201 or other numbers) and they should be able to see the Aer Lingus award space and book the award ticket for you.  Even better, British Airways is known to charge less taxes/fees for Aer Lingus award tickets than Aer Lingus will charge for their own award tickets.

My call to British Airways went very well and the agent said the price was 32,500 Avios + $119.36 in taxes/fees.  That is compared to the Aer Lingus price of 32,500 Avios and $309.77 in taxes/fees.  The same number of Avios, but $190.41 cheaper!  I booked 2 roundtrip award tickets for myself and my fiance and the total price was 65,000 British Airways Avios and $288.72 in taxes/fees.  If we paid cash for these 2 roundtrip tickets, the total price would have been $1,790.72 (2 x $895.36).  Subtract the total taxes/fees is $1,502.00 ($1,790.72 – $288.72).  Then divide that by 65,000 British Airways Avios is 2.31 CPP.  That is a pretty good price for Avios!  Since this award ticket was not bookable online, the agent proactively waived the $25 phone booking fee.

A minute later, I received the British Airways confirmation email.  I tried to select seats online through the British Airways website, but that was not possible.  I tried to select seats through the Aer Lingus website, but that wasn’t possible either.  I then called Aer Lingus and was able to select the seats for both flights.

British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase, Citi, and American Express.  Currently, there is a 30% transfer bonus from Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios that is live now through June 16, 2019.  If you are reading this post after June 16, google search “British Airways transfer bonus” and see if there is a current transfer bonus.

If you have any questions about searching for Aer Lingus award space or booking award tickets with British Airways Avios, please leave a comment below.  Have a great weekend everyone!

22 thoughts on “How to Book Aer Lingus Award Tickets with British Airways Avios (Call BA to Save $100+ on Taxes & Fees)

  1. Brant

    This is a great article Grant!
    So it seems that BA is actually good for something other than AA domestic short haul flights after all! LOL! Since the Match.com fiasco, for which I eventually received my bonus points and you found your fiancé, I haven’t been a fan of BA, but recently I have begun to see the utility of this airline for alternate purposes. I’m about to complete the final spend for the Chase Iberia and BA CC’s for the last 25,000 Avios each, but unfortunately 5/24 prevents me from acquiring the Air Lingus card right now. I used the Iberia website (sucks) and Avios for a recent nonstop for MEX-MAD and the fees seemed a little high. Do you think that if I transferred the Avios to BA and booked there it might be less? I will soon have another 100,000 Avios to burn and another epic European trip to plan!

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      The Iberia website is terrible, half the time I can’t even sign into my account. I’m not sure if BA would be cheaper than Iberia, but I would call BA and see what they would charge for the same route. Let me know what happens if you do call.

      Reply
  2. Audrey

    ZAnother way to search it (just for availability) is Avios.com, although taxes are higher than BA (perhaps mirroring Aer Lingus itself).

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I did search on Avios.com. Their website is very easy to use and I would have booked via the Avios.com website if BA couldn’t find availability.

      Reply
  3. Nick

    “My call to British Airways went very well and the agent said the price was 32,500 Avios + $119.36 in taxes/fees. That is compared to the Aer Lingus price of 32,500 Avios and $309.77 in taxes/fees.”

    Sheer genius. “El Genio!”

    Actually just this weekend I “loaded” all of my stray Avios onto the Avios website. Feels much better having them consolidated like that. I love the fact that I can shift them around.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Thank you! Good idea to consolidate all your Avios into 1 Avios account. It is really easy to move Avios to either British Airways or Iberia if needed.

      Reply
  4. Jason

    Great article, thanks for all the details.

    I see on your confirmation email at the bottom it says they charged you a $50 service centre fee. But you describe them waiving it. I had the same (said it was waived on phone but email says otherwise) situation and wondering if I need to call back or if this is just a email template error. Hard to know since we don’t get a break down of what is comprised in those taxes & fees!

    Reply
      1. Jason

        I just called BA today and they said it was not a template error and they DID charge $25 USD per person Service Center fee as it is standard practice. Here is the scary part – they said they will always waive the fee in this situation (not available online) with no problem IF YOU ASK THEM TO WAIVE IT. At this point, I am not 100% sure how the conversation played out. So unless you get a proactive agent, the onus is on us to ask, pretty irritating policy, especially when they don’t send you any documentation of what makes up your ticket’s taxes and fees, particularly before they finalize the booking (AA does a good job of providing all this to you very transparently).

        Reply
        1. Grant Post author

          Oh wow, that is scary. I must have had a great rep because she proactively said that she needed to get her managers approval to waive the $25 phone booking fee. I believe the email template still shows the $25 fee, but I don’t think that was actually charged to me.

          Reply
  5. Andrea

    Thank you for your excellent analysis which could not have come at a better time! You helped me to save almost $100 in taxes per ticket (the difference between booking the Dublin-SFO flight through BA by phone or through the Aer Lingus/avios.com site). Much appreciated!

    Reply
  6. Dave S

    Useful article but couple of questions – Could you explain why availability is different on the United Airlines and Avios websites?
    Also, how can you pay with BA Avios on the Avios website – thought had to use BA Executive Club website now (or phone)?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I’m not sure why availability is different on different websites, it may be related to how much award inventory some airlines have access to.

      You can move British Airways Avios to Avios.com and vice versa (and to Iberia too, vice versa).

      Reply
      1. Dave S

        If phoning BA to book, what availability should we be looking at (UA or Avios), or they’ll find whatever they have anyway?

        Reply
  7. Scott

    Great article Grant. I got the same SFO-DUB flight for my wife and the process and cost were exactly as you stated – 32,500 Avios + $118 taxes/fees. After transferring points from my AMEX account to my wife’s BAEC account I called BA and got the Aer Lingus flight. It would have cost over $300 in taxes/fees booking through the Aer Lingus site. The BA service rep automatically waived the service fee as well.

    Reply

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