Last week I wrote an article detailing the best ways to spend 125,000 Avios and a BA 2-4-1 companion voucher. Among the feedback I received were a couple of bits about the difficulty of redeeming Avios to some of the destinations I’d mentioned.
People say things like, “Oh I’d love to go to insert popular destination here but every time I check, there’s never any availability”. Or people will manage to snag a direct flight one way but there’s simply no availability on the return.
This issue is compounded when using a BA 2-4-1 companion voucher of course, since all flights have to be on BA ‘metal’.
That’s where open-jaw redemptions come in handy.
What is an open-jaw trip?
I’ve mentioned open-jaw tickets in passing before. Essentially, it involves flying into one airport but returning home from another.
In other words:
If you flew from London to New York, you would normally fly roundtrip London-New York and then New York-London.
An open-jaw trip could involve flying from London-New York but home from Philadelphia-London.
You need to bear one rule in mind: To be a valid open-jaw, the distance between your arrival airport and departure airport cannot be longer than either of the two ‘long-haul’ legs.
Therefore, London-Milan and then Miami-London, would NOT be a valid open-jaw as the distance between Milan and Miami exceeds that of London-Milan.
Being willing to consider an open-jaw trip can greatly enhance your chances of successfully redeeming Avios to some of the more popular destinations.
Here are some examples:
I used the BA Redemption Finder tool to put these examples together. I’ve written about BA Redemption Finder in the past – it’s an excellent way to see Avios reward availability over a long period without having to run multiple searches (or log in to ba.com).
I wonder if we can call Sydney the hardest destination for redeeming Avios for two or more Club World seats. *ducks for cover*
It’s certainly one of the most sought-after, and if requests for advice/strategy on Flyertalk etc are anything to go by, redeeming Avios to Sydney is definitely one of the most discussed redemptions that there is.
So Sydney is particularly tough for redeeming Avios for numerous reasons, but if you do want to use Avios and or a 2-4-1 companion voucher, what are your options?
Your best bet if wanting to redeem a 2-4-1 is trying to get as far as you can on BA metal, and then booking separate onwards travel to Australia.
Premium cabin availability to Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, for example, is far better than Sydney. If you manage to snag two Club World seats on the ‘direct’ flight To Sydney on the way there, pairing it with an open-jaw redemption via Hong Kong on the way home would be a great way around the lack of availability.
You can then redeem Avios (or pay cash) for separate onwards flights to Sydney/Melbourne etc on Cathay Pacific or Qantas.
Miami can be a particularly tricky destination for securing business/first class seats using Avios. As a very leisure-heavy route, particularly among retirees etc, BA are often confident that premium cabins will sell out without the need to release further Avios reward seats.
Being flexible and looking slightly further afield will greatly increase your chances of locating Avios availability on both legs.
To illustrate, I searched for Avios availability for two people in Club World to Miami in March 2019:
(For reference: outbound flights are to the left in the image below, inbound flights to London are the right-hand side column).
Availability is fairly decent on the outbound, with most dates available. However, as you can see, there is nothing whatsoever on the return. Normally, BA’s ‘newish’ route to Fort Lauderdale, would be my next go-to option but that was only showing two available dates.
But, the picture is far more promising at Atlanta (incidentally only a 2-hour flight away):
As you can see, there are two business seats bookable on almost every date in March.
BA does operate a direct service three times a week to the Maldives, but getting Avios availability, in any cabin, is tricky, to say the least.
I located just one day between now and September 2019 with two available seats in business class. Premium Economy was just as bad – with a grand total of three available dates in the next 12 months! Bearing in mind the direct flight clocks in at over 10 hours, there’s a good chance you’ll want to fly in a bit more comfort.
Doha, on the other hand, has ample premium cabin space.
Here’s a look at Club World availability for two people during February/March 2019:
You can then use Avios for the onward leg to Malé on Qatar Airways. Business class and indeed Avios availability, in general on this route, seems excellent.
Dubai is an equally good option, assuming you were happy to either pay cash on Emirates for the onward leg or even redeem Emirates miles (points transfer almost instantly from American Express Membership Rewards).
How to book
To book a multi-city/ open jaw Avios redemption using a 2-4-1 voucher, you must call the BA call centre.
There are mixed reports over whether the £15 per person telephone charge is applied on open-jaw BA 2-4-1 bookings – after all, this functionality isn’t available online.
Open-jaw redemptions can be key to successfully redeeming Avios and are a useful tool to have in your amoury. Personally, I enjoy open-jaw trips because it allows us to get a feel for a different city while not ‘losing’ time as such from the main purpose of our holiday.
What’s the toughest destination you’ve (tried to) redeem Avios to?
Header image credit: Zhukova Valentyna / Shutterstock.com