The Deal Mommy

Booking United With Avios: Bug or Feature?

I just had a booking experience that surprised me and wanted to see if any of you have more data re: booking United with Avios. I didn’t know this was possible so am curious to learn if any of you have done the same.

The backstory: Deal Dad is taking a jaunt to Ireland with a friend this fall. I’m thrilled that he’s getting a break from family travel. It’s been a goal of mine to get this done for a while now and I finally got them to commit to a plan- as long as I booked it. 

As you may know booking Aer Lingus with Avios has long been a terrific value. It’s less so, and more so, now than it used to be. Less so in that Avios has decided that US cities are arbitrarily over 3,000 miles even though the crow flies differently. More so in that Aer Lingus’ generous off-peak pricing carries over from Aer Lingus to BA.   

Booking United with Avios: bug or feature?

The 2nd flight listed is actually on United.

Here’s the bug (er, feature)?

When searching on Avios.com for flight options two popped up. This was odd because Aer Lingus only offers one flight per day from Dulles to Dublin. I called BA to complete the booking (we have a household account so can’t use Avios.com). The BA rep was happy to book either the Aer Lingus or United flight and only when I asked about using points + cash was she able to differentiate between the two.

Turns out that she could easily book either flight on all points, but to use cash plus points she was limited to the EI metal. I wanted to conserve Avios so booked the Aer Lingus metal but was really surprised United was offered to me as an option.

Which leads to my question: have any of you flown United (or Air Canada for that matter) using Avios? This seems like a great option if you are flush with Avios but want to utilize Star Alliance benefits. 

Please share your experiences in the comments. 

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12 thoughts on “Booking United With Avios: Bug or Feature?

  1. Chuck

    How much were the fuel surcharges? I’ve been looking into booking the same route, IAD-DUB, to visit family. BA charges approx $200 each way in fuel surcharges, which negates the value of the Avios redemption. I opened an Aer Lingus account, but it doesn’t seem to recognize my BA account, in terms of Avios transferability. Any tips? Thanks!

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Chuck,
      It was about $80/ticket- in other words not bad for a 13K redemption. The phone fees are waived for Aer Lingus bookings, so just call BA to complete it. (Note: their customer service is YMMV to say the least, but I got a good one this time.)

      Do you have a household account? They are not eligible to be connected, as I learned the hard way.

      1. Chuck

        Thanks for the quick reply. I have a personal BA executive club account and a personal Aer Lingus account that I just setup. The latter Connects to a central Avios program, but doesn’t appear to recognize my BA Avios. Dimb question: When you say family account, do you mean the account that feeds the three Avios member airlines or literally a family account for multiple people?

        I’m still new to Avios. Have used BA for reward redemptions on AA here in the US, but nothing International yet.

        Thanks again!

        1. thedealmommy Post author

          Hi Chuck,
          Household account- as in numerous members of our household. I credit the kids’ AA flights to it as they’ll never have enough for a reward ticket.

          I know they’re sticklers for exactly everything being the same, including stuff like middle initials. TBH, I’d just call in- there’s no reason not to.

    2. David T

      I just booked my trip to Ireland on Sunday using United miles! I have a LOT of avios (220k) but there was also $350+ in extra fees that I didn’t want to spend…

      1. thedealmommy Post author

        I hear you. For me it was cheaper at 13K even with the fees, but for business class it’s less valuable.

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  3. iahphx

    Interesting stuff. So, like Chuck, I always use BA Executive Club for my Avios bookings. To my knowledge, Aer Lingus flights still don’t show up there (odd, given that they’re now OWNED by BA’s holding group). I have looked at Iberia’s Avios booking site, and I think I also have a membership at Avios.com — but have never really searched on that site. If I go to Avios.com, I can see and book Aer Lingus inventory? And is it straightforward to transfer BA points to Avios.com? Thanks.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi there,
      You can see Aer Lingus (and codeshares) at Avios.com.

      Regarding transfers and booking, yes, and no. You can transfer Avios to BA/Iberia and vice versa. It’s supposed to be easy and instant and for some it is. However, the accounts have to be EXACTLY the same and (this was my dealkiller) you can’t transfer from a household account. If it doesn’t work for you, you can still book via phone and have the fees waived.

  4. iahphx

    Thanks. I do have a BA Executive Club household account. So this means I cannot book at Iberia or Avios.com? But there are phone numbers for both that WOULD allow me to transfer miles and book in these programs?

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