British Airways Avios can be one of the more challenging awards to use worldwide, but they have long been a favorite of North American travelers for short-haul flights on American Airlines. Avios flights are redeemable with American Airlines by virtue of their status as a Oneworld partner airline.

Within the US, Canada, and Caribbean, Avios have long had a sweet spot for award redemptions on one-way flights under 650 miles. Travelers have been able to redeem for a free flight in economy, business and first class for 4500, 9000, or 18000 Avios respectively.

As we’ve covered in prior articles, this is far less than other airlines normally require, especially in first and business class.

However on February 2, 2016, this will change. For short-distance flights under 650 miles, more Avios will now be required. These flights will go up to 7500 Avios one way in economy and 15000 Avios in business class.



Avios Changes 2016 Deadline

If you have any spare Avios in your account and have any short distance business trips planned, or really want to boss up your winter trip to Mexico to Caribbean, there’s never been a better time.

Before we get to where your Avios can take you – we should stress that February 2 is only the deadline for booking. Your actual flight (one way and roundtrip) can take place anytime in the next 330 days but as long as you book by February 2, you’ll be able to redeem your Avios at the lower rate.

Although 650 miles might sound like a relatively short-distance flight, this change will affect many commonly traveled US and Canadian routes such as Los Angeles-San Francisco, New York-Washington, DC, Phoenix-Las Vegas and New York-Montreal.

More importantly, it will have an immediate seasonal effect. Planning a cold-weather getaway? Miami to Nassau? Dallas to Cancun? Until February 2, All of these flights are available at just 4500 Avios one way in economy class, and 9000 in business class.



Upgrade to Business and First Class at Major Discounts

It’s business class where the value of Avios really shines, especially for winter getaways. Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA) are both flagship hubs for American Airlines, with roots at both airports long before their merger with US Airways. Both airports are standard hubs for all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, containing flagship Admirals Club lounges and all the modern amenities.

In most cases with American, you’ll be flying through and transferring at either hub. Why not kickstart your winter vacation in style, with lounge access and business class seating throughout your journey? At merely 7000 Avios for business class seating, this is an absolute steal compared to other major airlines, where a similar business or first class seat would cost 25000 miles and usually higher.

Even better – if you happen to be a non-US based traveler with Oneworld Sapphire membership, you’ll have full access to any Oneworld lounge (British Airways, Finnair, LAN, Japan Airlines) in either airport, bringing you access to truly superior lounges for your entire trip.

Crowded hotel zone along Caribbean sea coast, always warm and sunny Cancun, Mexico


2016 and Beyond

While we’re sorry to see the 4500 Avios short-distance flights go away, it bears mentioning that this is not the end of value in the Avios program. Not by a long shot. For flights under 1150 miles, Avios will still offer excellent value in economy, business, or first class seating when compared with all other major reward programs, starting at only 7000 Avios one way.

And thankfully, one of our favorite features will remain unchanged. Unlike other reward programs, all Avios flights in North America come surcharge-free with no annoying “award booking fees.” With Avios, you can book on the very same day of your flight and not even have to pay an extra penny.

As the February 2 deadline approaches, we’d encourage readers with Avios accounts to book one or several trips at the lower Avios rate. If you have a favorite annual warm weather destination and know you’ll be going, why not book one for this winter and one for next?

If you’ve always wanted to do a warm weather getaway in style, this is your chance to do so at a truly incredible discount. Take a break from the cold and book while you can. When it comes to airline rewards, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better time.

Note: Photos courtesy of TripAdvisor.


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