Your miles are as valuable as you are creative. For instance, you can combine two luxurious A380 First Classes onto one American Airlines award.

British Airways flies an A380 daily between Los Angeles and London. Qantas flies an A380 daily from London to Dubai (it continues to Sydney.)

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from gcmap.com

Although American Airlines has strict rules on transiting one region to get to another, it is ALLOWED to transit Europe on your way to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region.

Combined the award costs 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

The drawback is really high taxes and fees, but even here I see a silver lining.

The Products

First Class on the Qantas A380 taunted me with its near emptiness when I flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business Class last year.

Qantas A380 Seat

I saw the British Airways First Class Suites on the A380 up close last year on a trip from Frankfurt to London as British Airways used the short hops to get the crew familiar with the plane.

British Airways A380 First Class Suite

Just Los Angeles to London

Los Angeles to London one way has $480 in taxes and fees, including $452 in fuel surcharges. (American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights.) That totally stinks, but it is tempting for a 10.5 hour flight in First Class on an A380 for only 62,500 miles.

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Just Los Angeles to Dubai

Departing London in a premium cabin has massive taxes. London to Dubai has $288 in taxes. That’s why if you only want to go one way for 40,000 American Airlines miles in an awesome First Class between the Middle East and Europe, I recommend flying west into London to avoid those departure taxes.

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The Silver Lining

Combine these two flights onto one awards, and you save big on miles and taxes. Instead of 62,500 + 40,000 miles (both of which are a steal), the one way First Class award is 90,000 miles.

Instead of $480 + $288 ($768) in taxes and fees, you pay $530 total. The big savings is because the less-than-24-hour layover in London means you are not considered to originate in the UK, which triggers the nasty taxes we saw from London to Dubai.

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That’s 17.5 hours in luxury for 90,000 miles and $530. Delta miles can’t even be used for International First Class. United would charge at least 140,000 miles for the same award. When you look at it that way, it starts to get tempting.

Other Options

Scrap the British Airways First Class and save $452. You could fly American Airlines First Class instead, but the product isn’t as nice and award space is harder to find.

From London, you can fly Etihad First Class on its A380 to Abu Dhabi (and beyond) or Qatar Business Class on its A380 to Doha and beyond. I haven’t seen Qatar release First Class award space on the route.

You can continue to anywhere in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives for no extra miles if the airline that connects you from the United States to Europe publishes a fare from your starting city to your final destination. That’s a big “if.” (See Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards for more info on this rule and how to figure out if you comply.)

You can start anywhere in North America and connect to Los Angeles on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights, subject to the same “published fare rule.”

I’m Talking Myself Into This Award

I need to get from the United States to Europe in April. I might fly an award like this and spend a few days somewhere in the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region before returning to Europe. I could sample three A380 First Class products on such a trip–two as outlined in this post and Etihad First Class on the A380 on the return, stay tuned tomorrow–see a region I’ve never seen, and have a few interesting reviews for this blog.

Ninety thousand American Airlines miles is a lot, and $530 is more than I’ve ever laid out for an award, but it’s so tempting.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Getting both cards now and meeting both spending requirements means you will have at least 106,000 American Airlines miles in early 2015.

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The cat is out of the bag. Expect this deal to end any moment now because it’s likely a mistake:

US Airways is not collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways award flights like British Airways’ other main partners do.

This is huge news because:

  • British Airways flies to more American cities than any other foreign airlines.
  • British Airways has the best route network throughout Europe and Africa.
  • British Airways has gold mine availability on a lot of routes in economy.
  • British Airways has a fantastic Club World (business class product) I’ve flown three times.
  • British Airways looks to have a fantastic First Class product I haven’t yet had the pleasure to fly.

I expect this deal could die within hours or days or weeks because I do think this is a mistake. I am only sharing it because two other major blogs covered it today, and if they’re killing it, I want MileValue readers to have a shot at it first.

  • How much are US Airways awards that include British Airways flights?
  • How do you search for British Airways award space?
  • How do you book it with US Airways miles?

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Update: D’oh! Dewey Defeats Truman. This offer is dead (and was dead at the time of publication!)

The British Airways card from Chase is back with a new 100k Avios sign up bonus. Like the other recent 100k Avios offers, you need to spend $20,000 in the first year on the card to get the full 100k Avios bonus.

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  • You will get 50,000 bonus Avios after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 25,000 bonus Avios after $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening.
  • Plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases also within the first year of account opening.
  • Together that’s 100,000 bonus Avios, which is enough for a round-trip business class award flight. Taxes, fees, and carrier charges are approximately $1,250 per adult in business class based on travel from Seattle to London.
  • Lots of other terms and conditions apply. See Pricing & Terms for more details.

The British Airways card is divisive. For some people, it is one of the absolute best cards, and for other its rewards are nearly worthless.

Who should get this card? Who should not?

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While other airlines search engines regress in functionality (looking in your direction, Delta), British Airways’ award tool continues to improve. While researching for another article, I came across the slightly modified ba.com and noted a subtle consumer-friendly change.

Though the change is minor, British Airways has exhibited a recent history of positive improvements to their search tool. With these steps in the right direction, we can safely anoint BA.com as the go-to site for comprehensive oneworld partner availability.

Simple Tool
This simple search engine packs a punch relative to its peers.

Scott wrote up a detailed guide on how to use BA.com to search for oneworld partner award space. Make sure to check out his post, Free First Class Next Month: Searching BA.com to Find oneworld Award Availability. We’ve also detailed British Airways recent and noticeable improvements to their site here and here.

What’s the newest change to the BA.com engine? When should you search ba.com versus aa.com versus qantas.com? (Hint: it has nothing to do with what type of miles you want to book your award with.)

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I recently had a chance to relax and refuel in the British Airways Galleries Lounge North at Heathrow Terminal 5 before my Dreamliner flight to Stockholm.

The lounge features incredible food, a wide selection of booze, some cool aircraft views, and a variety of seating areas. It is very crowded, but overall I’d give the lounge very high marks.

Just after passing security, the lounge was on my left.

Upon presenting a business class ticket, I was admitted by an agent who I later saw was surfing the BA FlyerTalk forum from her desk. After she checked me in to the lounge, I asked if she could change my seat because it was a middle seat, and I hadn’t been able to change it on my phone.

She quickly printed me out a new boarding pass, and I went to grab a seat. I favor the room on the far right with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of 747s.

Check out this buffet.

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Last week, British Airways announced a new, and surprising, route to be served by its Dreamliner 787: Austin, Texas <-> London-Heathrow, starting March 3, 2014.

Image from gcmap.com

The Austin route is the third Dreamliner route announced. The plane is already flying to Toronto and starts service to Newark on October 1, 2013.

I had a chance to speak to Simon Brooks, BA’s Head of Sales for North America about the new route, for which tickets are already on sale. He filled in some of the details of the new route for me.

I’ll be following this route and all future British Airways 787 routes with great interest because my recent taste of the plane has me excited to fly it on a longer flight. See Trip Report of the Brand New British Airways 787 with Tons of Pictures.

I’ve checked into the award space on the flight, and for the moment it’s excellent for next summer. I’ve priced out several awards to find the best way to stretch your miles and get on to the route.

Why Austin? How is the award space? How many miles, taxes, and fuel surcharges to get onto the Dreamliner’s newest route?

I recently had a chance to fly both a British Airways A380 and a British Airways 787 on intra-European flights in fully-flat business class beds for peanuts. The circumstances of the flights and some photos of the A380 are here.

I booked myself a business class bed on the 787 from London-Heathrow to Stockholm for 7,500 Avios and $140. The full price was 15,000 Avios and $40, but I chose the Cash & Avios option.

The flight was enjoyable, and I wasn’t the only one in business class who had purposely booked a seat on the 787 in business class. The plane is beautiful and will be an excellent addition to the British Airways fleet.

How did the business class cabin look? Which seats should solo travelers and groups select?

Update: British Airways 787 Business Class Full Trip Report

Last month I saw this thread about British Airways taking delivery of its new A380 and 787 and training the crews on intra-European routes. The A380 is flying for most of August between London and Frankfurt, and the 787 is flying between London and Stockholm.

Just by chance, I would be in Munich in August and had some friends I wanted to visit in London and Stockholm.

I booked myself a business class seat (Club World, though in this case Club Europe) on the A380 for 9,000 Avios and $40 from Frankfurt to London. I would have jumped at a First Class seat, but those seats were not for sale.

And I booked myself a business class seat on the 787 for 7,500 Avios and $140. The full price was 15,000 Avios and $40, but I chose the Cash & Avios option.

I flew the A380 Thursday, and I’m about to board the 787. I’ll give full trip reports on both, but I wanted to share of a few images of all cabins of the British Airways A380 in advance because it’s so beautiful.

Yesterday’s post about the Coolest Thing to Do with 130k and 280k American Airlines Miles got me to look at the American Airlines’ chart again for value. I found what I think are the Five Best Values in premium cabins.

These values combine low miles, low taxes and fees, and the very best products from among American’s partners. How does First Class on Etihad or British Airways for 40k miles sound?

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