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UPDATE: It looks like there is some confusion around this post based on the comments I received. The steps involved here ultimately describe purchasing British Airways Avios points for those that DO NOT currently have Avios points (or Ultimate Rewards/Membership Rewards to transfer). This is a great deal for those that would have paid for the ticket in full. This shows that sometimes purchasing points for redemption can provide a better value.
For those of you who have ever looked into flying to Montreal or Toronto, you’ve probably realized that roundtrip airfare is anything but cheap. From New York (JFK or LGA) you’ll be looking at a $350+ plane ticket – pretty expensive for less than an hour and a half flight. I am actually seeing decently priced fares for the summer, but this past spring most flights were $450+.
Assuming award availability on American Airlines, you are able to fly roundtrip for a fixed cost of $221.75. You do not need to have any pre-existing miles for this deal! All you will need to do is create a British Airways account and British Midland International account.
So how can one go about this?
- Step 1: As you may or may not be aware, British Airways has acquired the airline British Midland International (BMI).
- Through June 30, 2012, you can purchase BMI miles with a 20% bonus.
- You are able to purchase 6,000 BMI miles + 1,200 bonus for £87GBP (giving you a total of 7,200 miles).
- As of today, June 13, £87GBP = $135.47US.
- Step 2: Starting July 3, 2012, you will be able to transfer your BMI miles to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 rate.
- This means that the 7,200 miles you purchased from Step 1 will transfer over to 7,200 British Airways Avios points.
- Step 3: Use your British Airways Avios points to book on partner airline American Airlines.
- On this particular route British Airways allows you to use the Cash & Point option, which is not available on US domestic routes.
- Once the miles have transferred over to British Airways (post July 3rd), book your roundtrip JFK/LGA to Montreal/Toronto flight using the cash & points option of 7,200 points + $82.28US
- There are other cash & point options, but mathematically this one comes out the best and leaves you with no Avios points leftover (note: if you are looking to take multiple flights, the 4,500 point + $126.28 option will probably be best as you are limited on the number of points you can purchase).
This means that your total cost is $221.75 ($135.47 from purchasing the miles from BMI + $86.28 as the cash portion of the British Airways redemption). This is a great deal for this route, but do keep in mind that award redemption flights are capacity controlled and there is an opportunity cost since you are not earning when burning.
While you can purchase BMI miles and transfer them to British Airways Avios points for any flight redemption you desire, this was a great example of when it can definitely make sense to purchase miles instead of paying for a ticket outright.
Some things to know when purchasing BMI miles:
- Price includes a £15.00 transaction fee, however, GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents
- You can only buy and/or receive a combined total of 24,000 miles per calendar year (this includes bonus miles)
- Purchased miles are not refundable and are applicable towards all Diamond Club awards.
- Purchases by new members with less than 14 days tenure will be subject to review so please be advised that it may also take up to two business days for your newly purchased miles to be available for an online award booking. –> to avoid this, create an account NOW as you will still have time to take advantage of the bonus before June 30, 2012
- A confirmation email will be sent to you to confirm the transaction is completed.