Fly Roundtrip from New York to Montreal/Toronto on American Airlines at a Flat Cost of $221.75!

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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.

Pingbacks

  1. […] New York (JFK or LGA) to Montreal or Toronto: These tickets average about $350 roundtrip, but can many times be as high as $450 – this was the case the entire Spring. A roundtrip redemption will cost you 9,000 Avios points. This will entail you to use your British Airways Avios points on partner airline American Airlines. Assuming a $350 flight, this will give you a redemption value of about 3.333 cents/point. You can also use the cash & points option to reduce the number of points you need to use (as little as 4,500 points). You can read more on this specific redemption in this previos post here. […]

  2. […] New York (JFK or LGA) to Montreal or Toronto: These tickets average about $350 roundtrip, but can many times be as high as $450 – this was the case the entire Spring. A roundtrip redemption will cost you 9,000 Avios points. This will entail you to use your British Airways Avios points on partner airline American Airlines. Assuming a $350 flight, this will give you a redemption value of about 3.333 cents/point. You can also use the cash & points option to reduce the number of points you need to use (as little as 4,500 points). You can read more on this specific redemption in this previos post here. […]

Comments

  1. I thought 9000 Avios will get you 1 RT short-haul (NYC-YYZ)? it’s like 9000 Avios + $50 fees I believe
    I transferred 12000 AMEX MR (with 50% bonus promo) to get 18000 Avios (enough for 2 short-haul) for this purpose

    One could also just wait for Porter’s 50% sales, and AC/WS will usually match quickly. Dates are more flexible that way

    • @Jerry – That is correct, 9,000 Avios will get you 1 RT short-haul flight, however, on the NYC-YYZ route you are able to use cash and points, thus requiring less points. This really is beneficial if you do not already have any British Airways points.

    • @Kathy – And how much did your ticket cost? If it was more than $221 then the method I described is MUCH better (assuming award redemption availability). Also, for the NYC to Montreal route, as I am sure you are aware, you can use cash and points which is a MUCH better option than the 9,000 points.

  2. I’m not sure why you think this is a MUCH better option than using 9k Avios + taxes/fees.

    Take NYC-Montreal R/T for example:
    – 9k Avios + $56.55 taxes/fees, OR
    – $221.75 using BA & BMI deal as you described

    Paying $221.75 for this trip using your methods is like buying Avios for about 1.8 cents per Avios.
    [($221.75-$56.65)/9000 Avios = $0.018355/Avios]

    And if you took advantage of the recent AMEX 50% promo, it would be about 2.7 cents per Membership Reward point.

    Yes, paying $221.75 is better than buying a ticket, where the fare is usually a lot higher than that, but using Avios (especially if you transferred using the AMEX bonus) gives you a better value.

    • @Raj – This is only for those who do not have Avios points. So you can can purchase 9,600 Avios points (8,000 points + 1,600 bonus points) for $172.84 plus the $56.28 in taxes/fees costing a total of $229.12. Or you can purchase 7,200 points (6,000 points + 1,200 bonus points) for $135.47 + $86.28 for cash/taxes/fees costing a total of $221.75. While this is only a savings of about $8 it is still better to do the cash & points option.

      I know it is difficult to even think this, but not everyone has Avios points (or even Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership rewards to transfer). This is an opportunity for one looking for a flight deal to take opportunity to purchasing the points if the flight is very expensive. I am not saying this is a great cost for purchasing Avios points, but for many routes it can be significantly cheaper than purchasing flight outright.

  3. Thanks for the response. I don’t disagree about the value of your post for people who don’t have Avios; I was just confused with your response to Kathy where you said this method was MUCH better than using Avios.

    Most of my friends and family are not in the game, but that’s slowly changing. I used my Avios for my sisters in NYC to go to 2 funerals in Toronto & Montreal earlier in the year, where each short-notice ticket would’ve cost over $1,200. They saw the value of miles and points, both now have the AMEX PRG & Chase Sapphire Preferred cards, and have already used some of their signup bonuses for expensive trips.

    Thanks to you and all the useful bloggers for your advice and tips.

  4. Lame. You can buy a ticket on Porter for 240 return with much better service and you don’t have to jump through all the hoops.

    • @Aeroman – From NY to Montreal there are no direct Porter flights, you must have layover in Toronto. Additionally, I just looked up fares and still saw them running $400+

  5. Actually, now I am right. Look again. The promo is back. 50percent off using HEAT as code on Porter. 200 return for YTZ to EWR.

    • That’s great. Thanks for telling me about the promo! Only problem is getting to Montreal requires a stop in Toronto.

  6. So if someone has lots of avios points , would it be better 9000 avios + $58.95 in tax YYZ to LGA or 5000 avios +$138 in tax?
    Thanks

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