How I paid $5 instead of $370 for a last minute ticket.

I had the unfortunate need to be in North Carolina for a funeral recently and I was reminded of yet another use for frequent flyer miles that you don’t typically think of. I found out on Thursday that I needed to be in Raleigh on Sunday and the flights were priced at $370 round trip from Miami for the last minute travel. I knew that American and United both charged 25,000 miles for domestic award travel. US Air was also an option at a cost of 20,000 miles since I have the US Airways Mastercard which gives a discount of 5,000 miles off of their flights. However, I knew that the cheapest option would probably be to use British Airways miles since they use a distance based chart and the distance from Miami to Raleigh was only 700 miles. As you see from this chart, this meant that it would only cost 15,000 miles and $5 for the security fees.

Avios Award Chart

Since British Airways is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, the flight would actually be operated by American Airlines. So I saved 10,000 frequent flyer miles versus booking directly with American for the exact same flights! Even better, British Airways doesn’t charge any fees for last minute bookings like United does so I wouldn’t have to pay any additional out of pocket other than the $5 in taxes / security fees. I still had miles leftover from my 100,000 mile British Airways card that I applied for a few years back that I used for this booking. If you are short on miles though, luckily, BA is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards which means all of those miles I get from paying my rent I can transfer to British Airways for bookings like this. You can also use the 50,000 point sign up bonus from the Ink Plus card, the 50,000 from the Ink Bold card, or the 40,000 from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for BA Transfers.

This redemption gave me a value of 2.4 cents per mile which I was happy with. You can get better value by redeeming for business and first class tickets but that doesn’t always meet with your travel needs. Points and miles are about meeting YOUR travel needs and saving you money which were both accomplished in my case. So if you find yourself in the situation of needing last minute airfare for family illness or worse, keep in mind to look at using your miles for an alternative to paying last minute prices.

Author: John Butler

I live in Miami Beach but love travelling all over the world.