If you thought it was too late to book your summer travel to Europe using miles, you are wrong...thanks to Aer Lingus. The Irish carrier is not part of a major airline alliance but partners with both United Airlines and British Airways. Having released a glut of economy and business class award space some time this afternoon, now is the time to book.
Aer Lingus serves Dublin from Chicago, Orlando, New York, and Boston and Shannon from New York and Boston. For whatever reason--and this may very well be a temporary glitch--economy and business class award space is now available on every flight, every day through the end of schedule (330 days in the future on UA and a bit longer on BA).
You cannot check Aer Lingus award inventory online through British Airways website, but you can through United. Don't be fooled by the blue, green, and yellow squares--although they were showing all green earlier [indicating both business and economy class availability], as of now, 7:35p ET on Friday 13 April 2012, there is space on every flight, every day.
For 50,000 United miles each way in business class, this is a great deal. Furthermore, a r/t to Dublin will only set you back around $55 in taxes!
But here's the real deal--Aer Lingus has very low fuel surcharges ($27, for example, from Boston to Dublin) so using British Airways Avios makes a lot of sense. While a British Airways flight from Boston to London carries a $438 fuel surcharge each way, that the airline is very happy to pass on to you, BA cannot pass on taxes and fees that are not there. That means you finally have a way to go to Europe using your BA miles that won't break the bank and even make economy class redemptions practical.
But wait! There's more!
BA's new distance-based award chart has a lot of downsides, but here is a clear upside--since Boston to Dublin is under 3,000 miles each way, you can go round-trip for 25,000 BA miles in economy class or 50,000 BA miles in business class. Considering you'll pay less than $150 in taxes/fees, that is an AMAZING buy!
But wait! There's more!
Take advantage of the American Express 50% transfer bonus going on right now from Membership Rewards to Avios and you can get the same trips for even less! Boston to Dublin or Shannon drops to 17,000 Membership Rewards points r/t in economy class or 34,000 points r/t in business class. From New York, Chicago, or Orlando, you are looking at only 27,000 miles r/t in economy class or 54,000 miles r/t in business class under this promotion.
That is unbeatable, considering how little you'll have to pay out of pocket.
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I have a hunch that this glut of availability is due to an error that will soon be corrected, but even if it is not an error, United Mileage Plus members will scoop it up fast, as they did when Singapore, Swiss, and Turkish award availability was added to untied.com. That means you need to book AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Suddenly, these Avios aren't so worthless anymore.