View from the Wing’s expose on AA fuel surcharges is damning, but even with properly charged taxes/fees it just rarely makes sense to use your American miles for British Airways longhaul economy class flights.
Rule #1 in booking award travel: always compare the cost of using your miles and purchasing a “revenue” ticket (paying with cash instead of miles).
In almost cases when it comes to economy class redemptions on British Airways, you’re far better off just buying the ticket if booking in advance.
Take Boston to London, for example.
A paid coach ticket is $495.46.
When you breakdown the fare, you see that the base fare is only $16.50 in each direction, $33 total.
When you redeem AA miles to fly on British Airways, you pay a $0 base fare, but all other taxes and fees must be paid. Thus, we’d expect $495.46 – $33 or $462.46.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what American is charging in taxes/fees.
Do see what a sham that is? This $250 “carrier imposed fee” is somehow not part of the fare? Really? I complained about this here.
> Read More: Here’s Why “Carrier Imposed Fees” are a Scam
So in this case, your 45,000 AA miles are getting you $33 in value. That’s only $0.00073 per point! I conservatively value AA points at 1.5 cents each ($0.015) so you are truly losing if you think 45K miles for $33 is a great deal.
I’m sure we could find a couple examples where revenue coach tickets are so expensive it still makes sense to use miles, but generally the more expensive flights during peak travel periods will not have award space.
The one case where it still can make sense is at the very last-minute. Take LA to London, leaving today and coming back Sunday.
A last minute fare is over $4K–
But you’d pay just 60K miles r/t plus $537.46 using AA miles.
Run the numbers yourself. While all examples will not be as draconian as above, trust me: it rarely makes sense. In fact, I have yet to see an example where a BA transatlantic economy class redemption has ever made sense using miles if booking more than a few weeks in advance.