One of the best ways to have a cheap or even free pilgrimage to Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Paris or another European destination is to fly with Aer Lingus airlines and book these flights with British Airways Avios points. Flights from northeastern US cities such as Boston or New York are especially cheap: round-trip to Dublin costs only 26,000 Avios points plus ~$120 taxes and fees. Aer Lingus is well connected with other major European cities so it is easy to continue flying with them to almost anywhere in Europe. My first Aer Lingus trip on British Airlines Avios was in 2014. I then flew to Italy, visited Rome, Loreto, Assisi, and Florence. While in Rome, I also participated at the canonization Mass of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, here is a short video that I took which captures the moment Pope Francis proclaims the two popes as new saints:
I have been booking Aer Lingus flights with British Airways Avios points 2-3 times each year since then.
Aer Lingus has direct flights between Dublin and twelve North American cities: Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto.
Since Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia airlines are owned by the same International Airlines Group, each airline’s points can be easily transferred and used among these three programs. Although Aer Lingus has its own frequent flyer program which allows booking Aer Lingus flights with Aer Lingus Avios points online, it is usually cheaper (because of lower fees) to book Aer Lingus flights with British Airways Avios points over the phone.
- How Many British Airways Avios Points Will I Need To Fly From North America to Europe?
The amount of Avios needed will depend on the distance you fly and the time of the year you fly. There are peak and off-peak flying periods. If you fly during peak period you will need more Avios points than during off-peak period. The good news is that, as you can see in this Aer Lingus peak/off peak calendar, almost 2/3 of the days in a year are considered as off-peak.
For a round trip to Dublin you will need 26,000 Avios points (off-peak period) or 40,000 Avios points (peak period) plus ~$120 taxes and fees if you fly from:
For a round-trip to Dublin you will need 32,500 Avios points (off-peak period) or 50,000 Avios points (peak period) plus ~$120 taxes fees if you fly from:
If Dublin is not your destination and you want to book a ticket to another European city with Aer Lingus, it is simple to calculate the total amount of Avios you will need. Table below shows the amounts of Avios needed to fly round-trip from Dublin to other European cities:
|Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Paris
|Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon
To calculate the total amount of Avios points needed to fly from northern America to one of these cities: add the amount of Avios points you need to fly from America to Dublin to the amount of Avios points needed to fly from Dublin to another European city. For example, round trip between Chicago and Paris off-peak will cost a total of 34,000 Avios points (26,000+8,000). As I already mentioned, in addition to Avios points, round-trips from America to Dublin usually cost around $120 in taxes and fees. If Dublin is not your destination and you fly to another European city, taxes and fees will cost you around $200. You cannot pay taxes and fees with the Avios points however there are certain credit card points that you can use for taxes and fees and thus reduce the cost of your flight to $0. More info on that can be found here.
- How Can I Earn British Airways Avios Points?
In one of my previous posts I have presented the general rules on how points are earned. Most of those rules apply for earning British Airways Avios points, too.
Using rewards credit cards is the easiest and fastest way to earn a lot of points because you not only earn points for each dollar spent with the card but also can earn bonuses that may cover one or even a few round trip flights. There are multiple credit cards with points that can be transferred to British Airways Executive Club and later used for Aer Lingus flights. Note: bonus points offers listed below were available at the time this article was written, i.e. in April 2018; the offers may change or expire at a later date.
Chase British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card with 100,000 bonus points current offer.
Chase Aer Lingus Visa Signature Credit Card with 100,000 bonus points current offer. Points from this card will be transferred to Aer Lingus program but you can later transfer them to British Airways Executive Club.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card with 50,000 bonus points current offer.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card with 50,000 bonus points current offer.
Chase Freedom (15,000 points bonus current offer) and Chase Freedom Unlimited (15,000 points bonus current offer) credit cards. Point transfer from these two cards to British Airways is allowed only if you also have either Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card with 25,000 bonus points current offer.
Again, refer to my previous articles for more detailed info on how points are earned and how points are redeemed.
Shopping through British Airways Executive Club’s portal is another great way to earn Avios points for those who do a lot of shopping online. You will earn extra Avios points if you access online retailers by clicking the retailer’s link on British Airways’ website instead of going directly to the retailer’s website. You can see the participating stores here.
Other ways of earning British Airways Avios points are booking hotels or renting cars through British Airways.
- How Can I Book Aer Lingus flight With British Airways Avios Points?
- Become a member of British Airways Executive Club. You can do it yourself here or during your application for British Airways credit card or sometimes banks will help you become a member of the Club when you request points transfer from your credit card to British Airways.
- Earn enough points for your flights.
- Call British Airways Executive Club at 1-800-452-1201.
- Tell them when and where you want to fly and don’t forget to mention that you want to fly with Aer Lingus airlines.
- The price that they will give will most likely include phone booking fee of $25. Ask if this fee can be waived because it is impossible to book Aer Lingus flights on British Airways website. The representative will most likely waive the fee for you.
- If you choose to buy the ticket they will deduct Avios points from your account and ask for your credit card number which they will use to charge the fees of your ticket.
- When booking is complete, representative will give you British Airways booking confirmation number. Ask for Aer Lingus confirmation number, too (sometimes it is not available immediately so you may have to call later to get it).
- When you have Aer Lingus confirmation number, can call Aer Lingus and choose the seats for your flights. Aer Lingus phone number in the US is 1-800-474-7424.