How To Use British Airways Avios To Book Award Flights on Alaska Airlines

This weekend I booked four flights to the Big Island in Hawaii using my British Airways Miles, aka Avios.  A couple years ago I signed up for a British Airways credit card that had a 100,000 bonus miles for signing up.  Thanks to their distance based award chart and being a partner with Alaska Airlines, I knew that was good for four tickets to Hawaii from Portland on Alaska.

You cannot book Alaska Award flights online, you have to call their reservation line.  The CSRs on the reservation line have a reputation for being a surly bunch.  So I was not looking forward to the phone call.  It turned out that the phone call was relatively pain free and actually a pleasant experience.   I learned a few things from the experience that I thought I would pass along, for anyone else who might be looking to book an award flight on Alaska with British Airways Miles.

First, the phone number.  This was sort of a pain in the ass to find.  Maybe it was just me but the number I found on their website wasn’t obvious to me that it was the correct number. Other internet resources were not very clear either.  If you want to book a flight on Alaska with Avios, here is the number that you call, 1-800-247-9297.

Second, the phone tree is not very intuitive, at least it wasn’t for me.  When you call the number press one, and stay on the line.  Do not press anymore options.  I won’t tell you how many phone calls it took for me to figure that out.

Third, if you can, try to avoid calling during peak times.  The call center is open daily from 7am to 11pm EST.  I would recommend calling early or late.  I called both in the evening and around noon EST and waited forever, before finally giving up.  When I called at 10:30 pm EST there was hardly any wait until a person answered.

Lastly, because Alaska cannot be booked online the CSR should waive the booking fee. The booking fee is $25 per person booked.  I’ve heard that getting the CSR to waive the fee is hit or miss.  For me, it was not even an issue.  The CSR waived the fee without me even asking.

I thought once I finally got to a human being the process was very easy.  Which makes the total cost of $20 to fly four people to Hawaii even more awesome.

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Pioneer Square Turns 30

Today, 30 years ago marks the opening of Pioneer Square.  The red brick plaza in the heart of downtown.  I remember being at the opening ceremony of Pioneer Square when I was a kid.  At 4 years old I was just happy to have free mini ice cream cones and being outside.  Only as an adult, who has lived in Portland for most of my life, do I realize the significance of this simple plaza.   Continue reading

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Visit Portland and Leave Smarter: Science Pubs and Lectures

Thanks to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos, being nerdy is cool again (or maybe for the first time).  Well here, in Portland we have known that for a long time, so I like to the think the rest of the country is just catching up to us.  For years now OMSI has been presenting adults only happy hours and lectures at local pubs.  Portland is also home to certified smart people organizations such as the the Oregon Chapter of the American Research Center In Egypt, and the Linus Pauling Memorial Lectures.  In fact, American Research Center will be holding its annual conference in Portland this year and will be presenting an interesting public lecture about certain egyptian mummies (more on that in a minute).   Continue reading

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Springtime in Portland: Gardens, Wildflower Hikes, and more

Finally, winter is over!  Does that mean we are done with the rain?  Of course not, this is still the Pacific Northwest after all.  However, expect more sunshine and warmer weather ahead.   Us Portlanders may complain about the rain a little bit, but one upside is that all this rain makes for some beautiful scenery come spring time.  The gardens in town are starting to bloom, the wildflowers are out in the gorge, the waterfalls are flowing, the saturday market and farmers markets are up and running.  It is a great time to visit and get outside…when the rain stops.  If you want to take in some of this gorgeous spring scenery here are a few suggestions.  Continue reading

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Priceline Hotel Bidding Advance Strategy: Matrix Bidding

I am such a dope.  A few months back, I came across a new bidding strategy for bidding on hotels with Priceline.  By new, I mean new to me, this has been around awhile and I can’t believe I never caught it before.  The strategy is great and it will exponentially increase the number of rebids.  If you have enough safe zones you could probably set your bid increases by $1 or $2, almost assuring that you will get the rock bottom price.  Continue reading

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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Awards To Australia/South Pacific

Next stop in my series of posts about where your Alaska Mileage Plan miles can take you is the South Pacific.  Alaska has multiple partners that fly to Australia and the South Pacific. For many frequent flyer programs, awards to this region can be a weak spot in terms of cost, routing rules, and availability. Alaska has a lot of options for making it to Australia and the South Pacific, it is my opinion that with respect to this region Alaska beats out a lot of the competition.  Without further ado, here are Alaska’s South Pacific partners.   Continue reading

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What To Do When Renting a Car and You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

Reader Tracey left a comment on my using Priceline for rental cars post asking the following question:

Hi Scott, I recently sold my car, so I am uninsured. This will be my first time bidding as well as never having auto insurance.

Bodily injury, med expenses are my big concern. I will be using my Mastercard, but the small print has made me crazy. Any other ideas to stay safe?

What kind of insurance should I buy?

Kind thanks! Tracey  Continue reading

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PTT In Las Vegas: A Trip Report


Bellagio Fountain 2

A few weeks ago I booked my wife and I a last minute trip to Las Vegas over Presidents Day weekend.  I booked this trip, in part so the kids can get used to us being away over night since we have a bigger trip to Europe planned this summer, but also because my wife is a stay at home mom deserved a weekend without kids and responsibility.  Continue reading

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Don’t Forget That Coupon On Your Next Trip To Portland

My wife and I will be off to Las Vegas this weekend which means I am in full on deal hound mode.  When I travel somewhere there are two things I do in the weeks before I leave, research places to eat and look for discounts on activities, restaurants, tours, etc… I do this not just because I am a cheapskate, but because I think it is fun.  I take it as a personal challenge to lower my expenses as much as possible.  However, I am not one of those people who creates an itinerary based on my coupons.  I think that is a recipe for a bad experience.  Instead, I have a list of things I would like to do and if I find a coupon that saves me money great, if not, oh well.  Continue reading

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Which Portlandia Stereotypes Are True?

Portlandia has put Portland on the pop culture map and if you have plans to visit Portland, chances are you have watched an episode or two. You may be wondering to yourself are any of these caricatures true? Are the dreams of the ’90s still alive in Portland? From a local’s perspective you can tell that the show is written by a person with a local connection.  Many of the skits hit pretty close to home.  In no particular order here are the stereotypes that I think hit the nail on the head.   Continue reading

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