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

  1. I also have heard of the grumpy CSR’s but in my five or so conversations, I have never had a rude one. I have yet to find availability to LIH, which is my goal for our next summer trip.

  2. I also use pdx and have never had any issues booking these flights to Hawaii. Last time I booked they also automatically waived the fees without me asking. I wonder if the fee no longer exists…

  3. I am trying to do the exact same thing (4 flights, PDX to KOA for 100K Avios). Were you able to find these flights during summer? Were you able to locate the flights online first, before calling to make the booking? If so, which site is best for locating the flights? Thank you.

    • Use American Airlines for your search and if your flying from PDX, only Alaska Airlines flies direct to Hawaii. In your search, you must look for direct flights at the Saver level. Once you find the flight you want, note the details and call BA.

    • I don’t think Alaska operates a direct flight to KOA during the summer. I believe it is a seasonal flight during the winter. I do locate the flights first and then call. It makes things A LOT easier. My preference is to use Alaska’s calendar search. I look for days that show 20k miles and $3 in taxes. 20k means it is a saver award, which are hte only awards that can be booked with Avios. $3 means it is a direct flight. $5 would mean there is a connection. You can book a 20k miles and $5 taxes flight but it will cost you more than 100k avios because British Airways’ award chart is distance based, by segment.

      • Thank you. After searching every possible combination in June & July, we booked PDX-OGG and OGG-OAK for 100K miles. We’ll take a hopper flight to/from OGG/KOA, and then have to get an extra flight from OAK-PDX. I wish we could have gotten direct flights, but still a decent deal.

      • By the way, I called BA three times, and all were pleasant. The last rep wouldn’t waive the phone booking fee though.

  4. Do you know how many economy award tickets Alaska releases? I am trying to book 4 tickets from SJC to OGG, using Avios. I saw 20K miles one way on Alaska airline. However, when I change the # of passengers to 4, the site only shows 40k miles award.

    • It is hit and miss and based on demand. Search on Alaska website for 4 tickets using calendar view. If you see a day that shows 20k and $3 that is the direct flight saver level that can be booked with avios.

  5. Hi Scott, all

    Thanks, this is great!

    Quick question: I am planning to book a flight from San Diego to KOA in late March, but there are no really good Alaska flights, so I think I will opt for a SAN-OGG with Alaska and then I will combine it with a short intra-island flight with Mokulele.

    So I looked for SAN-OGG flights on the Alaska web site and there are direct flights, but they all come at 30k miles, and there is no direct flight at 20k. Does this mean that they are not redeemable with Avios?

    Also, is 1 Alaska Mile = 1 Avio, or is there any other conversion factor?

    Thanks

    Nadir

    • You can only book the 20k flights with Avios. There is no conversion involved. The way this works is that Alaska is partners with many other airlines. A partnership means that Alaska will open up certain award space that can be booked through the partner airline according to that partner airlines own rules. Basically, Alaska is just making the space available to them. There is no transfer of miles involved you simply book the award through the partner airline. For British Airways, they have a distance based award chart. One way from the west coast to Hawaii is 12,500 miles or 25,000 miles roundtrip. If you have 25,000 avios you can book a roundtrip ticket, you just have to find the award space. Keep looking for the 20k each way flights and when you do call British Airways to book.

  6. Nadir,

    I use the AA search engine and look for Super Saver awards with direct flights. Those are the ones your looking for. Then call BA.

    BTW, last month I booked 4 r/t tix from SEA-LIH for next summer and couldn’t be more excited.

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