I am often asked how to avoid taxes when flying transatlantic across to America using Avios. Specifically, it is useful to know how to fly London to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in Business Class or Club World on an Avios redemption without paying taxes.
Currently, you can fly to New York on British Airways using Avios (one way) for 50,000 Avios+ £345 in taxes (off peak), or 26,000 + £292 in taxes in Premium Economy. Miami costs 62,500 Avios (off peak) + £345 in taxes, 32,500 in Prem econ + £292 in taxes and 85,000 in First + £345. Los Angeles is 67,000 (off peak) + £369 in Business Class, 103,000+ £369 in First and 37,000 + £309 in Premium Economy.
If you have Avios to burn but want to avoid these taxes when flying to America, try flying with airberlin.
How To Fly airberlin To America Using Avios To Avoid Paying Taxes
Most airberlin routes cost the same in Avios as a peak BA ticket, so if you can get an off-peak fare it is probably not worth booking with airberlin. However, if you have a surplus of Avios, you can travel to New York for 60,000 Avios + £30.05 in taxes with airberlin. Miami from Dusseldorf is 75,000 Avios + £31.5 or from Berlin is 75,000 Avios + £30.50 taxes. Los Angeles is only available in the summer but the Avios redemption comes in at 90,000 + £33.50, slightly more Avios but again hugely lower taxes. You can book these redemptions directly on BA.com.
It is worth noting that London to Berlin costs 4,500 Avios one way + £17.50 so this must be added onto your flight cost. Even with this additional hop, the tax savings with airberlin bookings remain phenomenal.
Travelling via Berlin does add the stress of connecting flights, so if your outbound London to Berlin flight is delayed, you might miss the transatlantic flight. A way of getting around this is to book an overnight in Berlin. For me, this is an opportunity to score some cheap stay credits on my Leaders Club account. Berlin is home to a very inexpensive Leaders Club property, the Hotel Palace Berlin. With prices from around 150€ per night, this actually comes in as one of the cheapest Leaders Club or Leading Hotels of the World properties in Europe. 4 stays as an Unlimited member or 5 if you are a standard member, will earn you a free night and one night at the Hotel Palace Berlin will get you 1 stay credit towards your free night.
If you redeem your Leaders Club stay at an expensive property like the Cipriani in Venice, the redeemed night could be worth as much as 1,200€. So a spend of 600€ could be worth as much as twice that you have spent at the Palace if you use your Leaders Club free night wisely.
Is airberlin as good as British Airways?
The airberlin Business Class product has a similar seat to British Airways but the food offering is not as good. Overall I prefer British Airways although I hate paying the huge taxes, which is why I consider airberlin when redeeming my Avios for transatlantic flight redemptions.
A big downside of flying airberlin for me is that airberlin only releases two business class seats per flight for redemptions. This means that it is not an option for a family and they can sell out quite quickly. Book these airberlin Avios redemptions directly on BA.com
(picture above taken on BA London Heathrow to Zurich on my last trip to Lech)
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