One Mile at a Time and View from the Wing both note that the 25% off sale that I discussed yesterday is applicable to itineraries originating the United States, not just London. As a US-originating roundtrip is far simpler than the alternatives, it’s worth examining whether this sale has any value for flights to the UK.
For comparison, a simple AA-ticketed and operated JFK-LHR flight runs 50k miles (in business class) and $2.50. A quick glance at upcoming award availability turned up a BA-operated flight for comparison. Thanks to BA fuel surcharges, the award has fuel surcharges baked into its cost of $435.20.
For comparison, the same award is bookable from British Airways and falls under the 25% off sale:
Based on yesterday’s analysis, booking now saves me about $75 in terms of Avios points at my cost of acquisition. Even under optimistic assumptions about the cost of acquiring AAdvantage miles by credit card spending, there’s a gap of $245 ($225 versus $470) in acquisition costs.
This example shows the rub of the situation: British Airways imposes asymmetric fuel surcharges for flights on the same route. For the JFK-LHR flight, BA’s taxes and “fees” breakdown as follows:
In comparison, the total for LHR-JFK is $110.93 higher (due to UK Air Passenger Duty), but the fuel surcharge is $160.74 lower (despite eastbound flights being shorter and presumably having less fuel burn).
For eastbound flights, Avios, even under this promotion, is not a bargain if there are comparable AA-operated itineraries available. For westbound flights, Avios is relatively competitive when considering the cost of acquisition, especially under this sale.