I have often needed to travel from London to LA or Las Vegas for work purposes over the years. Since these were work trips, paid for by my employer, I’ve often used them as a method of points building. This worked nicely as long as it was within the limits of the company travel policy.
Making a trip good for points
The first question is which type of points are you looking for? There are standard air miles, and on British Airways they call these Avios. These are earned through flying, credit cards and other schemes. You can spend them on flights, upgrades and other things. Then there are tier points that you earn in smaller quantities also when you fly, these count towards your status. Tier points can ONLY be earned through flights.
The other major difference between Avios and tier points is your tier points will reset to zero every year, whereas Avios last much longer and as long as you earn or spend some Avios every year or so they will keep going forever.
Generally, on these trips, I was looking most for tier points to either get me to or maintain my gold status with BA.
A good way to earn lots of tier points on a long-haul route is to book a multi-stop trip rather than flying direct. The number of tier points you get for flying from London to New York is exactly the same as if you fly from London to L.A. So why not fly from London, change in New York and get some extra points for your second flight from New York to L.A.?
Finding the best flights
There are quite a few tools out there, but personally, I prefer to use Google Flights as it has a really friendly interface and has access to all the data you need.
For this example, I have searched for a flight from London to L.A., flying in Premium Economy, in March 2023. I’ve made sure I’ve got a Saturday night in the trip, as pricing without that will get higher. However I have not been too worried about the exact dates, I am going to play around with them later.
After performing a simple search, I will then start to use all the tools Google has to offer, starting with the airline option. This gives you a chance to filter by certain airlines, but for our purposes it also allows us to filter by Airline Alliance, meaning I choose One World flights. This means it will only show flights where I can earn my points.
Now I will use the date grid to look a the pricing around the time I want to go. This gives me a chance to find more suitable dates for my trip and see what pricing options there. This grid will also reveal any pricing anomalies, this might be something like one flight that’s particularly undersold, you will find it’s priced lower than the others. This is a great way to find a bargain.
This has now identified the best flight price is for non-direct. This is ideal for what I’m looking for as it will earn me more tier points.
However, flying from New York all the way across America to L.A. is quite a long flight for a small plane, so I would start searching through the “Other Departing Flights” options to see what there is. This then revealed a route via San Francisco which is a little more appealing.
Using this process I will spend quite a bit of time searching different route options. I’ll be looking at flight times, type of aircraft, what seat I’ll be getting and which airports they go through. As someone who loves to fly, I am happy spending a day taking 2, 3 or even 4 flights to get to my destination.
How many points will you earn?
BA has a calculator tool on their website for this very purpose, even if you are not flying with BA, but are on another One World airline. You can find it here.
To use it simply fill out the information in the form and it will give a list of all the points you should earn.
I say “should” as this only applies to normal cash bookings. If you book with points, book and upgrade with points then you might earn less or no points at all!
If you are looking to earn maximum points on your trip, find the non-direct flights within the same airline alliance. Remember to declare your airline membership number when you book!