How to Book Aer Lingus Flights with British Airways Avios

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Aer Lingus is, by far, one of the best airlines to book with British Airways Avios. Not only do they offer one of the cheapest fights to Europe (12,500 miles), but they also don’t tack on the astronomical fuel surcharges that BA does. It’s a pretty slick deal!

The only problem with Aer Lingus is the finding, calculating, and booking process, which is why I put this post together. As I’ve posted about before, I spent weeks researching flights and availability, which was a huge pain. However, my hope is that the effort I put into finding my own vacation helps make your’s that much easier!

Award Chart

British Airways recently announced an unwelcome change to their award chart that made the Aer Lingus routes, especially in business class, a bit worse. That being said, these changes will not be going into effect until April 28, 2015, so there is still time to book under the old better rates.

Old Chart

British Airways Avios Award Chart

New Chart

Avios Award Chart

Finding Aer Lingus Availability

There are a few ways to find Aer Lingus availability, but none of them involve British Airways’ website. Crazy right? Unfortunately, BA doesn’t show AL’s flights online, which is quite annoying.

Quick Note: The availability shown on United, Qantas, and Expert Flyer won’t necessarily match up 100% to what British Airways has. These methods are usually pretty accurate, but occasionally, what’s available through United or Qantas won’t be available through BA.

1. United
United is my favorite way to search Aer Lingus availability, primarily because of how easy it is to view (unlike the other options) and the fact that you don’t need to sign in. All you need to do is search nonstop award flights between two cities that Aer Lingus flies (see below).

United Airlines Search Aer Lingus

This will search Aer Lingus availability from Boston to Dublin

When searching for Aer Lingus availability, there are three things you need to look for. The first is, “Nonstop Flights.” As you can see in the example below, United will always show nonstop flights first, so make sure that’s what you’re looking at.

Second, you need to make sure that the flight is operated by Aer Lingus. I marked that on the right side of the picture. United offers certain nonstop flights between certain US cities and Dublin, so verify you’re looking at an Aer Lingus flight before calling BA.

Finally, the flight has to be a saver award. If it’s not, you won’t be able to book it with Avios.

United Search Aer Lingus

The three things you need to look for when searching Aer Lingus availability.

2. Qantas
Qantas isn’t quite as easy to search as United is, but it’s an option regardless. To search the availability, head to Qantas’ website and login or sign-up for an account. Then, search your flight. As a side note, you need to select “Search Classic Reward Cities” to search Aer Lingus flights.

Search Aer Lingus with Qantas

Don’t forget to select “Show Classic Reward Cities” when searching Aer Lingus on Qantas.

Once you search it, you’ll likely see a lot of availability in all classes – even first, which they don’t offer. Those aren’t all Aer Lingus flights. You have to click each day to see which airline it is. This is part of the reason I don’t like searching Qantas for availability.

Qantas Aer Lingus Search

Lots of availability or not?

Now, select the day you want to check and it will bring up the different flight options. Fortunately, Qantas displays the nonstop flights first, like United does, which means Aer Lingus will always be on top if there is availability.

Aer Lingus Availability Through Qantas

Aer Lingus availability searched through Qantas

3. Expert Flyer
You can search what award seats Aer Lingus has to offer through Expert Flyer, but, from my experience it can’t tell you which seats have been released already. For example, when I’ve searched AL in the past, it said there were over 9 seats available on the days I wanted. However, when I went to book those dates, British Airways could not find any availability. I also don’t like using a paid service when I can find what I need for free.

4. Calling
This is the most accurate method of finding Aer Lingus availability, but it’s by far the most painful. British Airways is well known for their terrible hold times, so I would try one of the options above before calling.

Where They Fly

Here are the North America to Ireland routes that Aer Lingus flies. The IAD route will only be available after May 1, 2015.

Where Aer Lingus Flies in North America (Economy)

 Distance (mi)Avios Required (Pre Deval)Avios Required (After Deval)
BOS-SNN289512,50010,000/12,500
BOS-DUB299312,50010,000/12,500
JFK-SNN308120,00013,000/20,000
JFK-DUB317920,00013,000/20,000
YYZ-DUB327820,00013,000/20,000
IAD-DUB340420,00013,000/20,000
ORD-DUB367320,00013,000/20,000
MCO-DUB407225,00016,250/25,000
SFO-DUB509825,00016,250/25,000

Where Aer Lingus Flies in North America (Business)

 Distance (mi)Avios Required (Pre Deval)Avios Required (After Deval)
BOS-SNN289525,00031,250/37,500
BOS-DUB299325,00031,250/37,500
JFK-SNN308140,00050,000/60,000
JFK-DUB317940,00050,000/60,000
YYZ-DUB327840,00050,000/60,000
IAD-DUB340440,00050,000/60,000
ORD-DUB367340,00050,000/60,000
MCO-DUB407250,00062,500/75,000
SFO-DUB509850,00062,500/75,000

What If There Isn’t Availability?

Aer Lingus and British Airways sporadically release and unrelease award seats all the time. The best thing you can do if you don’t find any availability is to wait it out. When I couldn’t find the dates I wanted, I checked daily for a few weeks. I’m glad I did too, because they released a flood of business class seats one day (when I booked them) and they were all gone the next.

I also suggest watching this Flyertalk forum. Many of these people are waiting for the exact same seats you are, which means they’ll likely share once something opens up. At least, that’s been my experience.

Booking the Flight

Booking the flight is by far the most annoying part of this process. Seriously, it sucks. Here’s a quick play by play.

  1. Grab your phone and dial 800-247-9297 (the British Airways contact number). This call will take hours if not days, so make sure you have food and water. You don’t starve during the call. That may be a slight exaggeration, but you can realistically expect about 30-60 minutes of hold time.
  2. Play with your cat, watch TV, eat dinner, just do something while you grow old waiting to talk to a human being.
  3. You’re probably still waiting, so maybe clean your house?
  4. It’s ridiculous right?
  5. Seriously…
  6. Once you finally get to talk to someone, tell them you want to book a flight on Aer Lingus on the days you found availability. Hopefully it’s still available after you had to wait ages on hold.
  7. After they find it, they’ll tell you the final price with a phone booking fee of $25 per person booked. If you politely ask them to waive that fee since Aer Lingus is not bookable online, they should be able too. There’s no guarantee on that, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  8. Now, just pay the taxes and fees and you’ll have your tickets. Congratulations, you just saved an absurd amount versus booking a flight on British Airways.

Conclusion

As with all award bookings, booking Aer Lingus with Avios is a process, but ultimately worth it. If you want to travel to Dublin, Shannon, or just want to get to Europe through either of those cities, using British Airways Avios is the cheapest way to do it.

Note: If you’re goal is to fly Aer Lingus’ new business class, you should definitely book that before April 28.

Have you booked any of these Aer Lingus routes?


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