An Incredible New Transatlantic Award Sweet Spot

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Last week I wrote about how Aer Lingus is launching two new transatlantic routes next summer, to Montreal and Minneapolis.

Aer Lingus has the same parent company as British Airways, so you can redeem British Airways Avios for travel on Aer Lingus, and it generally represents an excellent value, given that carrier imposed surcharges on Aer Lingus are mild.

British Airways has a distance based award chart, with the following pricing (which is per segment and one-way):

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

It used to be that Dublin to Boston was a sweet spot, since the flight covers a distance of just under 3,000 miles. However, in December 2016, they decided to arbitrarily move the distance between the two cities, putting Boston to Dublin into the band that covers distance of 3,001-4,000 miles.

Obviously the distance between the airports didn’t actually change, but rather they just decided they wanted to eliminate a sweet spot.

As of August 8, 2019, Aer Lingus is launching daily flights between Montreal and Dublin, which will operate with the following schedule:

EI99 Dublin to Montreal departing 6:50PM arriving 8:50PM
EI98 Montreal to Dublin departing 10:20PM arriving 9:40AM (+1 day)

That flight covers a distance of 2,973 miles.

The good news is that for the time being, this flight is being categorized in the correct band. This means that an award redemption between Montreal and Dublin represents an exceptional value. You’d need the following number of Avios for a one-way redemption:

  • Economy: 10,000 Avios (off-peak), 12,500 Avios (peak)
  • Business: 31,250 Avios (off-peak), 37,500 Avios (peak)

This is a spectacular value, especially when you consider that there’s a 40% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Executive Club at the moment. This means that a peak economy redemption would cost just 9,000 Amex points, and a peak business class redemption would cost just 27,000 Amex points.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points with the following cards:

Aer Lingus seems to be making two business class award seats and four economy class award seats available per flight.

I’ve called British Airways to verify that the availability is actually as it seems (British Airways doesn’t allow Aer Lingus redemptions online), and it indeed is. A one-way business class redemption from Montreal to Dublin shortly after the flight launches is pricing at 37,500 Avios plus $69 in taxes.

As of now the award calendar seems to be open through August 27, 2019, so there’s only a limited window during which you can book as of now.

The route is the first to be scheduled with one of Aer Lingus’ new A321neos, featuring fully flat business class seats, similar to their other aircraft.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to cross the Atlantic next summer this is an incredible opportunity to score a deal on a flight in economy or business, especially if you have Amex Membership Rewards points.

While this is indeed the “correct” award pricing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aer Lingus eventually move the route to a higher band, just because they can. So you’ll want to book sooner rather than later if you can, though I recognize that leaves a limited window during which you can travel.

I went ahead and just booked myself a ticket in business class from Montreal to Dublin, since I’ll want to review the A321neo business class, and you can’t beat the value of this.

Anyone else plan to take advantage of this award sweet spot?

(Tip of the hat to Joe at InsideFlyer)

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Comments

  1. I think that might be Christmas sorted for me next year. 🙂

    Related, is that Amex transfer worth doing? I have a bunch of points there but no real obvious use for them.

  2. If you’re not already based in Montreal, any positioning flight adds 7.5k miles minimum on each direction (if paying with miles) for economy and will make this less attractive. Might not be worthwhile for economy if you have other non-stop options in the next band.

    Business class is decent and can make sense depending on what you value.

  3. @ah – Cabotage means flying within a country. What country are you referring to? Aer Lingus is not operating selling any flights wholly within the US or wholly within Canada. Buying / redeeming a ticket to fly from the US to Canada to catch a connecting flight has nothing to do with what cabotage is.

  4. *when Aer Lingus sees this blog post*
    Shoot they got us again we’re going to move this up a zone like what we did with BOS BwaHahahahaaaa

  5. Issue is positioning to Montreal. Cash rates are always exorbitant from US to montreal it seems.. more so than even other parts of Canada

  6. @Aaron V. – cash fares LGA-YUL are routinely dirt cheap. Ive done 140 round trip before on AC. Itd have to be a REALLY obscenely priced RT to not make this redemption worth it.

  7. @ah is a classic example of an American trying to use fancy words he/she has no way of knowing what means.

    Honey, google cabotage before you try using it, okay? Maybe there’s a fat vadge march coming up you can take part in instead of polluting the comments here. Muh recyste.

  8. @William, fat vadge march? Thanks for confirming how easy it is for you to completely misunderstand what’s going on.

  9. @GuruJanitor: It costs 6k more in the next band to fly direct from JFK in off-peak. Would you pay $140 (if that’s already dirt cheap) to save 6k Avios and add a connection in Montreal (if availability is there for both)? Unless you already have plans to visit Montreal, I suspect, this is absolutely not worthwhile to the vast majority of people.

    In peak times, it may make slightly better sense to subject yourself to one additional stop to save 15k round-trip. But then cash prices will likely be higher even for a rather short flight NYC-YUL. So to pay 15k more in miles to fly direct versus to pay a sum def more than $140, might not be as clear cut as you think it.

    And I am not even talking about many like me, who need a visa to even TRANSIT AIRSIDE in Canada.

  10. Of course the math will be different with Business class 🙂 But in my view, economy class may not be worthwhile most of the times.

  11. Any idea when EI will be releasing flights past August 27?
    Just picked up 2 business and 4 economy for my family of 6 YUL to DUB. Now I just need to get back!

  12. How do you book this once the Amex points are transfered over to the BA Avois account? I know you said you have to call, but where do you search for award space? Thanks

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