Good news, as with almost everything involving points and miles, nothing about flying British Airways first class without also paying a fortune in fuel surcharges makes sense. Don't you love it?! Virtually every major partner you can think of adds the same bank breaking surcharges, rivaling more than a paid outright premium economy ticket to the major cost in miles. Both hurt. Anyway, there is an answer and you've probably never considered it! Why would you?!
LAN. Yep, that obscure South American carrier that bounces around a few select European and North American cities ferrying people to the drug and culture capitals of South America offers the only chance to cash in miles for a seat up front in British Airways First Class without also paying a fortune. Take my miles not my money! As you may have gathered from this post, you can credit any activity on British Airways, Qatar, Finnair, American, Cathay Pacific and many more to LAN and then use their points for a flight on British Airways. If flying around the globe a few times isn't your thing, you can also convert Starwood Preferred Guest points to LAN at 1:1.5 ratio; which is very appealing considering they offer a credit card where you can earn at least a "Starpoint" for every purchase. As I mentioned, points from Starwood transfer over to LAN at a 1:1.5 ratio, not including the 5,000 point bonus for every twenty thousand you transfer. Essentially, you can get to a fairly high number pretty damn quickly. You use a similar amount of miles but you save a ton of cash, which for many of us is important. To get from London to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to London or many other glamorous long haul routes and vice versa over 3,100 miles and under 6,200 (in one direction) you'll need 125,000 miles (LAN Kilometers) each way. If you are thinking of a shorter flight, under under 3,100 miles (in one direction) you'll only need 67,000 miles each way. With the recent skyrocketing of British Airways own currency "Avios" for redemptions in premium cabins on their flights as well as partners, it's not a bad proposition at all.
SO yes, to act on this you either need to fly a bunch and credit miles to LAN or transfer some hotel points over to LAN. You're choice! And yes, again, you can redeem LAN miles for travel on British Airways. Of course, because you are an avid reader, you know to never transfer points from any program to another before confirming availability on the flight you want. Find availability on British Airways First for your flight using Award Nexus, the British Airways website or the LAN website. I personally love Award Nexus for the ability to search weeks at a time and see all partner space. If the space in First using miles is there you can snag it in no time by transferring your Starwood points to LAN. Just be careful, they can't be transferred back. This is a very "niche" use of miles but I have a ton of British Airways readers and thought this might be just the trick they need to experience the airline's best without spending a small fortune.
Update: HT to Gary & View From The Wing For Discovering This Before ME!
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