The scorn of any points collector is directed at availability. Why can’t I use my points when I want them? But to be fair – if you could have it that way, you’d need a lot more points and you probably wouldn’t actually like that system. There are a few tricks of the trade which remain under the radar, so to help you get the most availability with the least hassle – here we go!

One And Done

The best free tool for people who want to fly on British Airways planes – as opposed to using points on Qantas, Qatar, Cathay, Japan Airlines, Finnair and so forth, is BARedemptionFinder. The free service allows you to search any route operated by British Airways. You don’t even need to input dates, because one search will kick back the entire year of dates you can book using your Avios points. This saves so. much. time.

Last Minute Cathay

British Airways offers incredible rates using points on certain Cathay Pacific flights. Cathay and British Airways have blocked these seats from being seen online, for departures within a week. If you need a last minute ticket to Hong Kong – or anywhere Cathay flies, you won’t be able to use your points online or see seats available. But that does NOT mean they aren’t bookable. You can use Qantas.com or AsiaMiles.com to find seats available on Cathay, and call British Airways to book. If its available on those sites you can still book using BA miles, even if you can’t see it.

Alternates

Dreaming of San Francisco? So is everyone else. But not everyone thinks of searching to Oakland or San Jose, California as well. In the instance of San Francisco, either alternative option is only slightly further from the city, and within an hour by car of San Francisco, or less. But even if you can’t get that close, it’s better than nothing. Short flights in most of the world are at record low prices, so flying into Miami and then booking a $50 flight to DisneyWorld may make a lot more sense than not going.

2 For 1

British Airways Companion Vouchers provide the most joy and the most pain to British Airways Executive Club members. We’ve got two hands full of tips to maximizing them – but one here will be very helpful. You can book the return leg of your journey at a later date and even from a different city, at no extra cost. You can also upgrade to a higher cabin if seats become available at a later time. It will cost £35 per person and the difference in miles between the two cabins.

 

Premium +

A business class flight from London to Los Angeles using Avios would cost a minimum of 125,000 points and £385. British Airways sells really cheap Premium Economy tickets out of Scandinavia, going for about £470. Upgrades to business would require very little additional cash, if any and would require 25,000-30,000 each way. The benefit:: you’ll earn points, you can pick almost any dates and if you set alerts, finding seats to upgrade to business is extremely easy. 50,000 Avios points and £470 is a much better deal than 125,000 and £385 – and much easier to book too.

What’s your best tip to find available seats?