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A Mega Fail with My SPG Transfer to Avios

This is a cautionary tale on the importance of having a Plan B when transferring  valuable flexible points to miles.  And we are not just talking run-of-the-mill valuable, but super duper valuable currency such as SPG. So, last Friday I’ve mentioned that I went ahead and dumped 40,000 SPG points to Avios due to 35% bonus on transfers (no longer valid). But first, let me give you a backstory.

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you probably know that my plans change five times before I commit to something. That’s why I love miles and points, they give me a degree of flexibility. Plus, we frequently vacation with my husband’s family, and they also change their mind five times.

Off to St. John!

So, originally, we were planning on a mega trip around United States in May of 2017. I’ve written about it and mentioned that we were going to visit New York, Washington DC and Niagara Falls. Well, my sister-in-law started talking about doing this and that, and we got into an  argument.

I reminded her that we have small kids who will be pooped if we do everything she had in mind. Long story short, we’ve decided to scrap the entire trip and possibly do it the following  year. That is if we can agree on some sort of a compromise (right!).

Anyway, instead, my SIL has decided to go for a week to  St. John with her parents. It’s a beautiful island and I was fortunate enough to spend a day there while on a cruise, many years ago.

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I’ve always wanted to go back and take my kids with me. My in-laws really wanted us to come as well. So, I started looking at award availability to St.Thomas. The absolute cheapest way to get to that island is via Spirit off-peak redemption. It costs only 2,500 miles one-way to fly nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to St.Thomas.  Unfortunately, this price is only valid during the time when kids are in school.

I have taken my children out for a few days here and there, but I wanted to go to St. John for at least five nights, and that would be pushing it. You see, we already plan to take the kids out of school for two days in October (separate post on it later). I haven’t yet met their teachers, and would rather not start out the year by telling them: “Oh, by the way, we have already booked two non-refundable  trips. Deal with it!”

Avios rocks (when there is sAAver availability)

Aside from Spirit, the best option for Floridians is to use British Airways Avios program. It costs 7,500 Avios to fly one-way from Miami to St. Thomas. However, Miami is four hours away from our house, so it’s very inconvenient. Additionally, my in-laws were planning to stay in St. John longer, so we would have to get to Miami on our own. My husband absolutely hates driving, and he absolutely hates Miami.

I checked AAdvantage availability, since we would be redeeming Avios on American-operated flights. The schedule  wasn’t up for the dates we needed, but it appeared that there was a fair number of award seats during the first part of the month. My mother-in-law had 25,000 Avios, and this would take care of three one-way tickets from Miami to St.Thomas.

I had about 47,000 SPG points at the time, and offered to take care of their return flights. If I transferred 40K SPG points, I would have a total of 67,500 Avios. If you deduct 22,500 Avios needed for three one-way tickets for my in-laws, it would leave me with 45,000 Avios.

My plan was to try to redeem 30,000 Avios for our four return tickets from St.Thomas to Miami. That way, we could drive back with my in-laws. For the flight to St.Thomas, I had a different plan. I was going to burn 15,000 remaining Avios for one ticket form Tampa to St.Thomas. Avios program charges per segment, so it would end up being 7,500 Avios+7,500 Avios for Tampa-Miami, Miami-St.Thomas flights (read more on Avios program).

Combining Avios with AAdvantage 

What about the other three tickets? I was going to book an identical itinerary via AAdvantage. It charges the same amount during that time of year: 15,000 AA miles. The pricing is flat, so you can potentially fly all the way from Seattle and still pay the same amount. I was going to ask someone to drop us off at Tampa airport.

Of course, things didn’t work out as planned. Since the bonus on SPG to Avios  was due to expire July 5th, I had to make a speculative transfer and hope for the best. It took five days for SPG points to hit my BA account. Unfortunately, when we looked, there was nothing available on the dates we needed, at least not the price I would be willing to pay :

aa stt

My kids are getting out of school on May 25th, and the closest date available is May 23rd. We could probably get away with it, but then we would have to come back on May 31st. My husband is already planning on taking close to two weeks off for our trip to Europe, and this would be really pushing it. Not to mention, it’s  incredibly inconvenient when you leave and come back in the middle of the week.

Bye bye, St. John and SPG points

After some back and forth, it was decided that my in-laws would just go without us during the first part of May. We were able to utilize Avios and book AA-operated  flights online without an issue. To be honest, I’m a little relieved. This would have been an incredibly difficult trip and I pulled the trigger on transfer  before really thinking  it through.

First, we would have to drive to Tampa, then connect in Miami. After landing in St.Thomas, we would need  to catch a taxi to the port and take  a ferry to St. John. And last but not least, we would have to take another taxi in St. John. And that is assuming ferries would even  run when we landed. My husband would go into a dark mode, guaranteed.

Ironically, it would have been better for me to do this Jet Blue match deal (also dead). Jet Blue flies from Orlando to St.Thomas, and its program is revenue-based, so no need to worry about availability. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to do a mileage run, it was totally out of the question. I have small kids, and it’s not that easy for me to just jet off whenever I feel like it.

So, now I’m stuck with 45,000 Avios miles and have no specific plans to use them. I’m sure I’ll be able to utilize this currency eventually, but I so wish I still had my precious SPG points. My precious…

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

14 thoughts on “A Mega Fail with My SPG Transfer to Avios

  1. Don’t despair on using those Avios! I’ve noticed that AA tends to release more sAAver awards closer in, like at 9 months and 6 months prior to flight times. (I may or may not be an AA award availability stalker).

    • Nancy, very true! I did mention it to my SIL, but she wanted to go ahead and just book their trip. Once their rental is all set, she will not be changing it all around in order to accommodate us. Honestly, it’s probably for the best anyway. I’m thinking about booking our trip to Europe in June of 2017, so St. John would be out of the question. And really, the whole thing would have been too difficult on kids. I’m hoping to do a cruise with them that has a stop in St.Thomas. That way, we can take a ferry for a day.

    • Thanks. I didn’t know this information. We are looking for St. Martin flights for April 2017 and they were crazy high for point use!

      • @Michelle Award redemptions to St.Maarten can be tricky during Spring Break season. It’s a popular island. You might want to check what paid flights run. If you have flexible points, you can just redeem them on revenue flights and not have to worry about availability.

  2. So sorry it didn’t work out. What were you planning on using for hotel points in St. John? I did some basic research a few years ago and found very few hotels. It was more of a VRBO vacation. Just curious if you found otherwise!

    • @Michelle The only place on St. John bookable on points is an SPG property ( Westin). However, it’s quite expensive, and rooms will only fit several people. For seven of us, VRBO or another rental would have been the way to go. In fact, my SIL is going to reserve a place via one of those sites, not sure which one.

  3. That sucks! I’m going to use my spg pts for a fifth night free. We rarely stay in one spot long enough so yay! 40,000 pts. I managed to use our avios up a few years ago, but it wasn’t easy. Maybe I’ll get more again in the future, but they’re not my favorite.

    • @Jill I’m a little bummed, though it was my own fault. I just wrote a post on spotty sAAver AAdvantage availability, ha! I’m sure we’ll redeem Avios at some point, if nothing else, I’ll burn them on hotel nights. It’s a finicky currency: great for use on some routes, terrible on others.

  4. I read somewhere that you can now only transfer SPG points in 1,000 increments. is that correct?
    I cancelled my card and have 9,720 points. hate to “lose” the 720 points. Is there any other way to earn the 280 points?

    • @Hilde I saw something about that new rule. I just tested it out, and it appears that you don’t have to transfer in 1,000 points increments. This is the message I got when I tried to perform a transfer:

      of 8,733 total current Starpoints
      Minimum Starpoints needed for transfer: 2500
      Maximum Starpoints needed for transfer: 99,999

      So, there is a minimum of 2,500 for non-elite members, just like it was before. As far as topping off your account, you can earn SPG points via stays. You can also transfer some MR points, though ratio is bad. Still, it’s an option.

  5. wonderful. thank you. Do you know, if Chase lets you apply for 2 cards at one time ie. Freedom & Sapphire Preferred?

    • @Hilde I honestly doubt you’ll be able to get approved for two Chase cards at once. Anything is possible, of course. Some have been able to get approved, but it’s somewhat unlikely. I would apply for the card you want the most and possibly try for the other product afterwards. You never know, and your inquiries may get combined, though it’s also the case of YMMV

  6. Pingback: It’s a Miracle: I’ve Redeemed AAdvantage Miles for Five Roundtrip “SAAver” Tickets to Europe in the Summer! | Miles For Family

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