How to Earn Miles When Flying on an Award Ticket

I’m going to let you in on a little secret I discovered during our travels around the world. It’s possible to earn miles on award tickets in one specific scenario. If you use British Airways Avios to book travel on LATAM, and make sure your British Airways number is on file when you fly with LATAM, you will earn British Airways Avios for that flight.

How I Accidentally Discovered This

We had a flight from Tahiti to Easter Island. The day before our flight, I checked both of us in online. I noticed that my ticket had my British Airways number attached, but Brittany’s did not. This was an award, and award flights should never earn miles, so I didn’t bother adding Brittany’s number.

I had booked each of these tickets for 12,500 British Airways Avios. That’s a steal considering how long this flight is.

Tahiti – Easter Island (2,644 miles)

About a week later, we were taking the same route in reverse. I decided to log into my British Airways account to check out the details of our reservation when I found something unexpected:

Needless to say I was shocked by what I saw: I’d earned 2,644 points from an award ticket I booked using points. Since the ticket only cost me 12,500 British Airways Avios to begin with, this brought the net cost of the award ticket down to 9,866 Avios, which was an insane deal for this flight. I was kicking myself for not adding Brittany’s British Airways number to her ticket.

For the flight back to Tahiti, I made sure that LATAM had both my and Brittany’s British Airways numbers attached to our reservations. It happened again! This time we both earned 2,644 British Airways Avios.

Testing Further

A few months later, we found ourselves in South America and it was time to test this discovery some more. We booked a short flight from Mendoza, Argentina to Buenos Aires, Argentina using British Airways Avios. This time I wanted to see if an award ticket booked with British Airways, but then credited to a different program, would earn miles. I decided to try crediting the miles to Alaska Airlines.

Mendoza – Buenos Aires (609 miles)

Unfortunately, this did not end up working. However, we were traveling with parents and they decided to keep their British Airways number associated with their tickets – they ended up earning 609 British Airways Avios for the flight!

The award ticket only cost 4,500 British Airways Avios, so this brought the net cost of their award tickets down to a crazy low 3,891 miles!

At this point in the trip, I only had one more flight booked on LATAM using British Airways Avios. I wanted to test out crediting to American, but decided at the last moment not to risk it and to credit it to British Airways.

Lima – Iquitos (629 miles)

It worked again! I ended up earning 623 Avios. This brought the net cost of this award ticket down to 3,871 British Airways Avios!

Testing With Other Award Bookings

I had two more award bookings for flying on LATAM during our trip. What was different with these bookings was that I booked them using American Airline miles instead of British Airways Avios. American only charges 6,000 miles for any flight within Peru, which is a fantastic deal. They also only charge 30,000 miles for a Business Class ticket between the United States and Peru. Peru is a definite sweet spot in the American award chart.

For the first booking, I just kept my American number attached to the reservation. I ended up not earning any American miles for the flight. The second booking I decided to change my loyalty number on file to my British Airways number. I was really hoping this one would work as it was a Business Class flight and would earn a ton of miles. Unfortunately, it did not work, and I did not end up earning miles for this flight.


Award flights on LATAM booked using British Airways Avios and then credited to British Airways earn miles. It can be a great deal to use Avios to book short one-ways within South America. This discovery makes the deal even sweeter. You can book one-way tickets for a net cost of under 4,000 miles. I don’t think that’s possible with any other airline award program in the world!

If you book a ticket with British Airways Avios, LATAM should have your British Airways number on file. However, I have seen this number fall off a reservation so I would make sure yours has one. You can check and/or add your British Airways number during the online check-in process for your LATAM flight. This opens up 24 hours before your flights departure – all you need is your LATAM record locator. Conveniently, this is the same record locator number as your British Airways record locator.

Where to find your British Airways/LATAM record locator number

Ultimately this trick can get you some extra miles in only a very specific situation. But hey, every mile counts! Now I’ll always make sure I have some loyalty program added to every one of my award tickets. You never know when you may earn miles unexpectedly. I hope you can put this trick to good use!

Have you ever experienced earning miles on award tickets before? I’d love to find out!

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