British Airways Changes: Is One Of The Best Values Going Away?

I woke up this morning to a number of changes to the British Airways Avios program (after a night where our daughter was up sick most of the night, or I might have posted this sooner). View From the Wing has all the details, but here are the key points you need to be aware of :

  • Mileage earning on most coach fares classes is going down significantly. K, L, M, N, S and V class fares all week earn 50% instead of 100% of miles flown. Q, O and G classes will only earn 25%.
  • If you buy really expensive tickets (business class or first) you’ll earn more miles.
  • Minimum mileage earning per segment drops from 500 to 125. While there are a lot of short flights in Europe, it seems to me that a minimum of 125 miles is really no minimum at all.
  • If you currently redeem miles for short-haul flights (including partner flights such as American or US Airways) nothing changes.
  • There’s a new system of categorizing awards into peak and off-peak, where peak awards in business and first will cost you a lot more.

The question left unanswered is whether one of the very best values will go away. My favorite redemption is 10,000 Avios to upgrade to the next class of service. I’ve purchased premium economy tickets in the past and used 10,000 Avios to upgrade to business class (Club World). It’s a fantastic value.  Here’s what British Airways has to say about upgrades using Avios:

When these changes are introduced, you will be able to upgrade by one cabin using Avios from all World Traveller and Euro Traveller commercial bookings, except the very lowest economy fare classes (Q, O and G). This means there will be more opportunities to upgrade than ever before. To upgrade you simply pay the difference between the cabin you’ve booked and the cabin you want to upgrade to.

There’s a lot of gray there.  Maybe this change will just impact the upgrades from lower coach fares.  But, with the increases in the number of points required for business and first class awards, I’m not optimistic.

I know there are plenty of folks that love Avios for short-haul awards in the US.  I do understand the value there, but for me, it’s that 10,000 point upgrade to go from World Traveller Plus to a sleeper seat on a redeye overseas.  If they whack that, I’ll be truly upset.

 


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5 Comments

  1. Short haul coach flights are still a good value, but short haul first (for when there is no coach availability) is no longer such a great value. It looks like I’ll be working WN into a few more award tickets…

  2. Well if you’re wanting to fly first class, you’re not talking Southwest, right? :-). I agree with ncSam – there are winners and losers, but for me, someone who flies economy short-haul, this is a net positive. Even though that award chart stayed the same, I had been waiting for a devaluation for awhile, and I was worried BA would get wise to people like me using 4500 Avios for a $200-300 ticket and drastically increase the price.

  3. Get ready to be upset. They’ve made it clear that upgrades are priced based on the difference in award costs between the cabin originally paid and the cabin you’re booking in to. For your IAD-LHR flight (Band 5 on the chart) the new PremE rate is 40,000 and Biz is 60,000. So the upgrade costs 20k each way.

    Interestingly enough, that’s also one where if you book it off-peak the spread is greater – 26k to 50k – so the upgrade might cost you 24k Avios rather than just 20k (or the 10k it is today).

    And, yes, Gary missed this significant change which many very “savvy” users of Avios frequently redeemed for.

    1. I didn’t make the connection that it was difference price of the award. I thought it might be based on the dynamic pricing of the ticket, though that didn’t seem possible. 20,000 for a one-way upgrade over the pond is still a good enough value that I would redeem for it. 24,000 probably is as well. If I think of the extra taxes/surcharge as my “co-pay” then this is a reasonable number of points for that upgrade. Not as good as 10K, but I think I’m okay with it.

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