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Recently, British Airways announced some changes to the Avios mileage program. You can read the official announcement on the British Airways devaluation site, and you can see a few initial thoughts from bloggers like One Mile at a Time, Travel Summary, View from the Wing or just about every blogger out there.
I thought I’d take a look at some of the winners and losers with the new changes, which are effective starting April 28th.
Losers: British Airways economy mile-earner
If you earn your miles by flying economy on British airways, these changes are definitely going to affect you. While some of the premium classes will actually have an INCREASE in the amount of Avios earned, most economy fare classes are going down, with Q, O, and G economy fare classes now earning only 25% of the miles flown. For the exact comparison chart, you can check the official British Airways announcement. I’d post it here but are there really people that care a ton about the fact that W fare class is going from 125% to 150%? 🙂
Losers: Non-London UK travelers flying to Europe on Avios
Right now, British Airways offers travelers who fly from a non-London city in the UK a free connection to/from London before flying anywhere else. So if you are flying from say, Manchester-London-Frankfurt, you will only be charged the 4500 Avios for the flight from London to Frankfurt (since it’s in Zone 1, less than 650 miles). A post describing this phenomenon is actually one of my more popular posts
While you will still get the intra-UK flight free on “long haul” flights (which according to the British airways devaluation FAQ seems to be defined as “intra-Europe” – flights to Dubai and New York are both listed as flights where you WILL get the free flight within the UK.
Another downside here is that in addition to having to shell out another 4,500 Avios post British Airways devaluation, you’ll need to pay the fees and taxes again. Now British Airways does offer a flat fee for flights within Europe (called British Airways Reward Flight Saver), but that’s still about ~USD$27 each way.
Winners: Economy short-haul travelers on British Airways
Short-haul economy flights have always been my preference for using my Avios, and even post-British Airways devaluation, they will still be a good option. And if you’re actually flying ON British Airways (mine are usually on partners), this British Airways devaluation will actually be the opposite of a devaluation (valuation? e-valuation? un-valuation? re-valuation? Help me out here!)
For British Airways short-haul economy flights, the prices will actually go down for most of the year. The peak price for Economy is actually exactly the same as the current award chart, and as you can see from the peak calendar below, 2/3 of the year is actually OFF peak, so for those times the cost will actually be LOWER than it is today!
Losers: British Airways premium long-haul award travelers
The other side of the new British Airways devaluation award chart is that the amounts of Avios required to fly in premium cabins has gone up (significantly up in some cases). Now (and through awards booked by April 27th), the price to redeem for Business Class is twice the amount required for Economy, and the price to redeem for First Class is three times Economy.
Now, the price for First Class is 4x the Economy price across the board, and while the amount for Business Class is still only 2x in the first 3 zones (flights 2,000 miles and under), anything over 2,000 miles is now 3x for Business.
To give a real world example, the blogger’s favorite transcontinental friend, BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus is still only 12,500 Avios in Economy, but it is now 37,500 Avios for Business Class. That’s still a really good deal, but no longer a REALLY REALLY good deal.
Losers: Flyers on premium cabins on partner airlines
Remember that peak calendar that looked so good, with 2/3 of the year being off-peak, and qualifying for a discount? Well, that doesn’t count for partner airlines. British Airways is part of the oneworld airline alliance, and so you can use Avios on airlines like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and several other airlines
(SEE ALSO: Introduction to Air alliances)
Rates for redemptions on economy fares are still the same, but if you were planning on using Avios to book Cathay Pacific First Class, well… I guess I suggest you book it before April 27th!
Winners: Short-haul economy fliers in the US
Being based in the US as I am, I use Avios primarily for short-haul economy flights in Zone 1 (less than 650 miles).
For me (based in CVG), I have 5 cities I can fly to for 4500 Avios, and 2 more that cost 7500 Avios. These redemptions will not change, and that’s a big deal for me!
Devaluation of airline miles and hotel points is an ongoing thing – it’s one reason I suggest you should earn ’em and burn ’em rather than holding on to large balances. British Airways was due, and I (along with several others) had been worried that an impending devaluation would gut these kind of short-haul redemptions. After all, when I can use 4500 Avios to fly from CVG-JFK in lieu of paying $200-$300 (5-6 cents per mile value), that seems unsustainable. So even though the post-British Airways devaluation chart is exactly the same, for people like me who fly these short-haul US redemptions, I count that as a win.
Living in a post-British Airways devaluation world
So what about you? Do you fit into one (or more than one?) of these categories? Do you count the impending British Airways devaluation as a win or a loss? Let me know in the comments