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A little bit of hyperbole perhaps, but after the news broke earlier this week that British Airways was removing the 4500 Avios redemptions (what WAS one of the top travel hacks out there!) means that at least for me, Avios are pretty much worthless.
Recapping the devaluation
So, as mentioned in the earlier article, British Airways is removing 4500 Avios redemptions in North America. Previously, any flight that had a flight distance from 0-649 miles would cost 4500 Avios to redeem
Now, in North America only, those flights will cost 7500 Avios, the same as flights from 650-1149 miles.
Why I’m saying Avios are worthless
I can definitely see some situational value for Avios still.
- If you live in a American hub or another area that has a lot of American Airlines flights, it can still make sense to use 7500 Avios to fly to your destination
- There are still some situational routes that can be good value – 12,500 Avios for BOS-DUB (done it!), or 12,500 Avios from the west coast of the US to Hawaii
- Short flights in Europe, Asia or other non-North American areas. It is true that in Europe and Asia, there are often low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet, or the ASEAN Air Pass by Air Asia. For instance, on my recent trip to Europe, I used 4500 Avios to fly from London to Nice (647 flown miles) for only 4500 Avios (see below)
Better non-Avios options
But from where I live in Cincinnati, I don’t have a lot of Avios-eligible options
The flights in red previously cost 4500 Avios, but now all of those flights pictured cost 7500 Avios one way, or 15,000 Avios roundtrip, and those are my ONLY Avios options. If I want to fly ANYWHERE else in the country, it will take a connection, and therefore 15,000 Avios one-way (so a regular American award or even in some cases a STANDARD award would make more sense). It would have been nice had British Airways stopped charging by segment as part of this change.
And that’s not even taking into account American’s Reduced Mileage Awards, which allow you to book a one-way trip for only 8,750 miles to ANYWHERE in the US and Canada. My home airport of Cincinnati (CVG) almost always seems to be on the list of eligible airports, and if/when it isn’t, usually one of the other airports nearby still is. Here you can see for the next 4 months any American flight from CVG is only 17,500 miles roundtrip (it’s how I saved my friend 37% on airfare)
And you get a 10% rebate on your miles, so my flight will actually cost 15,750 miles, only 750 miles more than the new roundtrip Avios awards, and you get full destination flexibility, instead of only those 7 cities.
Another possible option is flying Southwest. Annoyingly, Southwest does not yet fly out of Cincinnati (due in part to Delta shenanigans), but it does fly from several surrounding airports. In fact, when I was flying to Washington DC last weekend for the Family Travel for Real Life conference, I originally had booked CVG-DCA flights for 9000 Avios roundtrip. But when US Airways canceled my flight, I looked to Southwest and found a one-way nonstop ticket for only 2,924 points!
That was already 35% cheaper than a 4500 Avios flight, and now it’s over 61% cheaper! If you have the Southwest Companion Pass (and I do, at least for another 2 months), it makes even MORE sense!
So, while I do recognize that for some, Avios can still make sense, for me, they’re just about worthless. I have 9,000 Avios in my account (though I am expecting / hoping for a 50,000 point refund due to the cancellation of my Aer Lingus flight last month). I’ll still have the ability to transfer in from Chase, but this makes the British Airways credit card a lot less valuable!
What about you? How has the Avios devaluation affected you?