Redeem British Airways Avios Before Partner Award Changes

Filed Under: Awards, British Airways
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Update: Here’s British Airways’ new partner award chart.

In late April I wrote about how British Airways announced they’d be adjusting their award costs for travel on partner airlines. While we don’t officially know exactly what’s changing, this is a reminder to redeem your Avios on partners ASAP, as the changes kick in on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Below I’ll recap what we know so far.

British Airways adjusting partner award costs

In late April British Airways sent out an email to members explaining that partner award costs will be changing.

According to the email, for tickets booked as of May 30, 2019, British Airways Executive Club will be adjusting the Avios required for award flights on the following partner airlines:

Alaska Airlines, Air Italy, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, S7, Sri Lankan, and Royal Jordanian Airlines

Redemption rates on Royal Jordanian will be changing

Meanwhile redemption rates on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Vueling will remain unchanged. As you’d expect, previously booked tickets will continue to be honored at the old rates.

Redemption rates on Aer Lingus won’t be changing

Here’s the webpage that British Airways links to about these changes.

At first I figured I was missing something, and that there was an obvious link somewhere that I just wasn’t seeing regarding the changes. However, that’s not the case, and the vagueness is intentional.

So British Airways told us that changes were coming in about a month, though they didn’t tell us what those changes were.

What made this even stranger is that call center agents apparently were looped into what the changes were, and some people were able to roughly figure out how prices are changing. However, the airline refused to officially communicate that.

What could British Airways be changing?

Currently British Airways has a distance based award chart. This can represent an exceptional value for short haul awards, while it can represent a not-great value for long haul awards.

For context, here’s British Airways’ award chart, though note that partner award tickets price at the “peak” level no matter what time of year you’re traveling:

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

While British Airways isn’t officially revealing the changes, it appears that they’re maintaining a distance based award chart, but are just adjusting the costs. Here’s a post with the new rumored redemption rates. For example, here’s some of the new short haul pricing in economy, allegedly:

  • 0-650 miles — 6,000 Avios (previously 4,500 Avios)
  • 651-1,150 miles — 9,000 Avios (previously 7,500 Avios)
  • 1,151 miles-2,000 miles — 11,000 Avios (previously 10,000 Avios)
  • 2,001 miles-3,000 miles — 13,000 Avios (previously 12,500 Avios)

I’d consider it good news — and surprising — that they’re allegedly not going for dynamic award pricing.

Redeeming Avios on American has represented a great value

Bottom line

We know that British Airways is adjusting partner award costs as of May 30, 2019, so you have just a couple of days left to book at the current rates. While we don’t officially know what these changes are, it appears that what you’ll find in this post is likely to be accurate.

Assuming that info is accurate, I’d say this is a devaluation, though definitely not nearly as bad as it could have been.

If you want to book an Avios ticket soon, keep in mind that British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. There’s even a 30% transfer bonus at the moment from Chase to British Airways.

Earn Avios

Are you locking in any British Airways Executive Club awards before these partner changes?

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Comments
  1. From the text with sample fares under the FAQ section of the announcement, it looks like they’re adding surcharges which I’m guessing will make be similar to the surcharges when flying BA metal. If that’s the case then RIP Avois!

  2. This’ll be a massive devaluation for both UR and MR. Very disappointing as I have made huge use of this.

  3. UGH! BA, please don’t destory your program. You’re my go-to program for short-haul redemptions on AA. You’re my only hope being based in a DL hub. Please consider my feelings.
    Yours Truly
    – BA Loyalist (well, until you mess it up like other airlines and then i’ll move on…you’ll have to run tranfer bonuses more often to get loyalist back, etc. etc.)
    p.s. don’t be like other airlines. do your own thing!

  4. This is a drag when redeeming for JAL since they only ticket two months out (even though BA shows awards well into the future). Hopefully those inter-Asia rewards won’t get hit too hard.

  5. With airline programs systematically eliminating “sweet spots,” maybe its time to take the valuations for transferable currencies closer to to the valuations of the underlying programs (say 1.3 cents to 1.5 cents instead of your current 1.7 cents)

    Avios has been really great for last minute trips from LGA to DCA and ATL for me, I imagine that use will be destroyed

  6. AJ – Just curious, how many cash tickets have you bought from British Airways (and forgive me if you have bought a ton)? Reminds me of how many people say they love Alaska Airlines but have never set foot on Alaska metal

  7. “Airlines have to reimburse one another for award tickets booked on other airlines, so my guess is that the number of Avios charged may more closely align with the cost incurred by British Airways Executive Club.”

    Agreed, and I think this is the key to the changes. If AA moves to variable saver awards, and a flight from DCA-ORD with AA miles if going to be 25k on a busy day, no way BA wants to be stuck only collecting 7.5k Avios.

  8. Right after the Chase transfer bonus. Wow, what a mind f*ck. One step forward, two steps back. Miles game is beginning to become a joke.

  9. Cathay Pacific out of HKG is incredibly overpriced. It’s a shame b/c I used BA to book these, even using points+cash is a huge arbitrage from the CX regular prices.

  10. The fact that their own IAG redemption rates won’t be changing, and it says “previously booked tickets will continue to be honored at the old rates”, means 100% the award rates will go up.

  11. As a east coast Canadian this almost means the end of the miles game for me. If you weren’t churning credit cards for premium redemptions, converting RBC rewards to avios during promotion periods, and lowering cost of trips with short-haul flights redemptions around the world or repositioning in north america were pretty much the only low hanging fruits. If that option is eliminated I can’t see any reason to keep my RBC avion card anymore : (

  12. Good to know I’m not the only idiot who received the email and spent 15 minutes clicking every link to see what ‘the changes’ actually are. Shame on BA for not disclosing them!

  13. Yup, this sucks, and is why I never transfer points speculatively, even for bonuses.

    This hobby’s days are numbered. There’s a not-too-distant future where cash back cards (or an infrastructure like Chase Freedom Unlimited + Sapphire Reserve, netting a minimum of 2.25% back) are the only logical play.

  14. Damn it BA and CX! Intra-Asia ex-HKG looks almost certainly will be destroyed.
    And WTF no new pricing for a notice. Called and they have no idea.
    I imagine many are trapped with Iberia 50% percent bonus too.

  15. One other thing about this: AA stands out for consistent award pricing whether flying them or a partner. If BA will start to charge more for partner travel than flying on their own metal, will AA follow? And, will it be before or after AA eliminates its award chart? Sad times.

  16. Does this increase on redemptions via BA mean that also redemptions via IB will cost more Avios?

  17. This is terrible news no doubt, but something had to give. I recently needed to book a particular Thursday afternoon flight from LGA – St. Louis, about a week before travel time. It was Easter Weekend, and cash fare in economy was $500 for the one-way on American while first class was ~$750.

    I searched it on BA’s website, and while economy showed no availability, there was a first class seat available for 15,000 Avios so I booked it. No idea what BA had to pay AA for that seat, but there’s no way it was worth reclaiming 15,000 Avios from me.

    Hopefully it’s not too drastic, but we’ll see.

  18. One devaluation after the next.

    Ben, serious questions that I’d love your insights on:

    1) Are we seeing the end of the points game? Are we looking at a future with cashback cards only?

    2) When will you be revising your transferable points currency valuations? I don’t believe the current values can be justified, given the latest round of devaluations (I think they’re vastly inflated to begin with, unless one exclusively flies international business or first, but I understand that’s somewhat a matter of perspective)

    Thank you for your insights, and here’s hoping we can all get a few more redemptions out of this game before we have to call it a day and stick to Capital One and their ilk. Incredibly sad times.

  19. Might be worth booking, one year out, your award ticket now for medium and long haul destinations and pay the $55 change fee at a later time when you know what dates you need to travel. A $55 insurance fee to keep this current chart alive for the next year. I’m not sure how the $25 telephone fee comes into play.

  20. Robin,

    Not Lucky, but

    1) Miles earned by credit card spend are still useful, even at lower valuations, when augmenting miles earned by regular, cash flying
    2) Even at reduced valuations, categories like 3x-4x earning on dining, 5x on flights, etc are more valuable than most cash back cards
    3) Capital One Rewards is actually a much more relevant card in this landscape. 2% cash back of 1.5 miles per dollar on all spend is pretty simple and compelling and gives a lot of option value.

  21. Why is everyone so pessimistic? It could very well be that redeeming on partner are lower than BA. Hope they bring back 4.5k North America redemptions. Maybe they will increase the rates slight but get rid of surcharges on partners? I am staying positive and 500k avios still has value.

  22. This is too bad, as in the past month I’ve used BA points for award tickets within Oz on Qantas and within South Africa on BA (well, Comair…).

    Hopefully they don’t gut the value of awards, but gutting the programs seems to be en vogue these days.

  23. @Danny

    From the BA site: “Our new Avios prices will apply to any changes or new bookings you make after 30 May 2019”

    So if you make a change after 30 May, 2019, you’re paying the new rate; there’s no way to “lock in” the current award price if you want to make a change after the award “enhancements” take place.

  24. @ Jackie — We’re pessimistic because if these changes were positive, don’t you think they’d make that clear and give positive examples?

  25. BA can do what it wants, and I get that they don’t want to be paying through the nose for flights that are redeemed with small numbers of Avios.

    That said:
    How shameful to offer a first-ever transfer bonus from Chase to BA and then changing the prices for redemptions 8 days later.
    BA knew they’d be doing this, and Chase was in on it.

    Although probably legal, this move is supremely unethical.

  26. The conspiracy theories here are breathtaking.

    No, I do not believe that there is an evil connection between the UR 30% bonus and whatever increases these are.

    UR issued avios are simply too small a portion of all issued avios for me to believe BA was singling out those who are kvetching here.

  27. insert
    *aw sh*t, here we go again*
    meme here.
    Avios is extremely useful for base captives in HKG, MIA, TYO, for very nice short redemptions like LCY departures or my go to SHA-HKG on Cathay dragon, and on routes that is just ridiculously priced like HKD-ITM I took two weeks ago. without avios, it would change the mileage run/churn thing into a huge chore with expensive positioning and boring options.

  28. The BofA Travel Card and a rolled over 401k at ML edge (and a checking account to get the Premium Rewards) is looking like a good card strategy with 3.5% cashback on travel and dining, 2.62% on everything else.

  29. I have at least one confirmed data point that prices are increasing. DFW-ORD on AA increasing from current 7500 to 9000 miles.

    Agents are not able to share full details of new award chart yet, but they can at least quote you what the new mileage will be if you call them with a specific route in mind.

    Agent strongly implied it is not dynamic pricing, but rather a categorical (and “relatively” modest) increase across the award chart.

  30. Was thinking about speculatively transferring 100k UR to Avios but I’ll hold off until I see the new chart. Just booked on flight this wknd for May 10 – 13 / DFW to SEA for 31,000 RT for 2 People with 30% bonus. Otherwise $960 for both tickets if paid for Main Cabin or $840 Basic Economy. I’ve gotten insane value out of this program over past 6-7 years for domestic tickets on AA. Hopefully it won’t be too bad of a hit.

  31. Another data point, I was on the phone yesterday booking one way EI DUB-BOS and the agent told me system is quoting 20k for Y redemption, I argued it is supposed to be 12,5k. She agreed and told me she’ll refund the difference, but I will be charged 20k.

    So she did.

    I guess, just call in to make a dummy booking and you’ll see the new rates for your desired route.

  32. @Hristo, EI rates are not changing. DUB-BOS used to be 12.5k, but got artificially ‘moved’ a couple miles further and into the next band, so 20k is actually correct.

  33. As long as IAG doesn’t devalue IB’s award chart, that sweet spot for transatlantic J redemptions keeps Avios value quite high for me.

  34. And so it begins. It’s a wave that will never stop breaking over the next year. BA chose a different route to the same end game…dynamic pricing is going to be alliance/partner wide very soon with everyone. The end is near. Next stop on this ride will be 300K mile one way business class redemptions from JFK-LHR. Thank you, Delta. Alaska is next to fall. Just watch.

  35. Really, it is so, so sad…seems like each day more bad news comes out from one airline or another. I so enjoyed this hobby while rewards were actually attainable.

  36. It seems like BA isn’t actually going revenue based on Gary Leff at view from the wing

    A glimmer of hope remains perhaps?

  37. BA EC has never been any good for long-haul flights, and marginal for medium-haul. It has been good for short-haul both on partners and BA metal. It is also notorious for loading on eye-watering surcharges for their redemptions making them a reduced value proposition.
    Wil be interesting to see if IB gets the same treatment; my guess is that their hand will be forced.

  38. The high surcharge has kept me from using AS miles on BA anyway. Luckily, I have still had plenty of UA miles to use on LH. However, those are running out so I need a good way to use AS from SEA to Europe. I haven’t heard of any good options :(.

  39. Be interesting to see what happens with LATAM, e.g Galapagos and Easter Island flights which have always represented amazing value for money (some of my previous redemptions) and generally flights over South America.

    With the Amex changes and now this – they are killing Avios.

  40. @Anthony: is it a requirement to have to have set foot on an airline before you can like some of the services they offer? You know an airline still gets a lot of money out of customers who’ve never flown with them. Don’t be a snob.

  41. @ William Bailey
    “I’ve gotten insane value out of this program over past 6-7 years”

    Which is why it’s being changed. Insanity is a bad thing.

    @ Thanh
    “an airline still gets a lot of money out of customers who’ve never flown with them”

    Now that’s a radical proposition. But if an airline is losing money on every seat it has to buy from a partner, the more seats it sells (the more money it brings in from this activity) the bigger its losses.

    At a time when lots of European airlines are going bust, IAG makes a profit. You can accuse them of many things, but being crap at making money in the airline business is not one of them.

    I don’t suppose the primary purpose of *any* airline loyalty programme is to encourage loyalty to a different airline.

  42. @Mike: From a UK perspective is already game over for points collecting. With the recent changes to Amex – massively restricting what sign up bonuses you are eligible for depending on what cards you already hold, coupled with moving the *spend* goalposts and reducing the signup bonuses which are available, alongside also reducing the referal bonus, it’s now very difficult to earn substantial amounts of points. Considering we don’t have categories of spend which give multiple points, and the highest signup bonus available being 30k on Platinum, it’s game over.

  43. I thought it would be only 4% increase. Am I missing something?

    “From 30 May 2019 Avios prices on reward flights with the following partner airlines will increase by as little as 4%”
    https://www.britishairways.com/en-us/executive-club/news/air-partner-changes?

    “The increase will depend on the route, cabin and the partner airline you’re booking. ”
    4500 + 4% will be 4680 avios (“180” avios increase)
    7500 + 4% will be 7800 avios (“300” avios increase)

    Not like that?

  44. @ John — “By as little as.” That means that’s the absolute minimum increase.

  45. @Lucky
    Thank you for clarifying.
    On some foreign countries’ BA website, it was translated to equivalent of “only”.

    I assume you are right despite how it’s written on foreign pages since BA is based in English speaking country.

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