While there are many reasons to love British Midland’s Diamond Club program, one of my favorites has to be their ability to make changes with a) no formal annoucement b) no advance notice c) so ambiguous that no one has any clue what they’re talking about.
Case in point, British Midland has just added the following to their award redemption chart:
Where the only available routing on an award flight takes you via a higher zone a surcharge will be applied – 15,000 miles each way for Economy, 22,500 miles each way for Business Class, and 37,500 miles each way for First Class.
Now, I don’t think anyone actually knows exactly what that means, though I’ll take a stab at it. British Midland has a “zone based” award chart, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on where you’re traveling to.
Historically, there are some destinations that savvy Diamond Club members favor due to British Midland’s award pricing. Kathmandu, for example, is one of them. Why? Because it’s technically in zone 10, while the only practical way to get there is via Bangkok, which is in zone 7. Starting in Europe, for example, an award from zone 1 (London) to zone 7 (Bangkok) would cost 120,000 miles roundtrip in business class, while an award from zone 1 (London) to zone 10 (Kathmandu) via zone 7 (Bangkok) would only be 75,000 miles roundtrip in business class. Best of all, you could add a stopover in Bangkok, so save 45,000 miles by continuing on to Kathmandu.
So I’m guessing that’s the intent here. However, there are several things that make this confusing. For one, they list this under the “miles required for a return flight in business or first” tab, while this apparently also applies to economy. Second, what do they really mean by saying “where the only available routing takes you via a higher zone?” Does that refer to the zone number or the cost of the award in miles? Beyond that, what about the cases where you can legally connect in another zone to get somewhere. It wouldn’t make sense not to charge the surcharge then, but to charge the surcharge when there’s no other option.
British Midland also charges a 10,000 mile premium for every award segment in Lufthansa first class, so combining a two segment award in Lufthansa first class with the above new restriction, you’re potentially looking at 95,000 miles in “surcharges” alone for a roundtrip. And that doesn’t include the actual cost of the award or the fuel surcharges and taxes.