British Airways Massively Reduces Award Surcharges

British Airways Massively Reduces Award Surcharges

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As flagged by God Save the Points, British Airways Executive Club has completely overhauled long haul award tickets, and it’s good news. While you can still book long haul awards the same way as before, you now have the option of paying significantly less cash and more Avios.

British Airways reduces Avios award surcharges

British Airways is known for its incredibly high surcharges on award tickets, in addition to taxes and fees. For example a roundtrip business class award ticket from New York to London would cost you $1,500+, in addition to the Avios required.

Well, British Airways is giving members an option for avoiding this. The good news is that if you don’t like this system, you don’t have to use it, as the old pricing can still apply. This is just intended to be a new option for members, and it’s available to anyone who has collected any number of Avios in the past 12 months.

Years ago the airline introduced the “Reward Flight Saver” concept on short haul flights, whereby you pay a low, flat fee to cover taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges. This concept has up until now only been available on short haul flights, but is now expanding to long haul flights.

British Airways has drastically lowered carrier imposed surcharges on award tickets when booking this option, and now you’ll just pay a fixed fee in addition to the Avios. This fixed fee includes all taxes and fees, including the UK Air Passenger Duty.

What are the new cash co-pays like with long haul Reward Flight Saver tickets? Here’s the roundtrip pricing in business class (it differs based on where you originate), and if flying one-way you’ll pay exactly half of this amount:

  • New York to London will cost you $700, while London to New York will cost you £350
  • Los Angeles to London will cost you $900, while London to Los Angeles will cost you £450

Below are some further examples of the new pricing.

British Airways’ new award pricing originating in the UK
British Airways’ new award pricing originating in the USA
British Airways has greatly reduced award surcharges

British Airways increases Avios required for awards

With the introduction of the Reward Flight Saver concept on long haul flights, British Airways has also significantly raised the number of Avios required for long haul award tickets booked this way. Let me once again emphasize that you can still book with the old pricing if you’d like, as this is just a further redemption option.

For example, here’s how some one-way off-peak business class award costs have changed with the Reward Flight Saver system:

  • London to New York used to cost 50,000 Avios, and now costs 80,000 Avios
  • London to Los Angeles used to cost 62,500 Avios, and now costs 90,000 Avios
  • London to Singapore used to cost 87,500 Avios, and now costs 110,000 Avios
  • London to Sydney used to cost 125,000 Avios, and now costs 145,000 Avios

As you can see, the increases vary significantly, ranging from 16% to 60%.

The number of Avios required for awards has increased

Is this change good or bad news?

Since this is just an additional option and you don’t have to book this way, it goes without saying that this is good news.

My initial reaction is that this is an appealing new way to redeem Avios. At least that’s true for those in the United States (as we’re hit with the highest surcharges) plus those in the United Kingdom (since they’re on the hook for the UK Air Passenger Duty). Meanwhile the news is less good for those in the rest of Europe, who had lower surcharges and didn’t have to pay the UK APD when connecting.

For example, if originating in the United States:

  • A one-way New York to London award went from costing 50,000 Avios and $879 to costing 80,000 Avios and $350; in other words, you’re paying an extra 30,000 Avios to save $529, so you’re getting 1.76 cents per additional Avios spent
  • A one-way Los Angeles to London award went from costing 62,500 Avios and $879 to costing 90,000 Avios and $350; in other words, you’re paying an extra 27,500 Avios to save $529, so you’re getting 1.92 cents per additional Avios spent

Based on the examples I’ve seen so far, it seems that in general you’re essentially offsetting surcharges at roughly the rate of 1.5-2 cents per Avios. I’d say that’s a good deal, especially when you consider how easy Avios are to earn, and that there are often transfer bonuses from major transferable points currencies.

Some are probably wondering if these lower surcharges also apply when booking through partner programs. Unfortunately don’t expect that — the fuel surcharges on tickets haven’t changed as such, but rather Executive Club’s pricing has just changed for some award options.

Just as before, the same fuel surcharges appear on revenue tickets, and that’s how other airlines determine their surcharges. So you’ll still pay the same as before through American AAdvantage, Alaska Mileage Plan, etc.

I’d consider these changes to be positive, on balance

Bottom line

British Airways has introduced an exciting new option for long haul redemptions. While you can still book the same way as before, British Airways has introduced the Reward Flight Saver concept on long haul flights. This means you can choose to pay a fixed cash amount in addition to any Avios.

My initial impression is that this will be a better value for members under most circumstances, as the reduction in surcharges more than makes up for the increase in Avios. That’s especially true for those in the USA and UK, while in other regions this may be less good of a value.

What do you make of these British Airways Executive Club Reward Flight Saver changes?

Conversations (51)
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  1. jono Guest

    Ben, this needs to be deleted and rewritten. It was a large overnight devaluation. I priced out PIT>LHR on Monday and it was 13K Avios + $183. Today I went to book it and it is 25K Avios + $184. There is no option to book at the old rates. If I want to spend 13K avios, the total taxes and fees are $425.65. I was also checking NYC>LON and same. So either way it...

    Ben, this needs to be deleted and rewritten. It was a large overnight devaluation. I priced out PIT>LHR on Monday and it was 13K Avios + $183. Today I went to book it and it is 25K Avios + $184. There is no option to book at the old rates. If I want to spend 13K avios, the total taxes and fees are $425.65. I was also checking NYC>LON and same. So either way it is a devaluation. I can either spend 12K more avios or $240 more in taxes and fees. I called and spoke with 3 agents and none of them could do anything about it. No supervisors available because: British Airways. I have a flight I wanted to book tomorrow and now I'm having to use AA with a connection instead of nonstop with BA. I want you to write the article saying BA f***** up so maybe one of the employees at BA will notice and fix this today.

  2. jonlo Guest

    Yeah, no. I wanted a simple economy flight from Pittsburgh to London. Two days ago this was 13K Avios and 183.50 taxes and fees, which is a decent deal compared to $900 cash for a one way. Now, it is 25K and 183.50 taxes and fees. Um... That is the opposite of a reduction. The price went up 12k Avios overnight with the same taxes and fees.

  3. Points Adventure Guest

    { A one-way Los Angeles to London award went from costing 62,500 Avios and $879 to costing 90,000 Avios and $350 }

    It's laughable that this could even be considered a halfway decent deal, when you can book the same and many more connecting options for 57.5k AA + ~$50.

    1. Points Adventure Guest

      I mean non-BA flights.

    2. philco Guest

      While I agree the headline here is way, way, way too positive and ignores the many, many issues with this new scheme including the fact that US BAEC accounts are now saddled with ex-US surcharges even when a flight departs from a non-US location. However, the example you give isn't that awful in my opinion. You are basically getting 1.9 cent US of value per Avios to pay down the surcharges (I think most folks...

      While I agree the headline here is way, way, way too positive and ignores the many, many issues with this new scheme including the fact that US BAEC accounts are now saddled with ex-US surcharges even when a flight departs from a non-US location. However, the example you give isn't that awful in my opinion. You are basically getting 1.9 cent US of value per Avios to pay down the surcharges (I think most folks would say 1.9 cents of value is pretty good). Sure that isn't as good as AA for 57.5k but try to find J on AA metal TATL (I can pretty much get J everyday of the week from my city on BA). AA award chart is something of an outlier at this point so yeah if you can find the space AA is going to be a better deal for sure. Also Avios are easier to accumulate than AA miles. I transferred a bunch of MR over and got a 40% bonus.

  4. AlanD Guest

    Agree about this being a most unusually misleading post, Lucky! It’s just an option to use Avios instead of cash; not a decrease in surcharges.

    This makes me feel even better value in using 16.5k + $5.60 Avios yesterday at 5 day’s notice to buy an AA flight from CLT-MIA on a 777 in flat bed J! AA wanted 13.5k in Y!

    1. sgm111222 Member

      Totally agree with your statement!

  5. Richard Guest

    Avios are good for anything other than a BA flight. BA shouldn't have bothered.

  6. Seattle Todd Guest

    Really disappointed in the headline to this article. Not only is is clickbait, it's misleading.

    Ben, this is not like you -- you've always published the most straightforward, most helpful articles. I actually wasted time trying to make sure I wasn't missing something because it was clear from reading your article that they did NOT reduce surcharges, just started provided an alternative way to pay for them other than cash.

    Please update the headline. I...

    Really disappointed in the headline to this article. Not only is is clickbait, it's misleading.

    Ben, this is not like you -- you've always published the most straightforward, most helpful articles. I actually wasted time trying to make sure I wasn't missing something because it was clear from reading your article that they did NOT reduce surcharges, just started provided an alternative way to pay for them other than cash.

    Please update the headline. I have never posted a message like this on your site, but this instance crossed the line.

  7. Alan Guest

    Nope, rates are still ludicrously high. I agree it suits the US more with very generous Avios earning and recurrent 25% transfer bonuses, etc - but they really haven't reduced the fees, they've just offered an option to pay these silly fees with Avios.

  8. Anameofaguy Guest

    Holy crap. What do you mean surcharges went down? Was hoping to rebook an award flight. A week ago was peak 91500+$378 is now 116250+$384. Nearly 30% higher. The off-peak day I was going to book was 72500+$378 is now 105000+$384 or 44% more. YIKES guess avios are dead to me.

    1. Anameofaguy Guest

      From my email receipt last week:

      Avios points debited 182500
      Payment Total USD 758.96

      Today same ticket (2seats)
      232500 Avios + $ 768.62

  9. Bob Guest

    The most insulting thing with old avios was one year when I priced a rt jfk-lhr business at whatever points it was plus $1300 on fees and taxes. I then went on BA site and price a revenue ticket for the exact same flight and it was $1250....smh

  10. Bob Guest

    It's pretty close to flying blue I guess. I still wouldn't pick BA long haul because overall it's still more costly and I much rather fly air France or klm over ba. But a slightly more appealing option is good for those occasions when 1 option promo is better than the other. For people complaining that it's no change because you pay more points. Well you're all here because you're points warriors right? So reasonable...

    It's pretty close to flying blue I guess. I still wouldn't pick BA long haul because overall it's still more costly and I much rather fly air France or klm over ba. But a slightly more appealing option is good for those occasions when 1 option promo is better than the other. For people complaining that it's no change because you pay more points. Well you're all here because you're points warriors right? So reasonable to assume you should know how to game the points in your favor whereas a high tax/fee is not very malleable.

  11. Robert Guest

    I've been pricing out a OW from BNA to LHR for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday it was coming in at 5,700 Avios plus $ 350 (or so). Today the price has gone up to 5700 Avios plus $ 418. In fact all the pricing options have increased significantly. Can't see anyway to book with yesterday's pricing.... Maybe this is a one off but I don't think this is a good development..

  12. Robert Guest

    This is a non starter for me. I have plenty of Avios, but for use at Qatar and Iberia. I don’t typically fly BA as there are many other options to get me where I’m going.

  13. ArnoldB Guest

    Sorry but this is complete clickbait nonsense. They did NOT "massively reduce award surcharges", they just offer you to optionally pay Avios instead now.

    1. Bob Guest

      Well you like the rest of us are points warriors right? So instead of paying $400 on fees you end up churning a card for the points to pay it, isn't that a big benefit to you? It's not a benefit for those who don't understand the game but I would assume you do if you're here.

  14. ben zenize Guest

    and you still have to pay a few hundred more to choose your Club World (business) seat in advance.

    If you don't pay, you'll surely get stuck in the less than desirable middle seats.

  15. Firsttotheleft Guest

    I just booked round trip in first SEA to LHR a few weeks ago. Wonder if they could re ticket it with the new pricing? Way rather spend Avios than money. That would be what, like a $1000 refund? And certainly makes my companion vouchers worth a lot more.

    1. Anameofaguy Guest

      Check the route. For me the avios went up 37% at the same fees.

    2. Firsttotheleft Guest

      I just realized the new plan doesn’t apply to first class bookings. Never mind. Gues it will help if I’m forced to fly biz for some reason.

  16. Firsttotheleft Guest

    I just booked round trip in first SEA to LHR a few weeks ago. Wonder if they could re ticket it with the new pricing? Way rather spend Avios than money. That would be what, like a $1000 refund?

    1. JAXBA New Member

      Not sure, you might be asked to cancel and rebook subject to availability - your cancelled space may not go back into redemption inventory though, so only proceed if space is still available to book before you cancel.

    2. Firsttotheleft Guest

      Yeah I figured. I do this often but it is terrifying as seats in first are gold to me.

  17. Trevor Guest

    This seems to apply to Aer Lingus Avios awards as well. Overnight a PHL-DUB (Off Peak) has gone from 13,000/50,000 to 25,000/80,000. Only a minor drop in the cash outlay.

  18. Dennis singh Guest

    Any idea how the travel together ticket will work. Thank you

    1. JAXBA New Member

      That's what I came to look for too, surprised the 241 isn't covered in this article.

      Previously Chase 241s haven't had pricing options like the new UK 241s have, just the older 'standard award chart' Avios price, and full TFCs. If we get pricing options now, then possibly okay. If we don't get options BUT the new fixed price is comparably inflated then ouch!

  19. Nun Guest

    I feel like the headline is inaccurate. Why not indicate you can now pay more avios in lieu of cash? That's what it really is.

    1. sam Guest

      I completely agree with Nun. I think Ben is wrong claiming that this new deal is better for customers. This massive increase in required Avios is hugely detrimental to those of us who only travel occasionally, and have to rely mostly on credit card bonus avios to make an award ticket on BA. I don't know whether or not the community here is aware of the pending bill in Congress that could potentially greatly reduce...

      I completely agree with Nun. I think Ben is wrong claiming that this new deal is better for customers. This massive increase in required Avios is hugely detrimental to those of us who only travel occasionally, and have to rely mostly on credit card bonus avios to make an award ticket on BA. I don't know whether or not the community here is aware of the pending bill in Congress that could potentially greatly reduce the ability of major banks to offer generous bonus miles. Of course I would agree that BA "so called carrier charges" are completely outrageous but almost doubling the avios requirement makes it far more difficult to get an award ticket in business class.

    2. Krejmie Guest

      Fully agree. If you look at UK blogs (like Head for Points), no one is getting excited. The all in price is pretty much what it used to be and some routes are worse (like the Hong Kong example).

    3. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

      I would agree the post title is inaccurate.

  20. Dan Guest

    I think you mean LAX-LHR is now 90000 Avios and $450, not $350

  21. Russ Guest

    A big nothing, total BS. I've been trying to get rid of my Avois for years. BA is a failed business model IMHO.

  22. Mark Feeley Guest

    Essentially just a change in how the ridiculous cost is charged. Still very expensive and still terrible service and product. From US perspective I think worse given FX rates. I am gold for life and haven’t flown BA in years due to poor product

    1. Khatl Diamond

      My issue is not the product, which has improved massively. The reduction in surcharges may, just may, convince me to take a flight. But whereas before my issue was the massive surcharges (and somewhat ok redemption rates), my issue now is that the redemption rates are now far worse and the surcharges are still high. Which means the better redemption rates on AF, KLM, Iberia etc. are even greater, albeit the surcharges are now more...

      My issue is not the product, which has improved massively. The reduction in surcharges may, just may, convince me to take a flight. But whereas before my issue was the massive surcharges (and somewhat ok redemption rates), my issue now is that the redemption rates are now far worse and the surcharges are still high. Which means the better redemption rates on AF, KLM, Iberia etc. are even greater, albeit the surcharges are now more comparable (at least for AF, KLM). The best options, by far, remain Iberia and Turkish.

    2. Jon Lombardini New Member

      Wait 'til you look for availability and realize that the taxes and fees are just as high as they've always been and the only thing that has changed is that the number of Avios required is now significantly higher.

  23. JoeSchmo Guest

    It seems like a scratch. And I'm opposite of the Airfarer. I'd rather "pay" more Avios than cash. Now where's my 40% transfer bonus...

    1. Joe Guest

      Yup. Me too.
      Seems like a lot of folks here haven't really learned the points game as much as they think. I don't care if it costs an extra 20-50k avios. I'll figure out a way to get them without costing me $100.

  24. John T Guest

    BA haven't reduced their fuel surcharges. They are just giving an extra option to pay more Avios and less cash. There are no changes to normal redemption levels.

  25. Brian Guest

    I recently booked a one way First Class award ticket from BRU-LHR-IAD for 85k and $382. I couldn't believe it

  26. Alex Guest

    This increases the value prop of the Chase BA card award flight statement credit significantly, for me at least

    1. Raylan Guest

      This was my first thought too. The cash surcharges were ludicrous before and are now merely high. $200 off of $600 in surcharges is much more valuable to me in terms of viability than $200 off of $1400 in surcharges.

  27. Pete Diamond

    Are the other avios programs (Iberia, Qatar) affected by this?

  28. Jules Guest

    Is this another case of a no-notice change to the Avios program? Or did BA announce this previously and I just missed it?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jules -- Correct, no notice, but sadly that's nothing new for Executive Club.

  29. John Guest

    I guess if you value an Avios mile at .015 or less this is a win but the value in 180k and $900 to fly TPA to LGW in Business when so many other options with a connection are available at a significant savings make this a tough sell. I also don't see off-peak pricing, but it is noted as an off-peak award and I'm wondering if all the mileage bands just got re-worked.....

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ John -- I hear you, though presumably the previous pricing of 125K Avios plus $1,800 was also a tough sell, no?

  30. Airfarer Diamond

    As you say, Avios are easy to accumulate. The lower surcharge and increased Avios will likely mean less seat availability and more people will be in business, reducing options. I wonder if BAs recent 'buy Avios on monthly subscription' has influenced this.
    On a purely selfish basis, I prefer the old way.

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Anameofaguy Guest

Holy crap. What do you mean surcharges went down? Was hoping to rebook an award flight. A week ago was peak 91500+$378 is now 116250+$384. Nearly 30% higher. The off-peak day I was going to book was 72500+$378 is now 105000+$384 or 44% more. YIKES guess avios are dead to me.

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jono Guest

Ben, this needs to be deleted and rewritten. It was a large overnight devaluation. I priced out PIT>LHR on Monday and it was 13K Avios + $183. Today I went to book it and it is 25K Avios + $184. There is no option to book at the old rates. If I want to spend 13K avios, the total taxes and fees are $425.65. I was also checking NYC>LON and same. So either way it is a devaluation. I can either spend 12K more avios or $240 more in taxes and fees. I called and spoke with 3 agents and none of them could do anything about it. No supervisors available because: British Airways. I have a flight I wanted to book tomorrow and now I'm having to use AA with a connection instead of nonstop with BA. I want you to write the article saying BA f***** up so maybe one of the employees at BA will notice and fix this today.

3
Seattle Todd Guest

Really disappointed in the headline to this article. Not only is is clickbait, it's misleading. Ben, this is not like you -- you've always published the most straightforward, most helpful articles. I actually wasted time trying to make sure I wasn't missing something because it was clear from reading your article that they did NOT reduce surcharges, just started provided an alternative way to pay for them other than cash. Please update the headline. I have never posted a message like this on your site, but this instance crossed the line.

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