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 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%.
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.
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?