Earlier in the year British Airways announced a substantial devaluation to their Executive Club program. These changes kick in as of April 28, 2015, which is a week from today.
I thoroughly covered all the changes when the devaluation was first announced, so check out that post if you haven’t seen it or need a refresh of the changes.
There are things you can do to maximize the redemption side of things over the next week, so I’ll focus on that in this post.
As a reminder, British Airways has a (roughly) distance based award chart. Here’s the current award chart, which is valid for bookings through next week (prices shown are one-way):
Meanwhile here’s the new award chart, which will kick in for bookings made as of April 28, 2015 (notice how it has off-peak and peak travel dates):
With that in mind, what action should you take with your British Airways Avios over the next week?
Awards you don’t have to book now
From the perspective of a US points collector, the single greatest selling point of Avios is how useful they are for short-haul award redemptions. Given the distance based award chart, Executive Club charges the following for short-haul redemptions:
- 4,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1-650 miles
- 7,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 651-1,151 miles
- 10,000 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1,152-2,000 miles
The important thing to keep in mind is that the single best use of Avios isn’t changing with the devaluation — you can continue to redeem Avios for short-haul economy redemptions at the same cost as before.
Are those redemptions aspirational? No. But they’re practical, especially as the cost of last minute domestic airfare continues to rise. I redeem Avios for domestic tickets multiple times a month, and can never have enough Avios.
For that matter, the cost of all economy partner awards is staying the same, so if you’re looking to redeem for an economy flight, there’s no need to book now.
Awards you should wait to book
There are a very small subset of flights going down in price. Specifically, select off-peak awards will be cheaper under the new chart than they are under the current chart. Keep in mind that off-peak awards apply exclusively for travel on British Airways/Iberia, so these aren’t useful for partner award redemptions.
Furthermore, short-haul off-peak business class awards on British Airways go down in price (specifically for travel of up to 2,000 miles one-way).
For reference, here’s a calendar which shows which dates are considered peak and which are considered off-peak (about eight months of the year are off-peak):
Awards you should book now
That leaves us with the awards you should book within the next week… which is everything not mentioned above. In other words, now is the time to book premium cabin awards on British Airways’ partner airlines, as they’re increasing in price almost across the board.
Here are a few of my favorite redemptions:
- 25,000 Avios for one-way business class on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin, which is possibly the single best award value for transatlantic travel
- For the most part there are no fuel surcharges for travel on LAN and TAM, so booking travel to/from/within South America in business class is an excellent value
- Aside from Aer Lingus, the other best transatlantic business class value is on airberlin, as they don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions
- While Cathay Pacific longhaul business class redemptions aren’t that great of a value (given the distance based award chart), Avios can be incredibly valuable for short-haul travel within Asia and to Australia, the Middle East, etc.
Aer Lingus’ new business class
Lots of ways to earn Avios
As a reminder, if you want to make an Executive Club redemption but don’t have quite enough Avios, worry not! British Airways is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Here are some of the best ways to transfer points from Executive Club:
If you’re looking at making a premium cabin redemption on a partner airline, you should absolutely aim to redeem your Avios within the next week.
If you’re looking to book on Aer Lingus, I’d recommend doing so sooner rather than later. Aer Lingus awards need to be booked by phone with British Airways Executive Club, and hold times are consistently extremely long. I’m sure they will only get worse as the devaluation date approaches.
Personally I’m very tempted to redeem for another award in Aer Lingus business class, given that they have a new business class product and have improved their service model. I just have to lock in dates now…
Meanwhile if you’re looking at an economy partner award, there’s no rush to book. And in some cases, the cost of British Airways-metal off-peak awards will be going down.
Do you have any awards you’re hoping to book before the Executive Club devaluation?