Another one bites the dust…
In 2015, British Airways made significant changes to the Executive Club loyalty program, mostly around how many points you’ll need for just about everything. While many airlines have devalued their charts multiple times in the time between, British Airways hasn’t. Unfortunately, the airline has just announced that-that’s changing, at least when it comes to redeeming Avios on other airlines. And yes, that’s something you can do and it’s been one of the best ways to use your BA points…
To say this is a cynical move is being far too polite.
Sadly, not much when it comes to actual numbers. But we know the date, which is May 30th, and we know which airlines you’ll need to burn more points to fly on. This is the correspondence directly from British Airways.
“From 30 May 2019, we’ll be changing our Avios prices on reward flights with 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.”
This is a shame, given the fact that the rates British Airways has charged in Avios have never been wildly lucrative. The ability to use points at semi decent rates on partner airlines was a very key value proposition to the entire game.
To be abundantly clear: you can still book flights using Avios at the current rates, even for travel after May 30th. The only key is that you book before May 30th, when the new pricing will take shape.
Upgrade rates will be changing as well, but only for travel on American Airlines, which makes sense because it’s the only other airline you can use Avios for upgrades on anyway. The new pricing will be the difference in Avios cost between the two cabins, which is exactly the same as the way it is on British Airways own flights. That bit could be good news. Maybe.
British Airways own flights are not being impacted and the amount of Avios you’ll need for any flight actually flown by British Airways won’t be changing on May 30th. With that said, the airline is trialling new options where you can use increased Avios Points to reduce the taxes. In other words, you’ll still be able to redeem at the same rates, but you may also be able to use more points to eliminate much of the cash component too.
No word on when this will go live on a larger scale, if the trials prove to be successful.
Devaluations Are Never Fun
Airlines are constantly retooling their loyalty programs and unfortunately devaluations are an all too familiar part of that game. Of the 10 best ways to use Avios, many of them are on partner airlines where you can enjoy excellent value with lower taxes, in places all over the world. Seeing those rates go up is just not a bit cool.
To give British Airways credit, it’s nice to see a limited window in which these redemptions can still be booked at the classic rate, versus airlines like Delta and United whom have chosen to engage in this sort of behaviour with overnight, stealth devaluations which leave people holding the bag. Still, it’s not good, especially in the year of 100 acts of kindness from the airline. This certainly isn’t one of them.