Yesterday was a big day if you collect British Airways Avios, have a BA Amex, or Chase British Airways Visa Card. A lot changed. I’d argue, almost all for the better, unless you play niche games. I hate high cash fees, and a modest increase in points cost to offset seems reasonable.
Anyway, people immediately came to me with a number of questions and I’ve tried to drill down to the important stuff, and what still has people a bit confused. Here are a few answers you might find helpful, based on the changes.
I also found the reactions really funny.
If you don’t like the new pricing, you can still access the old pricing.
This allows you to pay more cash and fewer Avios like the old days if you really want to. I’d rather pay less cash, personally, which is why I welcome the changes.
If you have a financial product, such as a BA Amex or Chase BA Card, your card just got more valuable,
Since surcharges are lower and you still get 50% off the Avios price when you earn a voucher, you’re coming out circa 15% ahead of where you were yesterday.
The cost of living crisis is real outside of Flyertalk.
People in the UK who last week needed to pay a minimum of £857 per person for an aspirational business class trip to USA can now pay £700 for not one, but two people total — and US customers now pay $700 per person, rather than $1500 plus. They need more points, but it’s easier to earn more points than more cash these days.
Amex Vouchers can now be used for Iberia & Aer Lingus flights.
These airlines have low Avios costs and low surcharges too. If you are cranky AF about the changes and want to ‘stick it to the man”, fly Iberia from Madrid for peanuts.
Surcharge pricing is about where your account is based. Simple.
If you’re based in the USA, a business class flight from the East Coast will cost $350 each way, and will always be quoted in dollars. If you’re in the UK, it’ll be £350 round trip, or £175 each way for business to East Coast USA, or places like Dubai.
One way’s will price at £175 which is a H-U-G-E improvement over previous pricing and odd variations on one ways between places.
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Despite all this, which hopefully I’ve added clarity to, people were trying to argue that these were really negative changes for everyone without a 2-4-1 voucher to use with their Avios.
In a slightly negative article I found these reactions from our friends (truly, I like them a lot) Head For Points very funny. Let’s see how much worse things turn out with the big changes, in their words…
For people without an Amex 2-4-1 voucher (for New York)…
As you can (see), virtually nothing has changed.
The ‘Avios rich but cash poor’ benefit from being able to use more Avios and less money. However, the marginal cost of being able to do that is poor. You ‘save’ £500 in taxes by using 60,000 extra Avios – not a deal I would personally make.
For everyone else it is the same. Booking yesterday with a pot of 100,000 Avios required £853 of taxes and charges, and today it requires £850.Head For Points
For people with an Amex 2-4-1 voucher…
It is clearly good news IF you have an American Express 2-4-1 voucher to burn AND you have 160,000 Avios to make the booking. Your booking has got around 15% cheaper when you look at the combined cash and Avios required.
If you only have 100,000 Avios in your account, nothing changes. You’re no better and you’re no worse off. Your 2-4-1 booking will still cost you £850 each in taxes and charges, plus 100,000 Avios.Head For Points
I just don’t see a world where these are negative changes, based on how many new avenues to earn Avios now exist, and how much higher new card ‘welcome bonuses’ are. And again, if you want to pay the old prices for a redemption, you can.
Plus, the UK Amex voucher can now be used as a single person supplement, which reduces the Avios by 50% for one, so you now get a ticket for much lower surcharges and pay fewer Avios too. I hope Chase follows in the USA.
How can one be shocked that a loyalty program actually wants you to engage with its products and airlines to benefit the most? Can anyone really argue against that with a serious face?
Only in the echo chamber of Flyertalk can people see having exactly the same choices they had yesterday, with new options which make things more affordable for people who don’t earn as much cash — as a bad thing.
There are legitimate implications for accounts based outside of the UK and US which I hope are addressed, but if you’re not one of those, I just don’t get it.
There are niche examples of having old style vouchers that have different pricing now, but I’ve always advocated for people to spend their points and their vouchers. They’re not savings accounts — points are typically depreciating assets. See: half the posts on GSTP ever, about devaluations, changes and opportunities closing.
If you don’t save them up for years, changes aren’t as impactful and you’ll get more travel joy in the meantime. God, Spend The Damn Points!