Uh oh. It’s never good to see a devaluation in an airlines frequent flyer program, but what’s even worse is a devaluation that could almost double the amount of miles required for an award ticket.
As many are aware, the British Airways Avios program only charges 4,500 Avios for a one-way journey within their zone 1, which includes any leg 0-650 miles in length. For a round-trip journey, this is 9,000 Avios. This is a fantastic deal, since round-trip economy class mileage fares on most US airlines are 25,000 miles round-trip. Since British Airways is a transfer partner of Starwood points, Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, it’s very easy to accumulate miles to burn on these short-haul journeys. For example, a one-way between DCA and JFK can easily run $300 round-trip, if not more, because it is such a business traveler heavy route. With Avios, you can have that same flight for next to nothing.
Along with British Airways, Iberia, the Spanish flagship carrier, also uses the same rewards system. The programs are jointly owned and use the Avios miles (though, they are kept in either program and aren’t “linked”). Just today, Iberia updated their website with a new award chart for using Iberia Avios on American Airlines flights.
Take a look at the economy mileage for flights 0-650 miles in length…see anything worrisome? Yep, that’s right. The journey that used to cost you only 9,000 miles round-trip is now going to cost you 19,500 miles.
Myself, and many other people use Avios to get to a gateway city to depart on a long haul award ticket, or simply to avoid the high fares on such business lucrative markets. With this change, using Avios may no longer the “go-to” option, if British Airways takes the same path as their partner Iberia and jacks their mileage requirements up, too. While British Airway’s website still displays the old award chart, this is a concerning change in the mileage community, and I’m worried that a change for BA may be in the works…or worse, just waiting on someone to update their website. I don’t have any other insider information to confirm or deny this, though I’ll be doing some heavy research to find out if anyone else does.
With this possible pending change, if you are considering using any BA Avios for short haul redemptions, I’d suggest booking them NOW.
Do you think British Airways will follow their partner Ibera with these changes?
Tip of the hat to Gary at View from the Wing
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