Updated on January 23, 2016
British Airways Avios, like most points, have their pros and cons. If you want long-haul, premium travel, don’t even think about using Avios. Between the absurd pay-by-segment pricing coupled with outrageous fuel surcharges for flights, it makes no sense.
For instance, even if you do have the penchant for flying British Airways First Class (which is more like business class anyway…), it still makes sense to use AA miles. Look at the example below (although it’s not even that absurd):
British airways is going to charge you 5,500 more miles (Avios) for the exact same flight. If you fly American Airlines instead on the same route, you’ll also save over $400 without the fuel surcharges.
With all this said, there are a few places where Avios really, really shine; short-haul, non-stop travel.
Under the current BA rules, flights between 1-650 miles can be purchased for 4,500 Avios in economy (for travel in the US, it’d be on their OneWorld partner, American Airlines). Considering the US carriers will charge you 10,000-12,500 for the same flights, it was quite the steal! I actually have one of these 4,500 Avios, one-way flights next Thursday from Wilmington (ILM) – LaGuardia (LGA)! It was a $400 flight, so I’d say I got a pretty good deal!
Anyways, this morning British Airways emailed their Executive Club members to let them know that starting February 2nd, 2016, the 4,500 Avios redemptions will officially be gone for travel in the USA! This is for any travel that begins or terminates in the US. This means the ever-popular JFK-YYZ (Toronto) route will also be affected by this!
Flights between 651 – 1,151 miles cost 7,500 Avios right now. With the new program, all flights from 1-1,151 will now cost 7,500 Avios. This also means the elimination of 9,000 mile one-way domestic first class awards – which is still a heck of a value.
This effectively makes those short-haul flights increase by 67% – that’s not good.
If you were already using Avios for direct flights just over 1,000 miles (such as PHL-MSY, for example), this probably won’t affect you much, and you’re still getting a decent deal….so….yay?
No matter how you slice it, this change has trickle-down effects. This, in turn, devalues the flexible rewards currencies such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood points. I will absolutely be transferring less UR points to BA now with one of my favorite redemptions gone!
How do you feel about the news? Does this affect your miles strategy or short-haul flying?