Late last month British Airways warned that it was changing its pricing for booking most partners when using Avios. And while these award chart updates are rarely a good thing, the airline never actually announced how pricing would change.
Well, the new award chart is finally live after new pricing took effect today, Thursday, May 30. And while it's bad news for booking short-haul flights in the U.S. on American Airlines, it's mostly … not that bad! British Airways sets pricing based on the distance of your one-way flight, so use GCmap.com to calculate it.
Here's a look at the new award chart. This applies to travel on most British Airways 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). It does not apply to Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling, and of course British Airways itself.
|Miles Traveled (one way)||Old Economy Rate||New Economy Rate||Old Premium Economy Rate||New Premium Economy Rate||Old Business Rate||New Business Rate||Old First Class Rate||New First Class Rate|
|1 - 650 miles||4,500 Avios||6,000 Avios||6,750 Avios||9,000 Avios||9,000 Avios||12,500 Avios||18,000 Avios||24,000 Avios|
|651 - 1,150 miles||7,500 Avios||9,000 Avios||11,250 Avios||12,500 Avios||15,000 Avios||16,500 Avios||30,000 Avios||33,000 Avios|
|1,151 - 2,000 miles||10,000 Avios||11,000 Avios||15,000 Avios||16,500 Avios||20,000 Avios||22,000 Avios||40,000 Avios||44,000 Avios|
|2,001 - 3,000 miles||12,500 Avios||13,000 Avios||25,000 Avios||25,750 Avios||37,500 Avios||38,750 Avios||50,000 Avios||51,500 Avios|
|3,001 - 4,000 miles||20,000 Avios||20,750 Avios||40,000 Avios||41,250 Avios||60,000 Avios||62,000 Avios||80,000 Avios||82,500 Avios|
|4,001 - 5,500 miles||25,000 Avios||25,750 Avios||50,000 Avios||51,500 Avios||75,000 Avios||77,250 Avios||100,000 Avios||103,000 Avios|
|5,501 - 6,500 miles||30,000 Avios||31,000 Avios||60,000 Avios||62,000 Avios||90,000 Avios||92,750 Avios||120,000 Avios||123,750 Avios|
|6,501 - 7,000 miles||35,000 Avios||36,250 Avios||70,000 Avios||72,250 Avios||105,000 Avios||108,250 Avios||140,000 Avios||144,250 Avios|
|7,001+ miles||50,000 Avios||51,500 Avios||100,000 Avios||103,000 Avios||150,000 Avios||154,500 Avios||200,000 Avios||206,000 Avios|
One quirk to keep in mind when using Avios is that British Airways charges per segment. So if you need a connection, the airline charges you for two separate flights – not based on the length of the entire journey.
As you can see, the changes to shorter flights are pretty significant, while the increases for longer flights are fairly mild. And that's potentially problematic because British Airways' distance-based award chart means those longer flights aren't a great use of Avios.
Still, there have been many ways to put British Airways Avios to good use. But we've focused on two that can go a long way for U.S.-based travelers: Booking short-haul flights in the U.S. and one of the cheapest ways to book round-trip flights to Hawaii. And on that front, it's a mixed bag.
The Good News: Hawaii is Still Cheap!
Let's start with the good news.
British Airways has been one of the best ways to get to Hawaii on miles. While American Airlines typically charges 45,000 AAdvantage miles for round-trip flights, you could book the exact same flights on American Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) or Phoenix (PHX) to all four major Hawaiian islands for just 25,000 Avios. It was a great sweet spot, and we worried it would disappear.
Luckily, these aren't increasing much. Because the flights from both mainland cities to Hawaii are between 2,001 and 3,000 miles each way, the cost to get to Hawaii is now 26,000 Avios in economy. That's still an absolute steal.
The Bad News: Short-Haul Travel in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the other great sweet spot for using British Airways Avios.
Using Avios to fly American in the U.S. has been lucrative for years. You could book flights under 1,150 miles for 7,500 Avios each way (British Airways did not allow even flights under 650 miles within the U.S. to price at the lowest tier), while many major U.S. carriers charged 12,500 miles for the same routes.
Now, it's getting more complicated – and more expensive.
For starters, those domestic flights in the U.S. under 1,150 miles each way will generally now cost 9,000 Avios.
But there's a new exception. Flights under 650 miles are still pricing at 7,500 Avios each way.
And it's a hard cut-off. So, for example, you could fly on American Airlines from Charlotte (CLT) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for 7,500 Avios each way because the flight clocks in at 632 miles.
But the flight from CLT to nearby Miami (MIA) measures exactly 650 miles. So it now costs 9,000 Avios each way.
It's worth noting that this short-haul sweet spot has lost its impact recently as the major U.S. airlines have started selling domestic flights as low as 5,000 miles each way. Still, this one stings a bit – particularly for those longer short flights that are now far more expensive.
Airlines have a habit of making your miles less valuable, and it's never good news. But this latest series of increases with British Airways Avios could have been much worse.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.