British Airways’ frequent flyer program does things a bit differently. While most airlines set their pricing based on which regions you’re traveling between, BA’s Executive Club is distance-based. The farther you fly, the more miles you need.
But the one thing it doesn’t do differently, it seems, is mess things up. British Airways recently notified members that it is changing award rates when booking on most partner airlines as of May 30, 2019.
And while the airline hasn’t said exactly what the changes are, it seems safe to say this won’t be a good thing. That means award rates when using British Airways Avios will likely increase when booking after May 30.
So what’s happening? For starters, award rates aren’t changing on every partner airline. The changes will affect bookings on Alaska Airlines, Air Italy, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, S7, Sri Lankan, and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
OK, so that’s most partner airlines. But that means award rates aren’t changing on Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling, and of course British Airways itself.
What’s at Stake in British Airways’ Changes?
Here’s how British Airways’ award chart currently looks:
|Miles Traveled (One Way)||Economy Off Peak & Peak||Premium Economy Off Peak & Peak||Business Off Peak & Peak||First Class Off Peak & Peak|
|1 - 650 miles||4,000 / 4,500 Avios||5,750 / 6,750 Avios||7,750 / 9,000 Avios||15,500 / 18,000 Avios|
|651 - 1,150 miles||6,500 / 7,500 Avios||9,500 / 11,250 Avios||12,750 / 15,000 Avios||25,500 // 30,000 Avios|
|1,151 - 2,000 miles||8,500 / 10,000 Avios||12,750 / 15,000 Avios||17,000 / 20,000 Avios||34,000 / 40,000 Avios|
|2,001 - 3,000 miles||10,000 / 12,500 Avios||20,000 / 25,000 Avios||31,250 / 37,500 Avios||42,500 / 50,000 Avios|
|3,001 - 4,000 miles||13,000 / 20,000 Avios||26,000 / 40,000 Avios||50,000 / 60,000 Avios||68,000 / 80,000 Avios|
|4,001 - 5,500 miles||16,250 / 25,000 Avios||32,500 / 50,000 Avios||62,500 / 75,000 Avios||85,000 / 100,000 Avios|
|5,501 - 6,500 miles||19,500 / 30,000 Avios||39,000 / 60,000 Avios||75,000 / 90,000 Avios||102,000 / 120,000 Avios|
|6,501 - 7,000 miles||22,750 / 35,00 Avios||45,500 / 70,000 Avios||87,500 / 105,000 Avios||119,000 / 140,000 Avios|
|7,000+ miles||32,500 / 50,000 Avios||65,000 / 100,000 Avios||125,000 / 150,000 Avios||170,000 / 200,000 Avios|
The distance-based approach means there aren’t too many great ways to use your British Airways Avios. And in fact, one of the worst ways to use them is booking British Airways flights from the U.S. to London-Heathrow (LHR) – you’ll pay a lot of miles and a bunch of cash fees.
But there are a handful of sweet spots that could worsen after these brewing changes roll out, whatever they are.
- Using British Airways is one of the cheapest ways to get to Hawaii from the mainland U.S. on American Airlines. You can use just 25,000 British Airways Avios to book a round-trip AA flight from Los Angeles (LAX) or Phoenix (PHX) to all four major Hawaiian islands.
- Short flights within the U.S. (under 1,150 miles each way) will always price at 7,500 miles each way. That can be a good deal – unless you can book it cheaper directly with American Airlines now that the airline is offering flights as low as 5,000 AAdvantage miles, of course.
That’s just a small taste of what you can do with British Airways Avios – at least for now. While there’s no telling exactly how these rates may change, airlines rarely make their frequent flyer programs better.
Add in the ongoing 30% bonus when transferring Chase points to British Airways – a bonus that ends June 16 – and time is of the essence.
The final verdict will depend on exactly how these award rates change. But it seems all but certain this is bad news.
If you’ve got plans to fly a partner airline using British Airways Avios, book before May 30.
Lead photo courtesy of Jon Osborne via Flickr
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.