We still don't know exactly how it will change, but British Airways seems poised to increase award rates when using Avios for flights on most partner airlines.
The U.K. airline announced the brewing change late last month. Unfortunately, BA didn't actually say how rates were changing. But the changes take effect Thursday, May 30. So you have just a few days to book award flights at current rates. If you've got a booking in mind using Avios, it could pay to act now – especially with the ongoing 30% transfer bonus with Chase.
So what's changing? 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.
That's most of them. But it means that award rates aren't changing on Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling, and of course British Airways itself.
And while the increases are unknown, it seems likely that they won't be massive. Still, it's better to book now at even marginally lower rates.
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 changes take effect.
- 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. It may not drastically change, but any award rate increase is bad news.
If you're planning to fly a partner airline using British Airways Avios, you've got just a few days left to book. Whether drastic or marginal, it's about to get more expensive.
Lead photo courtesy of BriYYZ 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.