British Airways Avios has gutted its award chart for longhaul Business and First Class awards booked after 7 PM Eastern Time Monday April 27, 2015. (The changes go into effect at midnight on the 28th in Britain, which is 7 PM on the east coast of the US on the 27th.)
Only a few good deals are affected by the devaluation, and you can lock these in today for travel through March 2016.
Most of the best deals with Avios are untouched, and already bad deals were made worse. In my mind, the devaluation is no big deal and possibly good news.
- Why is the devaluation no big deal and possibly good news?
- Which high value awards do you need to book today?
Here’s the first sentence of my beginners’ post on Avios:
British Airways Avios are very often the best miles to book short, direct, economy flights.
That remains 100% true as no economy awards go up in price tomorrow. Here is the new Avios award chart that goes into effect tomorrow:
Economy award prices are unchanged. First Class awards went from triple the economy price to quadruple. Business Class awards used to always be double the economy award price. Now for flights 2,001+ miles in distance, they are triple the economy price.
I have never, to my knowledge, booked one of the awards that is increasing in price. Here are the awards I book:
Domestic and Hawaii Awards for 4,500 to 12,500 Avios
I just booked Tampa to Charlotte for 4,500 Avios. It would have cost 12,500 American Airlines miles. The award still costs 4,500 Avios under the new Avios chart.
In the last year I’ve booked several 12,500 Avios awards between Los Angeles and Hawaii. Other airlines charge 15,000 to 22,500 miles for the same award.
Intra-Australia, Intra-South America, Intra-South Africa, Intra-Asia, Intra-Europe
I’ve booked myself awards on the other five inhabited continents with Avios:
- Qantas domestic flights in Australia with no fuel surcharges (similar to AA/US/Alaska domestic flights)
- British Airways subsidiary Comair flies intra-South and Southern Africa
- LAN and TAM, especially their subsidiaries in each country, can offer great awards within South America
- There are no fuel surcharges on BA flights within Europe booked with Avios, plus partners airberlin and Niki have no fuel surcharges
- My brother and I paid small fuel surcharges to book Hong Kong to Beijing with Avios
None of these awards are going up in price either. Some were in Business Class, but they were all less than 2,000 miles flown–the part of the Business Class award chart that stays the same.
The kew is to book Avios awards with no fuel surcharges. Here’s a primer on beating Avios fuel surcharges.
Am I Overstating my Case?
Am I being too flippant by saying this devaluation is barely news? I don’t think so.
There are really only a very few routes that are good deals that are going up in price. Routes like:
- Boston to Dublin in Aer Lingus Business Class, going from 25,000 to 37,500 Avios one way
- New York to Dusseldorf in airberlin Business Class, going from 40,000 to 60,000 Avios one way
- Miami to Lima in American Airlines or LAN Business Class, going from 25,000 to 37,500 Avios one way
If you have had your eye on these routes, book before 7 PM tomorrow.
Then there are Business and First Class awards you might have considered, but were already better deals with American Airlines miles. Awards like:
- New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco in American Airlines flat bed Business Class, going from 25,000 to 37,500 Avios one way (still 25,000 AA miles one way)
- New York to Vancouver in Cathay Pacific First Class going from 37,500 to 50,000 Avios one way (still 32,500 AA miles one way)
There just aren’t that many mid- and longhaul Business Class routes that are currently good deals with Avios. And when you factor in that every flight adds to the price of an Avios award, these devaluations really only affect people in Boston, New York, and Miami because connecting to those cities from somewhere else would already make the above trips a poor value with Avios.
Travel Together Companion Pass
People who have the British Airways Travel Together companion pass from spending $30,000 a year on a British Airways Visa card are seeing the value of that pass go down as longhaul Business and First Class prices go up. That stinks for companion pass holders, and they should book their trips today.
However, I hope you don’t have a companion pass. I already argued against getting that British Airways companion pass before this devaluation. The fuel surcharges on British Airways flights make it worth so little that there are many better ways to spend $30,000 across other credit cards for better rewards.
Tomorrow, April 27, at 7 PM ET will be the first time British Airways has touched its chart in three years. Today, you can book at current Avios award prices for travel through March 2016.
Airlines don’t like to constantly devalue their charts (except Delta with back-to-back devaluations last year) because it upsets customers. That means this devaluation might buy us a few years until the next one from British Airways. If this devaluation buys us another three years of current economy award prices, that changes today’s devaluation from “mostly no news” to “fantastic news.”
I always say that we are better off because of Avios. It’s nice that different programs have different strengths. Collect American Airlines miles for international First Class; Avios for short, direct, economy awards; and Arrival miles for low-cost carriers and super-cheap cash flights. The fact that each program has very different strengths means we can use our miles in each program for the best awards and maximize the value of our hobby.
The best awards with Avios do not change tomorrow, so the “devaluation” is tiny or non-existent for most folks.