Reminder: Elimination of 4,500 Avios Awards within United States on February 2

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This change takes effect for bookings made February 2 at 5 AM ET or later.

British Avios are great for short, direct, economy awards on flights with no fuel surcharges–but they are getting less great.

The price of an award flight booked with British Airways Avios is determined by only two things: the distance of the flight and the cabin you book. The price of an Avios award is the sum of the prices of each flight segment. The award chart used to be set up such that Business Class flights were 2x the economy price and First Class flights were 3x.

In April 2015, the changed. First Class flights are now 4x the economy price. Business Class flights longer than 2,000 miles flown are now 3x the economy price. I didn’t love this devaluation, but I argued it was basically no big deal since only a few high value awards (like Boston to Dublin in Aer Lingus Business Class went up in price.) Most of the best values, namely the cheapest economy awards, were untouched. Here is the current chart (in thousands of Avios), since that devaluation:

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.51.06 PM

I even argued that the devaluation might be a good thing, on net, since it would probably forestall additional negative changes to the chart. I was wrong. In October 2015, British Airways announced additional negative changes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.19.49 PM

For awards booked February 2, 2016 and later, the minimum price for an award starting or ending in the United States will be 7,500 Avios. The minimum price for a connecting award within the United States will be 15,000 Avios.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.20.32 PM

This change only affects bookings made February 2, 2016 and later. You can book until February 1, 2016 on the current chart. That means all of 2016 is bookable at the 4,500 Avios price. Here is an award currently bookable for this Summer from Charlotte to Tampa for 4,500 Avios.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.19.42 PM

This change only affects flights to, from, or within the United States. Flights in other regions will maintain the current chart. Here is that current chart (in thousands of Avios):

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.51.06 PM

Here is the chart for award bookings of flights that touch the United States starting February 2, 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.50.49 PM

Bottom Line

These are the last five days to book Avios awards within the United States for 4,500 Avios. You can book for the rest of 2016 and lock in the price. Cancellations of Avios awards cost as little as $5.60, so you may want to book some awards now even if you aren’t sure you’ll take them.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Well, this sucks. Avios was my go to award program for AA and USAir economy redemptions because of the lower total booking cost in points and the cancellation up to 24 hours policy. The 24 hours policy remains, but the redemption discount is now gone over AAdvantage.

    Many connecting flight rewards visible on AA are not book-able on the BA Executive site, so I would often book 2 itineraries to make a connecting flight for the convenience of not having to call in and wait on hold to book a single pnr. ie. YYZ to FLL was 2x 4500 miles plus 2x taxes and fees online or 9000 miles plus taxes and fees if I called in. Now it will be 2x 7500 miles plus 2x taxes and fees online, or 10k miles plus taxes and fees only if I am willing to call in, wait on hold, and ask them to waive the telephone booking fee.

    I’d also often book two 4500 PNRs when one leg wasn’t available at a convenient time or to a nearby destination airport when the airport I really wanted wasn’t available, and then change it for $5.60 when the leg I wanted got released, or a 9000 and 4500 PNR (when only business class was available for one leg of my trip). Now traveling with either scenario will cost a lot more points.

  2. Misread the post. Since connecting itineraries are priced by segment and not total distance, the minimum connecting award (which is what I fly most often) will go from 9,000 miles to 15k miles whether I call in or not. AAdvantage is now a better deal than avios for most economy awards at 12.5k aadvantage miles for milesaver economy awards regardless of distance (some long distance connections on avios will be a lot higher than 15k), and the ability to upgrade to anytime awards for 25k, which are not available at all to avios.

    I was waiting for the next Avios transfer bonus, but since the devaluation will eat up more than any bonus, I won’t bother and only transfer when I absolutely need to be flexible (the cancel up to 24 hours rule). This really sucks indeed!

    • The idea of burning 12.5k AA miles instead of 15k Avios is crazy, though. AA miles are precious since they’re so hard to get (AA CCs with crappy earning rate or Starwood points which are equally hard to earn), while MSing a pile of Avios is super easy (5x UR points on Ink, I can do 10k a month easy, many others do way more). Unless you’re someone who has a pile of AA miles from work flights or something, of course.

      I’d use 15k Avios over 12.5k AA miles, no brainer. AA miles are awesome for international premium cabin travel to Middle East, Asia, and Europe with no YQ. Avios are good for…basically nothing except short haul.

      • I get where you’re coming from but few people are hard-core MSers. Without MS, although the miles have completely different uses, I value them very similarly.

  3. Scott, just wanted to get your clarification on something and I think you did touch on it: this means I can book those 4500 for trip until the end of 2016 as long as I book it by that Feb 2016 date? Is that usually how it works?

    • Yes. Whatever flights you book by Feb 1 are at the current prices. On Feb 1, 2016, you can book through about the end of Dec 2016.

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