Avios Devaluation Happens Monday April 27 at 7 PM ET

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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:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 1.00.40 PM

 

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.

(I booked the award speculatively because the cancellation fee is only $5.60.)

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.

(There are 10 cities with 12,500 Avios awards to four islands of Hawaii.)

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:

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:

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 1.49.08 PM
source: gcmap.com

 

  • 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:

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 2.42.12 PM

  • 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.

Bottom Line

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.

 


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40 COMMENTS

  1. I would say that “gutted” is a bit strong. Most savvy points and miles users (at least the ones I know) use BA for short-haul in economy. I guess the one place this *could* sting is the BOS – DUB route, but other than than using Avios for long-haul & specifically premium cabins was already a pretty bad deal.

    • They increased premium awards by 1/3 to 1/2, which is about how United gutted its chart and less than Delta’s devaluation. But like you and I are saying: they mainly touched bad awards.

  2. Not sure how you can say “gutted” when in the very next sentence you say, “All the best deals on the chart, though, are untouched, and mostly the bad deals were made worse. In my mind, the devaluation is no big deal.”.

    Needless hyperbole in a space already suffering from an excess of hyper-ventilation.

    • So did Avios, but I didn’t cover it here because it only applies to the BA-metal flights, which I rarely book with Avios.

  3. No wonder Amex is offering 40% transfer bonus to BA – highest in two years…

    But I agree, best uses still available.

    That said, with 40% transfer bonus, flying F was reasonable to Hawaii from west coast = 75K rt. All you needed was 54K MRs and you had lots of availability. Now its 100K r/t and 71500 with a 40% transfer bonus. Now that’s a big pill to swallow for 5.5 hrs in a recliner seat.

    Glad they announced this before Jan 31, as I was on the fence of sending some more MRs to BA with the 40% bonus before it expired. Now have to sharpen my pencil and see if it makes sense.

  4. You didn’t mention the addition of the off-peak aspect… which makes economy awards cheaper than they used to be for off peak and unchanged for peak. So now it’ll be possible to do transcon/hnl for 10k mi off peak, short hauls for 4k off peak etc.

  5. Until a few months ago, I completely agreed with you. Then a little one joined the family. Suddenly, I was getting hit with the proposition of paying 10% or 25% (for an infant lap ticket) of the dollar price of first class tickets when using points to book. Worse, I couldn’t even think of booking two one way tickets since 10% or 25% of those ticket prices would have been prohibitively expensive. That’s when I realized that BA was a great way of using point to pay for long haul flights: they let you use points for the lap infant. I would use BA for one of the tickets (with lap infant) and just get the other ticket via AA. Now, however, I’ve got to rethink my plan of action.

    BTW, question: will we be able to make changes to a ticket booked before April 28th after April 28th at the old rates?

    • Yeah, that is a great point about the big savings you can see on lap infants with Avios. Do not know about changes. Probably not.

  6. I’m hoping to use AVIOS for a San Diego – Puerto Vallarta flight in June. So far, nothing available.

    Vallarta is another “sweet spot from Southern California as it is just 7500 Avios each way.

    Alaska has lots of non stops to Mexican cities.

  7. Does the devaluation (or escalation) affect Aer LIngus flights using Avios to Boston for example? It isn’t actually cited in information, and I thought that Are Lingus was a “sort of Partner” of BA like Air Berlin…Can someone help me here…thank you.

    • All partners have the same prices. Starting 4/28, they are the prices on the chart I included in this post.

  8. I got one of those travel together certificates after completing the 10 or 20k needed for the 100k bonus. I figured it would be worth it to spend the extra money to hit 30k and get the certificate since they have so many routes to India where I travel regularly and it wouldn’t affect any sign up bonuses. In hindsight, I should have just put the spend someplace else because of how hard it was to find space using them. Finally found and pulled the trigger on a two for one award for next march for first class to India using 270k avios and $3100. Probably not the best use of Avios but not too bad either.

    • At 1.5 cents per Avios (very conservative valuation in my opinion), that’s already over $7,100 in cash and Avios for the tickets. I’d value two tickets like that at about $6,000 total, meaning the companion pass would be worth NEGATIVE $1,100 to me on your redemption. The thing only ever made sense for people who basically value biz and First Class at retail price.

      • I know, not my best redemption ever but the psychological pull of using the travel together certificate was too strong. I might still cancel since I have almost 11 months before the trip which is fairly palatable @ $55. I do think that there is a reasonable argument to be made for using avios and the certificate for people who a. need to make the trip anyways, and b. don’t mind paying a little extra for the comfort. When you don’t have unlimited travel opportunities because of a 9-5 job, it becomes easier to justify spending miles and points on travel that you have to do :).

        • I agree with that last part. My brother didn’t care much at all when I told him his options to Europe included British Airways with a fuel surcharge. He doesn’t get much time off, and just wants to enjoy it.

          • Just FYI, the more time that went by, the more I couldn’t stomach paying that much in cash for the award :). Booked a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award on the outbound using DL miles and a return via CMB and HKG using AA miles on CX J. Canceled the BA award :). Now I get a day long stopover in london, a chance to explore Sri Lanka, 9 hour stopover in HKG, and a chance to try a ~16hr HKG – BOS flight for a fraction of the cash outlay and less miles!

  9. Couldn’t find any BOS-SNN or BOS-DUB in Business that wasn’t in the next few weeks, even to end of schedule. Who really wants to go to Ireland in the Winter anyway? Also have a companion pass, and was willing to use it assuming the trick to make it a one-way in F, which still seemed worthwhile for the experience, but now it’s even more ridiculous an option. I’ll have a shot in C in BA thanks to Brazil, but a little sad that F is so absurd a price (esp with YQ).

  10. I need to fly from Minneapolis MSP to Dublin DUB in June and back home again in December. I’ll be there 6 months. I want my son and husband to visit so I want to accumulate some miles so I can get a free flight or two. I’m thinking getting the British Airways Visa card with the 50,000 bonus Avios and then redeeming on Aer Lingus. Does anyone see a problem with that plan? How many miles do I need to redeem a flight in economy? I read that it would be less Avios to book from Boston to DUB because that trip wold be just under 3,000. Is that still the case? How many miles would I need? Can I transfer my United points to Avios (I have around 15,000)? Help please!

    • Your plan won’t work that well. MSP-ORD-BOS-DUB is 24.5k Avios one way per person and a lot of flying.

      Get United miles instead. 60k miles roundtrip from MSP to DUB with one stop in economy on United flights.

      The United card has a 55k sign up bonus: milevalue.com/List

      You cannot transfer United miles to Avios.

  11. They have absolutely destroyed it . It is disgusting . Not worth flying with B.A anymore . I am not going to waste my time with the reward flights and £20,000 spend and the millions of avoid points you need now . Disgraceful!

  12. […] In April, 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 that current chart (in thousands of Avios), since that devaluation: […]

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