British Airways Avios Devaluation Continues – Partners


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If you’re a collector of frequent flyer miles then you’ll probably be aware of the recent changes to British Airways’ Executive Club program. We’ve been using British Airways Avios for our short-haul US domestic flights as that’s one instance where they’re great value. But that may be about to change.

As of 28 April, the amount of miles (Avios) you can earn by flying British Airways, as well as the number of Tier Points, one can accumulate, has been slashed for most classes of travel. In addition, the number of miles (Avios) that are required to book flights on British Airways has also changed – mostly for the worse.

What hadn’t changed, up until now, was the amount of Avios and Elite Qualifying Miles travellers could collect by flying on British Airways and crediting to partner airlines (e.g. American Airlines). But it seems this shoe is finally starting to drop.

Loyalty Lobby has noticed that Alaska Airlines has quietly, and without warning, changed its British Airways earning structure, overnight. Unsurprisingly, the change isn’t positive.

Just a few days ago, Alaska Airlines Milage Plan members, flying on British Airways but crediting their travel to Alaska’s Milage Plan, earned miles and elite qualifying miles according to this structure:

Alaska Milage Plan Devaluation

As of yesterday the earning structure looks like this:

Alaska Milage Plan Devaluation

Main changes:

Some economy/coach class fares now earn 75% less miles and elite qualifying miles than before. Most of the remaining economy/coach class fares earn 50% less miles and elite qualifying miles than before. Only the most expensive (fully flexible) fares, which just about no vacationer will ever book, still earn the same number of miles as before.

Two out of the 3 Premium Economy class fares lose their 10% “class of travel bonus” while the remaining (more expensive) fare sees its bonus increased from 10% to 50%.

Business class fares see improvements to earning. Perviously, all Business Class fares booked on British Airways but credited to Alaska’s Milage Plan earned miles according to distance travelled, plus a 25% bonus. Now, the cheaper Business Class fares see that bonus increased to 50% while the remaining, more expensive, Business Class fares see the bonus boosted to 150%.

In First Class things get better. The old earning rate saw all First Class fares earn the number of miles traveled plus a bonus of 50%. Now, the “cheaper” First Class fares fares see the bonus increased to 150% and the more expensive fares garner a bonus of 200%.

While the increases in earnings for premium travel may make the changes look balanced,  the truth is that most of the positive changes are not going to be much use to regular travellers.

All economy and ‘reasonably priced’ premium economy fares see earning rates fall (quite significantly in a lot of cases) so it’s only the increased bonus on discounted business class tickets that may benefit the vacation traveller.

The important take away from this is this: Changes to Alaska Milage Plan aren’t going to affect that many passengers – it’s a relatively small program. But, when one partner changes how they allocate miles for British Airways flights, you can be sure that others will soon follow. This means that we can, probably, expect American Airlines to change its earning structure too – and that will affect a whole lot more vacationers that this change noted today.

In addition, while it’s only earning rates that have changed on Alaska (so far), those aren’t the only rates that can be expected to change. The number of Avios needed to redeem for flights on British Airways partners will follow very soon. As things stand, using Avios for short-haul US domestic flights on American Airlines makes a lot of sense because they’re great value – but for how long more? This change by Alaska is just the beginning and vacationers should expect to see the number of Avios needed for short-haul flights to increase – probably quite significantly. If you know you need to book a short-haul flight in the US then you should probably book it now – there’s no knowing when the changes will come, we just know they’re coming.

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