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Earlier this year British Airways made a less than helpful comment indicating that it would be revising the cost of partner awards without actually telling us how the costs would be revised so we’ve been waiting to see just how good or bad the news will be. Well, now we know.
In typical BA style no award chart has been published to help travelers out (British Airways thrives on being as opaque as possible) so the information below is primarily down to Flyertalk users who have tested pricing out on various routes (thank you!).
The biggest piece of good news is that it looks as if the cost of sub 650 mile Economy Class flights within the US has not changed – these remain priced at 7,500 Avios + minimal taxes/fees.
The second piece of good news is that the cost of most long-haul awards (Zone 5 and up) hasn’t increased by much at all – the increases I’m seeing are between 3.00% and 3.75%.
The bad news is that the cost of some of the short-haul partner awards has increased significantly.
- Awards for flights under 650 miles have increased by between 33% and 39% (bad news for Qantas Sydney – Melbourne flights)
- Awards for flights between 651 miles and 1,150 miles in distance have increased by between 10% and 20%
- Awards for flights between 1,151 miles and 2,000 miles in distance have increased by 10% across all cabins.
Here’s the cost of all BA partner awards with immediate effect (click to enlarge):
The truth of the matter is that Avios is a pretty poor currency to use for long-haul partner flights because of the surcharges that are tacked on and the fact that all partner awards are offered up at ‘peak-season’ pricing all year round….so it really doesn’t much matter what happens to those awards.
The best use of Avios is for short-haul awards so it’s the changes to these awards that are probably most important in this shakeup.
The sharp increase in the Zone 1 awards is definitely disappointing (where Sydney to Melbourne once cost 4,500 Avios for an Economy Class redemption it now costs 6,000 Avios) but the news could have been a lot worse elsewhere.
The cost of a Business Class award on Finnair’s excellent Airbus A350 (for travel between Helsinki and London) has only increased by 1,500 Avios and the cost of an Economy Class fare between LA and Honolulu (on American Airlines) has only gone up by 500 Avios.
Awards such as these are still incredibly good value so it’s quite a relief to see that British Airways hasn’t destroyed what little true value is left within its award charts.
The news could have been a lot worse. I was expecting significant rises in the cost of some of the more popular short-haul awards but, while the Zone 1 increases are not exactly insignificant, I think we’ve been let off lightly.
There’s still a lot of value to be had in booking select short-haul partner awards using Avios and that isn’t a phrase I was expecting to type once the full details of the award cost changes were revealed.