British Airways are sending out emails to their Executive Club members based in the US informing them of another upcoming devaluation to their loyalty program – clearly British Airways have never heard of the idea of getting all the bad news out there in one go and getting it over with. These Avios devaluations are turning into death by a thousand cuts!
“We’re making some changes to reward flight pricing in North America” is how the headline reads on the webpage set up to break the bad news to US-based Executive Club members.
On 2 February 2016, we’ll be making some changes to the Executive Club pricing structure for reward flights originating or terminating in the United States of America.
The change will only affect shorter routes on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, with reward flights now starting from 7,500 Avios, rather than 4,500 Avios, plus taxes, fees and carrier charges from $5.60 USD.
That’s a 66.67% increase in the number of Avios required for Economy Class on the shorter (650 miles or less) US domestic flights.
Economy Class redemptions are not the only ones affected:
Business Class awards on flights under 650 miles will be going from 9,000 Avios to 15,00o Avios (66.67% increase) and First Class awards on the same flights will now cost 30,000 Avios (another 66.67% increase).
British Airways gives a few examples of the routes that will be affected:
The thing is that it’s on the shorter routes where British Airways Avios gives (gave) the most value for your Avios because it’s routes like Chicago – Washington, Boston – New York and Washington – New York that can have some extremely high Economy Class fares. Purchasing an award ticket on these routes can be an exceptional use of Avios.
From the FAQs, it looks as if the number of Avios required to book these flights will only increase for bookings made after 2 February 2016 so you can still make bookings for flights after this date at the lower redemption level:
And this is borne out by a dummy reservation I made this morning:
So, if you have plans to redeem Avios for super-short flights in 2016, make sure you book them before 2 February 2016.
Importantly there will be no change to the number of Avios required for flights of 650 miles or longer – for now. British Airways is quick to point out that “The majority of North American reward flight prices will remain unchanged.” But who knows when they’ll change their minds on this one – there seems to be continual tinkering going on behind the scenes at the British Airways Executive Club and I don’t expect this to be the last change we hear about.
Interestingly this change only affects the shortest flights in the US – all other regions on the British Airways award chart remain, so far, unaffected. That means that you can still redeem 4,500 Avios + taxes for sub 650 mile routes in Asia, Australia and Europe but, again, you’ve got to wonder how long British Airways will allow that to continue – I suspect it won’t be for that much longer.
I was amused to see this in the FAQ:
They’re putting through the change to “remain competitive”?! Since when do you devalue an offering in order to be competitive?! Aren’t you meant to improve your offering in order to do that?
Overall there are still some decent redemptions to be had for short-haul flights using Avios but, once again, British Airways has removed one of the biggest sweet spots in their award chart and that doesn’t endear them to me any more. I guess we should be grateful that they’ve given us some advance warning of this change (which is more than they’ve done on occasions in the past) but, somehow, that doesn’t make me feel that much better.