American Express British Airways Devaluation Thoughts

How much will British Airways Executive Club Program Changes hurt?

It's not like I was using Avios for BA First anyway
It’s not like I was using Avios for BA First anyway

Every time there is a devaluation in the miles and points world, the general message out there is that the sky is falling. While British Airways’ most recent Executive Club changes certainly may fall into that category for some people, these changes aren’t too big deal a deal to me.

Summary of Avios Earning Changes

– You’ll earn less less for low cost economy fares and more for high cost premium ones

– The minimum Avios you can earn on a flight are going down for the lower fare classes

– Minor devaluation to earning tier points (major if you fly JFK-LHR regularly for business), which I’ve never bothered to understand in depth anyway

Summary of Avios Redemption Changes

Old chart:

Old Avios Redemption Chart
Old Avios Redemption Chart

New chart:

New Avios redemption chart
New Avios redemption chart

– Peak and off-peak rates have been introduced

– Economy peak rates are the same cost as the old economy rates

– First class rates have gone up across the board, both peak and off-peak. Example: my CX F flight that cost 105,000 Avios would now cost 140,000

– Short haul business class rates in Zones 1-3 are slightly cheaper off-peak and the same cost as the old chart for peak flights

– Starting in Zone 4, business class rates will be more costly than before regardless of peak or off-peak

– All partner awards will be priced as peak awards

– Some annoying changes to how you can change award tickets (you’ll have to call in more)

– Elimination of free domestic add-on flights in the UK on short haul flights

– Executive Club guarantee of two business and four economy seats on every flight starting when the schedule opens (355 days)

My Thoughts on the Changes

Changes and devaluations suck, but are these really that big of a deal? I personally never redeem Avios for longhaul flights, though they were a nice option in a pinch. But the reality is they weren’t a good currency for premium long haul redemptions, and this isn’t changing that.

It’s also not like I was redeeming a ton of Avios for British Airways flights – the fuel surcharges were a killer.

Say goodbye to this for 50K RT in J (
Say goodbye to this for 50K RT in J (

The biggest “devaluation” to my personal burning structure is the increase in cost of the BOS-DUB Aer Lingus flight from 25,000 to 37,500 Avios – that hurts. It’s still cheaper than any other business class flight to Europe but it still stings. If you want to book that, do it by April 28!

Still, even that is mitigated by the fact that British Airways just bought Aer Lingus and will probably start imposing fuel charges on that route after they are fully integrated anyway.

What hasn’t changed is the value of Avios for short haul domestic flights on American (and US). That’s what I have been and will continue to use my Avios for in the future.

Final Thoughts

I haven’t hit upon every detail of the changes, but like I said, at first glance they don’t seem too distressing to me. You might be in a different situation, if so, that sucks – devaluations always do. Still, take some time to process – the sky isn’t necessarily falling, just decreasing in altitude a little bit. Guess we now know why Membership Rewards was running that transfer bonus…

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

3 thoughts on “How much will British Airways Executive Club Program Changes hurt?

  1. The “sweetspot” routes are going to cost more as you’ve mentioned like the Aer Lingus BOS-DUB route. For the folks that want to try out Cathay Pacific First class like JFK-YVR or HKG-TPE (for the lounge) will cost a bit more as well.

    However, if they can keep those guarantees of seats/flight that wouldn’t be a bad thing, provided you fly on BA. It’ll definitely helps for the folks using the companion pass.

    I mean, I understand the reasons for a devaluation and business decision, it also seems like Avios is being printed like easy money. AMEX bonuses, transferability from AMEX, Chase, SPG, the Merrill+ card (not sure if it’s still available in 2015), and HSBC’s premier card (and sometimes bonus) to name a few (this is only domestic to US, not sure about other international programs)

    The way the peak/off peak and how partner travel is always peak, is akin to United’s devaluation with a higher partner redemption rate. It’s not pleasant, and I think that’s where the pain will be because Avios I don’t think is really redeemed on BA because of the high fuel surcharges that are levied

    1. Good points. I think I was most worried about short haul domestic US so it just doesn’t feel that painful to me. And the “sweetspot” I like to hammer is BOS-DUB, and I felt like we were going to lose that soon anyway. I feel like with United the gloom and doom was probably warranted, whereas here it’s not great but it could be much worse. Would love to hear others’ thoughts though!

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