British Airways Executive Club Program Changes 2015

Oh boy. British Airways has just announced some major changes to the Executive Club, which have implications both for earning and redeeming Avios.

Executive-Club-Changes

These changes kick in for bookings made as of April 28, 2015. In other words, if you book before then you’ll still earn miles at the “old” accrual rates. And of course award tickets will be honored at the old rates as well.

British Airways describes these changes as follows:

From 28 April 2015, you’ll notice a difference to the way you earn and spend Avios with us. We’re making these changes to be able to offer more reward seats to you, and to ensure that the Executive Club continues to evolve and deliver a competitive and rewarding loyalty programme in the future.

Okay, so they’re not even pretending these changes are positive, which I appreciate, but rather are admitting this is what they need in order to stay competitive (presumably on the cost side, and not on the benefits side). 😉

So what are the changes?

Changes to earning British Airways Avios

There are lots of changes on the earnings side.

Fewer Avios for cheap fares, more Avios for expensive fares

While British Airways isn’t switching to a revenue based frequent flyer program, they are increasing the disparity in earnings rates based on fare classes. In other words, they want to reward you for booking expensive tickets, and reward you a lot less for booking cheap tickets.

Here’s the new chart for accruing Avios on British Airways flights:

Avios-Earning

As you can see, on the “premium” end, the earnings rates increase from 200% to 300%, while for discounted tickets they decrease from 100% to 25%.

I can certainly understand the move, and it does put them more in line with Air France/KLM FlyingBlue and Lufthansa Miles & More. But given the amount of low cost competition within Europe, it certainly decreases the value of being loyal to one of the network carriers for intra-Europe flying.

Minimum Avios per segment changing

This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the above, but basically the minimum number of Avios you earn per segment is changing as well. The “spread” is increasing, whereby on flexible first class tickets you go from earning 1,000 Avios minimum to a 1,500 Avios minimum, while for a discounted economy ticket you go from earning a 500 Avios minimum to a 125 Avios minimum.

Minimum-Avios

Elite bonuses being cut

British Airways Gold, Silver, and Bronze members receive an elite bonus on all miles earned through flying. While the bonuses stay the same for Gold and Bronze members, the Silver bonus is being slashed in half. Executive Club Silver members will only receive a 50% elite bonus.

Avios-Bonus

Club World London City earnings rates being cut

British Airways has a special Airbus A318 all business class service between London City and New York JFK. They’ve tried to make the product “special,” and one way they’ve done that is by awarding Avios for the flight as if it’s first class.

Under the new program, you’ll earn the same number of Avios for this flight as you would for any of their other London to New York flights in business class:

London City to New York JFK service

Members flying on our business class only service from London City to New York JFK will collect Avios and Tier Points at the business class rate instead of the first class rate as currently applies, which will bring our London City services into line with Heathrow and Gatwick. Combined with the changes to Avios rates described above, this will still result in a net increase to the amount of Avios you can collect on this service.

Club-World-London-City

Changes to redeeming British Airways Avios

Given how many people collect BA Avios through means other than flying (like through credit cards and points transfers), this section is probably the most interesting to a majority of you.

New British Airways Avios award chart

British Airways is introducing a new award chart. Much like the old chart it’s distance based, though it has both peak and off-peak pricing.

As a point of reference, here’s the old award chart (prices shown are one-way):

Avios-Chart

Meanwhile here’s the new award chart, which has both peak and off-peak pricing:

New-Avios-Redemption-Chart

British Airways Avios peak award calendar

In fairness, British Airways is being quite reasonable with their “peak” calendar. About eight months of the year are off peak, while four months of the year are considered “peak” season. Here’s the chart:

BA-Peak

All partner awards will price at peak levels

This is possibly the most ridiculous part of these changes. Instead of pricing all partner awards at the off-peak level, they’re pricing them at the peak level year round. That’s ridiculous.

They’re not at all transparent about this as they don’t mention it in the changes, but rather only in the FAQs:

Are oneworld and other partner airlines also introducing peak and off-peak travel periods?

No. If you would like to redeem Avios to fly with British Airways airline partners you will need to use peak Avios pricing all year round. There will be no off-peak pricing available for reward flights with our airline partners.

The good news is that the cost of peak redemptions for shorthaul awards are the same as the old award chart. So if you want to redeem Avios for travel on Alaska, American, or US Airways, you’ll continue to pay:

  • 4,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1-650 miles
  • 7,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 651-1,151 miles
  • 10,000 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1,152-2,000 miles

However, the cost of first class is skyrocketing. So if you want to book first class within the US on Alaska, American, or US Airways, you’re going from paying 3x the number of miles required for economy to 4x the number of miles required for economy. That’s ridiculous.

Cost of awards on BA metal

These changes are bad almost across the board. Let me give a couple of examples:

US East Coast to London:

  • Current award chart: 80,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 120,000 Avios roundtrip in first class
  • New award chart off-peak: 100,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 136,000 Avios roundtrip in first class
  • New award chart peak: 120,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 160,000 Avios roundtrip in first class

US West Coast to London:

  • Current award chart: 100,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 150,000 Avios roundtrip in first class
  • New award chart off-peak: 125,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 170,000 Avios roundtrip in first class
  • New award chart peak: 150,000 Avios roundtrip in business class and 200,000 Avios roundtrip in first class

So premium cabin redemptions are going up in price almost across the board, regardless of whether you’re booking peak or off-peak. The cost of economy redemptions aren’t impacted as much, though that has never been a good use of Avios for longhaul travel, given their hefty fuel surcharges.

No more free transfers within the UK

British Airways’ award chart is strictly distance based, and they typically charge you on a per segment basis.

However, they’ve long allowed a free transfer within the UK, so that you’re not penalized for originating in London. In other words, an Avios award for Manchester to London to Frankfurt would cost you as much as an award from London to Frankfurt.

British Airways will be eliminating this for shorthaul flights, though will be keeping it for longhaul flights. Here’s how it’s described:

To bring the UK in line with the rest of the world, you will now be charged for any UK domestic connecting flights to and from the rest of Europe.

For example, when booking a reward flight from Manchester to Paris – which requires a connection in London – you are currently charged only for the London to Paris flights. From 28 April, you will be charged for the full journey, including the Manchester to London flights.

This calculates as follows (based on peak period pricing):

  • current price – 9,000 Avios plus £35 Reward Flight Saver fee or taxes, fees and carrier charges
  • new price – 18,000 Avios plus £70 Reward Flight Saver fee or taxes, fees and carrier charges

This change does not apply to UK Domestic connecting flights onto long haul flights, which will remain free of charge. For example, if you are flying to Manchester from Miami via London the Manchester to London flight is included in the reward price (50,000 Avios plus taxes, fees and carrier charges), which is the same as today.

British Airways is guaranteeing award space

Not all that interesting in practice, necessarily, but this is pretty cool:

We guarantee that more than 9 million reward seats will be available on our flights this year, with a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights that are offered for sale on ba.com (excluding subsidiaries and franchises).

These minimum guaranteed reward seats will be made available 355 days before the flight and will remain available, if not booked, until 45 days before departure.

So when British Airways opens their schedule they’re promising that they’ll make at least two business class and four economy class award seats available per flight. I like that kind of “guarantee.”

British-Airways-A380-Business-Class

Will BA make peak awards available to partners?

So here’s an interesting implication of the above. British Airways will now have peak dates and off-peak dates. My guess is that they’ll only make award space on off-peak dates available to partner airlines. In other words, chances are that you’ll only be able to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on British Airways eight months of the year. That’s not necessarily a big deal for longhaul flights, but sucks for intra-Europe travel, since you can’t even pick up a connecting flight on British Airways as part of an AAdvantage award.

At least that’s my assumption, though I hope I’m wrong.

Bottom line on Executive Club changes

This change is pretty in line with what I expect from airlines in 2015:

  • British Airways is being less rewarding to those on lower fares
  • British Airways is being more rewarding to those on expensive fares

From their perspective, short of an outright revenue based program, this is the next best way they can encourage “profitable” behavior.

The award chart changes for travel on British Airway are unfortunate, though hardly unexpected or unreasonable compared to what partners charge.

And I think many of us were scared they would gut shorthaul redemptions, given what an outrageously good value they are for travel within the US. But those values are mostly staying the same, so redeeming Avios for domestic US travel will continue to be a good deal.

However, for premium cabin partner redemptions this is a huge devaluation, unfortunately.

To sum it up, I think these changes are bad/horrible news for BA loyalists and casual points collectors, and overall bad news even for high revenue flyers (since the additional miles you earn for flying premium cabins will at best cover the increase in redemption costs).

How do you feel about the Executive Club program changes?

Comments

  1. Business is way more miles for band 4 and above as well
    So EI one way bos to dub is now 37.5k not 25k
    Same with biz on 2 cabin aa transcontinental and the CX jfk-yvr flight
    Stinks and pretty ridiculous
    They should change domestic first to biz but even if they did band 4 would be really expensive!

  2. Lucky, do you think there would likely be any changes to earning on partners’ flights? If not, does that mean it would be more beneficial for us to credit partner flights to BA?

  3. Sorry, just some math help needed. i believe ORD – NRT is zone 7. it’s currently priced at 90k avios one-way in F. based on the new chart, it’s by default peak pricing which is 120k?

  4. Time to make Aer Lingus DUB-BOS bookings ASAP. At least they aren’t changing redemption up till zone 3 but otherwise this is crap. The seat available guarantee is interesting though

  5. I’m Confused about the partner earning structure, too. Will it still be good for my friend living in Europe to credit transatlantic flights on Air Berlin and American to BA? She takes a lot of shorthaul european flights on Air Berlin and BA.

  6. Wow – What a downgrade. And I assume you still have to pay the same outrageous fuel surcharges and they’re not lowering those.

    Fortunately for me, I redeem Avios for shorthaul domestic flights, mainly US Air flights out of DCA. Doesn’t seem like those redemptions are changing.

  7. @ Jonathan — Still trying to figure that out, because I can’t seem to figure out the earnings rates for travel on partners. Hmmm…

  8. Ben – how will this affect earning on oneworld partners? I’m a BA Silver who books BA flights under AA codeshares and I know that I can earn 100% of miles even on the lowest fares (O, Q, etc.) With this new change, will AA earning rates be reduced, as well?

    Thanks~

  9. What is the impact to redeeming Avios for flights from US East Coast (Boston) to Dublin on Aer Lingus? From the charts above it seems like it is still 12,500 for one way in Economy?

  10. With the ease of earning BA miles these days, this isn’t a surprise. Hello, 100k sign up bonuses!

    I’m just grateful that the short haul redemptions in economy remain unchanged, and this was the major appeal of the BA program to start with.

  11. @ Kenny — Correct, it will continue to cost 12,500 Avios in economy one-way, but jumps to 37,500 Avios in business class, which is a 50% increase.

  12. It’s amazing to think how they can justify this when their premium cabin offerings are so far behind the competition, especially considering the mess that is Heathrow. I’m a GGL/CCR, and have already shifted paid F spend to AF. This will probably take me away from BA entirely.

  13. Thanks for the post Ben, I was still trying to decipher the email they sent out :p

    One question – is there any change to upgrade from premium economy to business?

    Thanks
    S

  14. OMG… This is devastating news! I mainly accumulate my Avios for long haul redemptions in premium cabins. The hike in avios redemption chart are ridiculously outrageous! Their argument of ‘you earn more avios from flying anyway’ does not stand because in I class, the avios cabin bonus remained unchanged, in fact being a Silver member, I earn LESS avios when I fly on a revenue ticket! This really pisses me off. Lucky, how does their long haul redemption chart for premium cabins compare to other airlines, eg American, Virgin etc? The new chart sounds really really high (i mean, 120000 for return to NY??)

  15. this is sad.
    i am so glad i did not transfer any amex rewards points to them, even with the bonus it’s a bad deal.

  16. I’m pretty sure they just absolutely slaughtered any benefits I had to staying loyal. As a BA silver flying mostly longhaul discount WT / WTP fares, I lose no less than 7500 avois earnt per trip. On the redemption side, I feel like I’m the monkey’s football. Time to re-evaluate shooting for AA plat / EXP instead.

  17. Thanks Lucky. That blows. Happy I can still get short-hauls for 4,500 Avios one-way. Not happy that any long-haul F or J flights are hideously expensive, especially considering the lack of routing on Avios. In Canada, there aren’t many options for points. And we only have Aeroplan and Avios as 1:1 transfer partners through Amex.

  18. One more thing. Based AA’s chart, redeeming AAdvantage points for a return flight from London to Beijing in BA’s Business class costs 105k, if i am not mistaken. Comparing this to BA’s new chart, it’s a lot cheaper! Am I wrong? In fact, in First class, with AAdvantage it’d cost 10,000 less points than what BA would charge for Business. Does this mean, I should start credting all my future flying miles to AA instead?

  19. Since Amex announced the 40% transfer bonus I had a bad feeling this was coming. I had all intentions to transfer my entire balance but decided to wait till the last minute. I am just glad I waited, as I am definitely not transfering anymore after these horrible news.

  20. They say all politics is local and maybe miles/points are as well: I transferred all my Amex points with the intention of using them for band 2 and 3 domestic AA flights, and at least that end of things hasn’t changed. So I’m happy, but I can certainly sympathize with those whose plans, unlike mine, are now disrupted.

    Note to self: don’t sit on those points too long!

  21. Hi Lucky,

    As most domestic flights within the US only have Economy or First Class. Will a First Class ticket in Zone 1 now cost 18,000 miles?

    Have you ever had any luck with getting BA to price a domestic First Class segment as Business Class?

    Thank you.

  22. @ Sanjay — Nope, they price first class at the first class price, even if it’s just two cabin first class. Agree that’s ridiculous.

  23. @ jake — Indeed much cheaper. There are often “arbitrage” opportunities between programs by taking advantage of favorable redemption rates with each program. As of now American has better earning and redemption rates, but it does depend on the fare classes you usually fly.

  24. @ Sunil — Heh, the communication on their part is indeed quite confusing. Best I can tell nothing has changed to upgrades from premium economy to business (which is indeed a great deal).

  25. Let’s all thank Delta for being the evil mastermind behind destroying the loyalty and award programs. They start, others follow. It will only go downhill from here.

  26. This would all be fine if they reduce the draconian fuel surcharges for reward flights. Otherwise the zone 4 increase alone is really bad. I wonder how the non-BA Avios fans are going to take this.

  27. I am mostly indifferent. Most of my miles come from credit card spending, so I don’t care too much about the changes to earning. My award goal is IAD-LHR in F/J, and the changes to that aren’t good, but don’t strike me as terrible, especially in comparison to programs like UA and LH.

  28. I think your “off peak 8 months of the year / peak 2 months of the year” formulation is missing two months of the year 🙂

  29. @Lucky, in your opinion, would you still recommend taking advantage of the current American Express reward point 40% transfer bonus to British Airways given the award chart devaluation?

    I currently have 180K membership reward points but I am not sure if I should still transfer the points over to BA as I have no plan on redeeming them any time soon. Just want a second opinion. Thanks!

  30. I have just enough avios to book the JFK-HKG-JFK CX flights in First at the current price, but there is no availability in first for the dates I need in September. Are those awards changing in price? If so, do you think it’ll be like United when they devalued, that I can book a flight for different dates, and then change it to the dates I need when availability opens without a change in price?

  31. @ Trevor — That’s going from costing 105K one-way in first to 140K. If you simply change the date then you should be able to still get the old price.

  32. Like others I am SO thankful I waited until the last minute to transfer from AmEx and glad I already got a good flight with the bonus. This sucks but I feel more for BA regulars.

  33. Thank you for your analysis Lucky! Appreciate it a lot. This devaluation sucks but I hope BA fuel surcharges will at least decrease given the lower prices of oil recently.

  34. Lucky – I was going to pick-up the Chase affiliated BA card for the 50K bonus. Is it still a good deal based on these changes or should I consider an alternate card?

    Thanks!

  35. Premium economy is going from 1.5x to 2x economy.

    Therefore upgrades from PY to J are going from 0.5x economy to 1x economy (basically doubling in cost, but they were probably underpriced to begin with)

  36. Wow the new earnings rate for deep discount economy really sucks!
    Definitely going to credit to AAdvantage now. Even without the low redeption rate for short hops its still a better deal for me than just earning 25%.

  37. Today is not a good day for me – as a Silver BA loyalist who flies Club to/from Philly to London, I’m earning less seeing that my tier bonus has been slashed in half so I’m probably going back to Bronze and losing the OW free lounge benefit that I love in the US (especially in Philly using the US lounges). As I manage the travel for the firm, I fly on the restricted tickets (I) so good to see that hasn’t changed but the real hit to my loyalty is the redemptions and connecting through London as I always stay a few days on either end of a trip in London. I have 2 travel together tickets to use and they were nicer at 80k rather than 120k.

    Will they also reduce the amount I credit to a partner now too? Is there anything to be gained by flying BA on an I ticket and crediting my US/AA account instead?

  38. For redemption in the US on AA/US:

    what do you think will happen?

    If it’s avail on AA web site at LOW award level, will it be bookable using AVIOS regardless of month?

  39. Lucky, any idea whether an award ticket booked before 4/28 will be able to be upgraded after 4/28 at current rates?

  40. Oh Man! I was planning using avios for aer lingus BOS-DUB this year. Wonder how this effects travel intra- Europe? I typically use avios for short haul flights throughout Europe too. Also, whats going to be the best option now for business class rewards to Europe? Thoughts anyone?

  41. And Iberia have just sent me an email with what appears, at a quick glance, to be very similar ‘enhancements’,

  42. As a US based flier with miles in lots of currencies, I have to say that keeping the shorthaul rates in economy the same is just fine for me. That is the area of the program that I would have expected most likely to be devalued. It looks like we are safe for another year or two with the real sweet spot of the program.

    The Chase BA companion pass is now worth even less.

    The only potential good news would be if the next announcement is that BA is lowering fuel surcharges or changing them a la Qantas.

  43. Time to look at other airlines..the changes decimate my avios and tier points. Unless your gold or buying club/business/first then the exec club isnt worth bothering with anymore. The added insult of having to pay connecting flights in the uk, means using avios for europe isnt worth it (unless you live in london).

  44. Glad I reserved some business class flights to and from South America in business using Avios for an upcoming trip. I’d love a post about any nice business products/routes that still might be a good redemption after this deval.

  45. @ Santastico – It’s not Delta you should be thanking, it’s Qantas. They are the granddaddy of devaluers and started in earnest way back in 2001 and as a result have turned their FF division into the most profitable part of the entire Qantas Group. Delta and the others are only playing catch-up. And if you want to see where things are headed, just check out the Qantas program. No redemption tiers, just nose-bleed rates for ‘Classic’ awards. If no Classic seats are available (which is fairly guaranteed), you can use your points to pay for the cash fare at a rate of 1 point = 0.78 cents!

  46. Hi Lucky I’m hailing from Dublin and am pretty new to the airmiles scene. I was inspired to start collecting BA avios by your articles on the use of avios to book Aer Lingus (EI) flights to the US.

    Can you say how will these changes affect the redemption rates currently in place for EI flights from DUB to the US (NY, Boston, Florida, San Fran)? From my reading of their email I just couldn’t make out if the price of reward seats in economy would stay the same or increase on EI after April 28th.

  47. Hi Lucky. This all seems very unfair. BA have encouraged their customers to collect Avios, buy extra etc and then devalue them for premium cabin use.

    My question is this…it seems from BA’s statement that changes to tickets bought prior to the April deadline will not be surcharged if changed at a later date. Clearly we cannot buy before April for say June 2016. If however we bought tickets for sahy December 2015 and then changed them when the June tickets become available is your understanding that this will only attract the usual change charges.

  48. @ Tar_000 — I think it’s still a great card for shorthaul redemptions. You can’t beat 4,500-7,500 Avios for shorthaul redemptions within the US, and that deal continues to be available.

  49. @ El Turk — Hmmm, I could be mistaken, but the way I read it, I don’t think so. You can make changes, but it seems if you upgrade after that date it would be at the new rates. I could be mistaken, though.

  50. @ Nicole Griffin — Redemption rates for Aer Lingus economy to the US are actually staying the same. Nothing to worry about. 🙂

  51. @ Joanna — Tickets have to be used within a year of the date of issue, so even the date you change your ticket to would have to be within a year of that date.

  52. I understand that – but would I have to pay extra Avios if I moved the flight after the April deadline?

  53. So whats going to be the best way to get to Europe in Business class now WITHOUT having to pay crazy fuel surcharges? Which airlines do you guys thing offer the best product and bang for our buck?

  54. Some halfway sorta decent news is that the Iberia chart actually looks quite a bit better than BA for travel on IB (in addition to the normal fuel surcharge savings). The Iberia Peak business class awards in bands 4-7 matches the BA off peak awards. And then the Iberia Off Peak is actually cheaper than current levels.

    Band 5 (Boston, Chicago, NY) – Peak is 50k one way (vs BA 60k) and Off Peak is 34k (vs BA 50k). So off peak to Madrid actually drops from 40k to 34k.

    Band 6 (LA, Miami) Peak is 62.5k and Off Peak is 42.5k vs the current 50k.

    On the other hand, the economy, short haul flights are actually slightly more with the new IB vs BA.

    So it seems like Iberia flights using Iberia Avios might be some of the best values out there now. Someone correct me if you see it differently:
    http://www.iberia.com/web/obsmenu.do?menuId=PROGRAMA2015&language=en

  55. Here’s a better link showing the difference between BA & IB charts:
    http://www.ibp2015.com/Avios-y-puntos-elite_en.pdf

    Oh – and by the way – IB Avios is still miserable for any other Oneworld carrier, as evidenced by the single partner chart at the bottom. The multi-partner award chart remains unchanged and obscene (88.5k one way band 4 in business).

    So this is truly only useful on IB itself.

  56. Hey Ben! Question for you. I tried finding the answer on my own as well as asking around, but no luck on my end so I thought you might be able to help me. So I know flights can now be booked on TAM for flights from Toronto to NYC/vice versa. I am seeing economy award availability on ba.com for roundtrip Toronto to NYC on TAM, but I am getting an error when booking online. So I called up BA and the agent told me they couldn’t see the same availability as what I was seeing online and online is wrong. Any thoughts on how I can book this? Or is what I am seeing online phantom availability and I am out of luck? Thanks in advance if you can help in any way or offer any insight.

  57. @ Ang — Unfortunately it might be phantom space. Did you try calling another onewoorld airline, like American, to see if they have access to the space?

  58. BAD NEWS. What exactly is the point of even flying BA … I fly regularly and will be looking at other airlines before BA from now on.

    Not a happy frequent flyer.

  59. Ben

    Can’t thank you enough for your detailed breakdown of the changes- especially for highlighting the fact that Partner awards will all be deemed Peak. I was a great fan of CX from N. America to HKG in business or first. I remember the days when a business class return was 100k points. It then moved to 140k, and after April 28 it will jump to 210k! I used up the balance of my account last night on CX for the last time. Availability on CX is definitely decreasing. A question- do you think the BAEC will allow date changes post Apr 28 without collecting additional points? If so, it might make sense to grab the space at the lower amounts now and then pfaff around with dates later. Cheers.

  60. @ Kara — That post is wrong, because all partner awards always price at the peak level. That suggests partner awards follow the peak/off-peak calendar as well.

  61. Basically BA have eviscerated their executive club program. They have hit silver flyers the hardest. The writer doesn’t mention tier points (the qualification for bronze/silver/gold) which has brought the number of tier points required for silver very near that of gold, making the silver level all but meaningless.
    They would have done far better, rather than pretending to “improve” the program to be forthright and simply to declare that they have a cost problem and they regret to say changes are necessary. What they did instead was to insult their best customers. As numerous comments ask: why now fly BA?

  62. @ Kara — So if the prices at best stay the same, how is that good news? The article is inaccurate:
    “For example, a one way flight from YVR to JFK prior to April 28, 2015 is 12,500 Avios. As of April 28, 2015, it will still cost 12,500 Avios during on peak schedule but if you book during non peak schedule, it will only be 10,000.”

    You can’t redeem on Cathay Pacific off-peak. YVR to JFK is only operated by a partner airline, and that’s at the peak level.

  63. Ouch! Pretty much the only award tickets still worth buying are Economy in Bands 1-3. Paying x4 for “first” class on domestic two-cabin planes is plain insulting — it’s usually cheaper to buy revenue tickets (although, I noticed that sometimes revenue Y tickets can be cheaper than using Avios).

  64. Since mid January, BA/Avios has removed all partner flights (AA or US air) from availability. It is no longer possible to find any domestic flights from Phoenix to any other US city no matter what dates or routings are tried.. This pretty much coincided with the timing of their announcement of rate changes. Anyone have any idea what is going on?

  65. Hey Lucky! I just wanted to give you an update and to thank you for answering me. I checked with AA and they couldn’t see the availability. I ended up calling BA again (on hold for 93 minutes!) and the agent saw the flights and successfully booked the two TAM flights using avios for me! She was telling me it never occurred to her to look at TAM for availability, but she did her thing and saw the flights and booked me! I am very happy right now! Thanks again! (oh yea, one weird thing was that she was seeing a higher tax than what i was seeing online and said maybe the tax was wrong and that’s why i couldn’t book online. she didn’t have an explanation as to why i couldn’t book the flights online, but did waive the fee for me.)

  66. $115,000 of business from my company in ’13, $124,000 in ’14. $26,500 so far in ’15. Projected spend on British Airways from Apr 28 onwards: 0. Cheerio, BA.

  67. i am wanting to book flights from london to sydney – leaving in feb 2016 and coming back in early april 2016. I can book the outbound flight now but the return flight probably only after the April deadline (as they only release the flights a year in advance) for the new scheme, which will require a whole lot more miles (I am booking business class), If I book my Feb outbound flight now with a return in late Feb and then later change it to an April return, will I just incur an admin fee or will i also be charged the additional points that apply after April?

  68. @ shelley — Tickets are only valid for a year from the date of issue, so you couldn’t book now for a trip you ultimately want to change to next April.

  69. Hi, I am currently silver with 600K in points. I also have two Amex companion tickets. I really think that BA have lost the plot on this one. I try to fly BA eve if they are more expensive but now feel that they take me and others for granted. As you know they have also announced the withdrawal of the shareholder discount scheme, so I am being dealt a double whammy. I have lost two companion tickets because of no availability. It is almost impossible to get a seat during the peak period. Any suggestions on the use of my mileage! Your explanation is excellent on the extent of the changes. Do you know how many people have complained to BA?

  70. Hi Lucky,

    I know a lot of people are trying to book flights before the devaluation while the cost is still cheaper but I have the reverse situation. I had booked a trip from LGA to BOS for 4,500 points each way on May 15 a while ago, but according to the new chart May 15 is actually off-peak and thus should cost 4,000 each way. Would I be able to call British Airways and get a refund/adjustment of 1,000 points? I don’t want to cancel the flight and rebook it, there’s no more availability.

  71. @ Brandon — Actually all partner awards always book at the peak rates, regardless of dates. So there would be no discount.

  72. Im trying to book tickets with Avios in Economy using American or US Airways but its only showing up in first class.. Is there a way to get around. I see there are tickets in American airlines for my segment- Dallas to New York..

  73. @ Solomon — It could be that there’s just first class award space and not economy award space. Did you go to American’s website to see if they have saver level award space available in economy? If so, it should also be available when redeeming British Airways Avios.

  74. I was looking at booking partner flights from the BA site…it appears with the change in the Avios program…BA now charges similar taxes to the BA flights? Used to be only a small redemption fee for partner airlines…now $200+ each way. I haven’t found this explanation on the BA site, anyone else had luck understanding this? It’s still only the small redemption fee when you go direct to the AA site.

  75. This sucks really but is pretty much in line with other airlines as others have said.

    My issue is reward flight availability. BA says it makes a minimum number of seats available and that may be true for flights originating in the UK. Try booking a return reward flight from Singapore there is next to nothing available except for some economy seats.

  76. @ Lucky BA IS NOT CREDITING PRE-APRIL 28th PURCHASED TICKETS WITH PRE-APRIL 28th Miles / Tier Points

    They are claiming this applies only to BA bookings and not those on OneWorld partners. Have a look at their Terms and Conditions — I booked many AA flights based on this (misleading) information in their FAQ … see below

    http://www.britishairways.com/en-us/executive-club/club-changes/faqs

    How do the changes affect existing bookings?
    If I have made a booking before 28 April for travel after 28 April, will I collect Avios and Tier Points based on the rules that came into effect on 28 April?

    No. All bookings made before 28 April will be honoured under the rules that were in place at the time of booking.

  77. @ Nick — Ouch, that’s kind of ridiculous. Do you have any written correspondence you could forward me, so I can write a post about it? That sucks!

  78. @ Lucky – I will be sure to forward you any and all correspondence I receive! I’m sure there are loads of people who specifically read the FAQ, saw that pre-April 28th TP/miles applied to all ‘bookings’ purchased before then, and then made a financial decision to fly a OneWorld partner instead of Star Alliance, or credit to Executive Club instead of a different earning partner in OneWorld.

  79. I think these new reward point system changes and promises on BA are a joke. They increased the number of points required for Business and First Class flights and did so on the basis of making more reward flights available. This has proved not to be the case. I have been trying to book two seats in either business or first from Vancouver to London everyday for the past 6 weeks and have not been able to book one return flight. Today I went online again and there are only single seats available on two dates from July 6, 2016 back to August 2015. I have been a loyal BA user but these new changes have really soured my opinion of British Airways.

  80. Last year I bought my parents over on Business class both ways from the UK for 160,000 points. This year, I am bringing them over Business one way and Economy plus the other for 200,000. This is the last straw with BA for me. I used to fly BA a great deal and had close to 500K miles I could never seem to use. By bringing my parents over a couple of times I’ve managed to use most of my BA miles now, so am going to switch my credit cards etc to another loyalty program where there is more availability on flights. No more BA for me!

  81. Well, I’m mortified. Have redeemed Avios over the last two years to upgrade premium to business return to Toronto and St Lucia for holidays having flown all my business trips with BA to accumulate. Both of those previous upgrades cost me 20k and 25k per person return. Just called BA to try and book a similar holiday this year to Jamaica to be told the upgrade cost would be 60k each.

    As with so many other people on here, BA’s disloyalty to their loyal customers will I fear lead to a loss of custom. Mine has now gone for sure. Their programme was an upside to a lesser cabin experience combined with silly pricing. No more.

  82. Dear BA,

    I have purchased 3 return tickets to London for me and the family, already travelled and I need to have them in my AVIOS program.
    How Can I do this?

  83. I frequently travel between London and Europe. The choice is between BA and Easyjet. Same service (except the horrible tiny BA sandwich), same planes, convenient airports, except one : until now (including in July, after the 28 April), as a Bronze Executive Club member I could choose my seat 1 week in advance. I discover today that on hand bagage flights only, I will not be able to choose my seat in advance anymore, not even when checking-in. And on filghts with luggages, I will be able to choose my seat when checking-in only. I earn now 10 tier points instead of 50 for each flight and a ridiculous number of avios. So my understanding is that BA does not want to reward anymore frequent travellers on national and european routes. Why pay more for the same service? BA is now definitively telling me “go back to Easyjet, they are as convenient as us and less expensive, and we don’t offer a better service for frequent travellers”.

  84. I have just lost all my Avios points without any warning. I have been saving points for a couple of long haul tickets to India. The account has not been active for some time because if you don’t live near Heathrow/Gatwick there’s just no point. Flights from regional airports have been cut creating long waits for short distances. I tried to get a Manchester to Munich flight recently —- 8 hours and 1 or 2 changes. with Singapore airlines, one and a half hours direct!
    Getting through to you is damn near impossible. I wish to retrieve my lost Avios points. How do I go about it? I wonder if this effort will bring a reply — nothing else has. If I don’t get a reply from someone soon don’t count on me to support Heathrow expansion; you’re not a national airline any more.

  85. The changes to reward flights have made it a ‘non starter’ for me to use Club World to fly 2 or 3 times a year to from Manchester to the Caribbean. All but one BA flight to the Caribbean depart from Gatwick and there are NO direct flights from Manchester to Gatwick on any airline. Until the changes the rewards made the hassle of getting to Gatwick (Man – Heathrow then taxi to Gatwick) just about worthwhile, but not anymore. Now it is much better for me to fly Virgin direct from Manchester, even though it has to be in Premium Economy as I actually like to sit with my wife on a flight, which is impossible in Virgin Upper Class..
    As there are virtually no BA flights from Manchester to Europe, I cant even use the points I have left on a short haul flight.

  86. I pay £150 pa for an Amex Premium card, which gives me 1.5 miles per £1 spend. This enables my wife and I to visit our son in California on Avios about every 18 months. The other times, we used to go World Traveller Plus at full price. Realising that we get a wider seat and more leg room but the same food as in World Traveller with a 50% cost increase, we tried Virgin Premium Economy with a through ticket from Manchester to LAX, using BA to go to LHR. WE enjoyed a far better standard that with BA. This time, Virgin said that BA wanted £1000 for their part of a full ticket. We paid £100 each to BA for the same return journey but they will not transfer baggage to a Virgin flight. In our late 70’s, this is pretty tough. Why are BA so greedy?

  87. Hi Lucky, I just came across this point. I wonder if you would know when does BA open their award seats. I contacted them yesterday as for htis year, den-vie is totally blank for June and that is when I need to fly. He said to check daily in order to see if they opened seats. We are one income family and I need to fly over because my parents can’t fly, I have 46000 avois and I know it will help in regular economy …. is there any trick how to make them open some award seats for me? I basically need either 2 or 1…depends on price. I need to use those points as I know I can fly us over for under $4000 with them (all 3.5 of us) but without points, we are talking anywhere $6000-$7200 and we just can’t afford that. I am also unable to locate someone who doesn’t need their miles/avios or are about to expire and we would be able to use them so it’s just me and my 46k avios that I need to use in June. Thankyou for the advice.

  88. I was a dedicated BA avios flyer, usually upgraded on points and flew 2-3 times a year from Canada to the UK for work. Then they changed their system. Despite what they promised, from what I could tell it seemed the number of rewards seats plummeted, and the games you have to play (keep checking back to see if there are more seats, etc) were onerous and frustrating. Planning far ahead doesn’t seem to work–I’ve looked at off peak travel in the autumn and there are no seats whatsoever. Not to mention many of the tools that were useful on the website (like the rewards map and other similar planners) have not worked in months. I pay CAD $165/year for a BA Visa and it does not seem worth it. Loyalty runs only one way in this system.

    Combine that with the fact that tier points disappear annually at the time one signed up, and you get a mix of existential frustration. If I book a flight April and then July my tier points stack up, but if I book a flight November and then January they do not (my turn-over is early Dec). (And don’t get me started about the meaningless taunt represented by the indicator showing “lifetime tier points” which count for nothing). It’s all weird and not very customer friendly.

    Then again, I’d never describe BA as customer friendly. More like epitomy of frosty cliched British passive-aggressive elitism. So I guess at least they’re consistent!

  89. About BA’s Avios Program, it’s nicely listed whats in the paper, unfortunately its not like that in practice.
    I have been with BA Executive club for over 10 years and not once had an upgrade, meanwhile i accumulated well over 300000 avios but am not allowed to use them on the destination i want to travel as they don’t give up any seats for these destinations while I am not even traveling in holiday seasons.
    At the same time my Partner and I have lost lots of companion vouchers of the same reason.
    Flying lots on business using business class tickets one would think BA would appreciate loyalty; Unfortunately that’s far from the facts, more fiction or perhaps history…!

  90. I joined the executive club a few years ago and decided to re-join it due to a trip to India & we upgraded so thought it may be worth doing! I even traded in some vouchers to boost the points. Being British I always was patriotic to my national carrier. Great flight out terminal 5 Heathrow and coming back well useless. Their BA app / website would not let us check in. Tried downgrading us etc. We were going to lose money too. Cheeky BA staff told us to claim difference off our holiday insurance. SO I tried to understand Avios and every time I click to see what I get with my points it leads me to layers of options. I emailed asking to cancel this scheme as it’s just not worth doing. British Airways is based Spain these days and I realise all the media software issues worldwide are not one offs. I have complained and got sent a stupid survey to fill out. They are the new budget airline. Our expensive flight was hugely overbooked on return. A national disgrace to the British. They don’t care and the executive club I never understood it years ago and it’s very complicated now. I would just go budget for European short flight anyway. So cheap these days. Long haul I will avoid them. So I am trying to cancel my executive club as I cannot see any benefit to having this? Joke club & if you are spending a lot of money you risk buying a product you may not get. We spent thousands £! We are working folk our treat for first time business class ruined by a greedy British / Spanish Airways.

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