One Week Until The BA Avios Devaluation — Here’s What To Book Now

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Earlier in the year British Airways announced a substantial devaluation to their Executive Club program. These changes kick in as of April 28, 2015, which is a week from today.

Executive-Club-Changes

I thoroughly covered all the changes when the devaluation was first announced, so check out that post if you haven’t seen it or need a refresh of the changes.

There are things you can do to maximize the redemption side of things over the next week, so I’ll focus on that in this post.

As a reminder, British Airways has a (roughly) distance based award chart. Here’s the current award chart, which is valid for bookings through next week (prices shown are one-way):

Avios-Chart

Meanwhile here’s the new award chart, which will kick in for bookings made as of April 28, 2015 (notice how it has off-peak and peak travel dates):

New-Avios-Redemption-Chart

With that in mind, what action should you take with your British Airways Avios over the next week?

Awards you don’t have to book now

From the perspective of a US points collector, the single greatest selling point of Avios is how useful they are for shorthaul award redemptions. Given the distance based award chart, Executive Club charges the following for shorthaul redemptions:

  • 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

The important thing to keep in mind is that the single best use of Avios isn’t changing with the devaluation — you can continue to redeem Avios for shorthaul economy redemptions at the same cost as before.

Are those redemptions aspirational? No. But they’re practical, especially as the cost of last minute domestic airfare continues to rise. I redeem Avios for domestic tickets multiple times a month, and can never have enough Avios.

For that matter, the cost of all economy partner awards is staying the same, so if you’re looking to redeem for an economy flight, there’s no need to book now.

Awards you should wait to book

There are a very small subset of flights going down in price. Specifically, select off-peak awards will be cheaper under the new chart than they are under the current chart. Keep in mind that off-peak awards apply exclusively for travel on British Airways/Iberia, so these aren’t useful for partner award redemptions.

Furthermore, shorthaul off-peak business class awards on British Airways go down in price (specifically for travel of up to 2,000 miles one-way).

For reference, here’s a calendar which shows which dates are considered peak and which are considered off-peak (about eight months of the year are off-peak):

BA-Peak

Awards you should book now

That leaves us with the awards you should book within the next week… which is everything not mentioned above. In other words, now is the time to book premium cabin awards on British Airways’ partner airlines, as they’re increasing in price almost across the board.

Here are a few of my favorite redemptions:

  • 25,000 Avios for one-way business class on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin, which is possibly the single best award value for transatlantic travel
  • For the most part there are no fuel surcharges for travel on LAN and TAM, so booking travel to/from/within South America in business class is an excellent value
  • Aside from Aer Lingus, the other best transatlantic business class value is on airberlin, as they don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions
  • While Cathay Pacific longhaul business class redemptions aren’t that great of a value (given the distance based award chart), Avios can be incredibly valuable for shorthaul travel within Asia and to Australia, the Middle East, etc.

Aer-Lingus-Business-Class-5
Aer Lingus’ new business class

Lots of ways to earn Avios

As a reminder, if you want to make an Executive Club redemption but don’t have quite enough Avios, worry not! British Airways is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Here are some of the best ways to transfer points from Executive Club:

CardCurrent BonusDetails
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, plus an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make their first purchase within three months• $95 annual fee, waived the first year
• No foreign transaction fees
• 2x points on travel and dining
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressAmex EveryDay®: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
Terms and Conditions apply
Amex EveryDay®:
• Get 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X). Earn 1X points on other purchases.
• Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred:
• Earn 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X). Earn 2X points at U.S. gas stations. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
• Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express25,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $2,000 within three months
Terms and Conditions apply
• $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195
• 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN50,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within three months
Terms and Conditions apply
• $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
• 3X points on one category of your choice from the following: Airfare purchased directly from airlines; U.S. purchases for advertising in select media; U.S. purchases at gas stations; U.S. purchases for shipping; U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. 2X points on the 4 remaining categories. 1Xpoints on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter.
Mercedes Benz Platinum Card from American Express50,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 within three months
Terms and Conditions apply
Annual fee: $475
• No Foreign transaction fees
• Lounge access with Delta, Priority Pass Select, and others; access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts; a $200 annual airline fee credit, 20% Travel Bonus when using Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
The Platinum Card® from American Express40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months
Terms and Conditions apply
Annual fee: $450
• No Foreign transaction fees
• Lounge access with Delta, Priority Pass Select, and others; access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts; a $200 annual airline fee credit, 20% Travel Bonus when using Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENEarn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points! Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Terms and Conditions apply
• Annual fee: $450
• No Foreign transaction fees
• Lounge access with Delta, Priority Pass Select, and others; access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts; a $200 annual airline fee credit
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Then, earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.• $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
• Get a 25% bonus when transferring 20,000 points to an airline partner
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American ExpressLimited Time Offer: Earn up to 35,000 bonus Starpoints® - Offer ends 04/05/2017. Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.• $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
• Get a 25% bonus when transferring 20,000 points to an airline partner
British Airways Visa Signature® Card50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 within three months• $95
• No Foreign transaction fees
• 1.25x Avios per dollar spent
• Companion certificate valid for second passenger on British Airways award reservation after spending $30,000 on the card annually

The good news is that transfers from Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards are instant, so you can transfer them with plenty of time to spare before the devaluation.

Bottom line

If you’re looking at making a premium cabin redemption on a partner airline, you should absolutely aim to redeem your Avios within the next week.

If you’re looking to book on Aer Lingus, I’d recommend doing so sooner rather than later. Aer Lingus awards need to be booked by phone with British Airways Executive Club, and hold times are consistently extremely long. I’m sure they will only get worse as the devaluation date approaches.

Personally I’m very tempted to redeem for another award in Aer Lingus business class, given that they have a new business class product and have improved their service model. I just have to lock in dates now…

Meanwhile if you’re looking at an economy partner award, there’s no rush to book. And in some cases, the cost of British Airways-metal off-peak awards will be going down.

Do you have any awards you’re hoping to book before the Executive Club devaluation?

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Comments

  1. My understanding is that you can book now at the lower Avios rate, and if you want to change the dates later on, for a small fee, you can do this & rebook at the original Avios rates. IE book LHR – JFK – LFR for September, canx original dates and rebook for November.

  2. Wish we knew the 2016 peak dates. What I’m looking at will still be cheaper this week but it’s either 10,000 or 25,000 cheaper which helps inform whether or not to be speculative. I hope AmandaB is correct.

  3. my dilemma is that I have a companion voucher which only applies to redemption on BA metal. Does it mean I should book now too? I have a trip to HNL in July, in J/F. I’d ideally like to accumulate these points before redeeming, so that we fet more options with more miles to use. The catch of course is the devaluation. Though with the 2-for-1 voucher it should still work out less miles than the old redemption chart.

  4. best to me, and use as much as possible:

    Business class within Europe. Solid
    Air Berlin when I work in our Munich filiale. Very convenient and lots of availability within days of departure

    that Air Lingus award is tempting. I like the term too…

  5. Thanks for the reminder!

    I booked domestic Business class LAX-MIA combined with Coach MIA-TPA RT at what was a relatively good deal (59k miles). Most domestic AA flights that are 2 class cost triple to fly up front but a 3 class is only double if you sit in Business. AA’s 777 3 class business is a nice use. I think if I included TPA on the whole ticket and sat up front, it would have been triple? Or is it calculated segment by segment (i.e., in F for one segment, the whole thing prices as F)?

  6. You say there is nothing you can do on the earnings side to maximise that side of the equation but you can – flights ticketed before the changeover date earn miles based on the current mileage earning charts, regardless of when you fly, so if you know your travel dates and don’t expect prices to fall for your trip you should book now to get 100% of the miles flown, as opposed to much lower levels for discounted tickets in the future.

  7. One other question – isn’t there a BA flight MLE-CMB? I can’t seem to find it on BA. Sri Lankan airlines doesn’t make anything available in business class it seems.

  8. if we count previous deval, yes you can change at original points and charges. i did it in Jan 12

  9. How far in advance can you book an award ticket with BA? We want to go September 2016. Thanks.

  10. @Cindy Guy
    355 days in advance

    @beachfan
    BA to Maldives is seasonal now, Oct – March only. Award flights are very rare.
    You can book economy Sri Lankan flights if you phone the BA CS team, but not on BA.com. J tickets dont seem to be available at all.

  11. If I speculatively book something now, will I be able to change date/routing/class of service later and rebook under the current award chart? What if i change origin/destination? What is the cash charge for a change like that (same $40 it’d cost to redeposit?) Thanks!

  12. This makes the chase companion certificate even more worthless. Let’s see, JFK-ORY:
    BA fare sale w/AARP & BA card: $2,400ish for two people
    pre-deval BA companion pass: 80,000 miles + $2000ish
    post-deval BA companion pass: 120,000 miles + $2000ish
    no thanks.

    Let’s hope that this leads to more chase 100k avios offers to compensate.

  13. BA doesn’t charge a fee to cancel an award booking, right? I am thinking of making a booking for my flight back from Oman on Qatar, despite the fuel surcharges, but canceling it if something better pops up on Eithad or Emirates.

  14. @ turgutbey — I could be mistaken, but I believe date and time changes won’t be repriced, while routing/origin/destination changes would be repriced.

  15. @ beachfan — As noted above the flight to MLE is seasonal, but I believe the CMB-MLE flight has been cut altogether.

  16. @ beachfan — It’s calculated segment by segment. Sometimes when you put mixed cabins on the same itinerary the pricing screws up, but at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.

  17. @AmandaB, that’s when I was looking (Jan 2016). Does the flight from London to MLE still go through CMB in one direction or the other?

    It looked like Sri Lankan was bookable on BA.com, it showed economy class availability on several routes.

  18. @ Lantean — It does slightly lower my valuation of Avios, though not my valuation of any transferable points currencies.

  19. @ Jake — Yeah, if possible I’d book before the devaluation for first class on BA metal. Keep in mind you can’t use the companion certificate all the way to Hawaii, since British Airways doesn’t fly there.

  20. @Lucky just read on flyertalk that Aer Lingus is 330 days out. Went to their site to try to book a cash ticket and it said you can only book paid fares 330 days out.

  21. You should probably mention the Iberia and BA peak award charts DO NOT line up when looking for which awards would be peak/non-peak awards to book.

  22. Lucky – wrt David’s question above re: where to look for award seat availability, in this case for Aer Lingus, and your answer “on United’s website.” I have frequent questions about this very issue. It’s not intuitive to look on United’s site for Aer Lingus availability. Some of the major players have their availability on their home site but many do not. Can you refer me to a review/summation on this topic; have you create a chart that clarifies this issue? Thanks.

  23. @ bobbieddie — I’ll see what I can do to write a post, thanks for the idea. This stuff is constantly changing, so it’s kind of tough to write a single consistent overview, unfortunately.

  24. BKK-NRT on JL in business (on a 787) comes in just under 3000 miles. A great value for 25,000 Avios + TTL.

  25. @ lucky: thanks and I second #bobbieeddie request too, it would be helpful for many and clear the confusions!

  26. Sorry but I am a little lost… This summer on a peak travel date I booked 4 people on a one way ticket from BUD-LHR-ATL in premium economy for 45k pts each… Will that cost more next week? Sorry for a repeat….

  27. I’m waiting for 50K to drop into my account from BA Chase card. Met the requirements after a couple of days of receiving the card mid-month. Does anyone know how long it usually takes for it to be deposited? If it won’t deposit in time will need to make alternative arrangements.

    Can someone confirm if booking J now and changing class of service will it be repriced? How competent are BA agents? When UA devalued I was able to upgrade to higher class of services without paying new prices; hoping the same for BA. 😉

  28. @ Austin — The Avios should post as soon as the statement closes. Don’t quote me on this, but I do think changing the class of service will trigger a reprice. I could be wrong, though.

  29. @ Bryan — The price will go down if it’s over off-peak dates, while it will go up if it’s over peak dates.

  30. Thanks @ben! How wise would it be to book F on a different flight from my wife and kid in hopes that I can get F on their flight closer in? Oh an BTW, kid is only 2 and will be travelling on own PNR…
    Am I answering my own q?!

  31. Ugh did not plan soon enough! Got the BA card on the last day of the 50k mile promotion but just activated and started using so no avios yet. Am trying specifically for a bos – dub flight in early October. Does not having avios now to book mean I won’t get the flight?? Is there anything I can do?? Will be so bummed to miss out!

  32. @ Jeannie K. — You can still book Aer Lingus after April 28, though it will just be at the higher award cost, unfortunately.

  33. so it seems like AA still has access to BA award inventory evn on “peak days”… i guess not much damage down to the alliance.
    i only checked July 4 but i’d guess it applies to all days.

  34. @Austin @Lucky Changes to class of service for flights booked prior to April 28th are still pricing under the old chart. I was just able to upgrade from economy to business on a December Aer Lingus flight DUB-BOS for just an additional 12,500 Avios and a $55 change fee! Excited to be getting one last trip out of this award chart gem and trying their new fully flat seats for the first time.

    Confirmed that this is official policy with BA on Twitter as well. https://twitter.com/British_Airways/status/630324901187035136

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