Why You Might Want To Redeem American Miles On British Airways Now

Yesterday I posted a reminder about the upcoming British Airways Executive Club devaluation, which was first announced in January.

The new award chart kicks in on April 28, 2015, and I explained who should he rushing to redeem miles:

  • If you’re booking economy awards, there’s no advantage to booking now
  • If you’re booking off-peak awards on British Airways metal in economy and shorthaul business class, awards will actually get cheaper
  • Virtually all other awards will get become more expensive, including premium cabin partner awards

British-Airways-Club-Europe

So while one of my favorite uses of Avios will remain unchanged (shorthaul economy awards), you’ll want to ticket those premium cabin partner awards as soon as possible.

But there’s one other aspect of the British Airways devaluation which I think shouldn’t be overlooked. As I explained, British Airways is introducing peak awards, whereby over roughly four months of the year more Avios will be required to redeem for awards on British Airways/Iberia metal.

Here’s what the peak and off-peak calendar looks like for British Airways in 2015:

BA-Peak

Meanwhile here’s what the peak and off-peak calendar looks like for Iberia in 2015:

Iberia-Peak-Season

I certainly could be wrong, though my guess is that an unintended consequence of this is that partner miles can only be redeemed for travel on off-peak British Airways/Iberia dates.

In other words, I would speculate that as of April 28, 2015, all “peak” date British Airways awards will be blocked for members of AAdvantage, etc. At least this is the approach virtually all other airlines take — “peak” awards aren’t bookable with partner miles.

Now, I avoid redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel on longhaul British Airways flights due to the fuel surcharges, but British Airways shorthaul flights are invaluable for “completing” American awards within Europe, for example. In other words, when I needed to fly from Toulouse to Bahrain in December, I flew from Toulouse to London on British Airways, and then from London to Bahrain on Gulfair.

British-Airways-A380-Business-Class

That likely won’t be possible over peak dates in the future.

Other than British Airways/Iberia, American only otherwise partners with airberlin, Finnair, and S7 in Europe, so that really would limit options for intra-Europe travel using AAdvantage miles over peak dates.

Bottom line

If you are looking at redeeming American miles for travel to Europe in summer or over the holidays, you might want to try and lock something in over the next week or so. There are some destinations which are best served by British Airways, and over peak dates they might become off limits for AAdvantage members as of next week.

Just something to be aware of…

Comments

  1. Nice pick up Ben, but has any of your contacts at AA or BA confirmed this? With intra europe award availability declining, that really hurts the # of destinations that AA miles offers.

  2. Amen to JL. That would eliminate the ability to use American miles to go to much of Europe (all but the Western-most cities that it happens to serve) unless you’re willing to play ball with unprotected connections ….would probably convince me to make those trips happen without the use of oneworld at all. a shame because, if you’re willing to sit in coach, i think american opens a decent number of seats on the TATL segments (although nada in J!).

  3. Unfortunately the shorthaul-awards will also be changed. It wont be possible to book flight reward savers from central europe to other UK destinations than London for 4500 Avios+18GBP taxes oneway. You will have to book two separate awards after the devaluation.

  4. wow- if that happens, would really suck. Most OW awards involve a stop in London, and onward transfer. Would hate to lose the ability to do that.

  5. Ben,

    Sorry this might be a newbie question…Can I fly AA and credit my miles to British Airways Avios?

  6. I see the concern, but I don’t get the impression this will happen. They have framed the peak dates as the normal award price and the off peak dates as a discounted price. I think this will be similar to what AAdvantage currently does where they offer discounted awards to certain destinations. I don’t think that will affect the availability of partner awards, but I don’t know anything.

  7. I might be mixing up what I read, but I thought all partners would always be redeeming at peak, they just won’t have the off-peak option.

  8. As Tom said, I’m not sure that’s how it’ll work. The FAQs from BA say, “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.” My take is that you’ll be able to get awards on AA as before, but it’ll price as peak even during the periods when BA discounts the avios price of their own metal.

  9. @Blake and @Andy – You’re applying BA’s rules to AA’s. Those terms only apply to redemption of Avios points. It doesn’t dictate how AA prices their awards.

    That being said, I hear what you’re saying, Lucky, but I think this isn’t like other airline programs’ peak dates given this is just SO many dates that are deemed peak (I think about a third of the year).

  10. Hi Ben,

    You mentioned that you travelled from TLS to BAH through LHR on BA379 ad GF2, redeeming 30k American miles for business class. I’m relatively new to redeeming American miles with its partners and I’ve read your thorough post on AA award rules (http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/06/08/american-aadvantage-award-routing-rules/), but my understanding was that in order to redeem miles there must be a valid tariff on most significant carrier.

    In this case the most significant carrier is BA. I checked available fares and to my understanding there is a tariff that allows travel between TLS and BAH on BA through LHR, but that tariff doesn’t allow travel on GF. Does that mean that only the route taken must be on a valid fare (this case BA fare), but I can travel on any oneWorld/AA partner airlines, like you did on BA and then on GF (even though BA fare didn’t allow travel on GF).

    Thanks!

  11. Used 55K Aadvantage (with 5K rebated from the current Aadvantage Aviator card) for J class US-BKK on JAL and CX. AA doesn’t allow stopovers, but I maxed, at 23 hours, the international 24 hour connecting time allowed to break up a long trip. Used 15K Avios for BKK-SIN CX J class on their A330 nonstop w/lie flat seat. Spent 90K LifeMiles for SIN-NRT-SEA for ANA first class 777-300ER. Some good mile usage available with the right planning. Taxes were minimal as is the case with Asia. Happy travels.

  12. @ TokinaMaso — Great question! In this case GulfAir is actually the most “significant” carrier (since they’re operating the longhaul flight), and they do publish a fare between TLS and BAH.

  13. @ Tom — I certainly could be wrong, though I’m not quite as confident as you guys are, since we’re talking about British Airways here.

  14. @ Jared — Yep, you sure can! You can credit miles from American to any oneworld carrier, and even some other partners (like Alaska).

  15. @ Daniel — It’s not *that* different than Korean Air. They have about three months worth of peak dates.

  16. @lucky Yes, of course you’re right about the most significant carrier here because it’s two different IATA subareas. However that doesn’t still answer the question on mixing carriers on a single award. I was checking and neither does GulfAir allow BA on it’s fare. So can we mix and match carriers as long as we use a valid route on MSC fare? Because neither BA fare allows GF flights nor GF fare BA flights.

    Let me give you an example where I might want to use it. AUH to AYQ (through SYD) in AU. EY has a fare between AUH and AYQ, but the second leg SYD-AYQ is on Virgin Australia (which is neither in oneworld nor AA partner). Of course the fare doesn’t allow QF on this fare. So the question is could I use as a single award a combination AUH-SYD on EY and then SYD-AYQ on QF?

  17. @ TokinaMaso — The airlines don’t have to match what’s published in the fare. As long as the “significant” carrier on the fare publishes a fare in the market, you can make the connecting flights on other partner carriers which aren’t necessarily permitted with the fare.

  18. Wow, thanks for the answer! Perhaps it’s an important detail and also beneficial for others to add to your otherwise perfect post about AA redemption. And that certainly makes my travel planning much easier 🙂

  19. My comment above is just a guess. I would think there would be an uproar from AA customers if their mileage trips were limited to the cities that AA flies to directly on many days

  20. @Lucky

    Was planning on booking the next few days BUD-LHR (BA)-LHR-DOH on QR in J using AA miles. Is it best to book prior to 4/28 or after? FWIW the date I want in Dec is not marked as a peak period.

  21. @Lucky

    Disregard my above post as it looks like the travel date is actually a peak time. Is it possible to place a hold on the intra europe award using AA miles on 4/27 for 5 days to give you more time to actually ticket the award? Just didn’t know if holding the space prior to 4/27 and than ticketing a few days later would be possible? Would love to know if that is possible to do to avoid losing out on the BA Europe award segment.

  22. It certainly is going to be unseemly if BA is charging nealy twice as many miles as AA would for the same trip. Right now, to book LAX-LHR-ATH, for example, is 95,000 avios in F, but 62.5k using AA. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. But next week, that same trip is 120k Avios on peak dates. It’s hard to imagine BA charging that much when AA members can book for 62.5k.

    But what’s AA going to do if BA blocks peak dates? BA is the only thing that saves them from appearing to have no award space to Europe. They would have months with not a single premium seat to Europe unless they start opening AA or US flights a little more.

  23. Sadly I think you’re wrong, Ben – from an availability perspective for those of us with Avios and no easy way of earning AA miles this change would be amazing) although I appreciate it would suck from the AA redeemer POV!), but I really don’t think they’ll do this. Most others that have peak/off-peak do it based on availability, here BA is predetermined which dates will be which.

  24. @Lucky

    Question: Citi told me they are sending out my points to AA tonight. How long does it take from when AA receives the points usually for then to post to the account usually?

  25. @ Dan — Transferring from what? Points from a sign-up bonus, your monthly spend, or what? When does your statement close?

  26. @Lucky

    Now April 28 has come and go. Is your prediction still holding true that BA isn’t releasing space to partners on peak dates?

  27. @Ben – hehe, told you so 😉 (although like I say doesn’t mean I don’t wish you weren’t right!)

  28. @ Noel — You can’t. You can redeem British Airways Avios for travel on American, but can’t transfer points between accounts.

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