British Airways has a distance based award chart, which usually works out quite favorably for shorthaul awards, and doesn’t work out quite as favorably for awards spanning further distances.
The program has proven awesome for many in North America, given that British Airways charges the following amounts for shorthaul travel on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines:
- 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
This has meant you can fly routes like New York to Toronto or Seattle to Vancouver for just 4,500 Avios one-way, which is a fantastic value.
As I first reported last October, British Airways is devaluing this award in a very specific way for members traveling to or from the United States.
As of 10:00AM GMT on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, British Airways is adjusting award costs for shorthaul awards to/from the United States. Specifically, for flights of 650 miles or less, the cost is changing as follows:
- From 4,500 Avios to 7,500 Avios in economy
- From 9,000 Avios to 15,000 Avios in business
- From 18,000 Avios to 30,000 Avios in first
For a couple more days, redeem as few as 4,500 Avios for travel on Alaska Airlines
This means that British Airways is merging the first two “tiers” for awards to/from the United States, so that flights covering 1-1,151 miles will all cost the same.
So if you’ve been eying any shorthaul bookings, you’ll want to book them in the next couple of days. Keep in mind that you can book travel for dates after February 2, 2016. You can even change awards after February 2, though you’ll be subjected to the standard change fee on Avios awards, which is $55.
If you do need to cancel such an award, keep in mind that there’s a workaround to pay less. If you cancel and redeposit an Avios ticket, you can either choose to pay the $55 cancellation fee, or otherwise can choose to simply forfeit the taxes and get the Avios refunded. Since domestic awards have taxes of $5.60, you could book a ticket for 4,500 Avios plus $5.60, and then if you needed to cancel you’d simply forfeit the $5.60 in order to get the 4,500 Avios back.
The last full day to book awards for 4,500 Avios to/from the US is Monday, so you’ll want to book by then if you want to take advantage of this deal. While it’s a big devaluation for sure, personally it won’t impact me too much. Most of the shorthaul awards I booked using Avios were for travel between 651 and 1,151 miles, and those awards will continue to cost 7,500 Avios.
Are you booking any last minute awards to/from the US for 4,500 Avios?