Avios changes 5: exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule

Executive summary:  the ability to change the date of a redemption booking after April 28th without repricing means that you can lock in the cost of trips today even when you do not yet have firm dates.

Key link: ‘Club Changes’ page on ba.com

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A few loopholes are starting to emerge from the wreckage of the British Airways Executive Club Avios devaluation.  Here is one which will allow you to lock in the current pricing chart for 12 months.

Here are the other articles in this series you may have missed:

1.  Understanding the new tier point rules

2.  Understanding the new earning rates

3.  Understanding the new spending rates

4.  What is an Avios point worth after April 28th?

6. Why are off-peak upgrades now more expensive than peak?

7. Save 43% of your Avios on long-haul redemptions if you fly Iberia

8. Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on iberia.com

9. What will happen to airline partner earning rates?

10. Are you a winner or a loser overall?

In general, when BA has changed its tax structure or Avios reward chart, it has said that existing bookings are safe unless they are changed.  If you make a change, you must pay the recalculated fees or miles required as of the date of change.

This time it is different.

Look at the ba.com page relating to the changes and click on the FAQ section.  This is what you see:

Will I be able to change the dates of an existing reward flight after 28 April?

Yes. You will be able to make changes to your existing booking on or after the 28 April 2015 under the existing rules. This means, for example, that you will not have to use more Avios towards your existing booking if you need to change it after this date where under the new rules you would be required to use more Avios to make the same booking. This also means that you will not be refunded any difference in Avios if you make a change to your existing booking which would require you to use less Avios under the new rules. Please note change fees may apply.

What does this mean in practice?

British Airways 350 3

If you know that you will be travelling to a certain city before 27 April 2016 but you don’t know when, you should – before 27 April 2015 – book yourself some flights for a random date far in the future.

(The last date may be 17 April 2016 if BA works on 355 days rather than 12 months validity.)

This will lock in the pricing at the current rates.  The saving will be substantial.  If you are thinking of travelling to New York in the Autumn but cannot commit on dates, for example, you would pay just 80,000 Avios for Club World now compared to 120,000 Avios per person later.

As per the FAQ above, you can ring BA at any point and change the dates on your ticket.  Obviously reward availability needs to be there for the new dates you want, but in theory this will be easier under the new regime.  You will need to pay the £35 change fee per person but that is cheaper than spending an extra 40,000 Avios.

What could go wrong?

Two things.  Firstly, you may decide you don’t want to go to New York after all or you can’t find availability to switch.  You will lose £35 when you cancel.

Secondly, fuel surcharges may drop sharply by the time you rebook and you won’t benefit.  You can work around that by cancelling the original ticket for £35 and rebooking from scratch.  Make sure that the fuel surcharge saving is worth the additional Avios you will need.

There are two things about this strategy which are not clear:

The FAQ is not clear about what constitutes a ‘change’.  You can change your dates.  Can you change your destination though?  Could you swap a New York ticket for a Boston ticket?  We don’t know.

I am also assuming that the usual ’12 month ticket validity’ rules apply.  I imagine that you cannot push your ticket out beyond 12 months from the day you book.  The agent would need to cancel your original ticket and rebook which would presumably force you to pay the new rate.  I could be wrong about this and you may want to risk £35 per person by pre-booking a flight you want for Summer 2016 or later.

This method is not a panacea for everyone but some will be able to use it to put off the day when the new rates kick in.

Click for the next article – Why are off-peak upgrades now more expensive than peak?

What is an Avios point worth?
Reminder: Hilton sale ends tomorrow, bookable for every weekend in 2015
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Comments

  1. Does this rule also apply to redemption s made through iberia plus?

  2. erico1875 says:

    To me, this whole thing is about getting members to spend their stockpiled Avios ASAP.

  3. No, these are new rules so the new owners don’t have huge liability, also QR we giving reduced avios way back, which is why we stopped flying with them. So all the OW airlines saw an opportunity. QR don’t play fair with their lounges either.

  4. You write that if you take an award now at the reduced AVIOS needed and then want to change the date after 28/4, there are two things that could go wrong, the second being “fuel surcharges may drop sharply by the time you rebook and you won’t benefit. You can work around that by cancelling the original ticket for £35 and rebooking from scratch. Make sure that the fuel surcharge saving is worth the additional Avios you will need.” I think there is another major caveat that needs to be carefully considered: there may simply be no more availability so cancelling will be a possibility but rebooking may not. Just because you return your award to stock does not mean that it will immediately become available again. That it a gamble not a quantifiable risk!

    • I didn’t mean rebooking for the same flight – I was assuming (as it the gist of the rest of the article) that you had booked for a random date and were going to do a date change anyway.

  5. Its no surprise they are allowing changes after booking this time round They want you to burn those miles before 28 April. The cynic in me says that BA want you to change those Avios into bookings as soon as possible, so when they sell the company all these unused Avios are not such a huge liability on the balance sheet. The Avios company is far more sale able then. This panic to book they have very successfully caused this week, is achieving exactly what they want.

    • One small problem, the flight will have to be paid for so the business will have a lower liability by the estimated cost of the redemption but it will also have less cash by the actual cost of the redemption.

  6. Jordan D says:

    Small sidebar point: I think it is travel before 17 April 2016, due to the 355 day booking rule.

  7. Cheshire Pete says:

    I had flights booked in June 2014 booked for April 2015 to NY. For various reasons I cancelled in the end with no charge. Why? I had 4 flights in my booking coming from MAN via LGR. BA start making fine changes to their timetable around August thru to November. I had 3 out of my 4 flights cancelled and rebooked. Everytine BA make even the slightest change various conditions kick in including Full Refund with no Fee and forcing a rebooking within 750 miles of the original destination.

    So, if you also take this into account you can certainly avoid any £35 fee at all, and also you gave the chance to rebook Free of charge. Worth remembering.

    • This used to be a big trick with BMI redemptions. You booked out of Dublin to avoid APD. As soon as BMI moved the Dublin flight by 5 minutes, you rang up to cancel that leg. They never repriced the APD and you got to start in London!

  8. Ask a stupid question but….
    I want to go to Japan in May 2016 in club world and have a companion voucher. Can I book travel now for a random day this year and then in May this year change the tickets for May 2016? I think I can but confirmation would be wonderful

    • Spoke to BA last night who said that provided there is no passenger name change or routing change, then a date change is permitted up to 365 days from the date of issue. ( NOT the date of the outbound flight, but the date you redeem the Avios) So Benny, in your case that would mean that assuming there were seats available to book on 27th April 2015 you could travel up to 17 April 2016. A change to a new passenger or a different route would require a recrediting of miles to your account and a reissue of the ticket which would then come under the new rules.

      • Thanks for the reply Rob but im still not clear. I can book upto 17 April 2016 but could I change the booking date to May 2016 once the tickets become available (assuming no change in passengers or route)

        • No – not according to BA. You have to make your booking by 17 April 2015, the ticket will then be issued on or around that date. The ticket MUST be used within 12 months, so May 16 is a month outside the validity of the ticket.

        • No

      • I guess I lose my Amex 241 (exp Dec 15) if I do a date change?

  9. Does this apply to just BA flights booked through BAEC or does it include flights with partners e.g. Qatar? I’d like to use my miles to book a trip to Dubai or Abu Dhabi but my health isn’t the best at the moment so would like to be able to change.

    Also, I’ve been looking at flights and it seems that its impossible to book Business Class flight with Qatar, only Economy and First. Any ides why this is

    • Depends where you are flying from, but Qatar only fly to dubai and Abu Dhabi from Doha. They only have economy and first on those flights.
      Put your destination as Doha and you should get business flight options, then do a separate booking for Doha – Abu Dhabi/dubai

  10. Is it possible to book a flight now for the future and then subject to availability use a 2-4-1 voucher to add a 2nd passenger to the booking?

    • Unlikely. You have more chance if you book for 2 at full Avios and find an agent who would let you apply a 241 and refund half the Avios, but I don’t know how easy it is to do this. I know it can be done but is not policy.

    • very unlikely

  11. Thanks. I cancelled a booking (2 return cw tickets) and rebooked for a different destination. I was hit with A £100 cancellation fee. Does this sound right? I thought it would be £70. I imagine I also ended up paying more fees to book over the ‘phone.

  12. What happens if you book using your 2 for 1 amex voucher but then try and extend it further than the validity date of that voucher? Would you lose the booking completely?

    Thanks

    • Good question but pretty sure it would not be allowed.

    • Even now the website will only let you change such a booking within the voucher validity; can’t see why that would change. If you’re asking if you can push the dates back, withdraw the voucher and switch to paying for both passengers (at the current rates, not revised rates) I doubt it.

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      I think the return Leg can be after the expiry date. But can’t remember where I saw this, unless I dreamt it!

  13. Can you now comment on this Acquisition, of 9.9 pct of IAG by Qatar Airways thrown into the mix of the downgrading of the Avios program, , is this a precursor of the intent to put the entire Airline up for Sale ?

  14. OT but TESCO CC to Virgin have a 30% bonus

  15. I was already planning to take advantage of a CW redemption in March/April 2016 so in theory, these changes to BAEC should help me as more reward seats are available. Unfortunately as I need to book three seats for my family (2 x adult, 1 x child and 2 x infant) I seem to be scuppered as every flight in every month appears to have no more than the minimum two guaranteed seats.

    BA’s FAQ’s on this state:

    “The minimum number of reward seats will be available 355 days before travel but once booked there is no guarantee that we will release any additional reward seats – although we do tend to make more reward seats available as we get closer to the actual travel date.”

    I could obviously just travel WT+ and guarantee all seats however if I absolutely want to travel CW what are my options? Could I book two CW redemptions for two adults and two infants and then add the third seat to the booking at a later date (at the higher redemption rate) IF another one were to become available? If the third seat never materialised then presumable I can cancel at cost of £70.00?

  16. Needroos says:

    Slightly OT. I booked a return F to HKG using my AMEX 2 4 1. Could I cancel the return leg and keep the outgoing fight? Or would I loose the entire booking with no guarantee I would find the original LHR-HKG flight.

  17. TheChiefExecutive says:

    In respect to the booking 355 days ahead with the Amex 241 I was expecting that BA’s promise of 2 CW seats on every BA flight would open up early 2016 (as being discussed here).

    I have checked LHR – Sydney from about 6am (and earlier) the last few days and there is nothing showing at all. Only WT/economy shows availability (not even premium economy) I realise this is a popular route and maybe the seats have been released but I have missed them. My question is do BA state when they will release the 2 CW seats per BA flight, and is it 355 days in advance.

    Final question – if availability did open up outbound for the furthermost date how would you book the inbound with a 241 when the dates aren’t yet available?

    From Rob P’s comments it would appear that with a 241 even if the validity extends for the voucher the flight can never be changed to depart beyond 355 days of the original booking.

    Jerry

  18. Is this good for non-BA bookings too? Thinking of making a provisional MEL-DOH-EDI booking for next year and would be handy to lock it in at this Avios price but be able to change date for no extra Avios (although would be torn with using SQ as free date changes with them and better product ex-MEL, although DOH-EDI on 787 looks nice and lack of LHR connection a definite bonus!)