Reminder: quick summary of the April 28th Avios changes

There are only nine days to go to book your flights before the big Avios devaluation kicks in!

I wrote a series of ten articles starting here which explain, in worrying levels of detail, exactly what will happen.  For everyone else, here is a reminder of the key changes which are coming your way in terms of Avios redemptions (there are also changes to Avios and tier point earning rates which are in the articles above):

British Airways 350 2

Economy (Eurotraveller, World Traveller) redemptions are NOT increasing in price.  Because of the new ‘off peak’ and ‘peak’ redemption schedule, some economy rewards will actually get cheaper on off-peak dates.  If you only redeem for economy tickets, you have nothing to worry about ….

…. unless you live in the regions!  BA currently includes domestic connections to Heathrow for free on European redemptions.  Manchester – Heathrow – Nice is charged the same as Heathrow – Nice.  For new bookings from April 28th, you will be charged additional Avios for Manchester – Heathrow.  This will DOUBLE the cost of some European redemptions for regional flyers and the minimum increase will be 9,000 Avios + £35 return.

If you redeem in premium cabins, you have a LOT to worry about.  The biggest devaluation is in Club World (long-haul business class) where redemptions on peak dates will cost 50% more.  Dubai, for example, jumps from 80,000 Avios points return to 120,000 Avios points.

Club World redemptions on off-peak dates (which include every Tuesday and Wednesday) increase by ‘only’ 25%.  However, ALL redemptions on partner airlines will be at peak pricing, whatever day of the year you fly.

In terms of percentage rise, the cost of upgrading from World Traveller Plus (premium economy) to Club World (long-haul business class) is hit even harder.  Whilst the cost varies by route, the number of Avios required for upgrades will rise by 240% in some cases!  A World Traveller Plus to Club World upgrade from London to New York, one way, will jump from 10,000 Avios points to 24,000 Avios points when travelling on an off-peak date.

British Airways lets you book Avios redemptions 355 days ahead.  This means that – if you book on the last possible date on April 27th 2015 – you should see availability through to April 17th 2016. 

As Easter is earlier in 2016, you should be able to lock in all of your trips until and including next Easter at the old rates.

British Airways will let you change the dates of any Avios booking without repricing.  If you know you want to go to New York this year but don’t know exactly when, it may be worth booking approximate dates and paying the £35 change fee later.  This would let you lock in the current pricing.

You cannot change the passenger name, however, nor can you push the date further forward than 12 months from the date you booked.

I will obviously be devoting a lot of space to these changes after implementation day, including a full rewrite of our massive Avios Redemption University series.  This will probably be published in the last week of May when I am in Singapore.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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Comments

  1. While us East Coasters has a lot less time to book before the East Coast Rewards devaluation kicked in on 1st March. I still don’t know how the press (with a few notable exceptions) never picked this up, as it was an excellent scheme being turned into useless, whereas the Avios changes, bad as they were, at least still leave a decent scheme for frequent travellers.

    The East Coast Rewards petition is basically there so we have something public we can point at when they say that they listen to customers. If you could sign it then it would help show that we do value a decent loyalty scheme http://saveecrewards.co.uk/sign

    The thing was, if Virgin Trains weren’t so clueless about loyalty schemes, they would have adopted a scheme like East Coast Rewards on the west coast too as soon as the contract with Nectar expired. They would have been in a prime position to market themselves to customers who were upset about Avios and maybe won some over to the train. Instead they move East Coast to Nectar so BA is still the most rewarding way between London and Scotland.

    • Frenske says:

      If you decide between plane and train based on the reward scheme rather than price, availibility, comfort, convenience than you must be seriously addicted to points. 😀

      On the serious side the East Coast rewards was ridiculous generous (something like 20% in value). Shame it is gone, but I can understand it.

      • The scheme didn’t need to be killed, it was profitable and we had proof (as East Coast was government owned it was subject to the Freedom of Information Act). We found out that the money they made on additional sales to other operators was enough to cover the cost of providing rewards.

        A sensible company would have refined the scheme for their needs rather than scrapping it.

        I can’t see any logic at all in Nectar:
        – FirstGroup already offer it, so anyone who cared would be booking through them already (unlike Virgin, First give points on all purchases).
        – Nectar may run promotions that make the train less attractive. The current 10x offer on fuel makes driving more rewarding than getting the train.
        – Even without taking into account recent Sainsbury’s cutbacks Nectar scored lower than Tesco in every rewards category we tested.

        So to put pressure on East Coast to bring back rewards all you need to do is:
        – Book tickets elsewhere, especially the third party ones, but as their own tickets only have a 2% online discount now I’m moving all bookings away. They earned 5% commission on these bookings, as there’s no incentive to book these with them any more then a drop in sales may make them reconsider.
        – Make sure at a very minimum you’ve emailed VTEC expressing your dissatisfaction
        – Other ideas: http://saveecrewards.co.uk/content/how-help

  2. Tim Millea says:

    I cannot understand the rationale in devaluing a loyalty scheme. Surely, it is the worst move a company can make – to entice their best customers into a scheme, get them earning points then devalue them?

    I wonder if the cost of Avios to the likes of Tesco has also gone down and if, therefore, we may see the return of generous conversion bonuses in the future, or better still, a permanently higher conversion rate.

    • I don’t think BA handled the situation the best, but certainly better than Virgin Trains East Coast.

      At least the BA move doesn’t really affect the high value spenders too much and some would say it’s just BAEC returning to its roots. At one time the cheapest tickets earned nothing.

  3. Raffles,
    I think 355 days ahead takes you to April 16th :-(
    Due to a leap year!

  4. Hi, here’s a question, what Avios will be charged in this example

    Fly Man to Mia, however I want a stopover in London so fly Man to Heathrow on a Monday (peak) but then Heathrow to Mia on a Tuesday (off peak) will I be charged peak or off peak Avios. Same effect the other way ie Man to Heathrow on a Thursday (off peak) then Heathrow to Mia on a Friday (peak)

    Any ideas anyone

    • Mycity, just speculating here, but as you can still get free domestic connections when redeeming LH, it may be that the redemption rate is that of the day of the LH flight. Not seen anything about this.

      • Do you still get free domestic connections when you are stopping in London for more than 24 hours?

        • Yes. No-one has mentioned that ending – although, on a long-haul, it will increase the taxes as you will be paying the domestic Air Passenger Duty.

      • It will be interesting to see what happens, there may be times when you need an overnight to ensure you get the morning flight from Heathrow. It would make sense the redemption rate is the same as that of the LH flight.

    • I reckon you are charged based on date of long haul but we may need to wait and see.

  5. Colin mackinnon says:

    I have a 241 booked edi-Lhr-kul at 355 days out but no return availability cropped up a month later. (So I booked home on Qatar)

    If I availability opens up on ba, will I pay new or old rates to add to my 241.

    Or if I book a BA return on any available date, at today’s avios rate, can I cancel just the return part even after flying the outbound?

    • I’ve done exactly the same thing one way 241 out Edi-Lhr-kul on ba and home via Singapore on Qatar.
      Did this for the first time this year and can only say that we found Qatar far superior in every way
      If I hadn’t had a 241 would have been Qatar both ways

      • Angela (and Colin), how did you manage to use your 241 on non-BA metal or are you paying full Avios for the return? My understanding was such that 241’s could only be used for BA flights and not One World aircraft?

        • What's the Point says:

          I think she means that she only used the 2f1 on the outbound, and paid full Avios for the Qatar return

          • Colin and Angela, did you book the return parts of your tickets on Qatar as part of your 241, or did you pay full QR avios each for the return leg? It would be useful to know if we can’t get back on BA with our 241 we could book it on an alternative routing. Anyone know if this is possible.?

          • Colin MacKinnon says:

            Hi, booked out on BA with 241, paid regular Avios/taxes on QR for return.

            So, if we cancel QR when/if BA availability turns up, we save some Avios (thanks to 241) but pay more in taxes, but save the DOH in-airport hotel stay for the nine hour lay-over.

            Or we go Phuket to HKG, HKG-LHR on Cathay and LHR-EDI on BA. Nice long flight on CX, and no hotel bill, but the hell of LHR and still no 241. And back home the same time as QR.

            Or we finally get KUL, or SIN to LHR-EDI on BA with 241 – but maybe upgrade to F since CW is so cr@p.

            To be frank, the 241 is a bit of a mixed blessing. .(apart from the £150 a year!)

            A good fare ex-DUB to North America beats any Avios deal. To the mid-far-East then there are great sales on QR. South America and it is IB – their business class is the business.

            That leaves BA for South Africa and the Caribbean – where fees are fair enough when you can get a direct flight from LON. But even then IB do great off-peak deals to Panama, Costa Rica, Havana and Miami. All they need is SJU back and it would be perfect!

    • I suspect you would pay the new rates but may be wrong. I got lucky with my 241 Man to Singapore out and out of the blue a KUL to Man came up, keep looking as seats do come up unexpected.

    • You need to do the latter. You can make changes to dates after flying the outbound, not sure about cancellations.

  6. Anyone else seeing delays in getting Amex MR points transferred to avios at the moment? Worried ba are purposely delaying until after 28th.

  7. MoNkEyMaN says:

    Has anyone any experience of booking for a yet to be born and hence un-named infant? I would like to make a redemption booking for early next year, but one of the passengers will be my child which is due around the end of April. I cant see my wife appreciating me popping out of the labour ward a few minutes after the birth so I can make a booking at the current redemption rates.

    • Infants only cost 10% of the miles and 10% of the taxes. The saving will be pretty low so I’m not sure its worth the trouble doing it now.

      Some discussion here – http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1552881-adding-infant-booking.html

    • With a paid for flight, I was advised to book just the adults, and after the baby is born, phone up and add them to the booking.

    • I had exactly this scenario at the end of last year. We were travelling abroad for a family wedding in December, and my wife was due in Oct/Nov.
      I booked our flights using a 2-4-1 voucher (in F), and then needed to book our baby (who hadn’t yet been born). BA advised that they couldn’t book in an un-born infant (after all, they would need a DOB), but to call up after my wife had given birth (not immediately after!), and then add the child to the booking. As the baby didn’t require a seat, there wouldn’t be any issue with availability.
      GGL Customer Service did add a note to my booking to say that we’d be adding a baby on to it, just so that whoever looked at the booking would be aware.

      So that’s what we did, and it went without a hitch (though there were issues with getting the bassinet seat, which managed to get sorted out in the end)

  8. What's the Point says:

    Massive issues trying to book a non-BA redemption yesterday at BA.com. Kept saying that this part of the site was not working.
    Maybe it was a heavy traffic day?

  9. Alex Bishop says:

    If you book some avios flights in advance with the intention of moving them to the dates you want at a later date can you also upgrade/downgrade the cabin on the old avios rate or would this count as a rebooking and so be subject to the new rate?

    • There’s nothing good left with Avios for regional flyers now than RFS are dead to us. It was hard enough to find redemptions from GLA that were not connecting via Gatwick to Heathrow. Except if you booked way in advance or 36 hours before.

      I, like a few others I know are burning and forgetting it all.

      It’s such a pity actually. But who can blame us when they want 18k and £70 for a Zone 1 and given the other zones cost more Avios anyway they are even more ridiculous. Long-haul was always a joke in terms of taxes.

      Good if you live in London of course….like everything! Two fingers to the North. Commercial decison? Hmm. Roll on 12-18 months when there’s a big “customer experience” refocus.

      Moreover with £1.8bn profits for next year, Mixed Fleet are stupid not to strike! But then there’s a lot of young crew who are rather naive about all of this.

      Raffles didn’t you say you were going to tell us some insider stuff from a lunch today?

    • Not clear. I reckon any change except date would be at new rates but only a guess.

  10. “nor can you push the date further forward than 12 months from the date you booked.”
    So if I use an Amex 2-4-1 to book LHR-YVR return in club world before the 28th, but the return dates i want to travel haven’t opened yet…then I wont be able to change the return to a later date after the changes? (as it will certainly be more than a year after the date of booking).

    are you able to change to a later date and just pay the extra avios?

  11. Given that Rob values 1 Avios at 1p, as a general rule of thumb what will the general value of an avios be post changes?

    • I generally go with 0.75p as the cut-off point for what I would pay as I average 1p on redemptions. Honest answer is I don’t know. On my most common run, 120k plus £500 tax for a Dubai CW seat you could get for £1499 in a sale would be around 0.8p. The Hamburg seats we also bulk buy would not change though.

      • Given you need a few in the bank, I can’t see paying 0.85p or close is a big deal.

        The days we could get plenty/ loads/ unlimited for 0.65p seem to have disappeared.

        Of course, I like the free ones, But they’re not enough.

  12. Forgive me if I’ve missed this being explained already, but I was wondering how the changes are going to effect redemptions for things other than BA flights (as a regional user).

    In the past I have used my points for hotel nights, will the valuations be changing for this?

    Also, how will the value be changing for using the niche 3rd party airlines like Aurigny to get from Manchester to Jersey/Guernsey?

    • Hotel redemptions unchanged, still 0.58p per point.

      Short haul redemption rates are unchanged for direct flights. As a partner, Aurigny will price at peak rates on all days. However, that is still no more expensive than today.

      • Excellent, thanks for letting me know, I know these redemptions don’t represent the best value but do seem to be a good option for us Northerners.

  13. Baggageinhall says:

    It probably worth having a look generally at how BA might have changed the way in which they release award seats on the route you are looking to bag. My original plan was to bag a trip for 3 in J or F to New York during the Easter holidays in 2016. Whilst there are 2 seats available in J on every flight from around April 1st onwards, there is nothing in F. I have checked in the early hours of the morning and through the day and whilst yes, someone might have beaten me to them, I don’t think they have. Nor have I seen more than 2 in J. Pre April 1st 2016 however, there are multiple (more than 2) in J and F on various JFK services. I appreciate that school holidays may skew availability but this seems more a policy than just the norm.

    Instead, we are going to NYC in August this year. Despite the flight finder suggesting that I wouldn’t find 3 seats in J or F, I managed to find 3 in F at dates that suited. Ah, the wonders of the flight finder.

  14. Winston says:

    I have a feeling there will be further news on BA’s reward flights, after the 28th April.

    I think the devaluation will be combined with further improvements, mainly reduced taxes and fees, to compensate for the new rules.
    They want everyone to burn their current miles now, before they announce. Just a gut feeling.

  15. Hey Rob, I think i missed a point. What about those cheap US/Japan domestic or intra Asia redemptions? Do we have a table for that? or it has not been covered? or I simply missed it? I am very confused, I find myself sitting on a 241, another in line coming in a few months, plenty of Avios, no one to fly with (if you can not change the name, what’s the point!!) and a rush to decide what to do, as I was working hard to experience a business or First redemption to South America or Asia this is hitting me hard with timing..also, would you say it is better not to book European flights now pre devaluation as that won’t change much?

    As many discussed Malaysia, how cheap or expensive is that in comparison with Thailand? An idea woud be flying to KUL then explore Malaysia/Indonesia (Bali?) over 2 weeks. any advice?
    thanks

    • Don’t try to do too much in your limited time.

      I’d go to Bangkok, grab a cheap flight to Koh Samui, take a boat to Koh Tao and play it simple but best/ works.

      Good food, nice people, bit of scuba diving.

    • No changes if it is short-haul, whether on BA or on AA, JAL etc.

      Absolutely no need to book European flights now – economy off-peak actually gets cheaper.

    • sandgrounder says:

      Malaysia is a fantastic country to visit, I love the food, a night out in Bukit Bintang can be a fantastic fusion of old and new Asia. Across the country you will find much to see and do. If you are a big drinker you may find it pricey on the mainland, Langkawi on the other hand is duty free (if a bit dull for those who like more than the beach). I am hoping to squeeze a return trip in for next April, waiting on the seats as many others are no doubt. If not, I think it will be the TXL-AUH run before that bargain slides out of view.

      • thank you for your feedbacks. it seems everyone have their own view. good in anycase!

        Rob, I meant intra Asia flights, don’t know if they mean short haul even if it’s country to country (ie Malaysia to Singapore/Thailand). Or let’s say BKK to Japan..

  16. Chelseafi says:

    I am looking at booking any date now to change dates later for summer 2016 school holidays flights. I want 4 first class returns to New York using 2 241s. When I look at year, availability looks good for Aug 2015 so I am hoping it will be the same for 2016? I don’t know first what airport to select (never been to NY) I was thinking JFK and 2 if when I change the dates to what I want can I choose any of the two NY airports to help with getting what I want or would I have to stick with the one I originally booked to stay within the date only change that I understand is allowed. Any help advice thanks.

    • Don’t believe you can do that. I think that the latest outward journey you can do on a 241 or avios on the existing rates will be 27th April 2016.

      • Chelseafi says:

        Thank you I went through a few old articles on here and wondered that. Not much left now for school hols to US in next 12 months, Already booked orlando for July, so think I’ll just have to book later in year for Summer 16.

  17. Has anybody found anything definitive on an official site that says that it is 355 days from booking, rather than the one year associated with the one year validity?

    I want to travel back from ATL on the 26th or 27th April 2016, and wondered if I book it on the 27th April 2015, whether either would be possible, and different advise seems to be given in different places.

    • You will only be able to book tickets up to the 17th on the 27th. However, they should be able to amend the ticket ten days later – assuming the reward seats are there – to the 26th which would be 365 days from date of issue.

  18. Robert Tharle says:

    Just booked to Buenos Aires using a 241 in business. Great use of the points just before the devaluation.

    Cheers Rob

  19. Slightly off topic but not entirely. Do these changes to avios redemptions change the optimum way for redeeming amex reward points, in the past I would always transfer over to BAEC not so sure now. Raffles could you do an article on the best value conversion of Amex points?

  20. So all of this is interesting but surely the summary of all of this is we have a choice. I have been flying BA since 1990, long haul, short haul and I echo the comments that loyalty doesnt really pay as far as BA is concerned. Their scheme rewards the amount of money you have paid to them not how many times you have chosen them over the competition. So someone who flew with them for example 12 times/year in economy apparently is less loyal than someone who flew perhaps 4 times in Business. From their perspective they are probably thinking that they need to keep the Business/1st Class people because its more profiltable (the old 80% revenue comes from 20% of the customer idea), so its economics at play here. So as I said, my 25 years of loyalty mostly in economy counts for nothing so I will not now look at BA by default going forward. The good news for visitors of the 1st class lounge at T5 of course is that it will now return to how it was in the old days, quiet, empty and not the same as any other lounge.