SUNDAY is your last day to book BA On Business redemptions at the old rates

Sunday, May 24th, is your last day to book redemptions via the British Airways On Business programme (their small business loyalty scheme) before it closes for two days in advance of the relaunch.

Full details of the upcoming changes can be found here at

In some ways the changes are very similar to what happened to the Avios programme:

Redemptions in Eurotraveller / World Traveller become proportionately cheaper

Redemptions in premium cabins become proportionately more expensive

With a twist:

The programme is going 100% revenue based. The points you earn will be based ENTIRELY on the amount you spend. For the purchaser of cheap economy flights, every redemption will be harder to earn in the future.

There is one difference to the Avios changes:

Your existing points will buy you the same as you can buy today and in some cases you will get a lot more

British Airways 350 3

The winner, as with the Avios changes, will be the rarely-spotted individual who flies exclusively in Club World and First on fully flexible tickets during the week but who loves nothing more than jumping into a World Traveller seat when he travels for leisure.

The changes to On Business are even more far reaching than the Avios changes:

Three membership tiers will be introduced, based on £ spend. A base level member earns 1 point per £1. Spend over £30,000 and you move to tier 2, earning 1.25 points per £1. Spend over £300,000 and you move to tier 3, earning 1.5 points per £1.

Your spend to date will be backdated to the start of 2015. This will include spending with American Airlines and Iberia although it is not clear how BA will track this retrospectively.

US members of On Business will have their accounts closed and transferred to the American Airlines small business scheme. It is not clear yet if UK members of the AA scheme will be forcibly transferred to On Business.

There is some good news which will benefit everyone:

Points can be earned and redeemed on Iberia and American Airlines flights. This is a change from the current position.

You can agree to waive your points for a cash discount. A saving of ‘5% or more’ on the ticket price will be available on ‘selected flights’ if you choose not to earn points on your booking. This may be a better deal for most people.

Almost all tickets can now be upgraded with points. Far more economy tickets will now be eligible for upgrading. The cheapest Club World seats will also be upgradeable.

Upgrades look like good value at first glance. They start at 5,000 points long-haul for World Traveller to World Traveller Plus, from 10,500 for World Traveller Plus to Club World and from 7,000 points for Club World to First. These are one-way prices. Remember that On Business availability is better than Avios availability so you have a decent chance of being able to upgrade if you wish.

These prices are so generous that someone who travels on fully flexible Club World tickets for a Tier 3 company will earn almost enough for a one-way upgrade to First for every return trip they take. I’m not sure this is sustainable.

On Business is currently closed to members. Current members will be able to redeem at the old rates for another 24 hours until Sunday 24th May. The programme will then close for two days before the new scheme is launched on 27th May.

What about current members?

Interestingly, BA has decided to double the existing points balance of every member.

This is, genuinely, of value at the lower end. I currently have 2,700 points. That will get me 86% of a return flight to Hamburg in Economy or 15% of a Club World return to Dubai.

On May 27th, I will have 5,400 points. This is enough for 2.4 return flights to Hamburg in Economy – the value of my points is almost tripled. The bad news is that I only have 13% of a Club World return to Dubai.

Let’s look at it another way. At the moment, a Club World return flight requires roughly 300% of the On Business points required for a World Traveller flight. That is changing to roughly six times.

Effectively, most small companies can now forget about redeeming for long-haul premium classes. You would need to spend roughly £40,000 to earn one Club World return to the Middle East.

In the short term, I am a winner. My 2,700 points were almost worthless and now I have enough to get both of my parents in law across from Hamburg and back. In the long term, I am a loser. I now need to spend £2,700 with British Airways to get one economy flight to Germany.

What impact will this have?

It is difficult to know what impact these changes will have. As with the changes to main Avios scheme, they seem poorly thought through.

A small business, spending only a limited amount on European flights throughout the year, is being told that it is not wanted. Coupled with the cut to Avios earning, owner-managers are more likely to seek out easyJet and other options. They may want to take a look at PartnerPlusBenefit, the Star Alliance small business programme.

Larger companies are flying British Airways anyway. This is unlikely to change their behaviour.

Full details of the changes can be found on here.

(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.)

More potential bargains in the latest Luxury Travel Diary charity auction
British Airways launches new First, Club World and Club Europe sale
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  1. Chris Sutter says:

    “These prices are so generous that someone who travels on fully flexible Club World tickets for a Tier 3 company will earn almost enough for a one-way upgrade to First for every return trip they take. I’m not sure this is sustainable.”

    Given that “buy flex J return, get a one way upgrade to F” is becoming BA’s equivalent to the DFS “sale” I doubt it!

    I was comparatively OB-point rich and managed to reach exactly the amount required for a LAX redemption in CW earlier this month. Considering I was looking at a non-Saturday night stay booking I saved* myself a hearty £4,000+ using the points, and I think I will be worse off under the new scheme – unless this discount thing turns out not to be the red herring I expect.

    * Not that I would have paid that sticker price in the first place – I would have added a Saturday night stay (at the cost of missing a Monday at work the following week) and booked it as an ex-EU in a sale. 😉

  2. Lady London says:

    re Chris’s strategy above just to say I’ve used some ex-EU fares taking the first leg on a Saturday then the longhaul route from a high-departure tax country on the Sunday within 23 hours 59mins so a connection rate of departure tax is charged for the first longhaul leg and not a stopover or new booking rate. Doing it that way has qualified the fare as a Saturday night stay and the longhaul leg back was done much sooner. Not sure if it works on all fare types though.