Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Avios changes 1: understanding the new tier point rules

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The changes to, and devaluation of, Avios / British Airways Executive Club announced yesterday are hugely complex.  In this 10 part series, spread over a number of days, I will look at all the key issues to help you decide how badly impacted you are.

Key link‘Club Changes’ page on ba.com

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

2. Understanding the new earning rates

3. Understanding the new spending rates

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

5. Exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule

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?

There are three moving parts – changes in tier points, Avios earning and Avios spendingEach of you is impacted in a different way.  If the bulk of your Avios points come from American Express and Tesco, for example, the earning changes are less important.  Someone who earns all their Avios from business travel will be less concerned about changes in the value of an Avios (as they all came as a free by-product) but may worry more about their BA status.

This article will look at changes to British Airways tier points.

The first point to note is that the current thresholds remain unchanged.  Bronze is 300 tier points, Silver is 600 tier points and Gold is 1500 tier points.

BA_ExecClubLounges_HEADER-GOLD

There are two changes to the tier point structure.

The first is that the London City to New York JFK ‘all business class’ service will no longer earn First Class tier pointsThis is an acceptable change – it was brought in as a promotional device when the route was launched and, to be honest, I don’t think anyone expected it to last this long.

The second is that the cheapest economy seats (Q, O, G fare buckets) will only earn 25% of the standard tier point rate instead of the current 50%.

I genuinely struggle to see the logic behind this.  A London-Manchester flight will now earn just 5 tier points each way for the lowest priced tickets!  A return economy flight to Johannesburg will earn just 35.

BA seems to believe that making someone fly 18 round-trips in economy to Johannesburg in order to earn a Silver card for lounge access is reasonable.  I don’t.

Luckily for the regular London to Manchester flyer, you won’t have to do 120 segments to earn Silver because the ’50 flights to earn Silver’ rule still exists.  So why cut the tier points in the first place?

If you thought these changes were purely about cutting BA’s Avios liability, the tier point changes make no sense.

For a very large number of travellers – those who are obliged to book the cheapest possible economy ticket – they will never be able to achieve BA status again.  Remember that there is nothing that these people can do about it.  Your employer will never sanction the cost of a more expensive ticket in the same travel class just to earn some more tier points.

We then come to Priority Pass, Lounge Club etc.

The lack of a third party lounge in Terminal 5 always seemed to be a benefit for BA.  I’m not sure that is still the case.

Stansted is about to get a (presumably very smart) lounge in the main building to replace No 1 Traveller.  Gatwick has an excellent No 1 Traveller lounge in both terminals.  All of these are Priority Pass lounges.  On long-haul, there are EXCELLENT Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2 (Plaza Premium) and Terminal 4 (SkyTeam).  I haven’t been in the Servisair Terminal 3 lounge so cannot comment on that one.  Switching to a competing airline in a different terminal is a way to get lounge access back.

If you know that you have no chance of achieving BA status on your ‘economy only’ flying pattern, defecting to easyJet or Ryanair and convincing your employer to spring for a Priority Pass – easily offset by the flight savings – is not a bad option.

Complaining to your employer that you don’t want to fly a certain airline because it awards fewer miles is never going to get you far.  Complaining that you cannot work properly in the airport because you will no longer be able to retain Silver status for lounge access is a different matter.

One way around the tier point changes is to credit your flights to another oneworld airline and gain status with them.

I will take a look at some of the options over the next few weeks.  The downside is that you will end up with your miles being credited to that programme as well – although as an economy-only flyer you won’t be sacrificing much.

Click for the next article – understanding the new earning rates

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