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
(If you are new to Head for Points, welcome! Please consider bookmarking the site or sign up for our daily emails via the box in the right hand margin.)
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:
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?
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.