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):
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.