British Airways announced yesterday that it is to increase the cost of some Avios redemptions on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines flights in the US.
For US residents – and UK residents on holiday in the States – US domestic flight redemptions represent good value because of the minimal taxes ($6).
To be fair, the biggest benefit was felt by US residents. The major US frequent flyer schemes charge 25,000 miles for a domestic economy return flight, however far. This made short hops, such as New York to Boston, very unattractive.
When Avios was launched, with its distance-based redemptions, it was a dream come true for those in the US. The cost of a one-way flight from New York to Boston, costing 12,500 American Airlines miles, could now be had for just 4,500 Avios.
Given that the British Airways credit card in the US has an occasional sign-up bonus of 100,000 Avios, albeit with a substantial spend requirement, you can see why people were excited about this.
The changes are relatively simple. For flights under 650 miles:
Economy redemptions increase from 4,500 Avios one-way to 7,500 Avios
Business class redemptions increase from 9,000 Avios one-way to 15,000 Avios
First Class redemptions increase from 18,000 Avios one-way to 30,000 Avios
Pricing on routes over 650 miles remains the same.
The new First Class pricing is crazy. Many US flights on two-class aircraft are sold as First and Economy. (You also find this on Qatar flights around the Middle East.) This means that a ‘First Class’ seat from New York to Boston – which is effectively a slightly bigger seat and not much more – will cost 60,000 Avios return! These ‘First Class’ seats are nothing of the sort.
The Avios redemption chart is now beyond the understanding of the vast majority of members, to be honest.
We now have:
Off-peak and peak redemption pricing options
Different calendars for peak and off-peak between Iberia and British Airways
Non-linear multiples – on long-haul, business class is 3 x economy whilst on short-haul it is 2 x economy
Different redemption charts for Iberia and British Airways – there are some weird differences for long-haul redemptions which mean, for example, New York on Iberia requires far fewer Avios than New York on BA
Different airlines available for redemption depending on where you book, eg Aurigny / Air Malta via avios.com, Vueling / Royal Air Maroc etc via Iberia, Aer Lingus and Alaska via BA
And now, different redemption levels for US domestic flights under 650 miles
It is becoming a joke, if it wasn’t already. The bottom line is that, if you ask ‘How many Avios is an economy flight to New York on 2nd July?’, the answer would run to about 200 words ….
Full details on the US pricing changes are on ba.com here. Remember that you can book until 2nd February, for flights 355 days beyond that, at the current prices.