EDIT: On Tuesday morning, the seats reappeared. A mistake or a plan which had to be reversed under public scrutiny? Click here for my thoughts.
For the last few days, ba.com has been showing virtually no Avios availability in First Class for 2019. I sat on the story because I thought it may be an IT glitch, but it does now seem that ‘something’ is up.
The ‘something’ is potentially linked to the Avios and British Airways Executive Club changes discussed here by Alex Cruz, although the problem with that conspiracy theory is that Cruz said that the IT required would not be in place until the year end.
What is odd is that not all First Class availability has been removed.
As of last night, there was still 2019 availability on the following routes (E&OE):
- Abu Dhabi
- St Lucia
- Tel Aviv
It doesn’t take a genius to spot the pattern:
Middle East and Caribbean routes retain F Avios availability in 2019
North, South and Latin America, Africa and Asia routes have no F Avios availability in 2019
If you assume that this is not an IT issue and is not linked to reduced availability ahead of a big cash sale (but I normally get notification of those) then you can only assume that British Airways is trying to introduce some immediate changes to Avios redemptions. This would be in advance of the planned bigger moves, presumably ones that can be done now with the current IT infrastructure.
Options could be:
A major reduction in routes with First Class from 1st January (but if it was being cut, the Caribbean routes would be on the list and New York would not, and in any event seats are being sold for cash)
First Class to be relaunched from 1st January as an uber-premium service which will be so exclusive that BA does not want it tarnished by anyone unwilling to pay for it (but, if so, it would be put on the Middle East routes as a priority since BA is losing premium business to Emirates and Etihad, and those are still open for redemption – and anyway, does anyone believe that BA is capable of offering a super-premium First Class service like Lufthansa or Air France?)
First Class redemptions restricted to certain groups only (eg British Airways Silver and Gold members, potentially no oneworld partners or Blue / Bronze) – the issue here is that this strategy doesn’t have any benefit to BA, since BA First Class is not exactly a premium product on the world stage. This also makes no financial sense, because IAG makes a lot of money if a Blue member transfers 150,000 Amex points to book a BA First Class redemption, and zero money if a status member redeems 150,000 miles earned from flying.
‘Dynamic pricing’ to be introduced for First Class ahead of its introduction in other classes (but that would require IT capability which Cruz implied was not yet available)
…. or something else?
Whatever it is, British Airways will need to come clean very quickly as it is now clear that ‘something’ is up.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)