British Airways, as we covered yesterday, has announced increases in Avios pricing for flights on partner airlines. This is basically all airlines except BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.
The official ba.com announcement is here.
As we pointed out, British Airways has deliberately kept the price increases secret. All we have been told is that we need to book by 30th May or we will be paying a ‘different’ amount – it won’t even admit to increasing the prices.
As a PR exercise, this is a pretty low move. As you would expect, the internet decided that things were going to be very bad indeed.
And yet …
Apparently it turns out that, if you ring British Airways to make a telephone booking for a flight after 30th May, the call centre agents can see the new pricing on their screen – although the booking goes through at the old price.
Based on reports I have pulled together from elsewhere – I think Seat 31B had it first – this is what is happening:
Distance flown: Economy one-way / PE one-way / Business one-way / First one-way
0 – 650 miles: WAS: 4500 Avios / 6750 Avios / 9000 Avios / 18000 Avios
0- 650 miles: WILL BE: 6000 Avios / 9000 Avios / 12000 Avios / 24000 Avios
651 – 1,150 miles: WAS: 7500 Avios / 11250 Avios / 15000 Avios / 30000 Avios
651 – 1,150 miles: WILL BE: 9000 Avios / 13500 Avios / 18000 Avios / 36000 Avios
1,151 – 2,000 miles: WAS: 10000 Avios / 15000 Avios / 20000 Avios / 40000 Avios
1,151 – 2,000 miles: WILL BE: 11000 Avios / 16500 Avios / 22000 Avios / 44000 Avios
2,001 – 3,000 miles: WAS: 12500 Avios / 25000 Avios / 37500 Avios / 50000 Avios
2,001 – 3,000 miles: WILL BE: 13000 Avios / 26000 Avios / 39000 Avios / 52000 Avios
Note that the leaked numbers only reflected Economy pricing and we are assuming that the Business / First multiplier remains the same.
The change here is modest, especially at the higher levels. I mean …. going from 50000 Avios to 52000 Avios for a 3,000 mile First Class flight is not exactly a huge increase.
Even at the lower levels, going from 4500 Avios to 6000 Avios for a short hop on a partner airline is not a massive devaluation in absolute terms. The jump from 18000 to 24000 Avios for a sub-650 mile flight in First Class is obviously tough, but realistically who books one of those?
It is possible, although we need to wait for the small print, that short-hop flights in the USA will actually become cheaper. Could the rule of charging at least 7,500 Avios per sector for US domestic flights, however short, be removed?
There has been no word to Iberia Plus members of any increase in Avios pricing. This doesn’t mean anything, however, as Iberia has different pricing and mileage bands for partner redemptions. Airline partner redemptions booked via Iberia Plus are also non-refundable, so I don’t recommend booking them.
So …. what was BA playing at on Monday? Assuming that the numbers above are true – and this has yet to be confirmed, I did ask BA but they had not replied by last night – it scored a PR own goal by not revealing the numbers.
If the email had been worded differently – “we are making some modest increases, some as low as 4%, to our partner redemption prices to reflect the increased cost to us of funding these flights” – then everyone would have been fine about it.
The BA PR machine has been working a lot better lately, especially with the success of the four retro liveries and the sensibly low key (given the roll-out timetable) Club Suite announcement. The 100th anniversary TV ad has grown on me too. This bodged announcement just seems like one step backwards, assuming the numbers above are true.
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