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British Airways devalues Avios redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines

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British Airways has, with no notice, devalued short-haul Avios redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. Some flights have increased by 50%.

Don’t expect BA to tell you about this, because they won’t. Whilst they did confirm the devaluation when we asked, they refused to tell us exactly what has changed:

“Unfortunately we’re unable to provide that level of detail.”

Don’t worry – we have it anyway.

Avios wing 11

Avios originally had one reward chart covering both British Airways and partner airlines. It wasn’t exactly straightforward – BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus flights had peak and off-peak dates, partner flights were always peak – but at least you knew where to look.

(The exception was the little known ‘multi partner Avios redemption chart’ for trips involving 2+ airlines which are not BA. The real sweet spots in the programme are probably now here.)

The first change was back in January 2016, when Zone 1 (up to 650 miles) was abolished for flights within the United States. This was because it was, frankly, too attractive – a flight between New York and Boston was 12,500 American Airlines miles but only 4,500 Avios.

Skip forward to June 2019, and British Airways decided to launch an entirely separate reward chart for partner airlines – see here.

The only major change was to whack shorter redemptions. A Zone 1 flight went from 4,500 Avios to 6,000 Avios whilst a Zone 2 flight (651 to 1,150 miles) went from 7,500 Avios to 9,000 Avios. This is one-way economy pricing. Oddly, short domestic US flights did not change – these still price at the old Zone 2 pricing.

Here is how the partner chart looked up to last week:

BA reward flight avios redemption prices on partner airlines table

Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific have new pricing

Last week, British Airways rolled out higher Avios pricing for short flights on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

There are a few weird things about this:

  • the changes are different across each airline
  • Malaysia Airlines and SriLankan Airlines pricing is untouched

This is what has changed:

Japan Airlines

  • Zone 1 Economy – up from 6,000 Avios to 7,500 Avios
  • Zone 1 Business – unchanged
  • Zone 2 Economy – up from 9,000 Avios to 10,000 Avios
  • Zone 2 Business – up from 16,500 Avios to 24,000 Avios (ouch)
  • Zone 3 Economy – unchanged
  • Zone 3 Business – up from 22,000 Avios to 24,000 Avios

Cathay Pacific

  • Zone 1 Economy – up from 6,000 Avios to 7,500 Avios
  • Zone 1 Business – up from 12,500 Avios to 16,000 Avios
  • Zone 2 Economy – up from 9,000 Avios to 10,000 Avios
  • Zone 2 Business – up from 16,500 Avios to 25,000 Avios (ouch)
  • Zone 3 Economy – unchanged
  • Zone 3 Business – up from 22,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios
Cathay Pacific Avios devaluation

Perhaps the weirdest thing in all of this is why Zone 2 and Zone 3 Business Class flights have a) merged together with the same pricing and b) why Cathay is 1,000 Avios more than JAL.

I mean …. whatever the practical logic for the 1,000 Avios difference, common sense would imply that you equalise the two airlines for the sake of simplicity. If you want to fly from Hong Kong to Tokyo in Business Class, it is now 25,000 Avios one way on Cathay Pacific but 24,000 Avios one-way on Japan Airlines.

Conclusion

In truth, for most UK-based HfP readers, these changes are not going to have much of an impact.

You could even argue that we benefit slightly, as these redemptions were clearly becoming expensive for IAG Loyalty. Plugging the hole to make Asian-based flyers pay more, many of whom probably earned their Avios flying with partner airlines and not BA, will hopefully avoid the need for changes elsewhere.

You can’t deny that the programme is now becoming disturbingly complex, and complex is not clever. You can’t expect people to engage with a loyalty programme if they can’t even find a redemption price easily.

We now have separate redemption charts for:

  • British Airways peak dates
  • British Airways off-peak dates
  • Iberia peak dates
  • Iberia off-peak dates
  • Aer Lingus (matches the BA chart but peak and off-peak dates differ)
  • Japan Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • American Airlines / Alaska Airways
  • All other oneworld partners
  • Multi-partner redemption chart
  • Vueling when booked at vueling com

Oh, and don’t forget that most of these charts are not publicly available on ba.com any longer.

You also need to adjust further for differences in taxes:

  • Aer Lingus flights have different taxes depending on whether they are booked on ba.com or avios.com
  • Iberia flights have different taxes depending on whether they are booked on ba.com or avios.com

You might also have British Airways On Business points from the small business scheme. The On Business redemption chart isn’t published either – although we have it here – and for added complexity the multiple between Economy and Business is different to the multiple between Economy and Business when using Avios.

All of this confusion keeps the HfP team in a job, I suppose, but it really shouldn’t be necessary.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

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Comments (58)

  • Josh says:

    I think this misses the point. BA will do to add Avios what it likes, and there’s no quid pro quo. Either suck it up, or move on.

  • pigeon says:

    I don’t think we can blame BA here – the aim is obviously to get rid of all unprofitable / low profit redemptions – and getting rid of the rewards charts makes individual route adjustments possible.

    Maybe it’s very difficult to price this right – so if BA is serious about this get ready for round after round of pricing tweaks.

  • Peggerz says:

    I was a bit concerned when I saw the headline as I have been tracking a F redemption with CP to Asia with added J connections. But the price remains the same in both Avios & cash atm. Long may that remain.

  • KK says:

    I have a feeling these numbers are to match how much CX Asiamiles and JL JMB charge their native routes respectively. I’ve been too lazy to check everything when the news broke a few days ago (I’m from that side of the world and collect both miles for years) but from the looks of it the changes are to match CX to TYO (25000 for J, oneway) and JL to TYO (24000 for C, oneway) respectively. IIRC CX to TPE is 7500 which is also a match.

  • Aron says:

    Glad Zone 3 hasn’t changed much!

    SIN-HKG for 25k and £41 is still excellent value.

    • Dubious says:

      I might be mis-remembering, but I thought it used to be cheaper (in avios) to route SIN-HKG-TYO than SIN-TYO direct. Not sure if that is still the case now, which is a bit of a shame given HKG is quite quick and easy to get in an out of town if you want a <24hr connection.

  • TravelBloggerBuzz says:

    Imagine the scale of the devaluations to come when people get back on airplanes to fly internationally without any restrictions and fear…This was just a little taste imho.

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