You have just nine days left to book a flight on British Airways if you want to earn Avios based on your ticket class and flight distance rather than what you spend.
We knew this was coming – Iberia switched in November 2022. HfP had the world exclusive on this back in March 2018 when Alex Cruz discussed it in an interview.
Full details can be found on this page of the British Airways website.
British Airways claimed in the official press release that:
“This is a simpler and more transparent system”
This is not true, because earning is based on the fare you pay excluding third party taxes and charges – a sum which 99% of passengers don’t know.
In reality it represents a sharp cut in Avios earned for most people, except for those on higher priced, often fully flexible, tickets which are generally paid for by their employer.
The only upside for non-status passengers is that you will now earn Avios for money spent on seat selection fees and additional baggage fees.
However, to be fair, British Airways says in the press release that the change is being made as the result of customer feedback. You have only yourself to blame.
When do the Avios earning changes come into effect?
The changes kick in for tickets booked from 18th October.
Any travel booked before 18th October will earn at the existing rates, so you have just nine days left.
What is changing with British Airways Executive Club?
One selling point for the new arrangement is that it is simple. The number of Avios you earn per £ is based on your status in the British Airways Executive Club programme.
A base level Blue member earns 6 Avios per £1, whilst an elite member will earn up to 9 Avios per £1.
Take a look here:
Your elite status bonus has been cut
Part of the problem with the new structure is that it is alienating elite flyers by cutting elite bonuses.
Historically you received the following elite status bonus (based on miles flown):
- Bronze – 25%
- Silver – 50%
- Gold – 100%
These will be cut for tickets booked from 18th October to:
- Bronze – 17%
- Silver – 33%
- Gold – 50%
To be fair, the actual change will vary by cabin flown because the current elite status bonus does not apply to the cabin bonus. On the other hand, on a cheap short haul flight the majority of your earnings as an elite currently come from the cabin bonus.
A system so simple it is impossible to know what you earn
As happened with the Iberia changes, British Airways is basing your earnings on the NET cost of your ticket, after taxes and external surcharges have been deducted.
This makes it very difficult to know in advance how many Avios you will earn. Taxes and external surcharges make up a large part of the cost of an inflexible Economy ticket but only a tiny part of a fully flexible Business ticket.
For example, a £39 one way ticket to Manchester has a base fare, adding back the ‘carrier imposed surcharge’, of just £16.50. You will only earn Avios based on 40% of what you spend.
An £8,072 one way flexible business class ticket to New York has a base fare of £7,795. You will earn Avios based on 97% of what you spend.
It gets even more confusing ….
Tickets including those booked as part of a BA Holidays package will continue to earn under the current mileage- and cabin-based scheme:
“…. some tickets where the fare paid isn’t disclosed or isn’t available, including flights booked as part of a British Airways Holidays package, will continue collecting Avios based on a percentage of how many miles you fly and the cabin you fly in (no minimum Avios apply).”
Interestingly status bonuses will be cut compared to what you would earn now which is perhaps the clearest indication of what these changes are meant to deliver:
“Executive Club Bronze, Silver and Gold members will collect 15%, 30% or 50% extra Avios on top of the base flight award.”
What can I do if I don’t like these changes?
There is, of course, an easy way to avoid these changes – credit your flight to another airline programme.
The response of Qatar Airways here will be key. If Qatar Privilege Club continues to award Avios based on cabin class and distance, you may earn more Avios by crediting your flight to a Qatar account. It only takes a few seconds to move them back to British Airways Executive Club.
The issue is that you won’t earn British Airways tier points this way. If you don’t care – either because you’ve already retained status or know you’ll never manage it – then opening a Qatar Privilege Club account may be the way to go.
What is wrong with this model of earning Avios?
This model of earning miles has been used by other airlines and is generally disliked by flyers. This is because you are rewarding the wrong people most highly.
The people who are flying on £10,000 fully flexible business class fares to New York are the ones who are laughing all the way to the mileage bank. However, with few exceptions, these are corporate travellers whose choice of airline is made by their employer. You could give these people zero miles and it wouldn’t impact the money that their employer spends with the airline.
This earning model also excludes corporate rebates. Most big companies get a rebate from the airline at the end of the year if they hit spend targets. That £10,000 ticket? A chunk is likely to be repaid. This leads to an even bigger over-rewarding of people travelling on corporate tickets.
Similarly, it is the fullest flights which charge the highest prices. Because these flights are ALREADY full, it makes no sense to spend most of your loyalty budget rewarding the people who fly on them. Those seats would sell anyway, multiple times over. I don’t see anyone offering incentives to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets.
On similar logic, fares are higher on routes where there is no competition – but on routes where there IS competition, and where fares are lower, the lure of Avios is more important. Weirdly, you will now be rewarded more for flying expensive routes where only British Airways could get you there. You will earn fewer Avios on competitive routes where you can choose between carriers (because fares are lower) and more Avios on routes where only BA can you get there directly.
Remember that the changes kick in for flights booked from 18th October so you may want to consider locking in some future trips this week.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.