As a lot of my readers may already know, British Airways had announced a change to its award program starting today, November 16, 2011. First of all, the rewards programs will no longer be called Executive Club but is now called Avios. All those miles sitting in Executive Club have been converted to Avios points in the new program at 1:1. But that is not the only change.
Lets take a look at the most interesting aspect of the program for the purpose of this blog, the award redemption and locating the best value. BAEC earlier had four different award tables.
- For travel on British Airways only (award table no longer available).
- For travel on British Airways plus one partner (award table still available but no longer valid).
- For travel on one partner only entirely (award table still available but no longer valid).
- For travel on multiple partners excluding British Airways (award table no longer available).
What they have done is they tried to simplify the award charts in to two charts only. One is award chart for BA plus partners and other one is partners only excluding BA.
As of now, BA has not yet officially released the new award charts but it is expected that the new award levels will be significantly devalued for most routes. Though, we do know that some of the routes are now cheaper for award redemption like JFK-LHR which now costs 20,000 miles each way as compared to 25,000 miles under the previous award structure. I will fill in more on this as more information is made available to me.
British Airways had announced about the changes good month in advance, though the details of the new award structure were not released and are still awaited. The changes they had advertised seemed to be cosmetic, though it appears that some of the awards like the North American-Asia, North America-South America (especially to Easter Islands-IPC) have been severely gutted and have taken a big hit, more than 100% is some cases. Unfortunately, British Airways changed its most attractive award chart, the Single Partner award chart, which to me was the best redemption value. I will mention some of the awesome award redemption that I made in the past over next few days.
One thing to remember is that most of BA’s FFP members are located in Europe, and end up using most of their miles for travel on British Airways. In the recent past, many of us in the US have racked up a substantial number of British Airways miles, thanks to their 100,000 miles credit card sign-up bonuses and the 50% bonus on AMEX MR transferpromotions in last two years. It was just a matter of time, a question of when and not if, when the program changes are announced. The days were numbered for all the “good deals” in their award program.
In the recent past, many of the loyalty programs have devalued and gutted their programs. For example, Air Canada’s Aeroplan was devalued in July 2011, and then now have announced levying of fuel surcharge to most of the partner redemptions. American Express Membership Rewards lost Continental as it’s partner. ANA started charging fuel surcharge on Virgin Atlantic redemptions, Hilton silently gutted their program by redefining their room categories at most of its premium properties and now BA hitting us with this big change.