British Airways Avios: Goodbye First Class on Cathay, Hello Coach on American

British Airways Avios: Goodbye First Class on Cathay, Hello Coach on American


British Airways today launched its change from Executive Club miles to Avios points, and in the process devalued, as expected, the single partner award chart that provided amazing values such as North America to Bali on Cathay Pacific in First Class for 150,000 BA Miles roundtrip, and North America to Easter Island with unlimited South America stopovers on LAN inBusiness Class for 80,000 miles roundtrip.

So are there any values? Well, since the new pricing is at least partly distance based, and also is more expensive the more connections you make (as Gary points out, an LA-London-Paris First Class award is now more expensive than just an LA-London First Class award), the best deals using Avios points seem to be short flights that could be expensive revenue fares if booked last minute, such as U.S. to certain Canadian and Caribbean destinations, such as New York to Montreal for 4500 Avios points (was 10,000 BA miles).


Sample Award Price Changes:

Route (Roundtrip)

Before (BA Executive Club)

After (BA Avios)

NYC-Bali, Cathay First Class

150K BA miles + taxes

260K Avios points + taxes

NYC-Easter Island, LAN Business

80K BA miles + taxes

150K Avios points + taxes

Miami-Buenos Aires, AA First Class

120K BA miles + taxes

150K Avios points + taxes

NYC-London, BA Business

100K BA miles + taxes

80K Avios points + taxes

LA-London, BA First Class

150K BA miles + taxes

150K Avios points + taxes

LA-London-Paris, BA First Class

150K BA miles + taxes

177K Avios points + taxes

NYC-Miami, AA Coach

25K BA miles + taxes

15K Avios points + taxes

NYC-Montreal, AA Coach

25K BA miles + taxes

9K Avios points + taxes

NYC-San Juan, AA Coach

35K BA miles + taxes

20K Avios points + taxes


Fee Changes:


Before (BA Executive Club)

After (BA Avios)

Phone Ticketing Fee



Change/Cancel Award (Online)


$40 or if cancellation, just Award taxes (if taxes <$40)

Change/Cancel Award (Phone)




Best Uses of Avios points

  • Fly Business or First Class with your significant other or friend, using the free companion ticket, which you receive if you spent >$30K on the BA Visa
  • Last minute short haul direct flights within a given region, especially if last minute revenue fare would be expensive

Worst use of Avios points

  • Long haul premium flights with connections (eg US to Asia with stopover or US to South America with multiple stopovers)
  • Awards from smaller cities with connections; e.g.  JIMCHI on flyertalk points out that a Sacramento-Dallas Fort Worth-NYC roundtrip first class award on AA would now be 120K Avios points, up from 75K BA miles

If you primarily save and redeem frequent flyer miles and points for long haul premium flights, you’ll probably want to focus on:

  • Star Alliance (United/Continental, US Airways—not Aeroplan, given the recent devaluations) and Ultimate Rewards, from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which transfers 1:1 to United
  • Alaska Airlines (American AAdvantage miles and Delta Skymiles earned on flights can be credited to your Alaska Airlines account). Award chart is a good deal, especially on Cathay Pacific to South Africa, see The 10 Best Premium Cabin Redemptions

Avios Gripes

  • Why can’t British Airways provide a decent award chart? Hate having to price everything segment by segment using the Spending Avios Calculator!
  • British Airways really should have released the award chart before it became effective. And no, there's no grace period–you can only book using Avios award costs now, the single partner award chart is history.

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