We've written about British Airways miles before, mostly in the context of the British Airways Visa, in the Best Credit Cards for Sign-up Bonuses and Everyday Spend and its current $100 credit off dining at two NYC Michelin star restaurants.
Well, British Airways has just announced changes to its frequent flyer program, BA Executive Club. Starting November 16, BA Executive Club, Iberia Plus and Airmiles members will earn Avios points, and new award redemption values and reduced flat fees for European awards will take effect. The bigger news is what has NOT been announced. As Ben pointed out, there will be a NEW unified award pricing chart for BA only and BA + 1 Partner or Partner only, per the BA Executive Club rep who posted on FlyerTalk:
“Sorry if it wasn’t clear in my earlier post, partner rewards will be priced the same as BA. So – a single pricing table for itineraries which are:BA onlyBA +1 partner or partner only
For multi-partner itineraries these will be priced using the current oneworld multi carrier redemption. The pricing will be based largely on a distance banded model for all reward sectors.”
The reason this matters so much is that currently, the best value for U.S. flyers redeeming BA Miles is for business and first class travel on partners, such as Cathay Pacific from the U.S. to Asia for 100K miles (Biz) and 150K (First Class) and on LAN from the U.S. to South America for 80K (Biz) and 120K (First Class), as we wrote in The 10 Best Premium Cabin Award Tickets. Also, taxes/fuel surcharges are much less using Oneworld partners than British Airways. Here's BA's single Oneworld Partner Award Chart.
The worst part is that so far British Airways hasn't actually released the new unified award chart, leaving everyone guessing and speculating which awards for U.S. passengers will increase the most, and by how much.
Your safest bet, if you were planning to use your BA miles to book a business or first class flight on a single OneWorld partner, especially flights to Asia and South America, may be to book it now, before November, and not risk having to potentially pay 50-100% more miles for your award. User our tips in How to Find Oneworld Award Space to find availability.
Note that if you are putting $30,000 on your BA Visa card to get a free companion award ticket, those tickets must be flown on British Airways, not Oneworld partners, so you may not be affected much; the Avios points may even go down slightly from what you would have paid using BA Miles. You will still have to pay the BA taxes/fuel surcharges, however, on both the original award ticket and the companion ticket.
Without further ado, here's our rundown:
The good news:
- Value of existing BA Miles remains the same—1 BA Mile will equal 1 Avios point
- No impact on existing bookings
- No impact on Tier status or benefits
- More ways to spend points (hotels, car rentals etc.—partner details to come)
- More ways to earn points (partner details to come)
- Most routes (97%) will require fewer Avios points for an award than the BA Miles currently required. U.S. examples include the New York-London, Boston-London, Chicago-London and Washington-London routes; see comparison chart below for New York-London awards:
There's also good news if you book (or want to book) BA European awards. Taxes on Reward Flight Saver awards from London to European destinations (Zones 1-3) will be reduced to a flat fee of 27 EUR for Euro Traveller and 34 Euros for Club Europe Awards. Currently these taxes run around 100 EUR.
The bad news:
- As mentioned above, there's a big elephant in the room: what will the new unified award chart look like, and by how much will single Oneworld partner awards increase in the number of BA miles (er, Avios points) required? Big deal for U.S. flyers, not quite so much for European flyers who aren't originating in the U.S. so haven't been booking these awards.
- A few routes will require more Avios points for an award than the BA Miles currently required, namely Tel Aviv, See chart below:
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