When British Airways announced their upcoming changes to the Executive Club program, they didn’t publish the new award charts and give members a chance to redeem at the old rates before implementing the changes. While members knew that a change was coming, they didn’t know exactly what the change was and how it would effect their upcoming award redemptions. As a result, many members were understandably upset to see that many awards are now more expensive–some increasing over 100 percent or more–while other awards will see a reduction in the points required. (When miles became Avios points, the miles transferred to points at a 1:1 ratio).
One of the biggest changes is that partner awards will be priced per segment, which means if you have to include a connection or want to include a stopover, the number of Avios points for the itinerary will be higher than if you don’t connect. On British Airways flights, passengers are allowed one connection. There is no published award chart, so you will have to enter your origination and destination cities into the calculator to see how many miles you’ll need for an award trip.
The good news is that members who redeem for nonstop, short-haul flights will save some miles under the new award chart. For example, under the old system, any roundtrip domestic coach flight within the U.S. was 12,500 miles one-way. Now, shorter flights will require fewer points. For example, a one-way New York to Chicago trip is now 7,500 points. A direct flight in coach from Cleveland to Chicago or Miami to Cancun is only 4,500 points. Members who redeem for short-haul trips in Europe in zones 1, 2 and 3 can also save some points and cash with the new Reward Flight Saver option, where a flat fee of 27 pounds/euros in coach and 34 pounds/euros in business covers the cost of taxes, fees and charges.
But many routes are going up in price. For example, a one-way flight from Seattle to London in first stays the same at 75,000 points but if you have a connection or stopover in London and continue to Paris, the price goes up to 88,500 points, whereas that itinerary used to be 75,000 miles. A one-way trip from New York to Bali in business class on Cathay Pacific was 75,000 miles and has increased to 130,000 points. In first class, the same trip is 260,000 points compared to the previous 150,000 miles.
There are too many routes that have increased to list them all here and without award charts, British Airways makes it difficult to see how many points are required for an award. But in most cases, if you are flying from North America to destinations in Asia, Africa and many cities in Europe, expect to pay significantly more for your trip. Flights to Europe have decreased in some cases, notably New York to London in business class is now 40,000 Avios points, from 50,000 miles.
There is an award chart for flights that include two or more oneworld airlines that is based on the total mileage flown. These awards start at 30,000 points for a coach flight up to 1,500 miles and go up to 160,000 points for a flight 35,001 to 50,000 miles long. Business class awards are double the price for coach and first class require three times as many Avios points.
Also, there have been some fee changes and the fee to book an award ticket over the phone has increased to $25 from $20. And there is now a fee of $40 to make changes to your flight date or time online and $65 over the phone. Cancelling a ticket is now $40 online (from $50) and $65 by phone (from $70).