No… British Airways Did NOT Reduce Award Surcharges

British Airways Executive Club has announced changes to its award pricing, with Reward Flight Saver being extended to all British Airways flights and cabins (except First Class).

For those who play the travel hacking game, you are surely well aware of the fact that British Airways charges some of the highest “taxes and carrier-imposed surcharges” in the airline industry. The UK government is often responsible for those high “taxes”, but it is British Airways who decides to charge high surcharges.

While everybody gets mad about those high fees, less attention is paid to the fact that British Airways also offers the BEST guaranteed award availability in the industry. (you might have to book it a year in advance though…) On EVERY flight, British Airways offers at least:

  • 8 award seats in Economy
  • 2 award seats in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)
  • 4 award seats in Club World / Europe (Business Class)

What is Reward Flight Saver?

Reward Flight Saver is only available to those members who have earned at least 1 Avios within the last 12 months.  This entitles the member to pay a fixed amount in “taxes and fees”, instead of the actual amount that BA would charge paying customers on the route being booked.

However, this generosity is not free.  In fact, you will pay substantially more Avios. You do, theoretically, retain the option to pay more money and fewer Avios for your award flights.

There is one absolutely crucial detail to note – the fixed amount to be paid depends on where your British Airways Executive Club account is located. At current exchange rates, you would clearly be better off with a UK account address. (this will, however, mean that you cannot have a US credit card earning Avios…)

And perhaps most importantly… when you attempt to book a British Airways award flight using a different award currency, such as American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles, you will still pay those high surcharges…

What is All of the Fuss About?

As with any major change, there are winners and losers.

Avios are perhaps unique in the sense that the perception of their value is firmly anchored – in the UK for sure, if not elsewhere – at 1 British pence per Avios (roughly 1.2 US cents). You will NOT receive 1p of value per Avios by using Reward Flight Saver for long-haul flights – you are likely to be better off choosing a “high cash, low Avios” option.  As long as this continues to be offered – and clearly British Airways might sneak through further devaluations once it realizes how much award ticket fee income it has lost – you can choose to ignore the new low cash award pricing.

The winners?  Those who can churn though credit card sign-up bonuses and/or manufacture spend in such a way that they have no problems earning hundreds of thousands of Avios along with companion vouchers…  You are certainly not going to earn those Avios from flights, once the new revenue-based structure is implemented (click here).

Bottom Line

This change is hard for me to care about – because I NEVER spend my Avios on British Airways award flights.

But for others it is clearly a sensitive matter.  Some are thrilled, some think it’s a slippery slope to becoming the next Delta SkyMiles…

What do you think about these changes? Let us know in the comments section…