A month ago, British Airways announced that they would devalue Avios on 5/30. However they refused to publish what exactly the changes would be.
For reference sake, here is the previous Avios award chart for flying on a single partner airline. Rates are for each segment flown. You can search the distance between 2 airports on GCMap.com. For example you can see why a round-trip flight from West Palm Beach to Chicago is cheaper than a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago.
|1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)||1-650||4.5K||9K||18K|
|1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)||1-650||7.5K||15K||30K|
Here is the new BA Avios award chart for partner airlines that I’ve put together (as BA still hasn’t published it) for flying on a single partner airline:
|1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)||1-650||6,000||12,500||24,000|
|1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)||1-650||7,500||15,000||30,000|
The devaluation stings, but I was expecting things to be ugly given that BA wouldn’t release an award chart. It certainly could have been much worse than this! The one big surprise here is that flights that are 650 miles in distance or less that are to, from, or within the USA will remain priced just as they were before!
I suspect that the reason for that is that AA forced BA to devalue these zone 1 flights several years ago and they were lumped together with zone 2 awards. With the zone 2 awards being devalued today, there was no need to devalue the US zone 1 awards any further that they already have been as they are still more expensive than zone 1 awards elsewhere in the world.
Sample Avios uses:
- 6,000 Avios is enough for a one-way short-haul ticket from Iguazu Falls-Sao Paulo, Johannesburg-Victoria Falls, Hong Kong to Taiwan, and Melbourne to Sydney.
- 7,500 Avios is enough for a one-way short-haul ticket between New York and places like Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Montreal, Pittsburgh, or Toronto, or between Miami and the Bahamas or Cancun. These awards are priced exactly as they were before.
- 9,000 Avios is enough for a one-way short-haul ticket between New York and places like Bermuda, Chicago, Miami, or Orlando, or between LA and Cabo on OneWorld partner American.
- 11,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between Chicago and LA, Hong Kong to Singapore, or JFK to Cancun.
- 13,000 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between New York and the west coast.
- 20,750 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between Dallas and Hawaii or New York and London (though you’ll be hit with fuel surcharges for crossing the Atlantic on most airlines).
- 25,750 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between New York and Brazil or Argentina.
- 36,250 Avios is enough for a one-way flight between the US and Hong Kong in coach. Note that Hong Kong remains an exception route and is charged as a zone 8 award even if it should be a zone 9 award, such as JFK-Hong Kong.
- 38,750 Avios is enough for a one-way flight in lie-flat business class on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver with no fuel surcharges.
- 51,500 Avios is enough for a one-way flight in lie-flat first class on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver with no fuel surcharges.
It’s worth noting that you can still transfer transfer BA Avios to Iberia as their award chart hasn’t changed. You can combine Avios via this link via the BA site. Sometimes that link doesn’t work so you can also try this link on the Iberia site to combine points.
You can save Avios on some routes by with Iberia Avios. Iberia’s awards start at 11K Avios round-trip. However Iberia partner awards are not changeable or cancellable, so you’ll typically want to use British Airways Avios to book partner award travel.
If you, a member in your household, or an authorized user has one of the following Chase cards, you can transfer points into miles:
- Chase Ink Preferred has a 80K signup bonus and earns 3 points per dollar on shipping, advertising, and travel, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.25 cents each for paid travel ($95 annual fee).
- Chase Sapphire Preferred has a 60K signup bonus, earns 2 points per dollar on dining/travel, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.25 cents each for paid travel ($95 annual fee).
- Chase Sapphire Reserve has a 50K signup bonus, earns 3 points per dollar on dining/travel, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.5 cents each for paid travel ($450 annual fee with $300 travel credit).
Chase no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:
- Chase Ink Cash has a 50K signup bonus and earns 5 points per dollar on cable, TV, telecom, cellular, office supply stores, and gift cards from office supply stores, plus 2 points per dollar on dining and gas ($0 annual fee).
- Chase Ink Unlimited has a 50K signup bonus and earns 1.5 points per dollar everywhere ($0 annual fee).
- Chase Freedom has a 15K signup bonus and earns 5 points per dollar on rotating categories ($0 annual fee).
- Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 3 points per dollar on up to $20K in spending for the first 12 months that you have the card and then offers 1.5 points per dollar everywhere.
Chase transfer partners include:
- United (Star Alliance)
- Singapore (Star Alliance)
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Skyteam)
- British Airways (OneWorld)
- Aer Lingus (OneWorld)
- Iberia (OneWorld)
- Virgin Atlantic
About British Airways Avios:
In 2011 BA launched the Avios program and it provides a great value for short-haul flights. Unfortunately their domestic OneWorld partner, American, has been stingy with award availability since they merged with USAirways, but there are still bargains to be had.
- There are no expedite or close-in fees for last minute award ticket bookings with BA Avios. That saves you $75 compared to other programs.
- Earning or redeeming any amount of Avios extends your entire account validity for another 36 months.
- You can cancel tickets and redeposit miles for the lesser of $55 or the taxes you paid. That means you pay just $5.60 to cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and you always should book domestic flights as one-ways). That saves you up to $200 compared to other programs when you need to cancel.
- British Airways only charges 10% extra miles for a lap child flying internationally, even when traveling on AA. AA and other domestic carriers charge a whopping 10% of the full fare, which can add up to be a small fortune.
- You can search American and Alaska award availability on AA.com by looking for sAAver awards. BA can’t book AAnytime awards, but you should be able to find all AA sAAver awards on BA.com. BA.com does not display all available awards on all airlines, airlines like Alaska, Aer Lingus, and LATAM have to be booked over the phone. Additionally you will have to call BA to make a booking if you see a sAAver award on AA.com that’s not showing on BA.com.
Avoiding fuel surcharges:
- There are no fuel surcharges for travel on American within the Western Hemisphere. Flights start at 7,500 Avios plus $5.60.
- Alaska flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide, these flights can only be booked over the phone.
- LATAM flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. Many of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
- Flights within Australia, Europe, Japan, and many other countries and regions have little to no fuel surcharges.
- There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Qantas within or from Australia.
- Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are also very low or non-existent and you don’t even need to fly all the way to Hong Kong (though you should-great city with awesome kosher food, airport lounges with kosher food, and a business or first class flight you’ll never forget!) to get a taste of their awesome bed, seat, pajamas, and amenities. They fly a daily 777 nonstop between JFK and Vancouver which I reviewed in this trip report.
- You can significantly cut the fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios
- British Airways 5th Freedom Flights (flights that don’t depart from or arrive to the UK) have significantly lower fees. For example even though Singapore-Sydney is a longer flight than NYC-London the fees in first class on Singapore-Sydney are less than half of those from NYC-London.
- As long as you have earned a single Avios within the past 12 months then fuel surcharges for intra-Europe and intra-Africa flights will be very low. You can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, or Marriott to activate that benefit.
Will these changes affect how you use BA Avios?