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British Airways Executive Club is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs when it comes to redeeming miles for short-medium haul flights, that’s because they have a distance-based award chart – so the less you fly, the less you pay in miles. Avios awards within Europe start at around 4,000 miles, which can be a great deal, especially last minute when these tickets can cost hundreds.

British Airways Executive Club Avios Awards are Distance-Based

The British Airways Executive Club has multiple distance-based award charts, the more you fly, the more you pay. The thing with the distance-based award charts is that British Airways has a lot of them and not all of them are published – they used to have one, simple chart for all airlines and as time went on, they kept changing rates on different partner airline flights. So where it stands is that British Airways has multiple award charts and some of them are not published and the cost can change depending on what airline you select.

For example, British Airways has a different award chart if you are flying on Qatar Airways and this chart is basically identical to what Qatar Airways charges for redemptions on their own flights through their own program – both use Avios and you can transfer them between BA and QR accounts as you wish. The Qatar Airways chart is unique because the price of two segments is not added up segment by segment – instead it largely depends on the total distance you fly, which isn’t the case with some of BA’s other partner airlines.

British Airways Devalues Avios Awards within North America

British Airways has devalued Avios awards within North America on Alaska and American Airlines as of a few weeks ago. The rates were changed overnight without any notice from British Airways – not the first time they have done something without notice. The rates on some British Airways partners do not follow any official award chart that BA has published, so therefore it basically means that BA has gotten rid of some award charts and while redemptions are not dynamic, more conditions and higher pricing have been added to them.

The new rates for travel on American and Alaska Airlines when redeeming BA Avios are as follows:

  • Flights 650 miles in distance or less
    • Economy: 8,250 points
    • First: 16,500 points
  • Flights 651 – 1,151 miles in distance
    • Economy: 11,000 points
    • First: 20,500 points
  • Flights 1,152 – 2,000 miles in distance
    • Economy: 14,500 points
    • First: 29,000 points
  • Flights 2,001 – 3,000 miles in distance
    • Economy: 16,000 points
    • First: 42,000 points

If you were thinking of redeeming Avios for a flight from the West Coast to Hawaii for just 13,000 miles, you are now out of luck as that award has increased to 16,000 points in Economy Class.

While some of these may seem like minor changes and some people don’t have a problem with them, the main issue here is that British Airways has now developed a habit of making changes without notice – which isn’t fair to those who have been saving up miles to use them on a specific trip.

Always Collect Flexible and Transferable Points

This is yet another great reminder to collect flexible and transferable points through bank programs that you can transfer to multiple airlines when the time comes to book your trip. That way, you have more options as each airline has different award availability. Not only that, you are sort of protected from devaluations since your points do not live in one airline program and instead in a bank program where you can transfer them to any partner.

All in All

Airline frequent flyer programs didn’t make so many changes back in the day – I remember that changes were often made every 2-3 years or so and they were minor, and not only that, they were announced so that loyal members could take advantage before an aspect about the program was changed. Honestly, I am having a hard time keeping up with all of the frequent flyer program changes – it seems like every few weeks something changes and by the time you learn what the new aspects are, they change yet again. Most of these changes are driven by U.S.-based programs that can’t seem to make up their mind how they run elite programs or how many miles are required for a flight. These constant changes need to stop because it doesn’t make the program/airline look good and it only keeps confusing members.

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