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Middle Age Miles

Will BA Really Offer Partner Flights Under 651 Miles in North America for 6,000 Avios?

ba british airways avios partner award chart north america aa 650 miles under 651 miles 6,000 avios
Middle Age Miles at Jason Aldean’s Bar in Nashville –
conveniently located 631 AA miles from DFW!

Yesterday morning, we received an email from British Airways warning us that it would be changing its chart for award redemptions using Avios on partner airlines including AA, as of May 30. This sounded very bad. When a company tells you that things are changing but won’t tell you what the changes are, it’s never a good sign.

We published an article yesterday with a warning about this news:

Later yesterday afternoon, however, travel blog Seat 31B published a follow-up article on the impending BA changes. In short, Seat 31B said that although the new BA partner redemption chart isn’t publicly available, it has been programmed into the BA computer system for booking agents. Seat 31B asked questions of BA agents, presumably about what the Avios pricing would be for specific partner routes. From the answers to those questions, Seat 31B inferred what they believe will be the new BA partner redemption chart for economy class, at least for the short- and medium-haul flights where Avios are most valuable.

You can read the full Seat 31B article here:

According to Seat 31B, the new economy chart looks like this:

  • Flights of 1-650 miles: 6,000 Avios (currently 4,500; 7,500 in North America)
  • Flights of 651-1,150 miles: 9,000 Avios (currently 7,500)
  • Flights of 1,151-2,000 miles: 11,000 Avios (currently 10,000)
  • Flights of 2,001-3,000 miles: 13,000 Avios (currently 12,500)

It’s also our understanding that the award charts for premium cabin redemptions will maintain the same multipliers from the economy chart that are currently in place. That means that BA Avios redemptions for domestic first class on AA would be 2x the economy rate. Assuming that’s correct and applying it to Seat 31B’s chart for economy flights, the new chart for domestic first class redemptions on AA would be:

  • Flights of 1-650 miles: 12,000 Avios
  • Flights of 651-1,150 miles: 18,000 Avios
  • Flights of 1,151-2,000 miles: 22,000 Avios
  • Flights of 2,001-3,000 miles: 26,000 Avios

What About North American Flights of Less Than 651 Miles?

In addition to inferring the charts, Seat 31B reported some potentially big news – short-haul economy flights within North America of less than 651 miles were pricing at the 6,000 Avios level. This could be extremely helpful for North American flyers if it turns out to be true.

Currently, and as of the past 3 years or so, short-haul flights within North America of less than 651 miles had a special exception in the BA partner redemption chart. Instead of pricing at 4,500 Avios (which is the current redemption rate for flights under 651 miles in the rest of the world), North American economy flights under 651 miles priced at 7,500 Avios (the same as flights from 651-1,150 miles).

If the award pricing that Seat 31B has received is true, then North American economy flights under 651 miles would actually be going down in price, from 7,500 Avios to 6,000 Avios.

Likewise, North American first class flights under 651 miles would go down in price, from 15,000 Avios to 12,000 Avios.

If this turns out to be true, this could be great news for many US flyers.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Cities with Airports Within 650 Miles of DFW

First, let’s take a look at our home airport, DFW. Here’s a map with a 650-mile radius circle around DFW:

650-mile radius around DFW airport
(map courtesy www.mapdevelopers.com)

Here are a few of the cities with airports within 650 miles of DFW:

  • Houston
  • Austin
  • San Antonio
  • El Paso
  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe
  • Denver (643 miles!)
  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa
  • Kansas City
  • Omaha
  • St. Louis
  • Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville/Bentonville)
  • Little Rock
  • Memphis
  • Nashville (631 miles)
  • Birmingham
  • Montgomery
  • Mobile
  • Jackson
  • Baton Rouge
  • New Orleans
  • Monterrey, Mexico

And there are many more cities within this radius, of course. Being able to fly to any of these cities for 6,000 Avios each way, or 12,000 Avios each way in first class, would be excellent.

We’d also note based on our anecdotal experience that first class saver level seats on short flights like this often have even better availability than economy class saver seats. First class may not be worth a whole lot on these flights, but at least it does include 2 checked bags, free drinks, a snack basket (usually) and a bit more legroom and comfort.

Cities with Airports Within 650 Miles of CLT

Next, let’s look at another AA hub, Charlotte (CLT). Here’s a map with a 650-mile radius circle around CLT:

650-mile radius around CLT airport
(map courtesy www.mapdevelopers.com)

For Charlotte flyers, a 650-mile radius captures almost the entire eastern half of the United States, including:

  • New York City
  • Albany
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, DC
  • Baltimore
  • Pittsburgh
  • Toronto
  • Cleveland
  • Detroit
  • Chicago
  • Indianapolis
  • Columbus
  • Cincinnati
  • Louisville
  • Lexington
  • St. Louis
  • Nashville
  • Memphis
  • Little Rock (642 miles)
  • Jackson
  • New Orleans
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Birmingham
  • Atlanta
  • Tallahassee
  • Jacksonville
  • Tampa
  • Orlando
  • West Palm Beach
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami (650 miles exactly!)
  • Savannah
  • Charleston
  • Richmond

Skepticism About Seat 31B’s Inferred BA Chart?

After Seat 31B published their blog post with the inferred BA chart yesterday, it was picked up by notable bloggers Gary Leff at View From The Wing and Doctor of Credit. Neither commented on any particular skepticism about the Seat 31B report.

On the other hand, this morning Lucky at One Mile at a Time published an article on the “leaked” BA chart. There, Lucky expressed some skepticism about the accuracy of the data – not suggesting that Seat 31B was being untruthful in any way, but wondering aloud how this data would be available to BA frontline reps and why it would be released:

“Let me say up front that I’m skeptical of this. I’m not suggesting Seat31B isn’t being honest, but rather it seems unusual to me that reservations agents would have access to this information weeks in advance, especially since there’s no practical reason for them to have this information yet.”

– Lucky of One Mile at a Time

We obviously don’t know one way or the other. But Seat 31B has been around for a long time, and we’ll trust that they got their data as reported from BA agents. Whether it’s correct or mistaken, we’ll find out within a few weeks.

Conclusion

We’ll have to wait and see on this, but we sure hope Seat 31B’s preliminary research turns out to be correct. If indeed BA were to include North American flights in the 1-650 mile grouping again (as it did prior to about 3 years ago), it would present terrific value to many AA flyers. Keep your fingers crossed!

What do you think? Would BA really allow North American flights of less than 651 miles to price in the lowest Avios bracket again? Please let us hear your thoughts in the Comments!


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