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Middle Age Miles

Reminder – New British Airways Pricing Using Avios on Partners Starts May 30 – Also, Our Hedging Strategy for Short AA Flights

british airways avios devaluation partner award charts aa american airlines flights
Entry to British Airways Lounge, FCO airport, Rome

Introduction

This article is a quick reminder that British Airways (BA) is changing the award redemption rates for flights on partner airlines as of May 30 (that is, on Thursday, 2 days from now).

If you want to make bookings at existing rates (and you probably do), you’ll want to make them this evening or by tomorrow afternoon. Keep in mind that the changes may go into effect as early as 12:00 am London time on May 30 – which for the US means 7:00 pm Eastern / 6:00 pm Central / 4:00 pm Pacific time on Wednesday, May 29.

Previous Middle Age Miles Articles

We’ve published 2 articles about the upcoming BA partner award chart changes:

Summary of Imminent BA Partner Award Changes

To recap, BA told us a few weeks ago that partner redemption rates using Avios would be changing, but they didn’t provide any details. All we know is:

  • Avios redemption rates will be changing as of May 30, 2019
    • This will not impact Avios award reservations already made, unless you change them after May 30
    • Current Avios redemption rates remain in effect for all bookings made from now through May 29 (unless changed on or after May 30)
  • The changes to redemption rates will impact the following BA partners:
    • Alaska Airlines
    • Air Italy
    • American Airlines
    • Cathay Pacific
    • Finnair
    • Japan Airlines
    • LATAM
    • Malaysia Airlines
    • Qantas
    • Qatar Airways
    • Royal Jordanian
    • S7
    • Sri Lankan
  • In addition, the price of Avios upgrades on American Airlines will also be changing on May 30
  • There will be no changes to Avios prices for award bookings and upgrades with BA, Aer Lingus, Iberia or Vueling (the IAG group airlines)

Thanks to some excellent investigative work by our fellow blogger Seat 31B, though, it’s expected that the key changes to the BA partner award chart will be:

  • 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

Speculation

In addition to inferring the new BA partner award charts, Seat 31B reported some potentially big news – his data points indicated that short-haul economy flights within North America seemed to be pricing at 6,000 Avios. 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.

We really haven’t seen any chatter about the potential new redemption rates since the initial flurry of activity when BA announced the upcoming changes in late April.

If you fly from DFW, you can get to Nashville in less than 651 miles

Immediate Strategy – Including a Hedging Strategy for AA Flights Under 651 Miles

If you have any AA flights of 651+ miles, or any flights of any distance on any other BA partner airlines, where you want to use Avios for award redemptions: Book them now, before late afternoon tomorrow! Redemption rates seem virtually certain to go up on all of these flights.

The one possible exception to the “book now” advice would be AA flights of 650 miles or less within North America. If the speculation is correct, then these flights could actually be decreasing from 7,500 Avios to 6,000 Avios (in economy).

On the other hand, if the speculation is wrong and BA continues its North America “exception” policy, then these AA flights may instead be increasing from 7,500 Avios to 9,000 Avios (in economy).

So, if you want to hedge against a potential increase, you could always book AA flights of under 651 miles tomorrow (May 29), at the 7,500 Avios rate. Then, you’re locked in and golden if the rate increases. But if the rate decreases, you should be able to cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking for a full refund of Avios and fees. Then you can re-book at the decreased rate. [Alternatively, even if you have to cancel more than 24 hours after booking, you should get all of your Avios refunded and only be out the dollar amount you paid for fees, which is usually only $5.60 for sub-651-mile US bookings.]

Do you have other insights or strategies for the upcoming British Airways changes to partner award redemptions? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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