There’s some bad news for users of the British Airways Executive Club program. British Airways will be making “changes” to the pricing of partner airline award tickets from 30 May 2019. But even more concerning is the fact that British Airways won’t yet reveal what the new prices are! It seems we won’t know exactly what’s changing until after the changes come into effect.
It is almost certain that the number of Avios required to book award tickets on BA’s partner airlines, including Qantas, will be increasing. We’re just not sure yet exactly how bad these changes will be. But if they were not significant, it’s unlikely British Airways would be hiding the details.
Avios is the currency of the British Airways Executive Club program. It’s been popular with Australian frequent flyers because short-haul award flights are excellent value. Shorter Qantas domestic flights currently cost just 4,500 Avios in Economy, or 9,000 Avios for Business class – and there is often decent award availability at the last minute, when airfares are very high. This sweet spot will probably be the first to disappear following the 30 May Executive Club changes.
Read more: How to Buy & Redeem British Airways Avios
What do we know about the British Airways Executive Club changes?
The changes affect BA Executive Club award bookings on all Oneworld partner airlines except British Airways and Iberia. They also affect awards on British Airways’ other partner airlines of Alaska Airlines and Air Italy. Award pricing on British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus is not changing. (Incidentally, it will no longer be possible to redeem Qantas points or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for Aer Lingus flights from the end of June.)
Awards booked prior to 30 May 2019 will retain the current pricing. So, if you have a large balance of British Airways Avios, your safest bet is to redeem them before then. You can book award travel with Avios up to 355 days in advance, although some partner airlines don’t release award availability until a little closer to departure. Unfortunately, you’ll be charged the difference between the old and new pricing if you need to make any changes to an existing Avios booking after 30 May.
British Airways is also changing to the pricing of Avios upgrades on American Airlines flights. From 30 May 2019, upgrades will be charged as the difference in Avios pricing between the cabin booked and the higher cabin.
British Airways has given one month of notice that there will be changes. The lack of detail about the changes is very poor form, but at least they’ve had the courtesy to warn us.
First United, now British Airways… what’s next?
It is very possible that British Airways will follow United’s example by removing award charts altogether. This would be a terrible outcome for frequent flyers. But for now, we’ll have to wait and see.
This latest program devaluation is yet another reminder of why hoarding frequent flyer points is a bad idea. Frequent flyer points will never increase in value, but could lose their value at any time.
Speculation is rife that American Airlines could soon devalue its AAdvantage frequent flyer program as well. Will it be next?
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: BA changing partner award prices