British Airways to devalue its Frequent Flyer program

Following the lead of many airlines over recent months, British Airways is restructuring its frequent flyer program. As such changes usually are, this is largely bad news for British Airways Executive Club members as significantly fewer Avios miles and Tier points will be earned on the cheapest economy fares.

But it appears that British Airways is just the next in a series of dominoes to fall when it comes to devaluating frequent flyer programs. For example, many other programs are also changing the way miles are earned so that they are more proportionate to the price of the ticket. This generally means that those buying cheaper economy tickets lose out.

To summarise the changes to Executive Club, British Airways will reduce the number of Avios miles earned on discount economy tickets, while increasing the earn rate on first class and the most expensive flexible business class tickets.

There will also be changes to the price of redeeming Avios miles. There are actually a few positive changes here. Firstly, fewer points will be required for award flights in economy or premium economy during off-peak periods. Secondly, more award seats will be made available to Executive Club members. However, the cost of redeeming Avios miles in business and first class will be increased – in some cases, substantially.

Some of our members make comparisons to the restructuring of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program last year. The Qantas changes, popularly known on AFF as “simplification”, also set out to reduce the number of points and status credits earned on cheaper tickets.

Thankfully for British Airways customers though, the changes do not go as far as those introduced recently by US airlines Delta or United Airlines. Delta now awards miles, which are used to qualify for elite status, based on the number of dollars spent with the airline rather than the distance travelled. Both Delta and United now also have a minimum spend requirement for earning status. Nonetheless, it will no doubt be a little bit harder in future to earn Avios miles and Tier points.

These particular changes will only affect Executive Club members, of which there are likely few in Australia (due to the fact that Australians are technically not allowed to join). However, there are fears that even more airlines may follow suit. While airlines like Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Aegean Airlines and many US airlines have already made similar changes recently airlines like American Airlines are yet to do so. American Airlines’ AAdvantage program is a popular alternative in the oneworld alliance to Qantas for Australian flyers, so a devaluation in this program would upset, though probably not surprise, quite a few of our members.

I wonder if these changes will flow through to AAnother FF program. I can’t imagine there will still be 100% earn on discount economy to AAdvantage when the fares only earn 25% or 50% in BAs own program.

Some members, however, believe that airlines are justified in making it more difficult to earn miles and status as it has become too easy and too many members are taking advantage of loopholes. The argument goes that this dilutes the benefits for those who have earned everything the hard way.

The simple reason for these drastic changes everywhere (Qantas, Aegean, BA etc) is earning status has become too easy.

Simply put we are getting way too many benefits for very small outlays. The boundaries need to change. It needs to become tougher.

What do you think of the changes? Will you be affected? Leave a comment HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]