While we’re less than halfway through the year, it’s likely safe to dub 2019 as the year of devaluations. From Singapore Airlines devaluing both its own award chart and its Star Alliance partner chart to United and American Airlines inching their way toward dynamic award pricing, there have been a lot of changes to deal with.
Now, British Airways has joined the club, sending out an email to members that the cost of redemptions on most partner airlines will be changing on May 30, 2019. The following partners will be affected, and upgrades on American Airlines will also be changing in price on this date:
- Alaska Airlines
- Air Italy
- American Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Sri Lankan
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
While the advance notice to members of a change is appreciated, the exact details of the new partner award chart have not been released. This will almost certainly be a devalaution of sorts, but the question is how much. Seat31B was able to piece together much of the new pricing by speaking to British Airways booking agents, but these new prices have not been confirmed by British Airways. Here’s what we believe the new partner award chart will look like (and how much those flights currently cost now):
|Flight Distance||New Price||Current Price|
|0-650 miles||6,000 Avios||4,500 Avios|
|651-1,150 miles||9,000 Avios||7,500 Avios|
|1,151-2,000 miles||11,000 Avios||10,000 Avios|
|2,000-3,000 miles||13,000 Avios||12,500 Avios|
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of long-haul pricing in here. While these categories are likely changing as well, Seat31B correctly points out that they were never a great value to begin with, so they chose not to focus on them.
How Bad Are These Changes?
Let’s start with the good news, because there are a few things to get excited about here. First of all, if this report is correct, British Airways is not jumping on the dynamic pricing bandwagon and will continue to use a fixed-value award chart based on the distance of the flight. The other good news is that it appears that the 0-650 mile pricing tier is returning to North America after British Airways removed it in 2016. While the price in this tier is going up 33% to 6,000 Avios, this is still a discount over the current cheapest flights in North America of 7,500 Avios. One of the best sweet spots in the British Airways award chart was for flights from the West Coast to Hawaii for only 12,500 Avios each way in economy. This price will be going up by 500 Avios, which is something we can live with.
The prices shown above are all for economy flights. British Airways will continue to price business-class and first-class awards as 2x and 4x the cost of economy awards, respectively, according to Seat31B. Pricing will also be consistent for all partners, whether you’re flying a five-star airline like JAL or a less popular airline like Sri Lankan.
The worst change by far comes for flights in the 650-1,150-mile pricing tier, which are going up 20% to cost 9,000 Avios each way in economy, according to the report. This brings them in line with recent changes to the Avianca LifeMiles program and kills one of the biggest sweet spots of the Avios program. This was a great option for booking US domestic flights on AA or Alaska at a significant savings.
While British Airways has not confirmed that these are in fact the new prices, it seems likely that they are, given that this information came from British Airways booking agents. If this is correct, it would represent a very mild devaluation, especially compared to some of the other ones we’ve seen this year. I’m happy to see the Hawaii sweet spot kept mostly intact, and if British Airways ends up bringing the 0-650 mile pricing tier back to North America at 6,000 Avios each way, that would go a long way toward offsetting the increase in price from the 650-1,150-mile tier.
Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy.