Update: British Airways is NOT changing its Avios partner award chart. Here’s an updated post with the latest information!
Via View From the Wing and Million Mile Secrets readers, there could be huge changes coming to the British Airways frequent flyer program. And if this happens, it’s NOT good news!
Folks like to use British Airways Avios points for cheap, short-haul award tickets on American Airlines, because it only costs 4,500 Avios points (and no fuel surcharges) for a 1-way coach class ticket for flights under 650 miles. This is an amazing deal, because other US airlines charge 12,500 points for the same award ticket!
But it looks like these tickets could get a lot more expensive very soon! I really hope this doesn’t happen, but it sounds like it might.
What’s Going On?
Link: View From the Wing – HOLY SMOKE: Is British Airways About to Devalue Its Points? Iberia Massively Jacks Up Award Rates!
Iberia (a Spanish airline which is also part of the oneworld alliance) and British Airways are owned by the same company, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG). And their frequent flyer programs earn the same points (Avios).
You can transfer Iberia Avios and British Airways Avios between programs, and until recently their award charts were very similar.
But Iberia just updated their award charts for redeeming Avios points on partner airlines, like American Airlines, and you now need MANY MORE points for the same award ticket! It could mean British Airways will make the same changes soon.
Iberia and British Airways have distance-based award charts, which means the number of Avios points needed for an award ticket depends on the distance flown.
The award chart for redeeming Iberia Avios on British Airways doesn’t seem to have changed much. It’s still 4,500 Avios points for a 1-way coach class ticket under 650 miles, and 7,500 Avios points for flights as long as 1,151 miles.
But the award chart for using Iberia Avios on oneworld partner airlines is now much more expensive! This chart applies to oneworld partners except American Airlines.
And the shortest haul tickets are those with a distance of 600 miles or less. It’s not stated clearly if the distance is 600 miles 1-way or round-trip, but because the chart goes up to a distance of 50,000 miles (!), my guess is that it’s round-trip (the earth’s circumference is only ~25,000 miles!).
If it’s 600 miles round-trip, the price of a 1-way ticket under 300 miles is 9,750 Iberia Avios points (19,500 Avios points / 2) and under 500 miles is 12,500 Iberia Avios points (25,000 Avios points / 2).
The award chart for using Iberia Avios points on American Airlines award tickets is very slightly different. This chart specifically says prices are for round-trip award tickets. And the only difference I can see is the price for Business Class award tickets under 600 miles round-trip (37,500 Avios points instead of 35,500).
Again, these charts are for booking partner airline award flights using Iberia Avios points. But because Iberia and British Airways are owned by the same company, I wouldn’t be surprised if British Airways makes similar changes soon.
It wouldn’t make sense for British Airways to not make changes. That’s because if they don’t, folks could easily transfer their Iberia Avios points to their British Airways account and book award tickets on oneworld partners at a much lower rate!
Has British Airways Made Changes Yet?
I looked at award tickets on the British Airways website this morning, and so far, short-haul award tickets seem to cost the same as before. A 1-way coach class ticket from New York to Toronto, for example, still costs 4,500 Avios points plus $5.
I also checked Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and it also still costs 4,500 Avios 1-way in coach class.
So for now, it looks like British Airways hasn’t made any changes. That said, I only checked a few routes. Hopefully it stays this way!
But if you had plans to book an award ticket using British Airways Avios points, it might be a good idea to get your tickets now, just in case things change without warning!
Using British Airways Avios points for short-haul, coach class tickets on American Airlines is a great deal because it only costs 4,500 Avios points for 1-way flights under 650 miles. In this hobby, things are always changing and folks have taken advantage of this deal for a few years.
The changes to Iberia’s award charts could signal the end to this fantastic award redemption. I hope it doesn’t change but there will always be new ways to get Big Travel with Small Money!
For folks planning to book award tickets using British Airways Avios points, you may consider doing it soon because things could be changing.
If you see unusual award ticket pricing on the British Airways website, please let me know in the comments!