Changes are coming to the British Airways’ Executive Club mileage program–and they do not sound good for North American travelers. At this point, we can only speculate, which I do not see much value in, but here is what we do know:
Earlier today a company representative from BA posted a link on Flyertalk to a page that discusses the upcoming changes, which include:
- A renaming of Executive Club to Avios points
BA Miles have been the familiar currency of the Executive Club. However, in November, we’ll be renaming them as Avios points, which will be the currency for all loyalty and reward programmes owned by British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group
- The ability to redeem miles for hotels and car rentals
- A “simplification” of the award chart
We’ve found a simpler, easier way to price reward flights and our reward flight zones will be enhanced in November.
On 97% of our routes there will be either no change or the route will require even fewer Avios points than the current BA Miles. We will update you more on this nearer to November.
The last point sounds good, but what exactly does it mean? Currently, BA has a very attractive award chart when using a single OneWorld partner (say LAN to South America for 80K r/t in business class) and a not-so-good chart for BA awards or multiple partner awards to many regions. Those can cost nearly double the mileage that a single partner award ticket would.
The BA company rep followed up on Flyetalk with this clarification:
Sorry if it wasn’t clear in my earlier post, partner rewards will be priced the same as BA. So – a single pricing table for itineraries which are:BA onlyBA +1 partner or partner only.
For multi-partner itineraries these will be priced using the current oneworld multi carrier redemption. The pricing will be based largely on a distance banded model for all reward sectors. We are not purposfully witholding anything or trying to hide anything – I will be as informative as I can and try to keep up with your questions. Please do feel free to prompt me if you feel I am missing something important that needs a detailed or urgent answer.
Reading between the lines, I have to assume that the award chart is going to get worse for awards like Cathay Pacific business class from North America to Asia for 100K miles or the South America LAN reward I mentioned above. Europeans and Brits will see better redemption rates, but North American travelers will likely see a devaluation in their miles resulting from the merger of what are three very different award charts right now into one.
Here’s the important point: while it is probably counterproductive to speculate on exactly what is going to happen at this juncture, we do have indications that BA might not release the new award charts until the day it comes into effect (sometime in November). I have a feeling BA will relent and give some advanced notice, but if you are considering a trip to Asia or South America using your BA miles, now is the time to start thinking about dates. You can book up to a year in the future (330 days on some airlines), so it is not like you have to travel in the next couple months–you just must book your ticket.
I am sitting on a lot of BA miles right now because of the 100,000 credit card sign-up bonuses for me and my other family members and also because I use the BA card extensively when traveling because it does not have foreign transaction fees (and I have not applied for the Hyatt Chase Visa card yet). I do plan to burn those miles for a trip in Cathay Pacific F, a trip in Qantas F, and maybe even a trip to Tahiti via Easter Island on LAN if I can find the space. Just be thinking about where you might want to go with your miles and do not forget to let us know if you need any help with your award travel.