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BA Eliminates 4,500-Avios Awards in the US

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The British Airways award devaluation we all hoped would never come is finally here. As of February 2, 2016, you’ll no longer be able to book BA awards for 4,500 Avios in the US. Fortunately, higher tiers will remain as they currently are, but the 4,500-Avios level will disappear entirely for flights to, from or within North America.

What does that mean exactly? Well, essentially, all awards that are currently 4,500 Avios will jump to 7,500 Avios in each direction. Meanwhile, one-way business-class awards will jump from 9,000 Avios to 15,000 Avios and first-class awards (which unfortunately cover AA’s 2-cabin flights) will jump from 18,000 Avios to 30,000 Avios.

BA's new chart for flights between 0 and 650 miles.
BA’s new chart for flights between 0 and 650 miles.

This is especially devastating to travelers currently using Avios for short hops along the East and West Coasts on American Airlines and Alaska, along with routes like those shown above.

BA's chart for flights between 651 and 1,150 miles will remain unchanged.
BA’s chart for flights between 651 and 1,150 miles will remain unchanged.

Fortunately, BA’s current Zone 2 will remain unchanged — all of those awards will still cost 7,500 for economy and 30,000 for first each way — as will the other higher zones. Essentially, Zone 1 awards are becoming Zone 2 awards with the change.

So what should you do? Obviously, if you can book 4,500-Avios awards before the devaluation in February, you should do that, but ultimately these BA redemptions are still a good deal — they’re just not nearly as good of a deal as they were before. You’ll generally need to redeem 12,500 American miles for the same awards that you’ll still be able to get with 7,500 Avios, and while first class is now a terrible deal, short-haul Avios awards have generally been most appealing for coach bookings.

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