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Back in January, British Airways announced a major devaluation to its Executive Club frequent flyer program that would go into effect April 28. Well, that’s next week, so if you haven’t maximized your existing Avios yet, now is the time to do so.
While British Airways is not changing the distance bands in its award chart, and economy redemptions more or less remain the same (as do some premium redemptions in the first three distance bands), premium economy, business and first class redemptions are all going up by as much as 50%. So if you were hoping to use your Avios for premium awards, you need to get them booked before April 28, or be forced to redeem a lot more Avios.
Not only that, but British Airways is also devaluing its earning structure so that, while business and first class fares will be going up, most discounted economy fares will be cut to 50% or even 25% of current earning.
As for those redemption increases, here is what the new award chart will look like. You can find the calendar of off-peak and peak awards here:
That’s a little hard to read, but as you can see, there are several changes to note. First is that there will now be off-peak and peak awards at each level. The “peak” levels are the same as current rates when it comes to economy. While you might be able to score slightly cheaper off-peak awards on BA flights themselves, the peak levels will apply to partner awards.
Here is where the pain comes in, and it’s illustrated quite clearly (and colorfully) by this chart from Sven Blogt.
As you can see, all first class awards and most business class and premium economy awards are going up by 50% – that can mean 150,000 Avios in some cases! (Note: there is an error in Zone 4 above: the old redemption rate for economy is actually 12,500, so it remains the same in the new chart.)
What You Need To Do
Book your awards now. If you plan to fly premium economy, business or first class using Avios, you need to book your awards before April 28. Check out this post for specific examples of awards to book before the devaluation, including ones like American Airlines transcontinental business and first class, Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus, and New York to Tokyo on JAL.
If you don’t have quite enough Avios in your account for the award you need, you still have several options. British Airways is a 1:1 transfer partner of three of the major transferable points programs out there:
American Express Membership Rewards: You can transfer points instantly from your MR account if you have one of the premium cards like the Premier Rewards Gold, EveryDay Preferred, or Platinum among others.
Starwood Preferred Guest: You don’t even need to be a cardholder of the Starwood Amex to make transfers from your SPG account. But transfers can take a few days, so if you are thinking of this option, you better initiate the transfer immediately. Also remember that when you transfer 20,000 SPG points at a time, you get a handy 5,000-point bonus, yielding 25% more Avios.
Good luck booking your awards, and if you have any strategies or questions, feel free to comment below!