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No-notice change: British Airways quietly increases European short-haul redemption prices

March 17, 2021
6 min read
No-notice change: British Airways quietly increases European short-haul redemption prices
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British Airways has made a change to the amount of Avios you'll need for European short-haul award redemptions. And unfortunately, it's not a good change.

As of Wednesday morning, all short-haul European redemptions appear to have increased by 750 Avios each way, as reported by Head for Points. The new rates are showing effective immediately and appear to apply to all 2021 flights and beyond.

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Before continuing to the European short-haul changes, it's worth noting for U.S.-based flyers, however, that BA doesn't appear to have increased domestic U.S. awards. For example, you can still expect to redeem 7,500 Avios one-way for domestic Zone 1 pricing (for example, New York to Boston) and 9,000 Avios for domestic Zone 2 pricing (for example, New York to Miami).

The increase applies to short-haul European flights in Zones 1 through 3 on BA's award chart. As a refresher, here's what BA's distance-based award chart has looked like, based on one-way flights. In Zones 1-3, you'll see the amount by which short-haul awards have increased:

Zone #

(distance in miles)

EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Off-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeak
Zone 1

(1-650)

4,000

4,750

4,500

5,250

5,750

N/A

6,750

N/A

7,750

8,500

9,000

9,750

15,500

N/A

18,000

N/A

Zone 2

(651-1,151)

6,500

7,250

7,500

8,250

9,500
N/A
11,250

N/A

12,750

13,500

15,000

15,750

25,500

N/A

30,000

N/A

Zone 3

(1,152-2,000)

8,500

9,250

10,000

10,750

12,750

N/A

15,000

N/A

17,000

17,750

20,000

20,750

34,000

N/A

40,000

N/A

Zone 4

(2,001-3,000)

10,00012,50020,00025,00031,25037,50042,50050,000
Zone 5

(3,001-4,000)

13,00020,00026,00040,00050,00060,00068,00080,000
Zone 6

(4,001-5,500)

16,25025,00032,50050,00062,50075,00085,000100,000
Zone 7

(5,501-6,500)

19,50030,00039,00060,00075,00090,000102,000120,000
Zone 8

(6,501-7,000)

22,75035,00045,50070,00087,500105,000119,000140,000
Zone 9

(7,001+)

32,50050,00065,000100,000125,000150,000170,000200,000

As premium economy and First aren't offered on short-haul European routes, those amounts do not apply.

The new pricing applies to Reward Saver Flights, which are one of our favorite ways to redeem Avios. With them, you can redeem Avios with a flat fee for taxes, fees and carrier surcharges. The amounts in the chart above apply to the standard base pricing for BA awards, which charge £17.50 ($24) for economy redemptions and £25 ($33) in Club Europe (business class).

Let's take a look at an example. Say you wanted to book a one-way flight from London to Palma de Mallorca (PMI). On an off-peak date such as Sept. 8, you'll have the following Avios + cash options. Do note that the Avios amounts reflect the new 750-Avios increase in price — 7,250 Avios at the base rate. Also be prepared to double that amount for the return journey, for a total of 14,500 Avios return.

(Image courtesy of BA)

What about existing bookings? Well, if you go to change an existing short-haul reward flight reservation yourself to a new date, you'll have to pay the difference in fare — in most cases, 750 Avios more. However, if British Airways cancels your flight, you will be permitted to rebook without having to pay the higher rate.

"We strive to offer choice and value with our reward flights and have introduced more ways to combine Avios and cash — the largest range we’ve ever offered," an IAG Loyalty spokesperson told TPG. "We keep our pricing under review and while we’ve made some changes to our short-haul Reward Flight Saver pricing we continue to offer an industry-leading proposition to British Airways’ Executive Club members."

This is an unfortunate move from British Airways, increasing Avios redemption rates at a time when travelers are looking to redeem their stash of Avios for a post-lockdown getaway. Not only that, but it begs the question of "What is next?"

Immediate program devaluations are nothing new in the world of points and miles, but they never fail to surprise. British Airways' Executive Club has long been one of the preferred booking options for Oneworld flyers, thanks to its lucrative distance-based award chart. (Though it did devalue partner awards in 2019.)

Given its sweet spots in some areas, the BA award chart, which the airline doesn't publish any longer, has always been subject to no-notice changes. And with the introduction of Reward Flight Saver pricing on some long-haul routes, such as New York, there's the possibility BA could extend this increase to other, longer-haul routes.

At this time though, a 750-Avios increase on European short-haul flights doesn't seem too bad. Here's to hoping it doesn't get any worse.

Featured image by Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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