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

Mar 17, 2021

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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)

Economy Premium Economy Business First
Off-Peak Peak Off-Peak Peak Off-Peak Peak Off-Peak Peak
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)

10,000 12,500 20,000 25,000 31,250 37,500 42,500 50,000
Zone 5

(3,001-4,000)

13,000 20,000 26,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 68,000 80,000
Zone 6

(4,001-5,500)

16,250 25,000 32,500 50,000 62,500 75,000 85,000 100,000
Zone 7

(5,501-6,500)

19,500 30,000 39,000 60,000 75,000 90,000 102,000 120,000
Zone 8

(6,501-7,000)

22,750 35,000 45,500 70,000 87,500 105,000 119,000 140,000
Zone 9

(7,001+)

32,500 50,000 65,000 100,000 125,000 150,000 170,000 200,000

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 photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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