Last Chance to Book British Airways Partner Awards at Current Rates

May 27, 2019

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Back in April, we learned that British Airways would be making changes to its distance-based award chart for most partner awards as of May 30, 2019. The initial announcement simply referenced “changing award rates” without any specifics, but we here at TPG put on our detective hats and pieced together the new chart with calls to customer service. If you’ve been holding off on taking advantage of current rates, time is running out, as you have just two days left before the updates kick in.

As a reminder, here are the carriers that will be impacted by these changes:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Air Italy
  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • S7
  • Sri Lankan
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines

Based on the new chart we’ve built, the changes are relatively mild, though the shortest flights will feel the brunt of it. The lowest-tier awards (nonstop flights up to 650 miles in distance) are jumping 33-39%, depending on the class of service you book. Economy awards at this level are going from 4,500 Avios to 6,000 Avios, while business class awards are jumping from 9,000 Avios to 12,500 Avios.

Photo by Envoy Air
Short, regional flights on American and American Eagle may not be luxurious, but booking them with Avios can be a spectacular value. (Photo courtesy of Envoy Air)

However, it’s worth noting that this tier isn’t even available for flights within North America, as BA removed this award option back in 2016. Instead, all nonstop flights under 1,152 miles in distance in this region — including domestic and short-haul international flights on American — fall into Zone 2. These awards currently cost 7,500 Avios in economy each way but will climb to 9,000 Avios as of May 30.

There are many times when it’s a much better deal to book American-operated flights with Avios instead of AAdvantage miles, though with American’s apparent shift toward dynamic award pricing, you’ll want to compare award rates between the two programs to ensure you’re minimizing the number of points or miles you’d need to burn.

If you’re eyeing one of these awards but your British Airways account balance isn’t flush, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Avios at a 1:1 ratio. However, an even better option is to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is because the issuer is running its first-ever transfer bonus through June 15, awarding you 30% bonus Avios when you send your points to Avios. And transfers from both Amex and Chase should process instantly, so you’ll be able to immediately book the award you want.

The distance-based award chart from British Airways has long been a great option for shorter, nonstop flights, and that will still be the case when the May 30 changes are implemented. However, this sweet spot will get a little less sweet from that point forward, so if your plans call for Oneworld or non-alliance partner flights through the carrier’s Executive Club program, hurry up and finalize those awards before the prices jump.

Featured photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy

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