Devaluation looms: British Airways announces changes from May 30, 2019

British Airways has sent an email announcing changes to Avios redemptions on partner airlines. These changes will affect most partner bookings — including those with Alaska Airlines, Air Italy, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, S7, Sri Lankan and Royal Jordanian Airlines. The changes will not affect prices for bookings on airlines under the Avios umbrella (i.e. there is no change for bookings with British Airways Aer Lingus, Iberia, or Vueling — but the change affects the chart for other partners). On the one hand, they didn’t try to disguise this as an “enhancement”, so that feels….respectful. On the other hand, I can’t find an updated award chart for bookings after May 30th, so I am left to imagine that the chances are just that bad.

Chase recently announced its first-ever transfer bonus, coincidentally (?) a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club. While this was widely celebrated, perhaps we popped the bubbly a little too soon on that. British Airways Avios have been extremely valuable for short direct-flight redemptions on partners (or even sometimes on long haul flights with transfer bonuses and/or when looking to book a lap infant on an award). Now we just don’t know what the situation will be after 5/30 — which also puts the value of transfers from Chase into question if you’re not sure you’ll book by that date and/or if you may need to change down the road.

Again, we have to assume that prices will rise. Will we also see something more restrictive — for example, will British Airways begin to require round trip bookings (like Iberia)? Will they move towards the mixed-partner award chart? We just don’t know.

If you’re looking at BA redemptions, you likely want to make those sooner rather than later. If your plans are uncertain, you may want to wait and see if we get more word in the coming days as to the entire scope of the changes. The email indicates that changes to existing bookings made after 5/30 will be subject to the new prices. In other words, if you book now and need to change later, you’ll be subject to a price that you can’t yet predict — so I’d recommend holding off if you think you’ll need some flexibility so you can at least know what you’re getting into.

Here’s the full text of the email:

Our Avios prices on partner airlines are changing

Dear Mr Reyes,

As you’ve previously used your Avios to book reward flights with our global network of partner airlines, we wanted to let you know about some changes we’re making.

From 30 May 2019, we’ll be changing our Avios prices on reward flights with some of our partner airlines.

Don’t worry if you have an existing Avios booking with a partner airline. It’s still valid and you can make changes or cancel it if you need to*. Our new Avios prices will apply to any changes or new bookings you make after 30 May 2019.

And here’s a link to find out more, though the information found at that link doesn’t offer much more detail as of the time of publication of this post.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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feefyul
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feefyul

this is the worst news ever! Each devaluation is of course disappointing but changes to BA would be devastating. We should start petitioning? What’s a generic email to send concerns to?

philco
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philco

Man the hits just keep coming to Chase UR. BA was really only useful for partner awards especially after the the massive increases in fuel surcharges last year on J and F tickets on BA metal.

Adam L
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Adam L

It hits each of the major transfer currencies… they all partner with an Avios program.

philco
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philco

Not quite only MR and UR transfer to BA. TYP and CapOne do not as far as I recall. But the other currencies have other options to avoid BA. For example MR/TYP/CapOne all transfer to Asia Miles for OneWorld. Same for Avianca for *A and MR and CapOne have Aeroplan. So unlike UR the other currencies have at least one other program other than BA and United which UR is so heavily dependent on both of which have recently announced devaluations.

Matthew
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Matthew

Interesting timing considering the great transfer bonuses at the end of last year with MR, and the first ever for UR. I’m surprised they didn’t wait a little longer to announce, maybe they think they can control the dialog by pre-announcing? A bit odd, but maybe it just looks a little less suspicious like they are doing pseudo currency manipulation. Maybe they got so many transfers from UR (and MR previously) they were like shoot this was more popular than we thought it would be, we need to lower this “debt” (against future redemptions) we now have on the books. At the end of the day, I’m sure BA is quite happy with all of points purchased recently.

JL100
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JL100

Yeah but they are getting cash from Chase and Amex for the points so if anything they should be in better position afterwards

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Indeed, that’s my point. They make money on the margins between how much the banks are willing to pay vs how much the points are redeemed for. I’m sure they offer some type of discounted rate for large purchases of points, or something similar, to encourage these buyouts during promotional periods. What they are doing now is changing the value of their currency after already selling a ton of it to the banks (via us). They win and we lose.

It is hard to be upset since we don’t know how bad it will be, but my guess is it won’t exceed the value of the bonuses, otherwise the banks will be pisssed. The value of Avios has always been in short distances, which is what I can see being targeted now.

Kent
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Kent

“… will British Airways begin to require round trip bookings (like Iberia)?”

If I’m correct in taking this to mean that you can only book round-trip flights with Iberia Avios, this doesn’t seem to be accurate. I haven’t actually booked an Iberia award flight, but it certainly allows you to search for one-way award flights.