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.

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