Boy, it’s been a hard year for redeeming miles this year. We’ve had Aeroplan announce a devaluation in December, and British Airways Avios itself devalue earlier this year. Unfortunately, it looks like British Airways has decided to eliminate another sweet spot, which is the 4,500 miles short-haul award.
In an email they sent out today:
We’re going to be making a change to the Executive Club pricing structure for shorter reward flights originating or terminating within the United States of America. From February 2016, reward flights will start from 7,500 Avios, instead of 4,500 Avios, plus taxes, fees and carrier charges (“TFCs”) from $5.60 USD.
Only those reward flights that currently cost 4,500 Avios for a one way flight in Economy, 9,000 Avios for Business Class and 18,000 Avios for First Class plus TFCs will increase; to 7,500 Avios, 15,000 Avios and 30,000 Avios plus TFCs respectively. All other Avios reward flight pricing will remain the same as it is today.
Avios has a distance based award chart, with flights 1-650 miles requiring only 4,500 miles each, with flights 651-1,151 miles requiring 7,500 miles each. This was one of the best features of the program, since other programs normally charged 7,500 to 12,500 miles each flights of similar distances. However, starting February 2, 2016, all flights from 1-1,151 miles will now cost 7,500 in economy. This is a 67% increase.
These changes only apply within North America, so it’s fairly clear this devaluation is targeted because of the high usage of these awards within North America. Keep in mind programs such as Membership Rewards still transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so cards like the American Express Gold Card (review here) and the Platinum Card (review here) are affected as well, due to the increased redemption amounts.
I’ve redeemed for quite a few of these awards, including Toronto – New York, Vancouver – Portland, Seattle – Sacramento, and Washington DC – New York, so it really is unfortunate that this is happening. There’s nothing to do except continue to look at other programs and redemptions that may be of value.