Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Big changes coming to British Airways Executive Club program - Earning and Redeeming affected

The big news in the travel rewards space today is British Airways announcement of changes to their Executive Club program. Unlike in 2011 when the changes just happened without advance notice, this time BA are giving us ample time as the changes won't kick in until April 28th. Ultimately, the news is good and bad on both the earning and burning side of the equation.

Changes to Avios Earn Rates
As of April 28th those flying in British Airways premium classes from full fare premium economy and up will earn more Avios. But for those flying in discount economy or discount premium economy you'll see the number of Avios earned cut. Here is a chart of the old and new earn rates:

This is a huge reduction for those flying on discounted fares! It may even force some members to reevaluate crediting flights to Executive Club and instead perhaps crediting to AAdvantage or another oneworld program that awards 100% flown miles.

Changes to Avios Elite Bonuses
Silver Elite members get screwed here as their bonus goes from 100% to 50%

Changes to Minimum Awarded Mileage
Similar to Aeroplan, BA Executive Club has made changes to the minimum mileage awarded per sector. Once again full fare premium classes get a positive change while those on lower fares will see their mileage earning slashed to match the % earn rate mentioned above.

Changes to Reward Flight Pricing
This is where there is good news but mostly bad news. The amount of Avios required for redemptions in some cases have gone down but some key awards for Canadians have gone up. Avios is now introducing off-peak award mileage rates that only apply to flights on British Airways  and are lower than some of the rates we have become accustomed to. For example you'll now be able to fly between London and Paris during an off peak period for only 4,000 Avios instead of 4,500. The bad news is premium class redemptions for medium and long haul routes are going up. Right now you can redeem for travel between Toronto and London for only 40,000 Avios in Business Class but that is getting a serious increase to 60,000 Avios as of April 28. For those out west who were used to 50,000 Avios Business Class redemptions out of Calgary or Vancouver will see those also grow by 50% to 75,000 Avios. Even the off-peak rates for these redemptions are more than the current redemption rates. F

The key thing to note here is that the off-peak rates are only for travel on British Airways. All partner awards (AA, CX etc) are charged at the peak rates year round. The good news for a lot of us is that we utilize Executive Club for short haul redemptions out of Canada to the U.S. for only 4,500 Avios one way and those awards have not changed. So you can still fly on AA (or TAM soon) between Toronto and New York or on Alaska Airlines between Calgary or Edmonton and Seattle for the 4,500 Avios. Be sure to read and bookmark our post on how to take advantage of this short haul redemption option

Changes to UK Domestic Reward Flight Pricing (taken directly from BA)
To bring the UK in line with the rest of the world, you will now be charged for any UK domestic connecting flights to and from the rest of Europe.
For example, when booking a reward flight from Manchester to Paris – which requires a connection in London – you are currently charged only for the London to Paris flights. From 28 April, you will be charged for the full journey, including the Manchester to London flights.
This calculates as follows (based on peak period pricing):
  • current price – 9,000 Avios plus £35 Reward Flight Saver fee or taxes, fees and carrier charges
  • new price – 18,000 Avios plus £70 Reward Flight Saver fee or taxes, fees and carrier charges

This change does not apply to UK Domestic connecting flights onto long haul flights, which will remain free of charge. For example, if you are flying to Manchester from Miami via London the Manchester to London flight is included in the reward price (50,000 Avios plus taxes, fees and carrier charges), which is the same as today.

Upgrades are changing
BA states there will be more opportunity to upgrade on flights except from the very lowest economy class fares. However since many Business Class redemption rates have gone up you these upgrades will cost you more Avios as of April 28.

In a nutshell those are the changes which a combination of good and bad but leaning more so to the bad side. The good are the increased earning rates on premium fares but the decrease in earning on low end fares, the increased redemption requirements for medium and long haul flights are all not good news so all in all not the best news out of BA today.  And I guess I would call the no changes to our beloved short haul Canada to U.S. redemptions good news because they could have easily taken those away from us as well!

On another note, British Blog Head for Points notes that BA is reducing Fuel Surcharges on long haul flights. Not huge reductions but better than nothing!

As always let us know your thoughts! I know I was looking at Aer Lingus' as a great biz class option between Toronto and Dublin but now it is looking less attractive!

You can find all the details of these changes on British Airways' Website.

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