As many of you know, British Airways recently announced that they would be making some slight changes to award flight pricing for North American awards. Thankfully, the changes are just limited to one segment of the Avios award chart – but it does mean the elimination of arguably the best use of Avios.
In my previous post about why I love British Airways Avios, I talked about redeeming Avios for tickets on short haul routes (those under 650 miles) which are usually disproportionately expensive if purchased on their own. While there still remain some “sweet spots” in the Avios award chart (mainly those flights under 3,000 miles), the best use of Avios will be disappearing as of February 2nd.
This means that those short haul flights that used to cost you 4,500 Avios, will now cost you 7,500 Avios.
Thankfully, this change is limited to just the 4,500 Avios flights as all other award categories remain the same.
One of the positives to take away from this change however is that this only impacts North American flights. That means that short haul award flights throughout the rest of the world are still redeemable at the 4,500 Avios rate. My guess would be that British Airways caught on that frequent flyers in the US were using this trick to avoid high ticket costs on short haul routes and it simply was no longer viable for the airline. I have noticed lately that award inventory for coach redemptions on short haul flights in the U.S. using Avios have been rather limited and I would posit this is because of the upcoming changes.
The last thing to remember is that your flights just have to be booked by February 2nd – not traveled by February 2nd. That means that if you have a ton of Avios you were saving for some short haul flights, it may be time to start booking those before the change takes effect.
Despite this change, I still think Avios have tremendous value on short haul domestic routes within the U.S. While I will not be rushing to burn off my stash of Avios over this news, I do think it represents a bigger trend in the industry of tightening the reins on award travel.
Will any of you be burning off your Avios as a result of this change, or do you think it’s too minor to impact you?