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British Airways 2015 Devaluation – Why It Doesn’t Bother Me

Recently British Airways announced a devaluation. At first I was seriously worried, just like hearing about any devaluation. But once seeing the new award chart I realized that the changes didn’t affect people who like stopovers at all.

British Airways Avois (ever since the change in 2011) has been an incredible niche. In some areas redemptions were really poor, but in many areas redemptions have been terrible. That fact, and the good things, haven’t really changed a lot, except in oneways. And the fact of the matter is, you can beat the prices with shorter flights with stopovers.

For now everything is the same. “These changes will apply only to bookings made on or after 28 April.” This means that you can continue booking at current rates even if the flights are for a later date in 2015.

 

The Changes

Premium cabin goes up

Previously the price of business and first class were double and triple the economy price. Now business class is triple and first class is quadruple. This is no doubt a bad change, and easily the worst change. Although, I’d argue that Avios are not generally best used on premium cabins anyways.

Plus, as I’ll emphasize in one second long hauls have not generally been a great redemption either. So the routes you “need” premium for cabin aren’t generally ones you use Avios for.

Upgrades go up in price & earning miles and status gets devalued.

I won’t focus too much on paid ticket ends and earnings here, but Wandering Aramean does here.

 

New Award Charts

There are two versions which are basically the same thing. The first is for British Airways and not for partners.

British Airways flights award chart

British Airways Award Chart 2015

You may notice there is an off-peak time, and that’s a genuinely awesome thing as prices can be as low as 4,000 Avios. However, their peak timing can only be explained in a confusing chart with 365 boxes.

BA’s Off-Peak Times

Believe it or not these are some great ways to travel in Europe. Yes British Airways has some monster fuel surcharges, but those don’t apply to intra-Europe regional flights. Flights within Europe, even on BA, are quite reasonable besides the high airport taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.11.21 PM

For example this flight from Rome to London is 7,500 Avios and $33. Many times I’ve opted to use a discount airliner instead of Avios because of the fees. Even with a price of only $33 for instance, a discount airliner might be selling it for $60, and then it’s basically $27 more to save 7,500 Avios.

I checked and the cheapest flight for next month is $100. That’s a savings of $67 for 7,500 Avios.

But Avios have been huge for us in Europe, partly because we can book last minutes flights without higher rates, and partly because not all routes in Europe have a discount airliner. In fact, some routes can be hugely overpriced, and in these situations Avios are incredible.

Either way, this flight could be 1,000 Avios cheaper after the change with off-peak pricing. This is a great example of how short haul flights are still an awesome use of Avios.

The only downside is that they are cutting out free transfer in the UK. Before you could fly to Manchester and route through London, and it would price it out as one segment.

 

OneWorld Partner Award Chart

Distance in miles Economy Premium Economy Business First
1 – 650 4,500 6,750 9,000 18,000
651 – 1,150 7,500 11,250 15,000 30,000
1,151 – 2,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 40,000
2,001 – 3,000 12,500 25,000 37,500 50,000
3,001 – 4,000 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000
4,001 – 5,500 25,000 50,000 75,000 100,000
5,501 – 6,500 30,000 60,000 90,000 120,000
6,501 – 7,000 35,000 70,000 105,000 140,000
7,001 + 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000

This really just shows the peak prices from the other chart but I just wanted to make it extra clear and add the distances.

In short this chart and the “peak” prices for British Airways flights are the same as the old chart for economy flights. The big change is with the premium cabin rates.

Avios are still equally great for economy flights. I’ve argued that they are just as good for long distances as long as you break up the flying. That may not fit everyone’s schedule, but it certainly is the ideal way to fly economy. Shorter flights and visiting more places.

 

Saving Avios With Stopovers

In case you’re not familiar with the series I did awhile ago on Saving Avios With Stopovers, I’ll sum it up.

Basically, I realized that flying 6,000 miles would cost 30,000 Avios for a oneway, but flying two 12,500 mile flights would cost 25,000 Avios. So I went through and gave all kinds of examples in which you could actually use fewer miles if you broke up your trip with a stopover.

Here are examples I gave:

The Hawaiian way to Sydney for 37,500 instead of 50,000.

  • LAX – HNL = 12,500
  • HNL – SYD = 25,000

See British Airways Avios are priced out based on the distance of each segment and not the total distance flown. Because of that, this would save 12,500 each direction as a direct flight to Sydney would be 50,000 miles oneway.

But really the BA Avios Stopovers series is just a ton of examples like this. But it’s true in all kinds of ways. Even going to South America instead of flying directly from Miami to Santiago for 25,000 Avios, you could stop in Quito, Ecuador.

Okay, that example only saves 2,500, but that’s 5,000 miles roundtrip. But the example before saved 25,000 Avios roundtrip. Some save more than others. YMMV. But the benefits are greater.

With this strategy you:

  1. see more places
  2. save Avios
  3. are trapped in planes for shorter periods of time.

Is that not what this site is entirely about? Saving miles, seeing more places, and being humble enough to fly economy.

But I’m going to confess, more than ever I hate economy. After doing 8 long haul flights in a month, I’m seriously sick of economy. In general I don’t like flying but my body didn’t like the latest series of flights so I’m only flying once this month. So I deeply understand the appeal of premium cabin.

However, the biggest motivations behind this site are properly ordered above. Travel is most important. Then saving money. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have enough money to do this without miles and I don’t have unlimited access to free miles. So when miles are free I stretch them.

But what I hope I’m selling premium flyers on is the fact that you can still collect BA Avios, use them well and be relatively comfortable. For the most part I’m talking about using Avios for flights that are bearable distances.

 

Conclusion

There’s no doubt about it. If you only fly business class, book your tickets before April 28!

However, if you are like me and fly economy, or if you can bare economy for short flights, Avios are perfect. It really is not only great for short flights, but for stringing together tons of short flights for long distances. It’s what this site is about, seeing more and paying less.

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14 Comments

  1. Good writeup/analysis Drew. Couple fo questions:

    Does the offpeak rates only for BA operated flights or it also applies to partners like Iberia, AirBerlin etc.

    For the segment in your analysis, LAX – SYD = 25,000, did you mean to say HNL– SYD = 25,000?

    Reply
    • It does not apply to any partners. However, if I read correctly, Iberia will soon have off-peak too.

      Oops! Yes, type. Thanks!

      Reply
  2. So I kind of got lost; Aer Lingus Boston to Dublin used to be 50k roundtrip for Business class… what would it be now?

    Reply
    • 75k

      Reply
    • It was 25k for that segment and now it will be 37.5k for business. So 75k roundtrip. Economy stays 25k roundtrip. To get the business class you just triple the price of economy.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for all your hard work, it is very helpful to me!

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting! :-)

      Reply
  4. Any chance British Airways sweetens the pot with another 100k Avios credit card sign-up bonus this year as a way to make ammends?

    Reply
    • Man, I wish I knew. I was holding out for it… but it used to come twice a year and now it’s been over a year, I think. Either way, I’m not holding my breath, but if it comes I’ll be first app! But no one has any idea really.

      Reply
  5. My thoughts exactly! With an exception of Aer Lingus J to Dublin which is extremely hard to find anyway, many things are getting better. If only all devaluations were like this one!

    Reply
  6. I have been reading for awhile and want to say thank you for all the incredible tips! I appreciate your work.

    Reply
    • Thanks Robin! I appreciate the support, for sure.

      Reply
  7. Drew, do you know how Avios treats US domestic first? Is it at the business multiplier or first multiplier? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Yea… so that’s a bit crazy. If it’s a 2 cabin plane with econ and first it prices first as 3x the econ rate… which is insane.

      Reply

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