Arguably the most useful and lucrative feature about the British Airways frequent flyer program was the value provided by short-haul flights. Just 4,500 Avios could get you between many different city pairs, including Los Angeles to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and more. I even wrote a post about the most valuable 4,500 Avios redemptions.
Unfortunately, this redemption method will be completely gone soon. British Airways sent out an email saying that the new pricing will start at 7,500 miles and go from there. At the Economy level, the level at which this was the most valuable, that would represent a price increase of 67%. Ouch.
This change is effective as of February 2, 2016.
If there’s a positive to take out of this, it’s that this devaluation only takes place for flights to/from/within the United States. Perhaps American Airlines is raising the cost to British Airways for these redemptions.
If you recall, the old Avios award chart was based on zones. The new one is as well, but flights that were previously Zone 1 (under 651 miles) that are to/from/within the US are essentially now on Zone 2 pricing. From 4,500/9,000/18,000 to 7,500/15,000/30,000. That really is a big change.
It will now cost 7,500 Avios to fly as up to 1,151 miles to/from/within the US. This can still represent a good value, but there’s no doubt it’s a massive increase.
This of course comes on the heels of changes to the American Express transfer ratio, going from 1,000:1,000 to 1:000:800 (or really 250:200, but I simplified it for comparison).
It’s a sad day for me as this is probably my most-used award of any. Thankfully they will still exist outside the US, but I think I’ll be moving over to Southwest for domestic short hauls.