A good deal has been written about the BA Executive Club changes in the past week but things are worse than we expected. Two things stand out, not least because BA has not been advertising them as widely as the headline changes. In both cases they are bad, and bad for people redeeming Avios rather than earning.
ALL PARTNER FLIGHTS ARE NOW AT THE PEAK LEVEL
The changes introduce the concept of Peak and Off-Peak redemption periods. There are not too may Peak periods, but if you want to travel in these periods you need to be prepared to hand over a good number of points more than the Off-Peak period. This is the chart:
However, hidden in the FAQ’s on the web site is this revelation:
Are oneworld and other partner airlines also introducing peak and off-peak travel periods?
No. If you would like to redeem Avios to fly with British Airways airline partners you will need to use peak Avios pricing all year round. There will be no off-peak pricing available for reward flights with our airline partners.
Are your airline partners also putting up their Avios prices?
Reward flights with our airline partners will be charges at British Airways’ peak period Avios prices all year round. This means that reward flight bookings with partners may cost more Avios in premium cabins and on some premium economy routes.
So, if you want to book a flight on Qantas or Cathay Pacific, I suggest you get on to it before 28 April.
The good news is that if you do book under the current rates and then have to change your flight to a Peak period, you will NOT have to hand over extra Avios. The FAQ’s explain this:
Will I be able to change the dates of an existing reward flight after 28 April?
Yes. You will be able to make changes to your existing booking on or after the 28 April 2015 under the existing rules. This means, for example, that you will not have to use more Avios towards your existing booking if you need to change it after this date where under the new rules you would be required to use more Avios to make the same booking. This also means that you will not be refunded any difference in Avios if you make a change to your existing booking which would require you to use less Avios under the new rules. Please note change fees may apply.
UPGRADES ARE GOING TO COST A LOT MORE
One of the best deals for a long time is using Avios to upgrade to Club World having paid for a World Traveller Plus ticket. These WTP tickets can be very good value as you effectively upgrade to a flat bed from an economy seat.
A current upgrade from WTP to Los Angeles will cost you 25,000 points roundtrip. Of course you can earn a good amount of these back as you earn Avios for the underlying WTP ticket. The cost of these upgrades doubles to 50,000 if you book it after 28 April. Not such good value.
Also worth noting on the BAD things side are:
TICKETS FROM NON-LONDON UK DEPARTURES TO EUROPE DOUBLE
BA is often accused of really being ‘London Airways’ have abandoned many of it’s Europe to UK routes years ago, and indeed selling them to FlyBE. One highlight has been the ability to cash in Avios from anywhere in the UK to Europe at the same rate as if you were leaving from London. This is gone for bookings after 28 April when you will pay from origin to London, and then from London to Europe, doubling the current redemption and taxes levels.
Connections to non-Europe destinations still include a connection from outside London.