Once Again: Drastic Devaluation for Flights with American, Alaska & LATAM by the British Airways Executive Club

Alaska Airlines 737

Lately, British Airways seems to be making a habit of upsetting its frequent flyers. In just the past 12 months, there was first an (unannounced) mileage devaluation for flights with JAL and Cathay, and shortly thereafter, domestic flights in the US became more expensive. On top of that, there’s the switch to a spending-based mileage system and the miserable customer service.

But that’s not all. The Executive Club has now – once again without prior notice – raised the prices for award flights in North America even further. This time, the change is even more drastic than last December. Just this week, prices rose by up to 56%. And when both increases are combined, we end up with prices 94% more expensive than 8 months ago! Prices for LATAM flights have also just been raised.

Fortunately, the wheels turn a bit slower at partner airlines. There is still the opportunity to book tickets through Qatar or Finnair at better rates.

Another Devaluation for Flights with Alaska & American Airlines

For a long time, short-haul flights within the USA were among the best value redemptions for Avios, not least because of the often expensive cash prices there. Now, British Airways apparently wants to prevent all redemptions in this regard, as the latest price increase is massive. Even the shortest routes now cost a hefty 12,000 Avios (plus €6 in taxes) one-way. Until December 2023, the same tickets were available for 7,500 Avios:

Economy Class

Distanceuntil Dec. 2023Dec. 2023 – July 2024since July 2024Total change
Up to 650 miles7,500 Avios8,250 Avios12,000 Avios+ 60%
651 – 1,150 miles9,000 Avios11,000 Avios16,000 Avios+ 78%
1,151 – 2,000 miles11,000 Avios14,500 Avios18,000 Avios+ 64%
2,001 – 3,000 miles13,000 Avios16,000 Avios20,000 Avios+ 54%

Business / Domestic First Class

Distanceuntil Dec. 2023Dec. 2023 – July 2024since July 2024Total change
Up to 650 miles12,500 Avios16,500 Avios24,000 Avios+ 92%
651 – 1,150 miles16,500 Avios20,500 Avios32,000 Avios+ 94%
1,151 – 2,000 miles22,000 Avios29,000 Avios40,000 Avios+ 82%
2,001 – 3,000 miles38,750 Avios42,000 Avios50,000 Avios+ 52%

Note that the prices are given for one-way flights per segment. With a layover, it becomes significantly more expensive.

Devaluation Also for LATAM Flights

At the beginning of the week, a similar devaluation for LATAM flights was discussed. Although LATAM is no longer a member of Oneworld, it still cooperates with many airlines, including British Airways. Redeeming miles there has also become significantly less attractive:

Distanceuntil July 2024since July 2024Change
Up to 650 miles6,000 Avios8,500 Avios+ 42%
651 – 1,150 miles9,000 Avios13,500 Avios+ 50%
1,151 – 2,000 miles11,000 Avios15,500 Avios+ 41%
2,001 – 3,000 miles13,000 Avios17,000 Avios+ 31%
3,001 – 4,000 miles20,750 Avios31,250 Avios+ 51%
4,001 – 5,500 miles25,750 Avios41,250 Avios+ 61%

In business class, there is a similar increase. In the distance band 2,001 – 3,000 miles (e.g., Chile - Easter Island or Lima - Miami), prices for a one-way business ticket have increased from 38,750 to 50,500 miles (+30%).

Booking through Qatar Airways (or Finnair) is the Better Choice

So far, the devaluation only affects flights booked through British Airways or Iberia (both part of the IAG group). However, Avios are freely transferable between the BA Executive Club, Iberia Plus, the Qatar Privilege Club, and (recently) Finnair Plus. There have long been some anomalies between the award charts, and mileage collectors can continue to take advantage of these.

While e.g. British Airways charges 12,000 Avios + €6 for a one-way from Miami to Atlanta, the same flight is significantly cheaper through Qatar Airways. The Middle Eastern airline charges only 6,000 Avios and €10 in taxes & fees:

For award flights within North America, the new award chart of Finnair Plus is also significantly more attractive than that of British Airways. There, one-way tickets across the country cost 11,000 Avios, regardless of distance.

Both options have their quirks: The Qatar Airways website does not find numerous (smaller) US airports in its search. And with Finnair, many things can only be booked through customer service. Additionally, we expect that Qatar Airways will sooner or later align its award chart with that of British Airways.

Conclusion

It seems that frequent flyer programs are currently doing everything they can to alienate as many customers as possible.

Furthermore, even many programs from Asia have more decency than British Airways and announce devaluations with enough advance notice. Where are the British consumer protection advocates?

Sources: One Mile at a Time, Reddit & Flyertalk

Cover Picture: Ditmar Lange

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