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TravelBritish Airways Executive Club increases cost of American and Alaska award redemptions

British Airways Executive Club increases cost of American and Alaska award redemptions


The British Airways Executive Club program has significantly increased the prices of Avios redemptions for short-haul flights operated by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines — without notice.

This is the second increase of these redemptions in the last 12 months, and this increase is unfortunately even worse than the last, but there are solutions.

What are the changes British Airways has made?

You will now need the following British Airways Executive Club Avios to fly American or Alaska:

  • Flights up to 650 miles in length: 12,000 Avios in Main Cabin economy (up from 8,250 Avios), or 24,000 Avios in first class (up from 16,500)
  • Flights 650-1,151 miles in length: 16,000 Avios in economy (up from 11,000 Avios), or 32,000 Avios in first class (up from 20,500)
  • Flights 1,151-2,000 miles in length: 18,000 Avios in economy (up from 14,500 Avios), or 40,000 Avios in first class (up from 29,000)
  • Flights 2,000-3,000 miles in length: 20,000 Avios in economy (up from 16,000 Avios), or 50,000 Avios in first class (up from 42,500)
BRITISHAIRWAYS.COM

Using your Avios through BA’s Executive Club program to fly domestically with American or Alaska used to be a great points and miles sweet spot. Now, not so much, especially in first class, which we would not recommend redeeming Avios for unless it is operated by a wide-body aircraft.

Related: Reserve premium economy seats for the price of a coach seat on select wide-body domestic routes

Fortunately, there are no changes to flights over 3,000 miles in length, which mainly covers long-haul flights operated by American Airlines (Alaska does not operate long-haul flights).

Are there alternative options to pay fewer points and miles?

American Airlines AAdvantage program prices domestic awards starting at 7,500 miles in Main Cabin economy or 15,000 miles in first (though occasionally you can spot web specials as low as 6,000 miles in economy class). At these lowest prices, it is a much better option to book with AAdvantage miles rather than Avios. However, because AAdvantage prices awards dynamically, in peak periods, these prices rise sharply, so Avios could still be a better option as they will be fixed prices, if available.

The best option to book American or Alaska domestic awards going forward, especially if you have transferable credit card points, is to redeem them through the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program, which also uses Avios as its loyalty currency.

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While the program may eventually follow BA’s increased pricing, for now, you can book the following:

  • Flights up to 650 miles in length: 6,000 Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios in Main Cabin economy, or 12,500 Qatar Avios in first class
  • Flights 650-1,151 miles in length: 9,000 Qatar Avios in economy, or 16,500 Qatar Avios in first class
  • Flights 1,151-2,000 miles in length: 11,000 Qatar Avios in economy, or 22,200 Qatar Avios in first class
  • Flights 2,000-3,000 miles in length: 13,000 Qatar Avios in economy, or 38,750 Qatar Avios in first class

These Qatar Avios prices are all now significantly cheaper than booking the same flights with BA Avios.

Related: A review of American Airlines in first class on the Airbus A321neo from Philadelphia to San Francisco

Another option is to consider redeeming Avios through Finnair Plus instead of Executive Club, another program that uses Avios as its loyalty currency. Finnair Plus charges a flat 11,000 miles for domestic flights operated by American or Alaska in economy class, regardless of length. While before this BA devaluation, Finnair Plus was only a better deal for longer domestic flights, you’ll now pay less for all domestic flights through Finnair Plus than BA’s Executive Club program.

Remember that you can transfer Avios between British Airways Executive Club, Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Finnair Plus at a 1:1 rate as often as you like in either direction.

Bottom line

Loyalty programs that increase certain prices without warning (or “devaluations,” as we call them) are an unfortunate but unavoidable reality of the points and miles industry. Sometimes, programs give, say, 30 days notice before increasing prices to allow members to book any planned redemptions at the existing rates.

Unfortunately, British Airways Executive Club did not give its members such a warning, and using Avios through the British Airways program to book domestic flights on American Airlines and Alaska is now no longer a good deal. Fortunately, the prices through the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program and Finnair Plus, which also use Avios as their loyalty currency, remain much more reasonable, and you can transfer Avios between the programs easily at a 1:1 rate in any direction.

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