British Airways has emailed members with news of an Avios devaluation that will affect redemptions on partner airlines effective from the 30th May 2019.
Redemptions on British Airways and other IAG airlines will remain unchanged, at least for the time being. That’s the good news. The bad news – and it almost certainly is bad news – is that we are going to see significant changes to the way BA prices partner redemptions.
What exactly is changing?
I’d like to say at this point: here are the full details, except for the fact that BA has managed to cause even more frustration by not actually releasing concrete details of the pricing changes that will take place.
Here’s what we do know
This page on the British Airways website provides the following information:
From 30 May 2019, we’ll be changing our Avios prices on reward flights with the following partner airlines:
Alaska Airlines, Air Italy, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, S7, Sri Lankan and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
The price of Avios upgrades on American Airlines only will also be changing from 30 May 2019. You will pay the difference between the Avios prices of your booked cabin and your upgraded cabin.
Don’t worry if you have an existing Avios booking with one of these airlines. It’s still valid and you can make changes or cancel it if you need to*. Our new Avios prices will apply to any changes or new bookings you make after 30 May 2019.
Was an Avios devaluation inevitable?
There have been warning signs I suppose. BA has been awarding some customers very generous Avios compensation for service failures – leading some to speculate an Avios devaluation was on the way. A move to dynamic pricing – where the Avios required fluctuates according to the price/route/airline – has been expected for some time. Whether this devaluation proves to be a move to dynamic pricing or not remains to be seen.
While we don’t have full details yet, this seems a further nail in the coffin for partner Avios redemptions. The last major Avios devaluation in 2015, dealt partner redemptions a pretty poor hand with the news that they would permanently be priced at peak pricing levels.
Nevertheless, there will be a certain acceptance if – and it’s a big if – the devaluation is contained to partner awards and BA Avios redemptions are left unscathed in the short/medium term.
What is perhaps most disappointing about these changes is the manner in which they’ve been revealed. Surely BA had two choices here:
- Say nothing until the changes have been implemented and roll them out with immediate effect – much like Amex did with their recent changes to sign-up bonus rules.
- Reveal an upcoming devaluation which gives members a short window to make bookings at current rates. This was what BA did in with the last big Avios devaluation in 2015.
This method seems neither here nor there. If anything, this uncertainty will cause the most exasperation in the coming weeks should BA continue to withhold full details of these upcoming Avios changes.