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Sharp practice: British Airways' new Avios program

Sharp practice: British Airways' new Avios program

Dec 5th, 2011, 06:34 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Sharp practice: British Airways' new Avios program

I've been something of a points hound for years, and BA's Executive Club has been my FF program of choice for most of that. I'd use those miles and BAEC's 2-4-1 awards to take my family to Europe most summers.

BA's adoption of the Avios program has, however, devalued my accumulated airmiles by nearly 20% - a Y award from North America to Paris, for example, has increased from 50K to 59k miles, and in the last year or two BA has doubled the tax/fuel/fees co-pay to almost $600 pp. Award availability is narrower than it's ever been, and searching for alternatives very difficult because the 'search availability' feature on their new website doesn't bloody work. And I can't use the miles on their partner airlines if I want to use any of the three 2-4-1 vouchers I've accumulated.

Seems like a classic bait & switch: what Chase and BA promised to entice me into their program is no longer on offer, now that I'm presenting the bill. Shame. I always liked British Air, but my Chase/BA cards are headed for the bin, and I'll be spending & flying with someone else.
RedStater is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 12:27 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,491
Well, that's one way of looking at it...

Here's another:

Fewer miles for a First award ticket. From East Coast, 120,000, down from 150,000. Transfer your Starwood points and it takes only 100,000 miles, which is what many other airlines charge for Buiness.

Fewer miles for a Club (business) award ticket. NY to London is now 80,000 miles, down from 100,000. Transfer your Starwood points and you need only 65,000 miles, while many airlines charge 60,000 for an economy award.

Fewer miles for World Traveller Plus (premium economy) award ticket. East Coast to London, Paris, Brussels, is 60,000 miles in Plus, again the same as most airlines charge for economy.

And BA still has the best upgrade awards I've found among the airlines I travel with. Upgrade to Club (business) for 20,000 miles from the East Coast and Chicago to London, plus the upgrade is good for any Traveller Plus fares, even sale and deeply discounted fares. True, BA charges fees and taxes, but no surcharges on mileage upgrades. Many other U.S. airlines add surcharges up to $1000 or more.

Generally I have found good availability for using my miles for awards and upgrades. This year I already have mileage upgrades-to-Club trips to Venice and Morocco booked. I also have tickets booked for Naples, in Club, for my husband and myself. This is using a 2-for-1 voucher from Chase. And finally, using another voucher, to Hong Kong in November in Club for my husband and myself.

This isn't unusual for us. Last year we flew to Bangkok in First using a 2-for-1 voucher. And I made two other trips to Europe using miles to upgrade to Club. Year before, ditto, etc, etc, etc. This year is starting out even better than last because I was able to take advantage of the fare sale in early November and book my upgrade tickets for under $600 each (+ taxes and fees) plus 25,000 miles.

So, no bait and switch charges here. It's still a good program in my opinion, with it's weaknesses of course, but each program has its own strengths and weaknesses. That's why it's a good idea not to keep all your eggs (or miles) in one basket.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 12:56 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,576
We have quite a few miles from a Chase promo on British Air. Could one of you explain the 2-for-1 voucher?
sf7307 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 01:51 PM
  #4  
 
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Could one of you explain the 2-for-1 voucher?

Here's the fine print: http://www.britishairways.com/travel...s/public/en_us
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 5th, 2011, 01:54 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,491
Spend $30,000 in a calendar year on your Chase BAEC card and receive a voucher good for a companion flight in the same class of service/route/itinerary when you book your flight using miles. All travel must be on BA mainline services, no partners, no 'operated by.'
julia1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 02:02 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Travel must originate in, and return to, the USA. Also, the account holder must travel with the companion(s). Please do read the link that Gardyloo posted above--it's clearly explained.
evecolorado is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 02:53 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 599
Referring back to the original posting…. whether one regards it as a good thing or a bad thing depends on where you’re based and where you want to go. As julia1 pointed out, some people have benefited from the recent changes--to/from the East Coast to London Heathrow has gone down--for others it has increased.

As far as changes to redemption go, this is a radical change. It is a complete change of how the system works, from a zone-based system to a segment-based system. Even for routes where mileage didn't increase, for those who have to connect via LHR (excluding domestic UK connections), they still end up having to pay more on all-BA redemptions.

Like julia1, with my award miles and Chase 2-4-1 vouchers my husband and I can now fly at the pointy end of the plane for very little more than flying in coach. When I signed up for the Chase/BA cc I read the terms and conditions and knew it was for flights on BA metal only.

An “enhancement” they’ve added that I’m unhappy about: (Quote): Need to amend or change a reward flight booking? We know that plans can change, and to provide the flexibility and control our members sometimes need, reward flight bookings can be amended or cancelled for a USD 40 service charge, before or after departure. (End Quote) Funny thing is, time & date changes to reward flights were previously free! Well, to be fair, previously they couldn’t be changed after departure.

I’m annoyed right now, but before I walk out and slam the door behind me I ask myself: Could I do it cheaper or better with another carrier? Would they provide the same comfort, service and non-stop schedule from Denver to LHR? The answer, for me, is No.
evecolorado is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 03:25 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Had 400000 miles with them between my wife and myself they

debased over 50% by adding miles seat assign costs and bogus

"fuel surcharges" when oil prices are down and no one else

charges so currently I think they suck ba.com xport of last

resort for me...

although bankrupt aa.com got me best deals last

20000 per leg US to Central Europe no surcharges period

BA would have charged 50000 per leg and added fuel and seat

charges so for me similar to Delta BA miles have

become "peso" miles devalued beyond belief.

Very sad they used to be superb.
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 03:30 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
I do expect AA to devalue too so I am using all airline miles
s soon as I get them always they work great for hotels have
done 5 nights in Venice Budapest 5 stars for 20000/nt average

So use them quickly or find them devalued.

Work greatfor nice rental cars also everywhere for me.
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 10:14 AM
  #10  
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An interesting note for those of you whose cards are coming up for renewal: when I called in this morning to cancel one of my Chase/BA accounts, the CSR offered to forgive the $95 annual fee if I kept it open. According to the wise men on FlyerTalk dot com, this is something that Chase simply wouldn't do in the past. When asked, the CSR admitted that Chase has been getting an unprecedented number of cancellations and is doing this in an effort to retain its established, higher-spending customers.
RedStater is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 09:06 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,576
Regarding the 2-for-1 voucher --- do you pay the rather steep British Air fees for both tickets (the one you paid for with miles, as well as the "free" companion ticket)?
sf7307 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 10:32 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Yes, you do pay fees and taxes for both tickets.

Last year I used the voucher for travel Seattle-London-Bangkok in First and the fees/taxes for both totaled about $1300. Steep, yes, but a cheap way to fly in First from Seattle to London to Bangkok, and the cost is a third the cost of two tickets on same itinerary in economy.

The way I look at it, I'm paying much less than I would pay for a trip in economy, but flying in First. It's 'free' upgrades to First for the price of two very cheap economy tickets...

I know it's trendy to complain about 'the rather steep British Air fees'. But, really? Tell me where else I can get such a deal? Two people, First class from Seattle to London, stopover in London, then all the way to Bangkok and back, all for $1300.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 12:27 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Thanks for the perfect explanation. I agree with you -- ending up with two first-class tickets for the price of one using miles plus $1300 is a darned good deal.
sf7307 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2011, 09:58 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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we thought we would be changing all of our future miles over to british airways because of their great companion ticket deal. however, we really truly felt burned when we used the first one and it was $700 each to fly sfo-london-rome-sfo. that's crazy. we flew r/t sfo to nyc on delta's ff and were charged $5.total in taxes last month!!! IT IS SIMPLY FALSE ADVERTISING AND I WISH SOMEONE WOULD GO AFTER THEM FOR IT. sorry... didn't mean to shout.

we will be changing back to either united or delta and pitching our british airways cards as soon as we have enough miles to fly a business or first trip. (which is really hard to book for 2.... they have such incredibly slim pickin's. )

i will say, however, that i did some sample award flight scenarios on their web site. (as their actual miles formulas seem to be apocryphal) it seems like these HUGE fees they charge are hardly any more for first class than for economy. so i would use any and all miles on british airways for FIRST class tickets if at all possible.

overall, very letdown and unhappy with british airways miles program. wish i wasn't because i love the companion thing.
kawh
kawh is offline  
Dec 31st, 2011, 10:10 AM
  #15  
 
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kawh - it's not a "great companion ticket deal" if you use it for travel in World Traveller (economy), though you probably still paid a significant amount less than you would have if you'd purchased two tickets for cash rather than using miles plus the 2-for-1 certificate. But agreed, it's not free, or $5 or whatever.

It is a "great companion ticket deal" if you fly in Club (business) or First. And I for one don't find award tickets to be "such incredibly slim pickin's" as you do. With a little flexibility, I find I can travel either alone or with a companion on BA award tickets quite frequently. SFO may be more difficult, however.

Your comment "IT IS SIMPLY FALSE ADVERTISING AND I WISH SOMEONE WOULD GO AFTER THEM FOR IT" is just silly. Read the information concerning terms and conditions. It's all there.

As I commented in an earlier post, "I know it's trendy to complain about 'the rather steep British Air fees'. But, really? Tell me where else I can get such a deal? Two people, First class from Seattle to London, stopover in London, then all the way to Bangkok and back, all for $1300." That's $1300 total for two, not each. In flat-bed comfort.

By the way, you will find the flat-bed seating in both First and Club with BA, so I encourage you to look at both when you go to use your BA points again. Far fewer points needed for Club.
julia1 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 04:52 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1
I rarely comment but this is a tragedy - I have 500,000 points on BA and used to prioritize flying with them or their partner - my recent booking to Uganda or Kenya on BA was going to be 100k miles and $1,000 in coach - on United I got First Class/Business mix for 120k miles and $180 - sorry BA your new program really stinks - I am sure it will save a lot of money on your P&L - but for many of the flights and hotels I have checked for comparison the associated "fees" are as high as what I can find on expedia without using any points - I view the program now as basically worthless and am really sad that I chose to fly so many miles the past couple of years with them....
flickerstickets is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 05:18 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,287
Bait and switch is right RedStater. Another difficulty for those of us on the West Coast is the BA Executive Club phone lines shut down at 5pm Eastern time. If we need help making selections with booking we have to get up a O-dark 30 to do so. We'll use our last miles and eliminate the BA Visa as soon as the trip is over.
Scootoir is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 11:56 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,491
Leaving today, flying upstairs in a 747, flat-bed Club (business) Seattle to London, layover a few days, then on to Naples. Used points with 2-for-1 certificate. Don't remember what I paid in taxes and fees, but I do remember it was less than two economy tix would have been. Not free, but a nice way to travel in comfort for far less than we would have paid in either cash or points.

No bait and switch complaints here and it's no tragedy...we got exactly what we expected, exactly what we wanted...
julia1 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2012, 04:42 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Of course it's bait and switch. I have been fighting with British Air and Chase for over a year about this. I opened the card account with the promise of 100K miles- "enough for two round trip tickets" and at the time the tickets were approximately $2000- $400 was taxes and fees. Not 6 months later they switched to Avios and now all of a sudden the tickets are dirt cheap- only about $800 round trip for two!! But the taxes and fees are $1200. You can do the same flights on American and the tickets are $1200 and the taxes and fees are $400. (these numbers are rounded somewhat). Anyway- does anyone know how to book on AA but use Avios miles? Then we could get what we were promised.

Believe me- I know bait and switch when I see it. I've been a credit card paralegal at 4 major banks and I write the rules for these programs. I know how they try to get "breakage" (people who use their cards but never get around to redeeming the points. It saves them a ton and they make money from you using the card). None of the banks I worked at would have permitted a switch in a program that quickly after opening an account. They would have given you at least a year to redeem in the program you opened with.
nelle1949 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2012, 04:51 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
This is interesting:

http://thepointsguy.com/2012/06/save...ios-to-iberia/
nelle1949 is offline  

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