North American Award Redemption Changes On British Airways

British Airways Boeing 747

British Airways introduced earning and award redemption changes to its Executive Club program back in the middle of 2015. While most of the changes have been in place for more than six months, there is still one left that will not be implemented until February 2, 2016.

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Award Redemption

Members of the Executive Club program can earn and redeem miles called Avios through various activities including flying, hotel stays, car rentals, credit card spending and shopping, etc.

Back in October 2015, members received an email with changes on award redemption for North American short haul flights within Zone 1. Specifically,

We’re going to be making a change to the Executive Club pricing structure for shorter reward flights originating or terminating within the United States of America. From 2 February 2016, reward flights will start from 7,500 Avios, instead of 4,500 Avios, plus taxes, fees and carrier charges (“TFCs”) from $5.60 USD.

Only those reward flights that currently cost 4,500 Avios for a one way flight in Economy, 9,000 Avios for Business Class and 18,000 Avios for First Class plus TFCs will increase; to 7,500 Avios, 15,000 Avios and 30,000 Avios plus TFCs respectively. All other Avios reward flight pricing will remain the same as it is today.

This particular award has been very popular with North American travellers as it is priced significantly lower than the market price from US based airline powerhouses (miles required for lowest one way award up to 650 miles): American Airlines (AA)(12,500 miles),  Delta Air Lines (DL)(10,000 miles) and United Airlines (UA)(10,000 miles).

This new change will increase the number of Avios miles required by 67% across all classes of service as show below.

British Airways North America Zone 1 Awards Redemption Requirements
British Airways North America Zone 1 Awards Redemption Requirements
Source: British Airways

What It Means

British Airways calculates award redemption requirements based on a zone system.  Zone 1 is for flights that are from 0 to 650 miles. Currently, there are three Oneworld airlines that have operations within North America: American Airlines (AA), Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) and TAM Airlines (JJ). Only AA and JJ have flights that meet the zone 1 mileage rules. CX’s flight between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to New York’s JFK International Airport (JFK) is out of the zone at 2,449 miles.

AA is the dominant airline within North America. As such, we mapped out a radius of 650 miles from the airline’s five key hubs at JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD), Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Miami International Airport (MIA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  These airports cover destinations outside of the US including Canada, Mexico and Cuba (which will be served in the future).

650 miles from American Airlines Key Hubs
650 miles from American Airlines Key Hubs
Source: Great Circle Mapper

Note that this award redemption change will not have any effects on on other zone 1 flights in other regions. All awards should be booked on or its mobile application.


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