I received an email this morning from British Airways Executive Club detailing some changes coming in November to their rewards program. My first thought was... oh no, it's finally here.
For those who aren't aware, British Airways partnered up with Chase and offered up literally millions (if not billions) of miles at 100,000 per credit card both last year and this year. While this was fine and dandy for all the American customers who took advantage of this deal, most of us had a feeling that with so many miles being handed out like candy, a massive devaluation in their awards chart was bound to happen sooner or later. And it looks like it's happened a lot sooner than expected.
First off, with the British Airways/Iberia merger, it makes sense that there would be some cosmetic changes to their joint frequent flyer program. So as of November, British Airways Executive Club miles becomes "Avios" points. In addition, on the BA website detailing a couple of the more positive changes coming, it states that for shorter flight out of LHR (specifically to zones 1-3), they will now be offering a Reward Flight Saver option, which allows for reduced points redemptions with a fixed flat fee. Avios points needed for travel on BA-operated flights will not change from the current miles requirements for the most part, and some routes (such as JFK-LHR) will actually see a slight decrease. Finally, BA will also now be offering hotel and car rental redemptions similar to what AA rolled out last year.
Now for the bad news... and it may be really bad. The single partner award chart is completely scrapped, along with the BA + one partner award chart. In their place will be one single unified award chart that will serve all three purposes: BA only award flights, BA + one partner award flights, and single partner award flights. One of the best values in the current BA award chart is redeeming for a single partner award flight from North America to Asia for 50k/100k/150k miles, or North America to South America (even Easter Island) for 40k/80k/120k miles. If they change this to what the BA only award chart looks like, North America to Asia will jump to 120k/240k/360k! Now, granted, the new award chart numbers probably won't be as astronomical (since most North Americans won't be flying through London to get to Asia). But even then, this means a massive devaluation for Executive Club miles is imminent.
Worst of all, from this Flyertalk thread regarding the coming "enhancements", it sounds like this new award chart won't even be released until November 16th, when the changes will already take place and it will be too late for us to determine exactly which routes will be hiked and by how much. Perhaps that doesn't even really matter since there is a 99.9% chance that some sort of devaluation will occur across the board for single partner award flights. With this ominous cloud hanging over everyone's head, I can only think of one thing to do between now and November: burn as much of your BA Executive Club miles as you can before the changes take effect!