And even if you already live in a gateway city like I do (SFO), chances are any long-haul award flight you book will have an increased points requirement. Take, for example, the extremely popular route SFO-HKG-DPS on Cathay Pacific that many people took advantage of prior to the program change:
- Old BAEC program: 50/100/150K BA miles + taxes/fees
- New Avios program: 95/190/285K Avios points + taxes/fees
- Old BAEC program: 40/80K BA miles + taxes/fees
- New Avios program: 95/190K Avios points + taxes/fees
- JFK - LHR: 40/80/120K Avios points + taxes/fees
- SFO - LHR: 50/100/150K Avios points + taxes/fees
- JFK - HKG: 70/140/210K Avios points + taxes/fees
- LAX - SYD: 100/200/300K Avios points + taxes/fees
One of the more positive changes to the Executive Club program, however, comes from shorter direct routes. The worst part of the U.S. legacy carriers' reward programs is that they charge 25,000 points to fly anywhere in the lower 48 states, no matter what the distance is. So a flight from SFO-LAX costs exactly the same as SFO-JFK, which makes absolutely no sense. But with Avios points, things become distance-based, so the short SFO-LAX hop now costs only 9,000 points roundtrip! That's a fairly good deal in my opinion since that route can run anywhere from $120 to more than $200 during certain times of the year. Using this method, you can also see some interesting routes that used to cost a lot more in the old program because they were in 2 different zones, but are actually quite close distance-wise (hence a decrease in Avios points requirements):
- IPC - PPT (2644 miles): 25/50/75K Avios points + taxes/fees
- LAX - SJD (911 miles): 15/30/45K Avios points + taxes/fees
- LAX - HNL (2556 miles): 25/50/75K Avios points + taxes/fees
- MIA - CUN (531 miles): 9/18/27K Avios points + taxes/fees
Additionally, Executive Club service fees have changed. A base fee of $40 is now charged for both changing the date/time of an award booking and for cancelling an award booking, whether it is done online or over the phone. Doing either over the phone, however, will incur an additional $25 fee (for a total of $65). There is still no fee for making your award booking online, while doing so over the phone will cost $25. Full details can be found here.
You can play around with the new Avios Calculator on the BA website to see how many points you will now need for each segment. Note that the calculator works for only direct segments, not routes. So if you wanted to look up how much SFO-HKG-DPS costs now, you must search for SFO-HKG first, then HKG-DPS, and then add up the points for each. It's a pain, but at least it's fairly clear and accurate. Or, the easier way is to just go ahead and search for the complete route using the award booking system. It's very similar to the old system, and it will add up each segment automatically for you. So far, I haven't noticed any huge glitches yet. Just click below, and then click on the "Book flights with Avios" link. You must be logged into your Executive Club account in order to use the award booking system.