Earlier this month, British Airways sent out an email to announce that they would be making major changes to their frequent flyer program. My heart sunk because I feared this day would come sooner than later. Starting November 16, 2011, the miles you accrue will now be called Avios points. Some awards will require less miles, some more. I’m going to focus on what I am most concerned about and the reason I even got into the British Airways Executive Club program – Single Partner Awards.
It’s no secret that one of the best redemption methods of BA miles was a single partner award in a premium cabin. BA is part of the oneworld alliance and they have some very good partners like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and LAN. Redeeming an award on these partners was often better than redeeming on BA themselves because everyone knows that BA charges a boatload of fuel surcharges on their redemptions.
I want to focus on what I’ve burned all our miles on – North America to the “Far East” in First Class for 150,000 miles round trip (times 2 people). BA listed the following countries in their Far East zone: Burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam. These are not only destinations that I have wanted to visit, but even better, they are destinations that are served by one of the best airlines in the world – Cathay Pacific (CX).
Both Joann and I signed up for the BA Chase Visa card under the 100,000 mile bonus offer. We created a Household Account to pool our miles together (which is an awesome feature of the BA program). Then, when American Express ran a promotion for a 50% bonus on any Membership Rewards Points transfer to British Airways, we transferred some points over to get our Household Account to 300,000 miles. Our original plan was to fly in CX F from NYC to somewhere in the ‘Far East’ – Bali, Singapore, Bangkok, Philippines. We weren’t exactly sure where and with our wedding early next year, we weren’t in a rush. This was more of a plan for 2013.
Last week, after doing much research and reading a lot of speculation, we decided to burn the rest of our BA miles for 2 one-way tickets to Bali! Of course we’ll be flying in Cathay Pacific First Class because we are going to stay true to our original goal. Each one-way ticket costs 75,000 miles for a total of 150,000 BA miles used (how to book BA awards). That leaves us with 52,000 in our joint account. I’m comfortable with leaving that small amount and seeing what comes up with the BA program changes. I was definitely NOT comfortable leaving over 200,000 miles there, however.
The reason I jumped the gun and redeemed most of our miles now is because this news has spurred a bit of a mass exodus from the BA program. I do not want to be stuck come early November with
bad changes looming and no availability. Generally, when a program announces changes, you want to know exactly what they are changing before making any drastic moves but all this really did was move up our timeline on our Asia trip.
So while we are still in the dark about this single partner award redemption, we still have until November 16, 2011 before the changes take effect. I personally hope the changes are serviceable as I still have a Chase BA Visa (that earns an awesome 1.25 miles per dollar) and a Chase Sapphire Preferred that transfers to BA, but I’m not holding my breath. My advice is to do your award research now so when BA announces the changes, you can act quickly if necessary. Good luck, all!
P.S. As for our return, I have something lined up for Star Alliance using my United/Continental miles…