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This was the oldest unwritten “Draft” post in my folder. I wrote the title more than two years ago, but none of the post until today. Let me get something off my chest I’ve been holding in for, apparently, a long time.

Two-and-a-half years ago, British Airways went from a traditional region-to-region award chart to their unique distance based chart on which every flight adds to the total cost.

I know of no other program–other than LAN, and raise your hand if you’ve booked an award with LAN kilometers–where each flight segment adds to the price of the award.

Cleveland to New York to London costs the price of the Cleveland-to-New York leg plus the New York-to-London leg whether you stop in New York an hour or a month.

Each segment’s price is based only on the distance flown and the cabin of the flight. Here is the British Airways award chart for one way economy flights:

  • Up to 650 miles flown: 4,500 Avios
  • 651 to 1,151 miles flown: 7,500 Avios
  • 1,152 to 2,000 miles flown: 10,000 Avios
  • 2,001 to 3,000 miles flown: 12,500 Avios
  • 3,001 to 4,000 miles flown: 20,000 Avios
  • 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown: 25,000 Avios
  • 5,501 to 6,500 miles flown: 30,000 Avios
  • 6,501 to 7,000 miles flown: 35,000 Avios
  • 7,001+ miles flown: 50,000 Avios

The program has a lot of drawbacks:

  • Fuel surcharges on most partners but not these ones
  • Charging double the economy price for business class
  • Charging triple the economy price for first class
  • Treating domestic “First Class” on two-cabin American Airlines and US Airways planes as first class
  • Connecting awards get prohibitively expensive quickly

But British Airways offers extremely high value awards too. Most high value awards are:

  • Direct flights
  • short-to-medium haul
  • economy class
  • flown on partners with no fuel surcharges

What do you notice about those two lists?

I notice that the low value awards with Avios are almost exactly the high value awards with traditional programs like American Airlines or United.

I also notice that the high value awards with Avios are almost exactly the low value awards with traditional programs.

The fact that British Airways has a unique program enhances the overall value of our miles portfolio greatly. Before Avios, there wasn’t a super high value way to use miles from Phoenix to Kauai or Miami to Manaus, Brazil.

Any savvy miles collector will have a lot of different types of miles and points: United miles, American miles, British Airways Avios, Ultimate Rewards, Arrival miles, etc.

Logically when considering how to book a specific trip, you’ll book it with the miles that give you the best value.

If all your miles are good for the same trips, some trips you want to take will probably have no economical way to book them. If your miles are all good for different things, then you’ll have more potential trips covered.

Since I’m so glad British Airways “devalued,” do I want all airlines to copy the Avios program?

Heck no! Part of the value of Avios is the great awards that can be booked with Avios, and part of the value is that those awards are different from other programs.

If all programs were like British Airways’, the second source of value would be gone.

I’m ecstatic that British Airways “devalued” its award chart even if at the time everyone hated it. I’ll continue to diversify my miles and points across the Six Types of Frequent Flyer Miles and laugh all the way to the bank my next destination.




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