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Revealed: How British Airways’ Drastic Changes To Earning Avios Will Affect You

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross's image

Daniel Ross

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Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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The U.K. flag carrier has announced that members of its British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer program will no longer earn Avios in accordance with how far they fly, but rather, how much they spend.

The changes that will come into effect from October 18, 2023, are being described by the airline in a way that suggests that they will benefit the customer.

According to Ian Romanis, Director of Retail and Customer Relationship Management at British Airways, the changes bring about “a simpler and more transparent system offering more opportunities to collect Avios than ever before and rewarding loyalty based on customers’ cash spend.”

Let’s take a how the changes will affect members who earn Avios in real terms.

BA To Reward Cash Spent Over Miles Flown

It’s a change that many airlines around the world have already adopted, and one we know was on the horizon for BA, too.

The airline’s new earning structure will favor those spending more money (such as buying flexible premium tickets) over others purchasing, let’s say, cheap basic economy fares.

The new criteria for earning Avios will be tiered in correspondence with the Executive Club‘s tiers:

  • 6 Avios per £1 spent for Blue members
  • 7 Avios per £1 spent for Bronze members
  • 8 Avios per £1 spent for Silver members
  • 9 Avios per £1 spent for Gold members

Despite this being used as a selling point by the airline, these will replace the following rather generous bonus point-earning below that members are used to:

  • 25% for Bronze
  • 50% for Silver
  • 100% for Gold

The airline is also promoting the fact that from October 18, 2023, passengers will also earn the same status-based multiplier on the amount they spend on upgrades, excess baggage, and prepaid seat selection.

That might sound good initially, but Blue or Bronze status holders would likely rather not have to pay up to over £100 for seat selection in exchange for earning a few extra Avios for doing so.

The small silver lining to all of this is that the Avios earned on flights operated by other Oneworld carriers will continue to be calculated by miles flown.

A final thing to note is that the per £1 spent metric refers to only the base fare and carrier-imposed charge elements of the ticket and does not include any taxes, additional charges, or other fees that are not directly related to the airfare itself.

Earning Avios on a Round-Trip Between NY and London: Before vs. After

For us to fully understand what these changes mean, we crunched some numbers and we thought you’d find the results as interesting as we did.

We worked out the percentage difference in Avios earned for 3 types of tickets between New York and London: a basic economy fare, the cheapest business class fare, and the most expensive fully flexible business class ticket.

Note the examples are for fares in the opposite direction (London to New York), so the prices were in pounds to make it easier for this comparison. Additionally, the number of Avios quoted is on a round-trip basis.

Example 1: Basic Economy Ticket

The cheapest economy (O booking class) ticket we could find on the route from London to New York was £396.91.

The total for the ticket is £396.91, of which the actual fare and carrier-imposed charge are almost 50% less at just £201.

Fare breakdown
The breakdown of charges for a British Airways basic economy round-trip fare from London to New York. Image Credit: British Airways

The table below shows the number of Avios a passenger would earn for this ticket according to their status level using BA’s current and forthcoming Avios method.

The final column shows the percentage difference in the Avios earned once the changes come into effect.

SCROLL FOR MORE
 Distance-Based Earning  Revenue-Based EarningPercentage Change in Avios Earned
Cheapest EconomyCheapest Economy
Blue 1,7301,206-30.2%
Bronze3,4601,407-59.3%
Silver5,1901,608-69%
Gold8,6461,809-79.1%

Example 2: Cheapest Business Class and Flexible Business Class Tickets

To see how the changes will affect those paying cash for business class tickets, we used the cheapest round-trip business-class fare between London and New York as well as the most expensive, fully flexible fare.

The total for the cheapest ticket came to £1,981.91 (which is actually very good), of which £1,682 of that would be eligible to earn Avios.

Cheap business class fare
The breakdown of charges for the cheapest British Airways business class round-trip fare we could find from London to New York. Image Credit: British Airways

And for the most expensive, fully-flexible £11,692.91 fare, passengers would be eligible to earn Avios on £11,393 of the ticket.

Fully flex fare
The breakdown of charges for the most British Airways fully-flexible business class fare we could find from London to New York. Image Credit: British Airways

The table below shows the number of Avios a passenger would earn for each of these tickets according to their status level using BA’s current and forthcoming Avios method.

The final 2 columns show the percentage difference in the Avios earned for each of the 2 business-class ticket types once the changes come into effect.

SCROLL FOR MORE
 Distance-Based EarningRevenue-Based EarningPercentage Change in Avios Earned

Cheapest BusinessFlexible BusinessCheapest Business Flexible BusinessCheapest BusinessFlexible Business
Blue10,37417,29010,09268,358-2.7%+295.4%
Bronze12,10419,02011,77479,751-2.7%+319.3%
Silver 13,83220,74813,45691,144-2.7%+339.3%
Gold17,29024,20615,138102,537-12.4%+323.6%

The Results

These numbers speak for themselves.

One thing is for sure, that it’s quite transparent that the only passengers who these changes will benefit are those who have the priciest, most flexible, premium cabin tickets that were more likely paid for by their employers rather than out of their own pocket.

This “simpler and more transparent system offering more opportunities to collect Avios than ever before” should actually read “This new system will mean those spending chunks of cash on our most expensive tickets will be rewarded with more Avios than ever while everyone else will earn be rewarded less.”

Another stark change comes in the difference between Avios earned for cheap and fully-flex business class tickets. Before the changes come into force, the difference is only a few thousand Avios, while after October 18, 2023, this becomes astronomical.

For example, a lowly Blue status holder who booked the cheapest business class ticket would earn 888% fewer Avios than a Gold status holder sitting next to them whose company paid for a fully-flex ticket.

If the Avios you earn are no longer linked to the miles flown and instead, the amount of cash you spend, should they be renamed “air cash?”

Final Thoughts

There is a lot more that could be said to cast a dark shadow over these changes however, we feel that there’s enough evidence even at a high level to prove that these changes are damning enough.

As the old saying goes, “Money makes the world go round,” and it clearly does for those at the top making BA’s financial decisions.

Granted, a business is a business, but trying to mask negative changes as being positive for the consumer is quite frankly, disingenuous.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.

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