It’s the one year anniversary of the gutting of the British Airways frequent flyer program, and Avios is celebrating with a 25% discount on long haul redemptions originating in London, for six days beginning on November 14th.

Full details of the sale aren’t online yet but it appears that it will be available through the British Airways, Iberia, and Avios websites and will apply to long haul travel in any class of service through May 2013.

US frequent flyers fear not, you get a 30% bonus on transfers of American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios starting next month.

(HT: Head for Points)

  1. Raffles said,

    To be honest, living in the UK, the Avios changes in 2011 were wholly positive. Reward Flight Saver makes European redemptions fantastic value (probably the best bang for your buck available on BA metal), and many Asian and East Coast USA destinations got cheaper.

    The banding system also threw up other interesting anomalies such as the Aer Lingus 50k in J BOS-DUB and some airberlin deals.

    It is a very US-centric approach to say that the programme was gutted, because most Brits (and this is British Airways we’re discussing) were happy with the changes.

  2. Gary said,

    @Raffles UK residents did fine with the changes. Agreed. British Airways is an international airline, there’s a pretty big presence here in the New World, and for non-Europeans it was an absolute shellacking. And let’s not forget that they did not share any of the details of their award chart changes or routing rules changes in advance, not even a day in advance, they said that 99% of prices would stay the same or go down and that was an outright lie (or, they would claim, they MEANT TO SAY that 99% of a small subset of their prices would stay the same or go down).

  3. eponymous coward said,

    ” for non-Europeans it was an absolute shellacking”

    … for non-Europeans who burn strictly in premium cabins for longhaul- aka everyone who used BAEC to fly CX in F on JFK-HKG-DPS.

    If you are a non-European who makes good use of the fact that AA/AS’s network and BA’s award bands offer a lot of good value in Y for shorthaul, it was hardly a shellacking (and I might note that AA and AS’s programs still offer lots of ways to get that CX F flight with good value).

    Shockingly, BA probably figures that someone in the USA who is only interested in using their program for maximum arbitrage in a CX F cabin (given the high fuel surcharges on BA metal) isn’t a particularly valuable or loyal customer that they need their loyalty program to appeal to, as opposed to someone who flies out of LHR.

  4. Gary said,

    @eponymous coward – indeed, if your interest is short haul domestic coach, and you live in a hub city of American and Alaska, you make out ok. Forget ‘arbitraging Cathay Pacific first class’ … if you fly paid premium cabin travel and want to redeem for same it’s a shellacking. If you do just want to fly paid premium cabin travel — not arbitrage — saver bookings are excess unsold inventory or anticipated to be same. The value proposition is fundamentally different and less rewarding than it was until a year ago. And the changes were made duplicitously.

    As far as BA’s business model is concerned they absolutely need and want premium passengers that are not UK residents. They have more premium seats than most airlines and could never fill those with UK residents.

    Many frequent flyer programs offer better deals to customers outside their home and relatively captive markets.

  5. Alan said,

    Must say I agree with Raffles – RFS has been a massive improvement to the programme. The credit card sign-up bonuses over here are also pretty pitiful compared to the regular and massive ones on offer in the US, so the difference isn’t quite as bad as it may first appear. By comparison the sign-up bonuses for UK customers on USA-based programmes are pretty pitiful.

  6. Chris said,

    While the Avios changes have changed the way I’ve looked at short haul flights from New York to say, Canada or in the Northeastern United States, I agree with @Gary: The long haul value proposition has faded significantly.

    Given the BA partnerships with Chase (standalone card/UR transfer) and Amex (US MR points transfer), BA has reason to keep its award program competitive outside the UK.

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