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Got British Airways Miles? Not Any More!

Got British Airways Miles? Not Any More!

For several months, British Airways had been alluding coyly to upcoming changes to the Executive Club program, suggesting that program members could look forward to enhancements to the program.

Frequent flyers have learned the hard way that "enhancement" usually turns out to be code for devaluation.

That suspicion was confirmed with yesterday’s announcement detailing the program’s new earning currency and award pricing.

No More Miles

Instead of miles, Executive Club members will henceforth earn Avios. And miles already earned will be converted to Avios as well. No more miles.

Verdict: more silly than serious. No doubt British Airways’ marketing staff think this will differentiate the program from the competition. If so, it won’t be in a good way—Avios are already being called Adios.

New Award Pricing

Award chart, what award chart? Instead there’s an award calculator. And it calculates by flight sector—no more free stopovers.

While some award flights are now cheaper (shorter flights in general, intra-Europe flights, U.S. gateway flights to London), U.S. members flying beyond London, or from non-gateway cities, will pay more.

Verdict: In its pre-launch communications, British Airways claimed that award prices on "97% of our routes" would be cheaper. That’s absolutely not the case. Depending on the route, many Executive Club members traveling from the U.S. will pay more, making their miles worth less.

Member Communication

Subverting the old marketing maxim, British Airways has overpromised ("enhancements" and all that implies) and under-delivered (higher award prices for many U.S. members).

Verdict: The communication of these changes—which affect the value of so many members’ miles—was handled in a manner best characterized as either stealthy or downright underhanded, depending on the degree of your affection for British Airways and your tolerance for misstatement and obfuscation.

That’s not just a quibble with a tactical misstep. Such a profound lapse is indicative of a company mindset seriously out of touch with its members, and bodes ill for Executive Club’s future.

Reader Reality Check

What’s your take on the revised Executive Club program? Will you be a more or less active member of the program in future?

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  • Peter LeVine

    I agree completely with the negative critique of the new British Airways Executive Club. Airlines regularly change and increase the miles required for given city pairs. However, it is truly unprecedented for an airline to, literally, double (and, in some cases, triple) the miles required for long haul sectors. Most frequent fliers redeem miles for long haul sectors and buy revenue tickets for short haul sectors. Any advantage offered by reduced mileage requirements for short haul sectors is, significantly, outweighed by the doubling and tripling of miles required from North America to Asia, Africa, and many cities in Europe. The failure to provide any region to region award charts is a clear sign of the arrogance of British Airways management and how loyalty is taken for granted. Unless changes are quickly made to this program, there will be a significant reduction in loyalty and revenue to British Airways. Only those Executive Club members with more Avios miles than they know what to do with and the very infrequent traveler will remain loyal to British Airways. The majority of members will, over a period of six months to a year, conclude The Executive Club is the worse frequent flier program in the industry and will make their revenue reservations with a different airline.

  • David

    I am a BA Gold member, but will now take my business elsewhere. I am English, but am ashamed to say so when a British institution behaves in such an untrustworthy manner. They lied to us about the changes. Enhancements = devaluation. The “97% of our routes” being cheaper is an outright lie given that stopovers are now not allowed so that LAX to CPT becomes LAX-LHR + LHR-CPT. West Coast routes are hit particularly badly and partner rewards are now ridiculously expensive.

    The arrogance and superior attitude of BA sticks in the throat; their ability to lie straight to your face is an abomination.

  • Richard Dow

    Simple – I am dropping their program – don’t need the feeling they extend of being an second rate citizen. My parrot is friendlier.

  • Jane

    I recently booked the free companion ticket with miles on BA from Boston to London business class. The $1600 tax and fees made this a debatable frequent flier “deal.” the new program is ridiculous and now I am looking to fly alternative airlines from the states to London. I will not continue with BA. I feel increasingly disincentived when purchasing airline tickets when frequent flier programs are changed and so difficult to use. When I fly from my home base of Los Angeles those layovers are really a benefit in combatting jet lag!

  • Rich G

    I will take my Avios points for a family trip from London to US and then good bye BA

  • jaime

    HORRIBLE! Adios.

  • Ricardo

    Guess as soon as I use up the miles, Bye Bye BA! Sick and tired of the arrogance. Have been a multi million miler, but enough is enough!

  • Karen Kinnane

    Adios Avios! I dumped my BA account months ago, after finding it the worst deal of all the frequent flyer clubs. The fees alone will almost pay for a regular economy ticket on another airlines. BA is a bad deal, dump them! Why reward arrogance and tellers of lies? 97% of travelers will not find the changes are a better deal.

  • Connie

    Used my points on AA for South American travel prior to this change. Now, the point requirement has gone up substantially!! I did find an AVIOS deal from San Juan to Tortola. This is usually a $300ish price and now it is only 9000 AVIOS points roundtrip…..a brightspot in an otherwise confusing program. ps-I did call BA TWICE and staff were just as confused….

  • Graham B

    The last time BA decided on a significant name change was in Feb 2006 when the regional operations and CityFlyer were renamed BA Connect. The reason was to move to a ‘low cost carrier’ model. They sure did, and in Nov 2006 reached agreement with Flybe for the purchase of BA Connect.

    I suspect the change to Adios is in preparation for outsource or eventual sale of the airmiles scheme.

  • Jerry Mandel

    Avios points can now be used for hotels and rental cars. Don’t pass this up.

  • Lisa

    I got a BA Exec Club card/account so my family could rack up enough points to visit family in France. Even with enough Avios points, the fees and fuel surcharge make it a WORSE deal that simply buying 3 round trip tickets on a random airline via Yahoo Travel, Hotwire or similar. The fuel surcharge ALONE is almost the same price as a regular round trip ticket, and even the BA folks couldn’t offer any explanation as to why anyone would be better off being a member. I don’t have an “extra” $600 for fuel surcharges! And the website; don’t even get me started! The navigation is horrible, especially when you’re trying to book a trip within the US, which is allowable via their partner airline, American. I suspect they want it to be very difficult to discourage people from doing so. Every time I go to the website to check ANYTHING, I end up angry and waste about 30 minutes. No more BA for me!