Tuesday was a bad day for getting great value on short haul flights in the US as British Airways eliminated their Zone 1 distance chart for North America and folded it in with Zone 2 at the higher rates. No more 4,500 Avios awards within the US and taking advantage of some great deals. Now, that rate is 7,500 Avios. But that is not all.
How Ridiculous Is The New Short Haul Avios Pricing For The US?
4,500 -> 7,500 For Coach
With the new rate for short haul, non-stop flights (under 650 miles) going from 4,500 Avios to 7,500 Avios, it has taken quite a toll on British Airway accounts for many for future flights. While it is never nice to see an increase of 66% on awards, paying 7,500 Avios for flights that may still cost over $300 can still be a good deal. Especially when you compare it the fact that a regular award with AA right now on the same flight would cost 12,500 miles.
The Big Hike For Short Haul First Class (Domestic)
I have redeemed for many 4,500 Avios awards over the years and have loved the value I received from it. But something I never did was to redeem for first class on one of those flights. British Airways used to charge 18,000 Avios for a first class seat on one of those short haul flights. That is really expensive for such a short flight in regional first class!
Now, that has skyrocketed to 30,000 Avios for a one way, short haul flight in first class. One of the many examples is the hour flight from Philadelphia to Washington National. That short flight commands a first class cost of $350+ for a cash ticket and 25,000 AA miles for an award ticket. British Airways blows right by that with their 30,000 Avios ask.
That 30,000 Avios number could be used for any non-stop flight in coach up to 6,500 miles in distance flown! That is really an amazing option vs using it for a 1 or 2 hour flight in a slightly better seat.
Looking At Other Uses
With British Airways as a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards, many people probably do make use of that transfer option to get their Avios. What does this ridiculous rate in Ultimate Reward points get you otherwise beside something like a 1 hour flight in regional first class (assuming you are transferring from Chase which is a ratio of 1:1)?
If transferred to United Airlines, 30,000 miles is enough to get a one-way award ticket from anywhere in the US/Canada to Europe! That gets you some great value and wonderful memories while only costing you the miles to get there.
You could also redeem for a roundtrip award ticket anywhere in the US 48 and still have 5,000 miles leftover. It would also provide enough miles to visit anywhere in South America on a one way award ticket.
If transferred to Hyatt, 30,000 points would be enough for a free night at the highest tier hotels in Hyatt’s portfolio. That is 24 hours or so of a wonderfully comfortable stay vs an hour or two flight in first class!
If you decide to go for something less, that many points would get you 6 free nights at a Category 1 or 2 nights at a Category 4. Those are excellent options as well.
With Southwest’s (somewhat) fixed redemption values, 30,000 points is worth about $444 in airfare with Southwest. That will get you a lot of travel, especially with the sales that they run from time to time.
In the end, they are your points to use as you want. I did just want to demonstrate how bad the new rates are and to encourage you to compare what could be possible to do with the points otherwise. This new rate schedule is here to stay (until British Airways decides that even this is too valuable) and 7,500 Avios awards will be booked. I just caution you against thinking about redeeming for first class on those domestic short hauls!