The Basics

How Ridiculous Is The New Short Haul Avios Pricing For The US?

British Airways
Written by Charlie

The new Avios pricing for short haul flights in the US is not nearly as good as it was before but this post shows just how ridiculous some of that pricing is.

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?

best domestic awards

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)

British Airways

That is a lot of Avios for a 1 hour flight in first class!

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)?

United Airlines

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.

Hyatt Hotels

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.

Southwest Airlines

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!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • All this because the big U.S. airlines (rather ridiculously) call their domestic premium cabin “first” rather than “business,” and BA (just as ridiculously) charges the price as though this was true first class on a three-cabin plane (3x the points of coach) rather than the business price (2x). Just about every other frequent flyer program considers “first” on a two-cabin flight to be the same as business class and charges accordingly.

    • Very true. It is a joke that they do that. Only in America does the average flyer think that it would be better to fly domestic first than a domestic airline in business!

  • Who’d use any miles to fly PHL-DCA?

    I’d rather drive, take the bus or Amtrak (all in that order) before I’d even think about flying.

    I get your point but maybe a more realistic example would get the point across. There’s still some deals out there.

    • I chose that just because of the number of fights between the two airports. I used to fly ROC-DCA, which was obviously better flying than train or car. Plus, the PHL-DCA route has “first class” on most of their flights as opposed to some of the other under 650 mile flights.