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British Airways implements no-notice devaluation for American and Alaska award flights

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In a major bit of unwelcome news for U.S. travelers, British Airways has increased award prices for many award flights operated by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, as flagged by AwardWallet. And unfortunately, this comes with no notice, as the new award rates are now showing up through British Airways’ search engine.

Here’s what you need to know about these changes.

British Airways increases award rates for American and Alaska flights

British Airways Executive Club uses a distance-based award chart when you redeem Avios across its network of partner airlines (though these prices vary slightly depending on the carrier and dates of travel). Before today, you could book nonstop American and Alaska-operated flights starting at just 7,500 Avios each way. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.

Here’s a chart with a summary of the new economy award rates, which have already taken effect:

Distance Old economy price (before Dec. 12, 2023) New economy price (as of Dec. 13, 2023) % change
Up to 650 miles 7,500 Avios 8,250 Avios 10%
651 – 1,151 miles 9,000 Avios 11,000 Avios 22.2%
1,152 – 2,000 miles 11,000 Avios 14,500 Avios 31.8%
2,001 – 3,000 miles 13,000 Avios 16,000 Avios 23.1%

As you can see, these are relatively large increases on a percentage basis.

Sadly, it’s an even worse story for first-class award flights on American and Alaska.

Zone (distance) Old first-class price (before Dec. 12, 2023) New first-class price (as of Dec. 13, 2023) % change
Zone 1 (up to 650 miles) 12,500 Avios 16,500 Avios 32%
Zone 2 (651 – 1,151 miles) 16,500 Avios 20,500 Avios 24.2%
Zone 3 (1,152 – 2,000 miles) 22,000 Avios 29,000 Avios 32%
Zone 4 (2,001 – 3,000 miles) 38,750 Avios 42,000 Avios 8.4%

As noted previously, these rates now appear through the British Airways search engine.

For example, here’s a short-haul flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in the Bahamas in both economy and first class.

Here’s a one-way flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Denver International Airport (DEN) in both economy and first class.

Perhaps the biggest sweet spot being affected here is from the West Coast to Hawaii, which previously required just 13,000 Avios each way (or 26,000 Avios round-trip). Now, you’ll need to pony up 16,000 Avios for a one-way ticket in economy class.


It’s worth noting that we’re seeing the same increases reflected through Iberia Plus.

Our take on the changes

This is a very frustrating development, as using Avios for American- and Alaska-operated flights was previously a fantastic use of transferable credit card rewards. That’s because the British Airways Executive Club partners with most major currencies, including:

In addition, this was implemented with no notice whatsoever, so anyone saving up Avios for a specific redemption has suddenly seen the goalposts moved for their specific trip.

What’s interesting is that this comes on the heels of a similar change from another U.K. airline, as Virgin Atlantic updated award rates on many Delta-operated itineraries last week — and like BA, Virgin’s Flying Club loyalty program also partners with the major credit card programs.

Finally, it’s worth noting that British Airways Executive Club has become even more complicated than it was before, as the award rate you’ll pay is now all over the place — depending on the carrier, origin/destination, dates of travel and class of service. While some programs are taking steps to simplify complex award pricing, British Airways is going in a different direction.

Bottom line

British Airways has increased the number of Avios you need to book many Alaska- and American-operated award flights, specifically those covering up to 3,000 miles in distance. This means just about all domestic itineraries plus many short- to medium-haul international flights. This comes less than a week after Virgin Atlantic implemented similar pricing changes to many Delta award flights.

That said, it may still make sense to book these awards with Avios, especially if you’re short on American AAdvantage or Alaska Mileage Plan miles. We frequently see transfer bonuses from issuers like Amex and Chase to Avios, so these redemptions can still be a great option. They’re just not as lucrative as they were before.