British Airways’ points system is called Executive Club and their points are called Avios. British Airways currently uses a distance-based award program, but they are expected to change to a revenue-based award program (points are tied closely to cash price) sometime in late 2018.
Good Things About British Airways
Short-Haul Flights– British Airways’s distance based award chart is great for expensive short direct flights. For example, a roundtrip economy flight from Hong Kong to Okinawa non-stop is $922. You can book that same flight for 15,000 points + $41.79. That’s an amazing value. Use Google Flight’s explore feature if you want to find cheap direct flights from one of their partner’s hubs.
Many Transfer Partners– You can transfer from American Express, Chase, Marriott, or Iberia Airlines. American Express also tends to offer one transfer bonus per year. Additonally, you can transfer Avios to or from Iberia or Aer Lingus.
Reasonable Cancel Fees in the U.S.– If you book a domestic award on Alaska or American, you can cancel your award for only $5.60 each way. So if you need flexibility, you might try an award using British Airways.
Bad Things About British Airways
Upcoming Changes: British Airways plans to switch from a distance-based award redemption program to a revenue-based award redemption program. Under a revenue-based system, the cost of an award is tied directly to the cash price of the ticket. Currently, you can get some great deals under the distance-based system, so moving to a revenue-based system will devalue the value of your points.
Awards are priced per segment– If you need to a connecting flight to get to your destination, British Airways will price your award for each segment. For U.S. domestic travel, favors those people who live in a hub city for American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. If you live in a non-hub city, you will likely pay an extra 7,500 points each way in economy. You can use this tool to calculate the number of points.
Long-Haul Flights– British Airways has a distance based award chart. Short-hauls direct flights offer very good values, but long-haul flights are very expensive compared to other points programs, especially if you need to connect somewhere.
Absurd Fuel Surcharges– If you want to use points to fly on British Airways, you could pay hundreds or thousands in fuel surcharges. For example, a round-trip flight from Miami to London in roundtrip business class would cost 125,000 points plus about $1,400 in taxes and fuel surcharges (only $1,100 if you book two one-way). Therefore, it is best to use points on BA’s low fuel surcharge partners.
Outdated Cabins- British Airways was the first to offer lie-flat business, but they failed to innovate past that point. Their widebody jets are in need of a major renovation in all classes of service, so I would avoid flying in business class on BA.
British Airways Information
IAG Airlines: British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, LEVEL, and Vueling.
Alliance: One World
Hubs: London (LHR)
North America Routes to London (LHR): Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Calgary, Charleston (SC), Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami (MIA), Mexico City, Montreal, Nashville, New Orleans, New York (JFK and EWR), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington D.C. (IAD).
North America Routes to London (LGW): Cancun, Las Vegas, New York (JFK), Orlando, and Tampa.
Other Routes: New York (JFK) to London (LCY); New York (JFK or EWR) to Paris (ORY)
Seat Maps by Plane: SeatGuru
Discounts: AARP ($65 off economy and $200 of Business)
Phone Number: 1-800-452-1201
Points Expiration: 36 months from inactivity
Points Pooling: You can create a household account where up to seven family members living in the same address may join.
More Information: British Airways’ Wikipedia Page