British Airways Is Changing How Customers Earn Avios

If you’re a frequent or occasional British Airways flyer, heads up. Changes are on the way that will affect how travelers earn Avios, the airline’s loyalty points.

Starting this fall, the U.K.-based carrier will follow in the footsteps of numerous U.S. airlines in tying customers’ mileage earnings to how much money they spend instead of how far they fly. The changes will begin Oct. 18, affecting all flight reservations ticketed from that date forward.

As part of the shift, British Airways Executive Club members without elite status will earn 6 Avios per British pound spent on flights. Additionally, the airline will begin allowing flyers to earn Avios for ancillary purchases, like cabin upgrades, seat selection and checked bags.

However, the carrier is, notably, not making changes to how customers earn elite status or redeem Avios for flights.

Here’s a rundown of the changes and what they mean for your future British Airways travel.

How are Avios changing?

Currently, the price you pay for a ticket on British Airways has no bearing on how many Avios you earn. Avios earnings are based on the type of ticket you purchase and how far you fly.

For now, elite status members earn at a higher rate:

  • Bronze members earn 25% extra.

  • Silver members earn 50% extra.

  • Gold members earn 100% more.

New Avios formula

Under the new setup, Executive Club members will earn Avios based on how much they spent on their ticket, airline-imposed charges and add-on costs like seats and baggage.

Entry-level members without elite status will earn 6 Avios per British pound (at the time of writing, £1 equals roughly $1.30).

Elite status members will continue to earn at a higher rate, though not as high as before for some tiers. Here’s how it breaks down for flights sold by British Airways:

  • Executive Club Blue (non-elite) members: Earn 6 Avios per pound.

  • Executive Club Bronze: Earn 7 Avios per pound.

  • Executive Club Silver: Earn 8 Avios per pound.

  • Executive Club Gold: Earn 9 Avios per pound.

Currently, as a Gold member, you’d earn 100% more, or double. With the new formula, you’d actually earn only 50% more. If you purchase a ticket in another currency (such as U.S. dollars), the airline will determine your Avios earnings based on exchange rates at the time of purchase.

The new earning rates also apply to flights booked through Iberia, a Spanish airline that merged with British Airways. Instead of getting a certain number of Avios per pound, you’ll receive 6, 7, 8 or 9 Avios per euro.

Which flights are affected?

The changes to how customers earn Avios affect flights marketed by British Airways and Iberia, based in Spain.

That means it applies to flights reserved through British Airways’ and Iberia’s booking channels and credited to that member’s Avios account. Flights booked through British Airways’ airline partners (including Oneworld members) will continue to earn Avios based on distance flown.

If you book an American Airways-operated flight through British Airways, you will earn Avios based on how far you fly. If you book a flight on, say, American Airlines and your flight is operated by British Airways, these changes would have no bearing on how you earn AAdvantage miles.

What this means for British Airways surcharges

The short answer is, nothing.

Customers frequently bemoan the hefty surcharges faced even when booking award flights on British Airways. It can add hundreds of dollars to your bill on transatlantic flights to the United Kingdom.

For instance, a September 2023 award flight from Washington Dulles to London Heathrow booked via Oneworld partner American Airlines (but operated by British Airways) would cost 60,000 AAdvantage miles round trip, plus an eye-popping $656.45.

As part of the changes, customers can earn Avios on carrier-imposed surcharges for paid flights. They will not earn Avios for government-imposed fees and taxes on paid flights.

For award flights, British Airways members also will not earn Avios for any surcharges, fees or taxes incurred as part of award flights.

For an $827 round trip from New York to London, the member would calculate their Avios by deducting $256 in government-imposed taxes and fees.

That comes to around $571 — which converts to about £441. A non-elite member would earn 2,646 Avios for this flight under the new system.

No changes for redeeming Avios

Executive Club elite status qualification and the cost structure for redeeming Avios for flights will remain unchanged, the airline says.

So, if you were considering booking an award flight on British Airways or transferring credit card points to your Executive Club account, these changes likely won’t need to factor in to your decision.

Are Avios changes good or bad for customers?

Whether British Airways’ shift to a revenue-based model for Avios earnings helps or hurts customers depends on the flyer, the fare and the route.

In a statement announcing the changes, the carrier touted it as a way to “simplify the way we reward our Executive Club members.”

The airline also gave examples of how a member could earn more Avios thanks to the changes, including a £149 ($192) base fare flight from London to Nice, France, with a £14 ($18) add-on for seat selection.

The non-elite (Blue) flyer would earn 978 Avios under the new earning structure instead of 648 Avios under the existing method.

Executive Club members who spend a lot on premium cabins or last-minute flights could benefit, especially if they usually fly only short distances.

Customers who find a heavily discounted long-haul ticket might miss out because fewer dollars spent will now translate to fewer Avios earned. Previously, distance and cabin were the only factors, so you could reap the benefits of a cheap fare while earning as many Avios as a pricier ticket.

Also, top-tier Executive Club Gold members won’t see as significant of an earnings boost. Currently, Gold members earn 100% more Avios compared with non-elite (Blue) members. Now, they’ll earn 9 Avios per pound spent instead of 6 — just a 50% spike.

In short, big spenders with British Airways should be able to earn more Avios, while occasional flyers who found a cheap flight will likely earn fewer Avios.

(Top photo courtesy of British Airways)

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