Is British Airways Avios the new “SkyPeso”? BA is killing their loyalty program!

I’ve been searching tirelessly for a trip next Summer to Italy. BA is wanting $2400 USD for a Companion Pass Award ticket for two…in business…AND 118,000 miles…?!? Really British Airways, really??

This was for:
6/19 Houston – London – Milan (arrive 17th, but really wanted Venice)
6/29 Rome to London
7/3 London to Houston (because the 3rd was the earliest flight available back home).

Ok…so $2400 to use 118,000 BA Avios miles in business. What about just buying a revenue-generating ticket outright and earning miles? Would the cost be much more than this…?

Well, let’s take a look. Below is the EXACT itinerary I want on the EXACT dates I want to fly in coach (ok, so no lie-flat seats, but I get the dates & cities I want). The price…$2958.20! Actually $2908.20 because I get a $50 credit using the BA Visa. So for $524.34 I could just buy the flights I want AND earn a bunch of (what is apparently useless) Avios points along the way (albeit buying coach…but hey, money is money and miles are miles).

Spending $2400 for business when I could simply buy coach for $2900 is a hard justification for 9hrs of lie-flat seats, a better meal and a few hours of club access.
Plus if I go the redemption route, I would have to shell out more money for 4 extra hotel nights, 5 days of food & sightseeing/transfer costs (in expensive London, no less) that I don’t really need because the only award flight back is on the 3rd (I want to return on the 29th).

A quick comparison on United for the exact itinerary I want shows coach going & business returning for 160,000 miles and only $162 in taxes and fees. Ouch. So I’m burning more miles to save money, but I do get the cities I want AND the exact dates I want. And 1/2 the flights are in business (and on the much longer return flights). Hmmm.

How can BA justify their Avios award costs compared to Star Alliance award costs? The same United/Lufthansa flights were the same price to purchase as the BA ones above ($3K), but $3K versus $162 is a HUGE difference in cost. This simply cannot be a sustainable reward solution for Avios if they want to compete with other award programs or they will kill their loyalty program.

Maybe I should start using my United Club Visa more – that’s 1.5 miles per dollar…hmm.

Something has to be done to Avios Award Redemptions quickly, or the program will die a slow death IMO.

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