Historically, British Airways Executive Club has been a great way to redeem for medium-haul flights on their partner airlines. Which is especially useful for redeeming flights on Cathay Pacific, with Business Class flights from 1150-2000 miles (enough to bring you to Singapore and Japan) costing only 20,000 miles (Avios), a much better deal compared to Cathay’s Asia Miles that charges 25,000 miles.
At the end of May, British Airways devalued their partner award chart. With ultra-short-haul flights taking a particular hit. However, the sweet spot remains for redemption for 1151-2000 miles (zone 3) and 2001-3000 miles (zone 4) flights. This is the new British Airways Partners Award Chart:
Despite the devaluation, I think British Airways Avios is still offering a great value redeeming short and medium haul flights. Especially for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, where their short and medium haul flights can be priced atrociously high.
My First Redemption After Devaluation
I made my first British Airways Partners Redemption today since the May 30th devaluation. I needed to book a last minute flight for my brother to travel to Beijing from Hong Kong for this evening (5th July). Since my brother has Oneworld status and is connecting in Hong Kong, I looked for Cathay tickets so he can use the lounge in Hong Kong. And boy the price is running wild:
I know this is the start of the summer holiday season in Hong Kong, but a one-way Economy Class flight to Beijing on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon selling at 4404HKD (565USD) is INSANE.
Even calculated as a half round-trip basis based on his expected date of return to Hong Kong, the prices are still extremely high at over 3300HKD (425USD) per segment in Economy Class. There is also the lack of flexibility in booking a round-trip fare.
British Airways websites do not show Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon award availability for flights within one-week. So I had to call their hotline to search for award space and book the flights.
The agent was beyond helpful and was able to find award space for the 11PM KA996 to Beijing, which is the exact flight that my brother needed to avoid an overnight connection in Hong Kong after his arrival in the evening.
How Much I Ended Up Paying
The agent quoted me the 11000 Avios redemption price, as well as 391HKD in taxes and surcharges. I was also able to get a phone booking fee waiver as the availability is not searchable online.
British Airways also offers a Cash+Avios option for redemption tickets, and I was offered the following options:
More often than not, British Airway’s Cash+Avios options offer a great value to “buy-back” the Avios you ought to spend on the redemption. I personally value British Airways Avios acquired at under 1.15 US cents (9.0HK cents) to be a good deal. So by choosing the “4400 Avios+911HKD” option, I am practically buying 6600 Avios for 520HKD (minus the 391HKD tax), which equates to an acquisition cost of exactly 1 US cent (7.8HK cents) per Avios. Hence, it was a no brainer for me to choose this option.
So in the end, I paid 4400 Avios plus 911HKD for a ticket that is selling for 4400HKD if paid by cash. My 4400 Avios in exchange for nearly 3500HKD of savings represents a value of 10.1 US cent (79.3HK cents) per Avios on my redemption. That is a fantastic value for redemption!
This may be an extreme case of last minute one-way bookings, but it does show the value that British Airways Avios is able to offer despite their recent devaluation.
Other opportunities also still exist too. For example, despite an increase of 2000 Avios each way, Zone 3 Business Class redemption continues to be the sweet spot. For example, you can redeem 44000 Avios and pay 880HKD in taxes for a roundtrip Business Class flight from Hong Kong to Singapore. Where this route has cash fares consistently priced at nearly 16,000HKD round-trip.
There are many ways to acquire British Airways Avios, many banks allow mileage transfer to British Airways. In Hong Kong there is CitiBank, Amex, Dah Sing, HSBC (Premier only) and a few others. There are also period offers online that sells Avios at a discount on sites like Groupon.