British Airways Executive Club devalues Cathay Pacific and JAL awards without notice

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Short-haul Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines awards now cost up to 52% more Avios, as BA tightens the noose on redemptions.

British Airways Executive Club has historically been the go-to program for short-haul redemptions, but unfortunately, prices have inching ever upwards in recent times. 

Oops I did it again- British Airways hikes award costs without notice

In May 2019, the cost of short-haul awards were increased by up to 33%, and then in March 2021, British Airways hiked the cost of short-haul redemptions on BA metal without any notice.

And now they’ve done it again. Earlier this week, FlyForMiles and milespig spotted that BA had hiked the price for short-haul redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, once more without notice. While the initial hope was that this was just a pricing glitch, FlyerTalk user Raffles (from Head For Points) confirmed with British Airways that it’s a feature, not a bug. 

Executive Club devalues Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines awards

Fifth-freedom CX flights between SIN and BKK will now cost 50% more in Business Class

Effective immediately, short-haul Avios redemptions for Cathay Pacific (CX) and Japan Airlines (JL) flights have increased as follows:

Zone
(Miles)
Economy
Business
CXJLCXJL
Zone 1
(1-650)
6,000
7,500
6,000
7,500
12,500
16,000
12,500
Zone 2
(651- 1,150)
9,000
10,000
9,000
10,000
16,500
25,000
16,500
24,000
Zone 3
(1,151- 2,000)
11,00011,00022,000
25,000
22,000
24,000

The good news, if you can call it that, is some combinations appear to be untouched. Japan Airlines Zone 1 Business Class redemptions cost the same 12,500 miles as before. 

Likewise, Zone 3 Economy Class redemptions on Japan Airlines and Cathay price the same as before at 11,000 miles. 

Apart from that though, it’s all bad.  Award costs have increased from 9% to 52%, with the biggest hike coming for Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines Business Class awards in Zone 2 (16,500 → 25,000/24,000 miles). 

Zone 2 (651-1,150 miles) & Zone 3 (1,151-2,000 miles) have been effectively merged into one category for Business Class awards, and it’ll now cost you the same number of miles to fly with Cathay from SIN-BKK as it would SIN-HKG. 

As much as I enjoy the Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 4 (whenever it reopens), I’m not about to pay 25,000 miles (plus fuel surcharges) for a one-way SIN-BKK award when the same route costs 21,500 miles (and no fuel surcharges) with KrisFlyer. 

Domestic flights on Japan Airlines are still good value…just not great value

The intra-Japan domestic travel sweet spot is still there, but it’s dying a death of a thousand cuts. Before June 2019, one-way Economy awards cost between 4,500 to 7,500 miles. That subsequently increased to 6,000 to 9,000 miles, and now it’s 7,500 to 10,000 miles. 

True, it’s still better than redeeming KrisFlyer miles on ANA (12,500 miles flat rate), but the difference is much less meaningful now and I’d tend to book based on schedule rather than cost. 

What Avios sweet spots remain?

With the latest changes, here’s what the overall Avios award chart for partner redemptions looks like. 

✈️ Avios Award Chart
Zone
(Miles)
EconomyBusinessFirst
Zone 1
(1-650)*
6K
(CX, JL: 7.5K)
12.5K
(CX: 16K)
24K
Zone 2
(651-1,150)
9K
(CX, JL: 10K)
16.5K
(CX: 25K, JL: 24K)
33K
Zone 3
(1,151-2,000)
11K22K
(CX: 25K, JL: 24K)
44K
Zone 4
(2,001-3,000)
13K38.75K51.5K
Zone 5
(3,001-4,000)
20.75K62K82.5K
Zone 6
(4,001-5,500)
25.75K77.25K103K
Zone 7
(5,501-6,500)
31K92.75K123.75K
Zone 8
(6,501-7,000)
36.25K108.25K144.25k
Zone 9
(7,001+)
51.5K154.5K206K
*Does not apply to flights within North America, where flights from 1-1,150 miles price at Zone 2 prices

It speaks volumes about how good Avios was for short-haul awards that even after this many devaluations, there’s still a few sweet spots left. 

✈️ One-way Economy Class Awards
 AviosKrisFlyer
Singapore to K.L
6,000 miles
(MH)
7,500 miles
(SQ)
Singapore to Colombo
11,000 miles
(UL)
18,500 miles
(SQ)
Singapore to Perth
13,000 miles
(QF)
20,000 miles
(SQ)
Intra-Europe From 4,750 miles
(BA, EI, IB)
12,500 miles
(*A partners)
Intra-Australia/ Trans-TasmanFrom 6,000 miles
(QF)
From 11,000 miles
(VA)
Note: SQ flights do not have fuel surcharges, but most of the other airlines here do. Since we’re looking at short-haul routes, these shouldn’t be substantial.

Of course, this is all contingent on finding award space. Qantas releases very few seats to partners on the Singapore to Australia routes, but award space for intra-Europe travel is abundant. 

Here’s a few key things to know about Avios:

  • Refunds and changes to Avios award tickets cost S$69 each, although the maximum fee is capped at the amount of taxes paid (e.g. if you opt to refund a ticket with S$15 of taxes, you’ll simply forfeit the S$15 with no further charges)
  • Avios pricing works on a segment by segment basis, not overall distance. For example, a SIN-KUL-REP flight (SIN-KUL= 184 miles, KUL-REP= 747 miles, total distance: 931 miles) would cost 6K+9K=15K miles in total, not 9K miles. For this reason, you should always look for direct flights
  • Avios follow an activity-based expiry policy, and you get a 36-month extension every time you earn or redeem at least one mile

Conclusion

Unannounced devaluations are poor form for any loyalty program, but British Airways apparently didn’t get the memo. It’s another reason not to hold any significant stash of Avios and keep your points on the credit card side as long as possible.

There’s still some good value redemptions to be found, but for how long?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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LANY

Strange time to be devalue award charts for short trips in Asia since there aren’t any and won’t be any for possibly a year or more, perhaps this was part of a broader devaluation.

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