Starting November 1st, British Airways is changing the name of its Executive Club frequent flyer program to Avios (see details here).
The biggest change for folks in the US is that coach flights to London from the East Coast and Midwest are now only 40,000 miles round trip (plus ridiculous fuel surcharges) rather than 50,000 miles. World Traveller Plus is 60,000 miles, Business Class is 80,000 miles (down from 100,000) and First Class is 120,000 miles (down from 150,000).
They’re basically now dividing the world into Zones, rather than by country (for example, Los Angeles and New York are now in different zones, which is why flights to London will be 50,000 miles from LA and 40,000 from New York). Unfortunately, BA hasn’t published a chart of what areas/countries are in what zone. Israel, for example, has moved so that it now costs 25,000 miles round trip from Israel to London instead of 20,000. Cyprus, Mauritius and Kosovo, for example, have also become more expensive (see details, such as they are, here).
On the other hand, flights to Hong Kong, Tokyo and Cairo have become less expensive (see here again).
They’ll also allow you to pay for hotels and car rentals with points starting in November.
Finally, they’re changing short-haul intra-Europe awards so there’s a co-pay of 27 Euro or 27 Pounds in addition to the 9000/15000/20000 miles required.
Spending BA points on BA has always been an expensive proposition because of the fuel surcharges, so while these changes are a mixed bag (though for those of us on the East Coast, it’s nice to have fewer miles required for London trips), the surcharges make it a poor use of miles anyway (you’re better off using BA miles on AA flights in Latin America or on LAN).
(UPDATE: BA has released some additional information here, and the bad news is that their partner award chart will be going away, which means we can kiss goodbye cheap redemptions on LAN and Cathay Pacific. Gary has some additional detail here.)