Suspension of the Rules: Burn Your Avios for Any Upcoming AA flights NOW.

Update: It seems that the sky is not falling.  The info about a BA devaluation seems to be not true, but still this is as good a reminder as any for us to avoid hoarding miles.

Just a quick post this Sunday, since you might have missed the news.  Iberia posted a new award chart for flights on AA metal. As you know using avios for direct AA flights is something I enjoy greatly here on Milenomics.

Iberia’s program shares the name avios with British Airways’ program. For the moment BA’s still pricing their AA flights at old levels:

Avios Tiers--note the
Avios Tiers–note the

A Few hours ago on Twitter @FreequentFlyr noticed the pricing for Iberia Avios jumped to crazy levels:

@KennyBSAT who writes Miles4More then found the following chart:


which shows prices more than TRIPLED for some flights. A 600-650 mile flight which cost 9,000 miles round trip prior to today now costs 30,000 miles.

What You Should Do RIGHT NOW

If you’re holding a ton of Iberia Avios, transfer them to British airways and book as many AA flights as you can right now.  You can cancel AA Flights without a penalty, and your avios will be returned nearly immediately. Should this turn out to be nothing more than a mistake your avios will be returned and you’d only be out the $5.60 or so in security fees for cancelled AA flights.

Pull up your demand Schedule and find any upcoming flights you can book with avios. Your goal should be to get your avios as close to this as possible:

Simon BA Avios

I would book (and I did) everything you possibly can think you might need right now.  You can cancel these flights later if plans change. For now the safest way to make sure that a possible devaluation doesn’t affect you is to book onto AA flights, and let BA hold your avios on loan for a short while.  In return they’ll issue you tickets, which you can use to fly on AA flights. Again, if you decide not to use the flights, or the price of Avios redemptions does not go up simply cancel (do not change, cancel) these bookings and your Avios will return to you, less your government sponsored segment taxes.

This could be a glimpse into the “no-knock devaluations” that airlines love to spring on their loyal customers. If this ideed is such a devaluation you have precious little time to book at the old prices on

If tomorrow the sky does indeed fall, and BA matches Iberia’s pricing you’ll have confirmed flights at the old price. If nothing comes of this feel free to cancel your Avios bookings and return your Avios to your account where they can still be of use.  Let’s hope this is some kind of mistake, but if it isn’t the best course of action for AA flights with avios is to book them now.

Edit to add: Reader Ming asked if US Airways flights can also be cancelled without a penalty besides the taxes on the ticket. The answer appears to be yes, so you should consider booking US airways flights as well as AA Flights.

About the author

- Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I'll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.


    1. Ming: Yes, according to this thread on Flyertalk: “BA charges $55 to cancel or change a ticket. However, if you cancel online, your cost is capped at the amount of taxes/TSA fees paid; for domestic itineraries on US, this will normally be much less than $55. (This workaround does not apply to changing a ticket online, which will incur the full $55 fee.) You must cancel one day in advance to get the Avios redeposited.”

      Thanks for asking the question, I completely forgot about US Flights, and will update the post!

  1. Worst-case scenario, if this devaluation does happen, it seems like this is only on AA flights. Would it still be possible to redeem Avios for flights on other One World partners or Alaska Airlines at the old level? If so, then there would be no rush to burn through Avios.

    1. If BA were to mirror IB, it would affect redemptions on all but BA, IB, and maybe some other small European partners. IB’s devaluation hit all partners but BA, IB, IG and VY. Not just AA and US: Gol, Royal Air Maroc and other non-oneworld partners now all have the same chart when booking with IB Avios. It’s actually not terrible for some longer distance itineraries as it appears to have taken away the one-segment-at-a-time pricing.

    2. Brandon: No one could possibly have definitive answers to those questions, but you do bring up good suggestions. I’d still suggest booking anything you know you need just in case…the potential downside is just too large while the $$ cost to book (and subsequently cancel) is so low.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. I had a flight on my demand schedule that I had booked the outbound the other night and was watching the inbound for space on AA metal, needed 3 only 2 showing. I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the 2 tonight and I’ll figure it out later if need be.

    1. Smart move Scott, 2 out of 3 is better than non. As I said I hope we’re all wrong and this is just an Iberia change only, but better safe than sorry.

  3. Saw it on Twitter too but I didn’t do anything until I saw your post. That got me moving; thanks.

    I am also happy that I had booked two trips with Avios in the ast fews months, so I knew the drill and could move quickly. The first time around it took me much longer!

    I went ahead and booked a one way, using 22,500 Avios for a First seat on US, something I’d not have done except for the possible devaluation. But there was very limited availability, I have a lot of UR points, and I can always cancel if something better comes along.

    Thanks, Sam! Much appreciated. I wouldn’t be where I am without Milenomics!

    1. Thanks Evthu. I’m torn as to pulling the post down. I don’t much like to remove posts, even though it seems I was (happily) wrong on this one. There’s something to be said for leaving up all posts. I’ve added some wording in the intro to the post. I have always advocated spending your miles, rather than holding them, and continue to stand by that assertion. Booking whatever you have coming up is a good idea, devaluation or no devaluation.

  4. Phew! Thanks for posting this. I know I caught it a little late, but amazingly I was able to burn all my Avios at the OLD rates!

    Seriously though… Even if you are leaving this post up, how about some new content so we don’t have to see this everytime we check your site?

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