The Chase British Airways Card, Avios Points and flying British Airways
October 16, 2012
When I started traveling and doing business overseas, I knew right away that I would have a hernia over paying stupid fees like foreign transaction fees. No sirree, traveling and traveling for work may appear to be a fun “perk” to some but no way am I paying what I consider stupid tax for the privilege – nope.
Preparing for the trip to Thailand had me thinking on the BA card, ruing having missed the better bonus offer, then had the premium offer offfered when I needed to book another ticket so I figured that it’d be worth the exchange of an annual fee ($75) for the cost of a ticket. I kept that card for a year longer than I had originally planned, racked up another ticket’s worth of point so we’re now at about 120K points, paid another $75, and I’m thinking about canceling the card once I confirm I have another Chase card in the wings that serves the no-foreign-transaction-fee purpose.
Having flown BA a couple of times, I’d call the service is middling-fair. I’ve always been economy class and don’t expect much from the cattle-prod section. The food’s been nearly edible, the seats are sittable and you can generally get some rest even despite the lights-on-lights-off acts.
The thing that infuriates me, however, is the discovery that my points may well be worthless for the very reason I earned them. The point of earning mileage points and paying the fersnicken annual fees was to redeem for two free flights with a modest fee attached.
Would you believe that a search for two seats on a reward flight to London out of a local international airport costs 100K points and nearly $1400 each?!
For the same itinerary, the same cash would buy 70% of the seats. It’ll cost another $675 to buy the rest of the two tickets.
It seems I might as well save my reward points and upgrade, because why waste that many reward points and pay the majority of the price to get exactly the same seats? If I’m going to burn points and cash, I had better be getting something of value, hadn’t I?
Needless to say, this had made me incredibly cranky and though I was willing to be persuaded into keeping this card long-term as a secondary card, carrying an annual fee though it does, this ridiculous scheme firmly set my mind against keeping it. Though the service provided by some of the major domestic carriers is subpar, I will say that redeeming rewards from them has always been reasonable as long as the flights were available. Most times, if it wasn’t at the last minute, they were available.
Of the domestic carriers I use most frequently, only United has implemented a tiered fee schedule that charges higher fees for late bookings or changes to the itinerary, close in to the departure date. The highest fee is $150 per ticket to change a booked flight, which is fairly high but doesn’t touch the egregious fees of British Airways just to book.
Eventually, I’ll get around to making a decision on these points: either we’ll use the points to book some domestic flights at much lower fees or I’ll save them for a really nice upgrade when we have the time and money to travel for a little while.
What would you do?