The Death of the 4,500 Avios Award in North America

Some five years ago when the Avios program was introduced it caused a shift in the mindset around award redemption value. Suddenly short trips became the vogue award option, cashing in just a few points for a (theoretically) expensive, short flight. And the value proposition was pretty good in many cases. Only 4,500 points for a flight from New York to Toronto or Montreal was a great deal. Ditto for flights from Miami to Cancun, Grand Cayman or the Bahamas. Alas, some 90 days from now those awards are no more.


Effective 2 February 2016 the price for redemptions on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines operated flights will come with a new floor of 7,500 points. From the BA announcement of the change:

The change will only affect shorter routes on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, with reward flights now starting from 7,500 Avios, rather than 4,500 Avios, plus taxes, fees and carrier charges from $5.60 USD. The majority of North American reward flight prices will remain unchanged.

Based on the data I have in my Avios Calculator it appears that there are just shy of 500 one-way routes in North America which price at 4,500 points today (which is way more than I thought it would be before running that query this morning) and just over 500 one-way routes in North America which price above 4,500 today. It is almost an even split but technically just over half are not 4,500 point awards.

New Avios North America rates take effect on 2 February 2016
New Avios North America rates take effect on 2 February 2016

And, while the 67% price jump is bad, consider the plight of those who thought it a worthwhile real to redeem for first class on those routes. In just a few short months the price will have increased from 13,500 to 30,000 Avios. That’s a mighty painful bump. Though also generally a questionable value proposition in the first place.

Also, for the truly “sweet spot” routes this price increase is unfortunate but not completely egregious. Which is to say that 4,500 is clearly a better rate than 7,500 but when it is a $200+ ticket as many of the short international routes are that’s still a very good value proposition for the redemption. So, yeah, less good than it was but still not too shabby in many cases where it was once spectacular.

Also worth noting that there will still be 4,500 Avios awards available, just not in North America. Europe and the Middle East dominate the remaining awards while South East Asia and South America are also still represented.

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. On AA flights to Canada, First class was coded as “Business, so it used to cost only 9,000 points which was a good deal when coach was unavailable.

  2. The good news for me, living and flying from COS, is only one route was available for 4,500 miles. Move up to the big city of Denver, and you lose 2 routes. Guess that’s why I’ve never really explored this option. Perhaps I could have used for positioning flights, etc. but have never had the need.

  3. Kinda inevitable given the sign-up bonuses they were offering in the USA although impacts on all of us.

  4. If they would only get rid of per-segment pricing, I’d see this as a logical adjustment. As it is, I’ll be going from hundreds of possible domestic routings where Avios are better than AA miles to just two – to ORD and DFW. And those barely count since if I’m not needing connection I’d probably fly Southwest to MDW or DAL anyway. This not only devalues Avios for me but also MR points, since that’s a transfer I often use.

Comments are closed.