For several months, British Airways had been alluding coyly to upcoming changes to the Executive Club program, suggesting that program members could look forward to enhancements to the program.
Frequent flyers have learned the hard way that "enhancement" usually turns out to be code for devaluation.
That suspicion was confirmed with yesterday's announcement detailing the program's new earning currency and award pricing.
No More Miles
Instead of miles, Executive Club members will henceforth earn Avios. And miles already earned will be converted to Avios as well. No more miles.
Verdict: more silly than serious. No doubt British Airways' marketing staff think this will differentiate the program from the competition. If so, it won't be in a good way—Avios are already being called Adios.
New Award Pricing
Award chart, what award chart? Instead there's an award calculator. And it calculates by flight sector—no more free stopovers.
While some award flights are now cheaper (shorter flights in general, intra-Europe flights, U.S. gateway flights to London), U.S. members flying beyond London, or from non-gateway cities, will pay more.
Verdict: In its pre-launch communications, British Airways claimed that award prices on "97% of our routes" would be cheaper. That's absolutely not the case. Depending on the route, many Executive Club members traveling from the U.S. will pay more, making their miles worth less.
Subverting the old marketing maxim, British Airways has overpromised ("enhancements" and all that implies) and under-delivered (higher award prices for many U.S. members).
Verdict: The communication of these changes—which affect the value of so many members' miles—was handled in a manner best characterized as either stealthy or downright underhanded, depending on the degree of your affection for British Airways and your tolerance for misstatement and obfuscation.
That's not just a quibble with a tactical misstep. Such a profound lapse is indicative of a company mindset seriously out of touch with its members, and bodes ill for Executive Club's future.
Reader Reality Check
What's your take on the revised Executive Club program? Will you be a more or less active member of the program in the future?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.