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Exclusive: BA Executive Club, Iberia Plus and Airmiles loyalty programme changes

Originally published on businesstraveller.com 01/09/2011 - Filed under: News »

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British Airways has announced significant changes to its loyalty programme, BA Executive Club. Starting from November 16, Airmiles, Iberia Plus and the BA Exec Executive Club members will earn Avios points.

Speaking exclusively to Business Traveller, Andrew Swaffield, managing director of the Mileage Company which runs the Airmiles programme and manages the BA Executive Club and Iberia Plus programmes said that the intention of the new programme was to “create a new shared global reward currency to provide benefits for all three members.”

Airmiles customers will see the biggest change, not only seeing their programme name change to Avios, but also having to pay redemption fees for their flights, something which until now they had escaped.

For BA Executive Club members, a welcome change is the introduction of a flat fee for European flight in zones one to three on a new nine-zone map for redemption bookings (reaching as far as Moscow) of £27 or Euros27 (the currency depending on the location of the member of the programme).

Swaffield estimated an average taxes charge being around £90 for these flights at present, and said that this new Rewards Flight Saver product had been as a result of feedback from BA Exec Club members.

“Our customers have been telling us that European redemptions are very popular, but with the taxes fees and charges it has become poorer value to redeem their miles on European flights. We wanted to make it more attractive to do so.”

It should be noted that this is for “regular collectors”, the definition of which seems to be those who have earned points in the previous 12 months. For all others, taxes, fees and charges will apply to all zones regardless of distance.

The name Avios, which “means nothing” according to Swaffield, was chosen because it was “easy to pronounce, scalable, international and would work around the world, yet also hinted at aviation and travel.”

A one-way fare using Avios to zones one to three will pay £13.50 (BA Executive Club and Airmiles members). For all flights over 2,000 miles (zones four to nine) customers will pay the fare with Avios and the airline taxes, fees and charges separately in cash.

The other major change for BA Exec Club members is that from November 16 they can redeem their Avios points for hotels and car rental, as well as flights.

Less welcome will be the new fee of £25 for members when they want to make changes for redemption bookings. Swaffield said this was in part to stop some members from holding multiple bookings.

Exact details of the new redemption zones has yet to be released, but Swaffield said that New York is going down to 40,000 from 50,000 for economy bookings, with an upper range of 100,000 for zone 9, as today.

“BA Exec Club members will recognise the starting price for redemptions of 9000 and 100,000 as they are today, Swaffield said. For redemptions in zones 4 to 9 they will also recognise the taxes and fees which will remains as they are at present.

What’s notable about the announcement is what remains the same for BA Exec and Iberia Plus members. All three programmes remain separate: Avios will replace Air Miles, but BA Exec Club and Iberia Plus remain as three distinct programmes “... keeping their brands and heritage which has  value for the airlines which have different customer bases”.

Tier points will remain as today, giving status and recognition in the programme.

Silver card members will continue to have lounge access. Miles – soon-to-be-points - will be good for upgrades. Airmiles members (soon to be Avios members) will get the opportunity to earn Avios when they buy an airline ticket for money, “...and this will extend to Oneworld over time”.

Avios members will not, however, earn tier points. Anyone wanting to earn status would have to join one of the airline programmes.

Swaffield believes that customers will make the choice of whether to be an Avios customer and earn and spend on a range of options such as Eurostar journeys, hotel accommodation, UK days out at LegoLand, Alton Towers and spa and golf breaks, or one of the frequent flyer programme which will concentrate their efforts on flights, albeit with the addition of hotels and car rentals now being options for burning points.

Between the three programmes there are 5.5 million active members (ie: those who have earned points or miles in the previous 12 months). For those who have both Airmiles accounts and BA Exec Club accounts, here will also be the option of combining multiple accounts for redemptions. Air Miles members will see all their air miles being multiplied by 10 on November 16 to create parity.

In other news:

  • the BA Amex card is being retained, as is the companion voucher and ability to earn miles – soon to be points – from spend.
  • Airmiles customers can now use Avios for one-way flights or to mix and match the airports they fly to and from, e.g. into New York JFK and back from Boston
  • The removal of the regional flight supplement for Airmiles customers
  • Taxes, fees and surcharges, which are currently included in bookings made using Airmiles will be charged separately in cash for flights to all zones. Airmiles customers can continue to book under the current terms until December 15, 2011.

Visit ba.comairmiles.co.uk/aviosavios.com, and click here to have your say on the changes on our forum.

Report by Tom Otley

NB: notes for Airmiles customers

Avios annual collection example 

Grocery shopping

£150 per month

7200 Avios per year

Petrol

100 litres per month

600 Avios per year

Credit card spend

£500 per month

6000 Avios per year

Online shopping

£100 per month

2400 Avios per year

NEW: Air travel spend in cash

1 return flight in a year

1000 Avios per year

Total

17,200 Avios per year

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COMMENTS » 

NigelHuggins - 01/09/2011 09:52

So BRITISH airways equate £1 to 1Euro do they??? It could only happen in little britain that the national airline deals its home population customer base a financial disservice! You really can't imagine this happening in ANY other country can you?

BTW after parity for BA miles and airmiles in November, does anyone know if "useless" airmiles can be transferred to BA miles?

mccann85 - 01/09/2011 23:09

@NigelHuggins if you bothered to read it fully you would have seen

"For those who have both Airmiles accounts and BA Exec Club accounts, here will also be the option of combining multiple accounts for redemptions. Air Miles members will see all their air miles being multiplied by 10 on November 16 to create parity."

Cdavies001 - 01/09/2011 23:20

Living much of the year in the US we participate in m at FF programs. With other US airlines we are pretty much able to use miles when we need to. Somehow over the years, we seldom see an opportunity to buy reward seats, and when we do, the dreaded 'taxes and fees' are often close to the price of a discounted fare elsewhere.
Overal, must be summed up as a poor program to date because of this.
Chris

VintageKrug - 02/09/2011 02:37

Nigel: BA Miles and AirMiles will not "have parity".

You will receive 10 Avios points (the new name for BA Miles) for every AirMile you hold on the transfer date in mid November.

IvorLevene1 - 04/09/2011 16:35

will Lloyds Duo mastercard continue to partner Airmiles/Avios?

gritzray - 07/09/2011 11:39

We have airmiles with iberia plus....can we use them at LEGOLAND, if so, how do we do that?

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