After British Airways CEO Alex Cruz hinted at a major shake-up of the Avios loyalty scheme towards the end of 2018, it looks like the first step in that change has come. At the beginning of April Avios announced that the Avios Travel Reward Programme is closing and customer accounts will be transferred to British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) accounts by this summer. If you’re wondering what that actually means for Avios customers, we’ve pulled together the relevant information to answer your questions.
First things first, should I be worried about this change?
In a word, no. The Avios currency will remain and customers have been told they will still be able to collect and spend Avios in the same way, although there will be some partners that customers will no longer be able to collect Avios with once they move over to the BAEC (which partners has yet to be announced).
Avios commercial director Chris Treadwell said: “This move is good news for members. Outwardly there will be very little change for them other than their Avios will have a new home.
“However, they will also enjoy all the advantages that being a British Airways Executive Club Member offers including a smoother online experience, even more ways to collect and spend Avios, plus the tier benefits.
“This consolidation will improve collection and spending opportunities, simplify the customer experience and be more attractive to current and future Avios partners.
“Our business is centred on creating a world-class loyalty currency and this move will enable us to focus on enhancing airline loyalty programmes and developing new partnerships for them and any new programmes we bring on board.”
Will I still be able to spend and collect Avios in the same way?
At the moment, yes but Avios will be credited to your new BAEC account once it has been transferred. For example, if you auto collect with Tesco your Avios will simply go into your new BAEC account. Or if you collect Avios with your Lloyds Avios credit card or TSB Avios credit card your Avios will be awarded to your BAEC account.
The key change is that you will log in to the BA website, not the Avios website once the transfer has taken place.
Do I need to do anything?
Avios has advised that they will be making all the changes themselves so you don’t need to do anything.
If you have both a BAEC account and an Avios account, your Avios account will be closed and your Avios will be moved to your BAEC account. If you want to, you can move your Avios points across now instead of waiting for Avios to do it for you. If you do this there is no need to cancel your Avios account, it will be closed as part of the move.
If you only have an Avios account, your Avios account will be closed and a BAEC account will be set up for you and the details posted to you. This could happen at any time from the end of May to the end of July.
If you would rather not have a BAEC account, you can choose to opt out but will need to do so by the 20th May. The key thing to be aware of is that you will need to spend your Avios within 6 months of opting out. After 6 months, any unspent Avios will no longer be available.
What if I am an existing member of another airline programme where Avios is the currency?
What shall I do if I have more than one UK Avios Travel Rewards Programme account?
Will my Avios be worth the same as they are now?
Without any further details on the big shake up Alex Cruz alluded to in an interview with South China Morning Post newspaper (which was also published on the frequent flyer website Head for Points) in March, we can’t help but think this is the start of the changes (although BA have not confirmed this). So whilst there is no real impact on customers at the moment, it remains to be seen what could change in the future. In the interview, Alex talks about a model where Avios could be interchangeably used with money, getting rid of the model of allocating specific ‘Avios’ seats. The current model can be incredibly stressful for customers and if you want to travel using your Avios in peak periods, often you need to log on at midnight 355 days before you want to travel. A move to a more flexible model would be a big change for BA and a seemingly positive one for customers, although logic says there would be a payoff somewhere for a model of this kind where revenue would be so interlinked with Avios.
For more information on this change, please go to the Avios website.