Hurrah. You’ve done so much travelling recently you’ve amassed a great pile of Avios points. So now you can afford a free long haul holiday somewhere. Well, only if you book it before the summer, because the International Airlines Group (AIG), has just announced that its closing the Avios frequent flyer programme down then.
Panic over, it’s not the entire currency they’re closing, just the travel reward scheme with all existing scheme members’ points being transferred to BA’s Executive Club.
So that’s all right then. Or is it? Airlines make a great play about their loyalty schemes but then seem to tinker with them at will. And the airline’s reasons for closing this scheme seems a bit, well, flimsy. According to an Avios spokeman, Chris Treadwell, he 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”. In which case, why do it?
In fact, the the reasons do seem to stack up. Members will be able to earn points on more airlines; they’re currently restricted to a handful including Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia, whereas BA’s rewards scheme will expand these to include partner airlines such as American Airlines, Qantas and Qatar Airways. They also point out that the BA rewards scheme covers 60,000 more partner hotels and 50,000 sightseeing experiences as compared to the Avios scheme.
Points collected on credit cards will continue to be accrued and these will simply be moved across to a new BA Executive Club. Or, of course, you could just opt out.
We’d be intrigued to know how much IAG has spent on tinkering with its various loyalty programmes and whether they justify the investment. The original Avios frequent-flyer programme was created from a merger between Air Miles (remember those?), BA Miles (ditto?) and Iberia Plus Points schemes in 2011. And it was further restructured again just four years later in 2015 when all of IAG’s affiliated loyalty programmes were transferred to a dedicated IAG subsidiary called Avios Group.
Perhaps when things get too confusing it’s best to just give up.