BA miles and Airmiles are now Avios

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On 15th November 2011 the BA miles and Airmiles program officially closed.

BA state that the reason for this is their merger with Iberia (forming the new International Airlines Group), and with Iberia’s frequent flyer program accumulating benefits at a different rate to BA’s, something needed to change. BA’s miles, the Airmiles scheme and Iberia’s Plus program have been rolled into a one new scheme called Avios.

Whether you’re talking about the new scheme or about the units of reward; about 1 Avios or lots of Avios, they’re all still called Avios!

All old Airmiles balances will be multiplied by ten and turned into Avios miles to bring them in line with the value attributed to the old BA miles. Points will be worth the same, regardless of which of the three programmes (including Iberia) passengers belong to.

Avios map

Avios works in a similar way to the old Airmiles scheme, except that under Avios, passengers redeeming points, (or Airmiles accumulated under the old scheme) will now have to pay the taxes and charges (like Air Passenger Duty APD). Under the old Airmiles scheme this wasn’t the case.

Many British Airways Executive Club Members and holders of Airmiles are very annoyed by this change. The period of grace which BA allowed for members of the old scheme to redeem Airmiles under the old rules has now ended. This means if you are seeking to redeem Airmiles for say a BA return flight to New York, you’ll potentially now have to pay around £300 in charges as well as the points / Airmiles / Avios you redeem.

There is some potential to cap charges if you’re a regular flyer. Avios call it “Reward Flight Saver” and it means if you collect a minimum of 1 Avios in the 12 months before booking a British Airways or Iberia flight from a UK to destinations in Zones 1, 2 or 3, you only have to pay the fare (in Avios) plus £27 per person return in economy (or if applicable £30 for World Traveller Plus, £34 for Business Class and £40 for First Class). The Avios scheme will settle the balance of the taxes and charges.

Under the Avios scheme a new map of destinations has been drawn, and its split into zones based on the number of Avios required. Some destinations will benefit, some will be more ‘expensive’ under the new system.

Avios says that of the current top 20 destinations from London, travellers will require fewer points on five routes, more points on seven, with no change on the rest. Some popular routes, such as Paris, will require more Avios than the equivalent Airmiles scheme.

There is a new Flight Calculator on the Avios website which is straightforward and makes it easy to work out how many Avios are needed for each destination.
Which scheme is better the old BA Miles and Airmiles scheme or Avios?

Avios says the new scheme will be better for irregular travellers. While Avios miles are worth the same regardless of scheme, BA members also earn credits that can be used for extra benefits such as the use of airline lounges. The good news is that 70% of routes will require fewer Avios than BA Miles, and passengers will be able to buy one-way flights for first time.

Points on all three schemes will expire after three years of no collection or redemption.

Anyone who is a member of more than one of the three schemes (including Iberia) will be able to move points between them without penalty.

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