British Airways have become one of the first airlines to alter the way their airmiles policy works to give a huge boost to those who fly business and first class. The scheme, called Avios, is one of the most widely-used airmiles initiatives in the world, with over 6.4 million subscribers.
Beginning on 28th April, the airmiles accrued by economy passengers will be reduced by 75%, while business and premium class passengers will see their points rise by as much as 66%. To give an example, a one-way flight in economy from London to New York had previously garnered its purchaser 3,458 airmiles. Once the new changes have taken effect, this will fall to a 865.
Meanwhile, in the front of the plane, a luxury traveller on the same journey will rack up 8,645 airmiles, almost 10 times that earned in economy and a huge increase from the 5,187 that they previously enjoyed. The changes are designed to reflect the fare price as well as the cabin you are in.
The proposed shift in policy will also result in the withdrawal of a courtesy domestic connecting flight for economy travellers, which has been a major draw for those who live outside of London. Whether connecting from Scotland, northern England, Wales or mainland Europe, the amount of points needed to obtain a flight will be higher.
Furthermore, BA are also introducing a peak/off-peak system for reward flights. This means that those highly sought-after trips, such as at Christmas or in the summer holidays, will now cost significantly more, in line with many other airlines.
BA said “for two thirds of the year you will require fewer Avios than now to fly on reward seats.”
Those who can travel when the demand is lower and avoid busier times in the calendar, will get more bang for their buck.
One final change, is the increased availability of reward seats. One major consumer complaint of the Avios policy has been the difficulty of obtaining rewards seats; BA have responded to this by guaranteeing half a million more seats in the future.
“We guarantee that more than 9m reward seats will be available on our flights, with a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights that are offered for sale on ba.com,” said a statement from the airline .
Although some passengers are unhappy with the changes, British Airways believe the move will ensure they remain competitive and ensure the loyalty program continues to deliver rewards to their customers. And, although British Airways are one of the first airlines to alter their policies so drastically, they’re unlikely to be the last.
The Turning of the Tide?
It seems that the days of racking up airmiles to enjoy budget travel are dying out. The groundwork for such changes was thoroughly laid back in 2011 when American company Air Miles (like many others) set a five-year expiry date on all existing points accrued. Now that we are nearing that date of expiry, we can expect to see most major companies tweaking their own policies to modernise their reward schemes.
The best advice for now seems to be that if you have a shedload of airmiles accrued – with Avios or another scheme – redeeming them sooner rather than later is the thinking man’s decision.