Can you earn Avios points on Vueling?

International Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways, took full control of Spanish low-cost airline Vueling this week.  See the Bloomberg story here.  The cost was €123m to take IAG’s stake to 91%.

There are some interesting nuances here.  Unlike Iberia, which is bleeding cash like there is no tomorrow, Vueling is profitable.  Oddly, despite being based in Madrid, Vueling will NOT be merged into Iberia but will be run as a third leg to the company alongside BA and Iberia.

Vueling

Vueling is a bit like easyJet, with a low cost structure and, more importantly, a low paid crew.

There are rumours about what IAG will do with Vueling.  The company already flies from the UK to various destination, as I have written about before.  Vueling now flies from the UK to Florence and from various regional airports to Spain.

One possibility is that BA’s operations at Gatwick will be transferred to Vueling, possibly with it operating as a BA franchise in BA colours.  This would massively reduce costs and allow it compete better with easyJet.

Another option is that more of Iberia’s short-haul operations will be transferred across.

If all of this sounds familiar, it is because Lufthansa has done exactly the same thing this year.  From June, all Lufthansa flights which do not start or end in Frankfurt or Munich (eg London to Hamburg, London to Berlin) will transfer to Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary Germanwings, as I posted earlier.

One thing IAG needs to do is to sort out the issue with Avios earning and burning on Vueling.  At present, you can only earn Avios and spend Avios on Vueling via the Iberia website.

You need to open a free Iberia Plus account and put that number in your Vueling booking AND book via the Iberia site.  The Avios can be moved to your avios.com or BA account via the ‘Combine My Avios’ function online.  To spend Avios on Vueling, you need to open an Iberia Plus account and HAVE SOME ACTIVITY ON IT (easiest way is to transfer some Amex points or hotel points in).  Once activated, you will be allowed to transfer Avios points into Iberia via ‘Combine My Avios’ from BA or avios.com.

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Comments

  1. Worth noting that while Vueling are a low cost carrier, they do something things that are unusual for a LCC: They offer official connecting flights, with through checked baggage. Unlike most LCCs which are strictly point-to-point airlines, any connection needing to be made unofficially, on your own if it goes wrong.

    As a result, I think IAG are actually sitting on almost the perfect shorthaul model (since they need their shorthaul to feed longhaul anyway). If you took 80% of Vueling model, and added 10% of Iberia Express ideas and 10% new (keeping a business onboard product). Much better to have baggage controlled by which airline code you book under, supporting choice in all sales channels, rather than BAs recent hand baggage only fares at LGW.

    As we all know, right now you need an Iberia Plus account to earn and burn on Avios on Vueling. And it needs to be 90 days old and ‘active’ to be able to transfer Avios points freely into it from your BA account to spend on Vueling.

    Just found another potential free way to activate it:
    http://www.ukpoints.com/2013/04/26/way-to-activate-an-iberia-plus-account-with-50-free-avios/

  2. Phillip says:

    I think this is probably the only way that an airline like BA can seriously compete with the LCCs on short haul flights without having to differentiate within its own product but by offering a different brand as part of the wider franchise! Thus, it means BA as an airline (assuming the first possibility you mention goes ahead) can remain a full service carrier, while some of its “cheaper” operations are taken over by a no frills carrier. As such, I don’t expect Vueling to be absorbed into BA in any way, but rather operate alongside. It will certainly be interesting to see what the earn/burn situation will be, especially compared to the Reward Flight Saver.

  3. It’s worth noting that a lot of Vueling flights have an IB code-share. If you book using the code-share then not only do you get Avios on your BA account but also you get an inclusive baggage allowance.

    • Have you successfully got Avios points from Vueling flights credited (*directly*) to your BAEC account when booked under the IB code? – strictly speaking you should not have done.
      “Codeshare flights booked under the code of a British Airways partner airline but operated by an airline who is not a British Airways partner are not eligible for Avios or Tier Points. ”
      And Vueling are not a BA partner.
      The officially support route is to credit them to you Iberia Plus account, then transfer them to BAEC.

  4. I noticed that Vueling routes are cheaper with IB Avios than regular IB routes, I hope that doesn’t change.