The Daily Mail reports on airmile redemption woes …

The Daily Mail is not the first place I look for frequent flyer news, so I was surprised to see this report on MailOnline.  I’m not sure if it actually appeared in the main newspaper or not.

It based on a report by Collinson Latitude, which is a consultancy firm in London focussing on loyalty programmes (I should probably ring them up for a job!).

Daily Mail

The headline findings are interesting:

c 55% said it took too long to get anything of value

c 40% said that paying taxes made their points less valuable

c 40% have never tried to redeem their points

c 25% had failed to redeem due to lack of availability

23% of people who flew last year collected loyalty points on their flight

As the report does points, the UK is an interesting market  because the two largest short-haul airlines – Ryanair and easyJet – do not run traditional loyalty schemes.

However, the findings above really do not make any sense to me.

55% said it took too long to get anything of value?   That is, frankly, nonsense ever since BA started offering 1 Avios per mile flown.  Even a cheap economy flight to New York earns you enough Avios for a one-way flight in Europe.

40% said paying taxes made their points less valuable?  The other 60% need a lesson in basic economics, then.

40% have never tried to redeem their points?  In which case, I’m not sure how qualified such people are to answer the other parts of the survey!

25% failed to redeem due to lack of availability?  Seems a bit low to me, to be honest.  This is skewed by age, though.  18-34 year olds have the worst problems and just 10% of 55+ year olds – presumably with flexible diaries – had issues.

A key finding of the report for me, though, is that you should think carefully before doing business with IdeaWorksCompany (which designs frequent flyer programmes)!

Their president, Jay Sorensen, appears to believe that Flying Blue (the Air France / KLM programme, generally known as Flying Poo in the trade) is the best programme out there.  That is the same Flying Poo which, until a couple of weeks ago, didn’t even let you redeem for First Class awards unless you were a top-tier elite – and even then at extreme mileage levels – and charged ludicrously high taxes on other redemptions ….

(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

BA launch 'Double Avios' in First and Club World (and some AA routes)
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  1. phreegreens says:

    Sorenson reckons, FB is “the best programme out there” and his company designs FF programmes, call me an old 55+ cynic who doesn’t have much problem redeeming miles, but I wonder which company designed FB? I ended up with a pile of FB a few years ago, the result of a weekly (sometimes twice) weekly run to EIN and then a bit of KLM long haul as a result of being in the Netherlands. I used some of the miles for a weekend break and the rest just died, which I do agree was shameful.

  2. Trickster says:

    With regard to the taxes question, maybe the other 60% have adjusted their perspective on points, as I have. As long as you redeem in higher classes, I now see the points as not getting a free flight (you will be disappointed if you go into it thinking like that), but rather I see them as getting a free(ish) upgrade.

  3. Mr Bridge says:

    Firstly, the daily mail is just about good enough to eat fish and chips out of!!!

    I think that the survey was general on all airline mile. I ve just got into maximising avios, Which is what you have to do. Many people have credit cards cause they are loyal to their bank, or the shop with amazon online, or buy wine from laithwaits. What i did was switch 90% of my shopping to tesco ( i maximise the price promise too). I buy dvd cd from T direct, getting cash back and bonus cc, rather than amazon now (but still checkout the prices). My wine comes from tesco, and its not a bad bit of plonk.
    Just got a bmi in time, but which id been quick and got my partner one too.

    In 6 months i have earnt 275,00 avios and 1 companion voucher, partly due to switching out of bad reward schemes (hsbc plat points/ nectar), and combing all reward programmes into avios.and partly due to HFP..thanks raffles.

    I do note that some airmiles schemes are a bit poo, Thai for example. my partner and I had a couple of bus class flights and earnt 74000 miles between us, almost impossible to get any thing in return, you cant have a family acc, so can only redeem indvidual, we are going to hkg 3 nights, booked the lanham at a redemption of 24000, but as we could not combine , we only got 2 free nights , so now there is 12000 miles in each of our accounts we cant use before they expire…poo.

    Just booked for next may with comp vouch to orlando in club, took raffles tips to book flights either same day or few days apart and change day for £25pp, it worked, but required log in 4 -5 times per day, i was amazed at how quick availabilty changed, you need the time to keep doing this until the flights you want, thanks R.

  4. Mr Bridge says:

    my redemption of 100,000 avios and 1 ba comp vouch and £1014 in taxes +£50 date change, i compared to a fare on of £5283.82 ( on the shareholder site) valuing my avios at about 4p each. or 2 p if you count voucher as 100,000.

  5. Howard says:

    Thanks to Raffles and this great website I have booked for Vegas return first class with BA Amex Companion Voucher. Cost about £1200 for both of us return. Tickets are about £17,000. To me thats value.

    Raffles – Keep up the great work!!

    • Mr Bridge says:

      the 1st to vegas is possibly the best use of the voucher and avios, its going to be my next trip..

      does anyone no about the int driving licence law that cam into effect for usa in jan 2013.
      The esta what a rip off when you still have to wait 3 hours to get into the dam country

      • Farringdon says:

        The Intl Drivers License law was just Florida, wasn’t it? And they backed down very quickly and repealed the law.

    • Michael says:


      I’m booked up for exactly same trip in August. The 11.5 hour fight will be so much sweeter in First – as will Singapore in Feb.
      A huge amount down to this site (plus flyer talk) eg yesterday I put car in for MOT @ 830am – there a tesco opposite it so chanced arm and checked for 3V cards (it’s been sold out for 3 weeks)… Sitting there were 20 cards which I bought and out on new spend for wife’s 2-4-1 voucher lol. She thinks I’m mad

  6. Londonbus says:

    I suspect the Daily Wail readership and survey respondents think of Airmiles i.e.

    * Redeem in WhY
    * No tax fees charges (i.e. “free”)
    * Accumulate miles slowly through shopping in a semi-random fashion.

    Since cattle is the worse class to redeem in (unless you need a last-minute flight) for Avios and that you’ll end up acquiring points slowly unless you game it – no surprise.

    Be thankful for the uninformed – they subsidise those of us who frequent HFP and Flyertalk…

  7. “55% said it took too long to get anything of value”

    Depending on their sample, I can believe this. Remember that a lot of people will buy ultra-discount economy tickets to shortish haul destinations which give reduced miles. If they’re doing that once a year for a family holiday then it’s going to take a while to save up points. They may then find it hard to redeem them.

    I think these reward programmes are only really beneficial if you’re flying regularly or are a big spender (compared to the average guy), so if the same questions were asked to a sample of such people I think we’d see quite different answers.

    • Peter Taylor says:

      In other words a “frequent flyer” – and thuis benefitting from a “frequent flyer programme”.

  8. What can you say…it was the daily Mail!

    I cant quite bring myself to adjust my perspective. Avios are supposed to be a reward. They have also undoubtedly become harder to access in recent years and my latest booking for 4 ( 2 x 241 Amex in F have costs £2300 in what BA referred to as taxes throughout my time on the phone. It is not of course as of the £585 (+ £15 offline fee) £359 (+£15 offline fee) went and stays with BA via their outrageous fuel surcharge.

    Of course I derive some comfort from seeing that the fare is £18292 for the four of us which would not and could not be afforded.

    I now hold all my points outwith the BA programme and via this and other sites look to get best value. My loyalty was taken for granted by BA and so I now play the game taking advantage of the offers and as many of the legitimate exploits I can.

  9. Steve says:

    The Daily Mail. Enough said.
    The comments (that have been green arrowed) sum up the average DM reader – too uneducated to appreciate that you sometimes have to look further than the end of your nose.

    Still, it just means more availability for us.

  10. 4500 avios + £15 on BA to a zone 1 destination is good value when you compare what you get with BA and the likes of Ryanair! Calculate the cost of £23KG of check in luggage, seat selection, a drink on board, cost of getting to the airport, check in fees, 2 items of hand luggage with the likes of Ryanair!

  11. signol says:

    I would usually take anything from the Daily Wail with a pinch of salt!

  12. “That is, frankly, nonsense ever since BA started offering 1 Avios per mile flown. Even a cheap economy flight to New York earns you enough Avios for a one-way flight in Europe.”

    Raffles, you should appreciate that the majority of people where I live have never been to London let alone New York. Britain is not uniform . Only a tiny, tiny minority are frequent flyers. The Daily Mail findings may represent ill-informed opinion but they are entirely credible.

    FYI, I have been to New York but only by ship 🙂

    • But by default, the people in this survey had flown and collected some miles – it wasn’t 1,000 people randomly picked off the street!

      • Mr Bridge says:

        daily mail readers are randomly picked of their ill informed high horses…charge

        • Mr Bridge says:

          sorry i cant resist the chance to have a go at the DM, as a gay man their has never been such a homophobic publication.

  13. Kathy says:

    Ah, but not everyone will realise that they can collect Avios by flying! It wasn’t possible under the old airmiles scheme, which was collection by shopping only.

    Plus, non-frequent flyers who only really go abroad for holidays might be flyng Easyjet/Ryanair or for a package holiday, and so might not even be flying on a Oneworld carrier and able to collect Avios on their flights..

    Remember, the old Airmiles scheme was offering something for ‘free’ – something that could be collected over a number of years through normal shopping behaviour. It appealed to a lot of people who aren’t very well off for that reason – it might have taken years to save up for two flights to New York, but that would have made an otherwise unaffordable trip possible.

  14. Jane Easthope says:

    Me and my mum collected enough points shopping with Tesco to convert to airmiles to get flights to go visit relatives in Australia. There were plenty of extra point in store offers so it wasn’t even that much of an ordeal. So, compared to that, collecting avios seems an slow and unrewarding process. I’m a library assistant so I’m lucky to have a job at the moment, getting rewarded for business travel is an unimaginably distant thing to imagine, and I was unemployed for several years and collected some bad debt, so i couldn’t get even a fee free credit card with bonus points, (I wouldn’t be able to afford one with a fee).

    But still I check Head for Points every morning just in case there’s a deal I can’t miss, even though I’ll only be able to use the points for “poor value redemptions” because I don’t have any money to pay towards them.

  15. Roger says:

    Kathy said: ‘Ah, but not everyone will realise that they can collect Avios by flying! It wasn’t possible under the old airmiles scheme, which was collection by shopping only.’

    What?? Air Miles (as it was then spelt) was BA’s original frequent flyer scheme predating BA Miles by several years. I was earning far more flying BA than by shopping at Sainsbury’s and using my NatWest Visa and Mastercard.

    Partners change but award flights remain.

  16. Kathy says:

    Seriously, at the point when I joined Airmiles, you couldn’t earn them by flying. It was very confusing that the scheme was called Airmiles when it wasn’t a frequent flyer but a frequent shopper scheme, but there you go. The BA Miles frequent flyer scheme was something different altogether, and you couldn’t transfer points between the two.

    The change to Avios was doubtless partly about harmonising the schemes so that the same rules would apply to everyone for collection and redemption.