Starting on Monday, avios.com (as opposed to British Airways Executive Club) is emailing members that the avios.com platform running the Avios Travel Rewards Programme is to be wound down.
You will no longer be able to have an avios.com account. All Avios account balances for UK members will be transferred to a British Airways Executive Club account, with new accounts opened where necessary.
This is a massive process, with 2.4 million avios.com account holders impacted by the closure.
EDIT: Avios has given me this telephone number – 0344 49 333 49 – for anyone who wants to discuss any aspect of the closure and their accounts. This avoids having to use the 0844 number on the website and is charged at standard rates.
Why is avios.com closing?
The reason – which is not in the Avios email you will receive – is that IAG is moving to a ‘one Avios’ platform. I understand that the avios.com website will remain and it is where ALL members of any Avios-based loyalty scheme (except perhaps Meridiana) will go to redeem their miles.
avios.com will be just a platform – it will no longer be a stand-alone scheme in which you can hold an Avios balance.
The other reason it is happening is failure. Avios was meant to become a stand-alone ‘coalition’ (as we call them in the trade) loyalty programme, like Nectar. Ironically, of course, Nectar has also just thrown in the towel and been sold to Sainsbury’s.
This was never going to work. For Avios to succeed on its own, it had to offer valuable rewards to people across the UK. With British Airways remaining a London-centric airline, that was always going to be hard.
Avios DID have partnerships with other airlines. Unfortunately Monarch went bankrupt and Flybe, with its own financial problems, changed its route network every ten minutes. Aer Lingus added a few more options but Avios wanted ludicrous sums in taxes and charges. Air Malta and Aurigny were little known redemption options and in any event were pulled in early 2017, as were Eurostar redemption options.
The killer blow was doubling the cost of BA short-haul redemptions in 2015 – previously regional connections to Heathrow were free. It made no sense at all for someone in Newcastle to pay 18,000 Avios plus £70 in taxes to fly to Nice via Heathrow.
There were two other issues:
Tesco has been playing down the role of Clubcard, with big reductions in the number of promotions available making it harder to run up large balances to convert to Avios
The new EU credit card fee rules, combined with Amex’s withdrawal of the licence it gave Lloyds, meant that the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card was on borrowed time
The bottom line is that there was little benefit in anyone outside the M25 collecting Avios via avios.com if they were not a frequent flyer.
Will I lose out when my account at avios.com closes?
The only possible issues are:
some partners who are only on the avios.com platform may disappear if they do not want to transition to being BA partners (some may not be able to due to conflict with existing BA partnerships)
moving Avios from Iberia to BA may get harder, as ‘Combine My Avios’ rarely works when you try it. Most people end up going Iberia to avios.com and avios.com to BA, a route which will now close.
the little-known ability to slash the taxes on Aer Lingus redemptions by calling BA and using Avios sitting in BAEC may disappear
When is avios.com closing?
At some point between 21st May and the end of July, your avios.com balance will be moved to a British Airways Executive Club account. You can access virtually the same redemption options, at the same prices, via BAEC.
If you don’t want to do this – and I can’t think of a good reason to refuse – you can fill in a form on avios.com to opt out. This must be done by 20th May. You will have six months to use your points before your account is closed. The opt-out period lasts 30 days.
What is happening to the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards?
They will continue for now, although they will remain closed to new online applications. You will need to call to use your upgrade voucher. The same goes for those with the old TSB Avios cards.
Avios told me today that the Lloyds agreement is ‘multi year’ and will continue. This implies either that they will keep it closed to new online applications but let it run on for some time for existing cardholders OR there is a medium term plan to launch a new Visa / Mastercard product.
How will I collect Avios from Flybe in the future?
Flybe its launching its own Avios-based loyalty programme which will run on the Avios platform. It will be very similar to the Aer Lingus and Vueling schemes.
Avios told me today that this will launch ‘in 2018’ but is not imminent.
Will estore continue?
Yes, via ba.com. Some retailers may be withdrawn because they will conflict with BA’s commercial arrangements with other partners.
What happens if I auto-convert Tesco points to avios.com?
All is fine, they will automatically be redirected after the closure of avios.com.
I have an avios.com Household Account. What happens when that is shut down?
There is guidance here. The account will be split equally unless you tell them otherwise (you can ask for one person to get 100% of the points). If any of the Avios accounts are linked to Aer Lingus or Vueling then there may be issues as these will not be transferred to BA.
What is happening to Avios South Africa?
Nothing. That programme will remain open.
There is nothing to worry about from the closure of avios.com and the UK Avios Travel Rewards Programme. The end result may even be a cleaner, easier to follow Avios landscape. It is not, repeat not, a hidden devaluation!
More information can be found on ba.com here.
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