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What does the Virgin Atlantic takeover of Flybe mean for Avios collectors?

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All of the coverage of Virgin Atlantic’s proposed acquisition and rebranding of Flybe has, not surprisingly, focused on what it means for Flybe and for Virgin Atlantic.

What hasn’t been discussed is what impact the deal will have on Avios.

When I heard that Virgin Atlantic was only going to be a minority investor in Flybe I thought that it may let the Avios deal continue.  Now that we know the entire airline is to be rebranded under the Virgin Atlantic name, we can say with 100% certainty that you won’t be collecting Avios from Flybe in the future!

Let’s have a quick run through the impact on Avios, from both a HFP reader and and from an Avios Group perspective.

(For clarity, it is still not 100% certain that the acquisition will go ahead.  Other airlines may respond with counterbids and the current deal is clearly low at 1p per share, given they were trading at 16p before the announcement.)

Impact on Avios of Virgin takeover of Flybe

For HFP readers:

You will no longer be able to collect Avios when flying on Flybe.  This will be a blow for some people, especially regular travellers on the pricier routes.

The upside is that I would expect Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points as well as miles on Flybe services – you have never been able to earn BA or any other status with Flybe historically.  This will make it easier to earn Virgin Atlantic status.  This will become especially valuable when the partnership with Air France and KLM kicks in during 2019, as your Virgin Atlantic status would have value when flying on Virgin, Delta, Air France and KLM.

You will no longer be able to redeem Avios on Flybe.  To be honest, whenever we have run the numbers on this, it has been rarely been great value unless booked at short notice.  The best value comes if you are taking luggage, as Avios tickets include one free checked suitcase which would attract a fee if you paid cash.  This ‘Avios Redemption University’ article runs the numbers.

And, for clarity, any Avios you have earned from Flybe and which are sat in avios.com will not become Virgin Flying Club miles.  I would anticipate that all avios.com accounts which are linked to Flybe customers – and which were not closed down when the main Avios Travel Rewards Programme was closed – will be transferred to British Airways Executive Club in the same way.

For Avios Group:

Avios Group will lose the income stream from Flybe.  I’m not sure what percentage of Flybe passengers claimed Avios but as it is generally a business-focused airline I would suspect it is high.  I would imagine that, even after accounting for Flybe redemptions, there is a large net inflow of cash.

Avios Group will lose another piece of its offering for members outside the M25.  Flybe redemptions were not always great value, but if you didn’t live near Gatwick or Heathrow then they were your best option for a free point to point ticket.  The travel groups who have left Avios in recent years include:

  • Monarch (receivership)
  • Flybe (takeover)
  • Eurostar
  • Air Malta
  • Aurigny

…. and of course Air Berlin disappeared as a oneworld partner when it went bust.

Overall, this is definitely a net loss for Avios collectors and for Avios Group.

The only potential upside I can see is the increased competition from Virgin Flying Club.  With more people having the opportunity to collect Flying Club miles via Flybe (and indeed from all of the other Virgin Group Loyalty Company partners once the new venture is fully live in the Spring), it will put the scheme in a better position versus Avios and BA Executive Club.  Stronger competition is likely to keep Avios on its toes.


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

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Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (59)

  • BD says:

    While the flyBe loss will be a shame, they never really made it a differentiator from easyJet or rivals. There was no credit card, few promotions or competitions. I doubt many will notice, as the number of Avios earned was small and redemptions expensive.

    Outside London the competition is such that being loyal to one airline will often result in a horrible schedule, if your airline of choice flies the route at all. I don’t think points are worth the hassle for most, as most weeks are a combination of Ryanair, flyBe, easyJet and the LH Group. So high frequency travel, but few rewards and no hope of status.

    • Chris says:

      Fwiw there was a credit card and it was dreadful and they canned it a while back…

  • Anonymous says:

    OT but Virgin: looking to bag the 1000 Virgin miles from a Hertz car rental. Small print says pre-paid rates don’t earn miles. 1) Is this true?

    2) What if I book through Amex Travel, as the quote is a few quid cheaper? Will I still earn virgin miles or IHG points for this rental?

  • Cuchlainn says:

    Damn !! Fingers crossed FB sale doesn’t go through for next 18 months – dear daughter using EMA and BHD on regular basis fou Uni. .9,000 Avios and approx £55 to £60 return with a bag …… 1 Avios approx. 1.6p Next closest is BHX and BFS with poor squEasyJet slot times and naughty luggage prices.

    • Peter K says:

      I assume by FB you mean Flybe and not Flying Blue.

    • Oli says:

      I’d be surprised if Flybe changed to FC in 2019, these things take time. Maybe they’ll directly switch to Flying Blue when Virgin does, which I don’t think will be before 2020 given no official announcement yet

      • memesweeper says:

        “Maybe they’ll directly switch to Flying Blue when Virgin does”

        I’ve not read that merger will happen — and I hope it doesn’t. FBlue miles expire over time Virgin’s do not.

        I regularly fly a route covered by BA, EZY and FlyBe. I’m pleased with the change as it will give me an alternative to earning more Avios. However Flying Club has pretty much matched step-for-step the increase in carrier charges imposed by BA, so no sign of any competition opening up there!

        • Lady London says:

          Virgin miles DO expire.

        • Mikeact says:

          KL/FB miles do not expire over time as such, as long as one flight is taken every year after three years of no activity.
          It’s amazing the number of people who take their eye off the ball on this one….easy enough to note it in your diary. But, dependant upon your excuse, they MAY reinstate them, as my wife found out. I guess they may have been reinstated due to my status as her other half.

          • Alan says:

            Although since their change last year it seems that other activity can reset expiry too – e.g. service recovery bonus from customer service seemed to do the trick for me with the displayed expiry date jumping out. If that’s truly the case it makes them much more in line with others that just have activity-based (rather than flight-based or even worse hard expiry) systems

        • memesweeper says:

          Good point, didn’t realise that. And with Flybe in the mix then if that stops expiry that’s fantastic news for UK travellers.

      • Rob says:

        The deal isn’t done, remember. Flybe shares are trading above the 1p price in the hope of another bid.

        Swapping the frequent flyer scheme is one of the easiest things to change. Repainting and rebranding will take a lot longer.

  • Andrew says:

    Some duff info about Flying Blue expiration above. Here are the rules:
    For Explorer Members, Miles are valid for 2 years. The Company shall cancel the Miles
    after a period of 2 years with no registered Earn Activity that extends the validity of the
    Miles. The validity of all Miles shall be extended by 2 years after an Overall Extending
    Activity, so Miles will expire 2 years after the last Overall Extending Activity date. Only Miles
    earned after the last Overall Extending Activity shall be extended with a Partial Extending
    Activity.
    ‘Overall Extending Activity’ is defined as an Activity that rewards the Member with XP
    (Eligible Flights) or any other Earn Activity designated as an Overall Extending Activity in
    the Flying Blue Communication and which therefore extends the validity of all Miles, such
    as flights on Transavia that earn Miles and payment with the co-branded credit cards listed
    in the Flying Blue Communication.
    ‘Partial Extending Activity’ is defined as every other Earn Activity that does not qualify as an
    Overall Extension Activity and that therefore extends the validity of some of the Miles only.

    • Alan says:

      Well that’s about as clear as mud! All I can say is I received some service recovery miles (not XP) and the expiry date of my miles as quoted on the Flying Blue website extended – I’d say that’s the best way to confirm either way, no? They did used to expire without a qualifying flight every 18 months, but that seems to have changed with the programme change to XP.

    • Mikeact says:

      Sorry, your right..,after the confusing changes announced last year, the rules now as per your cut & paste…again a change to the ‘good old days ‘ when it was three years, extended with activity.

      Unfortunately, anybody new, reading the rules from scratch will be totally confused……I think !

    • marcw says:

      Essentially, only miles earned trhough flying can be extended by flying. But miles earned through partners, can be extended with partners and flying.
      FYI, I had a bunch of expiring miles, and I made a redemption (which I needed), but had some leftover miles which expired. However, before miles expired, i bought something through the FB shopping portal. Even though the miles posted like 2 days ago, the date shows is before the original expiration date. Through this, my expired miles got reinstated.

      • Alan says:

        Although the expiry date on the website makes no mention of miles earned through different routes, it just shows an expiry date for miles. As I say a customer service points addition in Oct then extended my expiry by 24 months.

  • A-Mahdi says:

    I booked an avois ticket with Fly be recently through BA website, it says 0 luggage included on BA website and also on Flybe website the reservation code does not show included luggage , am I missing something ? I thought it would include 1 hold luggage

    • Lady London says:

      If you search back on hfp I’m pretty sure about 3 years ago Rob did an article on Flybe and pointed out that luggage is included even though the ticket says not.

      • Rob says:

        Correct. Apparently if you go into MMB on Flybe and try to add a suitcase you will see one is already there.