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.)
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)
- Air Malta
…. 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.
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):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
(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.)