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.

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Comments

  1. Avios redemptions on Flybe short haul direct services from UK regional airports are actually good value when set against BA Reward Flight Savers which require an Avios spend on the domestic connections. Not everybody starts and ends their journeys in London.

  2. Paul Whistler says:

    This is truly devastating news. I gave up trying to claim Virgin Actlantic rewards. They never seem to allocate points to any of the trips I tried to book regardless of peak or off peak timing. I even tried combination of pay plus points. All I got from their Helpdesk was keep on trying.

  3. OT: Bit silly question but I just been credited Avios from BA for flights taken (MCO-PHL). I wanted to know if I sign up to AAdvantage would I also be credited AA miles for those flights? Thanks in advance.

    • Genghis says:

      Not in addition

    • Nope. You can credit to any Oneworld airline but you only receive them once 🙂

      • Lady London says:

        And you can’t ask the first airline credited to cancel that credit so that you can credit to a different airline.

        I tried that after it turned out Lufthansa had put my Lufty Miles&More number back onto the booking after I went into their lounge. At checkin I’d credited to Aegean. I wasn’t smart enough to check the FF number on the boarding pass was still my Aegean one after the lounge reprinted it as I checked in.

        When I mentioned the mistake to LH and asked to un-credit I think they laughed at me. 🙂

        • Hi, I had this happening to me when flying with CX (they used my AA # instead of BA as it was after a flight cancellation) and was able to get the trip un-credited from AAdvantage and move the tier/avios to BA. No idea if it would work the other way around and/or with different carriers though

        • LH / M&M are nasty and very German in a bad sense (absolutely inflexible and mean). I had a bad experience recently in claiming meagre 125 miles retrospectively (slightly outside 6-months window) and they said NEIN, ORDNUNG UBER ALLES. While Aegean happily credited for the return leg of the same trip.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Note that American Airlines have, at some point in the last couple of years, become very inflexible at changing FF#. I couldn’t for the life of me get my QF number on my AA booking in December (QF Platinum=OWE, vs AA nothing=OW nothing), and the usual tricks don’t work, as AA use SABRE instead of Amadeus…even asking their CS via Twitter was met with a firm no. So that will teach me to make booking while logged into my AA account and not paying attention to ensure the correct FF# is attached.

          Luckily it all worked out, but I was on edge given the on time performance of that flight, the weather and North American carriers’ tendency to oversell, and would have much preferred the move off the bottom of the list my QF# could have provided. But as I say, it all worked out!

  4. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    The way BA are going at the moment in their death spiral of customer indifference, the better it is for Virgin and their long haul options. I can see a major switch of allegiance occurring especially when Air France KLM come on board! The Virgin Miles programme is miles easier to operate than Avios, where you have to chase points, from account to account and all that messing about with an ultra complex loyalty scheme which very few people fully understand.
    What will Cruz do……probably just pose in his baggage handlers hi vis jacket and watch it all fall to bits!

    • Cruz will do nothing much because BA flies to places I want to go and Virgin doesn’t.

      • yup BA have tons more options for redemptions flying East, well until the merger with KLM/AF….

      • Oh Matron! says:

        Where does BA fly to that AF and KLM doesn’t?

        BA are at serious threat if both the AF/KLM deal and FlyBE deals go through

        • Barbados and most of the rest of the Caribbean (BA and Virgin do the only European flights to Barbados for eg), almost certainly lots of BA’s US destinations.

        • KLM/AF/Delta route map doesn’t look too bad, particularly if you live outside London so need to transfer anyway, https://www.afva.net/routemap.do

          • The big question in my mind is what sort of integration/deal will they do with Flying Blue. Agree lots of UK regions have plenty of connections to AMS, so good from that POV. I keep wanting to use one of their promo deals but haven’t got round to it yet.

        • Lady London says:

          My issue with KLM AF is they seem to require very high amounts of miles to be paid for even modest redemptions. For a couple of years I had mid-level status with them and some very very nice benefits due to having been invited to join as being in the oil industry. But I couldn’t give them enough flights to use the benefits of the status as I was never going to earn enough even to book a cheap flight with them.

          I think though that there might be a year or two of arbitrage opps once kl AF start to merge more with vs until someone in kl AF says let’s unify the programs as well…. So for a short while I’m going to maintain my handful of vs miles. Will try not to let them expire.

        • Mikeact says:

          As a life long KL member, their monthly discounted redemptions are always worth a look, anything between 30/50% off, all classes, and of course selected routes.
          Apart from that, I would say that their FFP scheme is pretty much on par with most others, seeing that they have all been devalued over the years.
          We shall certainly look forward to spending the other way, ie UC to the US.

        • Unless they have a 241 option then my miles will be better spent on BA. If there’s a comparable alternate (mles wise) earnig to burning I’d be interested.

    • Chase points from scheme to scheme? If this refers to Iberia and Aer Lingus that’s part of the attraction, leveraging max value from the Avios. Virgin is just like BA, award miles and tier points, one relates to status and the other being the currency to use for ‘free’ flights, of course you still pay taxes and fees. If the KLM AF whatever that is put in place is overly simple that will mean a lack of opportunity to find a better way to redeem the FC miles. Complexity is your friend.

    • For their flaws I don’t see BAEC as any more complex than VFC, both pretty straightforward. VFC actually worse that BAEC one in my experience with it not properly showing old transactions.

  5. Frenzie says:

    OT but Virgin related.
    The 10000 extra bonus points for their recent CC sign up promo haven’t posted even after 5 weeks reaching the spending requirement.

    • Jonathan says:

      Your qualifying period for the extra 10k points comes during X month and will be shown and post with your Y statement. i.e the month after which you earned them. Therefore if you spent the required money to earn the points in week 1, you’ll still have to wait a further 7 weeks(ish) for them to show and post.

      • Frenzie says:

        I am aware thanks.
        It has been over 5 months the last statement. When that statement posted I already hit my spending requirement.

        Anyone received this bonus?

    • They get posted manually, give it time.

  6. Didn’t most avios points earnt on Flybe had to be chased and chased to get credited, maybe it’s not such a bad thing from that perspective however losing the opportunity to fly using avios from other, smaller UK airports is not so good.

    • Yes, I remember having to chase up avios and I’m sure it was only a couple of hundred points so never bothered again – waste of time

    • Previously had this issue, but my couple of FlyBE flights from last month actually posted automatically.

    • I never really flew flybe before 2018, and my flights in 2018 all credited without any action on my part.

      • Been about 50:50 for me. As long as you hit the 10 day window to claim they do give you the points.

  7. Who bothers collecting the 52 Avios you get when flying flyBe? If I were a business man… I’d prioritise other lucrative ways of earning Avios.
    Anyway… I hope I can earn FB miles when flying flyBe in the future if this deal goes ahead… And not Flying Club sit. Atm FB are very interesting, especially if you can take advantage of Promo awards.

    • Yes, I wonder about the Air France/KLM angle to this story as Flybe already feeds into their network, though usually not in a value for money sort of way.

    • If you are travelling anyway, you might as well claim the points. Add FF no to corporate travel agent and diarise a chaser 30 days after return doesn’t take long, and for business travel it’s actually fairly lucrative. Better than BA would be for travellers with no status.

  8. Mikeact says:

    I just wonder if any Nectar partners may be interested in trying to form some sort of takeover deal, as obviously, it’s not yet a done deal. They are certainly light on the ground when it comes to travel options…not that I have any particular love for Nectar, far from it.

  9. 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.

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

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

    • 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.

          • 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.

      • 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.

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