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. 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.

    • 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 !

    • 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.

      • 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.

  2. 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.

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

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