Adios, Avios?

There was a flurry of anxiety back in April, when people got the message that Avios were being abandoned. Those with several thousand sitting in their accounts wondered how to dispose of them in a suitable, seemly and expeditious fashion. The 2.4 million Avios members in the UK fluttered and flustered. From Faro to Firenze in First, maybe?

False alarm.

Over the next few months, the UK Avios Travel Rewards Programme hosted at will close, but Avios, the currency, will remain. No-one will lose out. As the Rewards Programme wraps up, it will move some of its customers over to the British Airways Executive Club. This is a club which already uses the Avios currency. All that’s happening is a nudge of Avios Travel Rewards members who aren’t affiliated with any airline over to the British Airways Executive Club.

So, people will still be able to collect and spend Avios much as they did before. In fact, the range of options you can spend you Avios on is wider via the British Airways Executive Club than it is via Avios direct. For example, there are some extra options such as flights on BA partner airlines such as Finnair and Qatar.

But why move a couple of million people onto the BA home page? Well, the move will unpick some of the complexity in running two Avios-based loyalty schemes in the UK, for sure. However, it’s also a sign of deeper changes in the UK rewards market. Ever since the EU Payment Services Directive (known to its friends as PSD2) came into force in January 2018, many credit card providers have withdrawn products or reduced the rewards they offer. This is because PSD2 limited the amount card providers could charge retailers for processing payments. It also made it illegal to levy extra charges on customers who pay with plastic.

So, for the moment, what you can buy via the British Airways Executive Club costs the same number of Avios as it did when you went to Avios direct. I wonder how long that will remain the case. BA have form in this regard.

Also, what was wrong with good old airmiles? Something to mull over while you mourn the fact that you’re also missing your peanuts.


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