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From British Airways Miles to Avios Points: Breaking It Down

November 10, 2011 at 11:27 AM | by | ()

This month means more than just the beginning of holiday travel season; it also marks the beginning of a new era at British Aiways with the re-branding of their frequent flyer program to "Avios." Say cheers to the former loyalty program managed by AirMiles on November 16th.

Basically, BA Miles used to be managed through AirMiles who has done the re-branding. BA is just using the program as a "currency" to redeem flights and hotels. This shift is to align with the frequent flyer programs of its joint venture partner, Iberia, and mirror other Oneworld partner airline programs. Executive Club is sticking around and its members will be accruing Avios points instead of BA Miles. Don't worry, if you have heaps of points in Executive Club, you won't loose them.

The move to Avios is not just a name change, but the program claims to make earning points and higher status levels, as well as redeeming points for flights and upgrades, far easier. Let's see if they're right.

Now, as an example, if you have 100,000 BA Miles now, after the change over you will have 100,000 Avios points. Obviously, this new currency can purchase award flights, and the option to combine points and real money for flights also stays the same.

Reward Flight Saver: The new perk is something called "Reward Flight Saver," where you trade hard-earned points for short trips within most European cities. The decrease in miles needed for certain zoned cities comes with a caveat, however— taxes and fees. From what we can see, it is a nominal £27 for economy (Euro Traveller/Euro Traveller Plus) and £34 for business (Club Europe). Anything outside of these European destinations (like flying New York to London), you still pay the taxes and fees, but they vary.

Membership tiers: Dealing with higher status levels changes a bit with Avios as well. When reaching a new tier, Avios members do not lose those points; they only continue accruing to reach the next level. These points only reset at the end of the membership year. This is one change that does make a bit more sense to us, as it mimics how most other airlines operate. Additionally, the points needed to reach a higher tier are way easier to collect. Long-haul flights on BA and Oneworld partners in full-fare economy jump from 60 to 70 points per segment after November 16th and on flights over 6,000 miles, bump to 80 points.

The new tier levels are closer to Oneworld airlines with the addition of Bronze, the equivalent to Ruby status when flying on a partner airline. Silver is the parallel to Saphhire privileges and Gold gives top-notch Emerald status. This makes a lot more sense to us when we fly with Oneworld. The new bronze level allows for business class check-in, 1.25 miles multiplier bonus, and other neat little perks.

Here is the before and after:

Executive Club BA Miles
· Point redemption - tiered cost based on zones. Example: London to Warsaw in business could be as expensive as 15,000 miles and 120GBP or 30,000 miles and no co-payment. Example #2: London to JFK in First for 150,000 points.
· 3 Status levels - BLUE, SILVER, GOLD
· Status points 'zero-out' after each status achievement
· Status point accrual - based on short-haul, long-haul and super long-haul flights
· Use points for hotels and rental cars? - NO

Executive Club Avios
· Point redemption and tiered cost is eliminated. Example #1 London to Warsaw in Business is a flat rate of 30,000 points with a co-payment of £37. Example #2 London to JFK in First for 120,000 points + taxes and fees.
· 4 Status levels - BLUE, BRONZE, SILVER, GOLD
· Status points only 'zero-out' at the end of membership year. Points needed remain the same.
· Status point accrual, still based on short-haul, long-haul and super long-haul, but now you get a few extra points, so it is a bit easier to accrue.
· Use points for hotels and rental cars? - YES

We found a fantastic promo and figured some sharing is in order. Register, book, and travel before the end of the year and you get bonus points per roundtrip, starting at 25,000 and increasing 10K for each additional return trip. In example, if you fly 3 times before December 31, 2011, you get 25K + 35K + 45K totaling 105,000 Avios points. BA says there is no limit; so for those who hop the pond a lot, we recommend to take advantage, but make sure your booking class is eligible here.

We have a feeling this is not the last time we talk Avios.

[Photo: Avios]

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