The merger of British Airways and Iberia, which was agreed upon in April 2010, was obviously going to lead to synergies amongst the two carriers, but the mileage programs did not see it yet. And now, BA and Iberia have something to show on this aspect. Since both the carriers are going to operate under their own brands, so the Executive Club, BA’s loyalty program retains its name. But BA is promising to change the way you can earn and spend on BA. And it looks like it is taking feedback on the way. Here is a part of an email I just received from the Executive Club,
We know how important the Executive Club is to our customers, and how much you want it to be a Club offering benefits that meet your changing needs and expectations.
We’re listening, and from November we will start a journey that will develop and improve all elements of the Club – particularly the ones you’ve told us are important to you.
We’ll be giving you more recognition and improving the service you receive when you travel with us. We are also changing the way we reward you, which I want to tell you about right now.
The key change is the currency, which was so far BA Miles, will cease to exist and be replaced in equal measure by Avios points. Similarly, for members of Iberia Plus, they stop earning Iberia Plus points, and start earning Avios currency going forward. This means, 1000 BA Miles are going to be 1000 Avios points going forward. I do not know who came up with such a funky name but I think it will be pretty ‘cool’ to earn Avios points going forward and be regarded as the people who cracked rocket science.
What has not been clarified yet, is how does one merge their Avios points from the BA Executive Club program and Iberia Plus program into one, and if that will happen. Considering both are OneWorld member airlines, it would make sense to offer a one-time opportunity for members to switch to one program if they are a part of both, or let them be on both programs, and merge their earning pool into one common account.
Other changes upcoming from mid-November 2011 are:
- Avios points collectors will be able to use them for hotel stays and car rentals also, and can be made fully on Avios points, or as cash+Avios points purchase. This is valid only in specific countries, which are listed here.
- Reward Flight Saver redemptions are being introduced. For shorter route redemptions within Zone 1 to 3, which includes all of Europe, there is more value in the redemptions going forward, but more so for premium cabins! Read below for more details on this.
- BA is also readjusting its redemption rates on various routes, and promises to give more details closer to November. But in a highlight of what could get affected, it has shown that it is reducing the amount of Avios points one needs to go over to key airports globally such as JFK, Narita, Hong Kong and then some like Cairo and Prague. So, LHR-JFK will cost 20% less points in November than it does right now in any class of travel. Here is a chart from BA explaining some changes.
The Reward Flight Saver is the new piece introduced. Here is how it works currently, a redemption fare from Britain to Turkey is 20,000 BA Miles RT as per the BA website.
Going forward, all you need to do if you book a Reward Flight Saver flight, is to pay 20,000 Avios points and a flat fee of Euro/GBP 27 for Euro Traveller (Economy) and Euro/GBP 34 for Club Europe (Business). So, if you manage to get one of these seats in the premium cabin, you are clearly saving 20,000 points and the taxes/surcharges along.
Now that is one juicy addition for intra-Europe travel if one could get it on time!
Moreover, this is not a complete roll-out of the new Executive Club program, and they promise to get better. So, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for this one!
PS: Avios logo from the BA website, copyright of the International Airlines Group.