No more free flights under Airmiles scheme

BA plane in snowAFP / Getty

It is one of the oldest loyalty schemes in the UK, it has been the only reason that some families have been able to afford to travel to far-flung places, but the days of Airmiles travel are over, as the airline brings in a new name and a much less attractive deal.

So exactly what is happening, and what can you do about it?

The changes
The scheme is undergoing an overhaul. It will be renamed as Avios, in one of those genius branding moves that moves from a brand that actually describes what the product does, to something utterly meaningless.

The benefits will also be changed dramatically. The real blow is that you won't be able to save up for free flights anymore. On any flight you take you will now have to pay the tax, fees and charges on the flight. European flights will be capped at £27, but long haul flights will be charged at the full rate. The Daily Telegraph has calculated that it means that 'free' flights to New York (for example) will cost anything up to £360.

To add insult to injury, you won't be able to get anything at all until you build up 20% more points.

They have tried to soften the blow by introducing some new quirks into the scheme. Members will be able to use the scheme to buy one way flights (although you have to ask yourself how many people actually need these unless they are emigrating). It can also be used to upgrade tickets to something more glamorous and expensive.

It's all in an attempt to amalgamate BA and Iberia's schemes after the companies merged. It will come into force on November 16, when all members will be automatically switched.

What can you do?
There's noting you can do to avoid the switch, so if you are planning a long-haul trip your only answer may be to get your flight in quickly before the changes take place. Families can take advantage of the October half term if they get in quick, while those without kids will be better served getting their flight in sooner rather than later to make sure they don't fall foul of the changes.

But what do you think? Are you a member? What do you think of the changes?

Let us know in the comments.

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