British Airways has announced that it will be making changes to its air miles loyalty scheme (Avios), which will make flying with the company far less rewarding for anyone in economy class. Passengers will earn fewer miles, and will have to pay more when they redeem them at busy times. To add insult to injury, at the same time, the scheme is being made more generous for business class travellers.
The changes will come into effect on 28 April. At the moment economy class passengers earn the number of points that match the number of miles they have flown. After April, this will only apply to people who buy expensive flexible economy tickets. Cheaper fares will accrue 50% or 25% of the total - a massive cut for bargain hunters.
So, for example, if you flew economy from London to New York, instead of getting 3,485 air miles, you would earn just 865. It would mean that instead of the points qualifying you for a flight to Milan (with a £35 fee), they won't qualify you for a single destination served by the company.
Meanwhile business class flights will continue to earn 150% of the points on non-flexible tickets, but will rise to 200% for non-flexible tickets, and first class will rise from 200% to 250% on non-flexible tickets and 300% on flexible ones.
More to redeem them
The inequality of the changes, and the fact it will help well-off travellers at the expense of those flying economy class has infuriated the 6.4 million people who use the scheme, and many of them have taken to social media to voice their anger.
@tomsleigh tweeted: "Do you struggle to use British Airways miles for flights? Fear not: now they're even harder to earn and worth less. Problem solved #avios." @richardbagnall added: "Changing the goal posts again @british_airways, contempt for its customers"
Some highlight that it's families who struggle to afford flights who will pay the biggest price - getting fewer points for their flights, and being forced to pay more for a flight during the holidays. @adydolan, tweeted: "75% lower rewards for cattle class and increased #avios points needed during school holidays? Harsh."
Some have even established an online petition to try to persuade the company to change its mind
Others have accepted that there's little they can do but vote with their feet. @Suburban_Guard tweeted: "Ultimately BA can do what they want with their Avios system, and as a customer I will (likely) exercise my right to spend my money elsewhere."
British Airways is trying to find the silver lining, responding to one tweet with: "Hi, we're sorry to disappoint you. One of the benefits is there will be more Avios seats available to book than ever before!"
It's hard to know how many people will be comforted by this fact.
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