Avios update – AirMiles comes full circle

Remember Latitudes?

If you are here in the UK and of a certain age you must just remember AirMiles Latitudes.   It was the original FFP currency that BA launched in the UK way back in the dim and distant past.  BA wasn’t overly keen on having a “traditional” FFP scheme and it showed in many ways with Latitudes.  That scheme then merged/evolved in to the Executive Club which is still here in the 21st Century.

What was interesting in the early days of the Executive Club was that in the UK only you earnt AirMiles as the FFP currency.  And the scheme worked on the AirMiles model – you earned miles based on a table of zones (eg London to Glasgow which is about 400 miles would get you 50 Air Miles) but redeemed on distance.  So, London to Paris would cost (the minimum) of 500 Air Miles.)

That, as you can imagine for FFP members in the UK caused endless confusion.  By definition these Frequent Flyers would be in different parts of the world and they would see promotions offering, say, 2,000 miles free.  Now those were different miles.  Not Air Miles.  The upshot of that was that BA introduced a single currency – BA Miles – way back at the turn of this century.

Air Miles members now to earn miles for flying

Earlier today, Avios (the new name for Air Miles as well as BA and IB’s currency) sent a communication to Air Miles collectors answering some FAQ’s.  One of them was “Can I collect on flights” to which the answer is yes.  Avios members (who have been collecting Air Miles) can now earn miles for flying.

This is a game changer – previously you had to be a member of the Executive Club to earn miles from flying.  Now, Avios members can earn for flying as well.  That has some very interesting knock-on effects.  Clearly, BA hopes that will encourage lots more flying with them and not their competitors such as EasyJet and Ryanair.  It also means that they can encourage that flying without having to sign people into a FFP scheme that has tiered benefits.  Most occasional flyers can never hope to obtain these benefits – such as free lounge access – with a few flights a year and having them in that scheme was always a mixed message.  Now, with being able to offer Avios points for flying, they have found a neat solution to this challenge.

As the French say, plus ca chance…….it might have taken 20 years, but in many ways, back to the future!


About Michael Smith

Based in Glasgow, Scotland, I'm also the Managing Partner of Airline Information. Our delegates have made our conferences the best in their respective marketplaces. From Loyalty to Airline Merchandising to Payments! Prior to working for SeaMountain and Airline Information for the last 8 years I worked at British Airways and Great Universal Stores in a variety of Marketing positions.
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