A major overhaul of the way Avios points are collected and redeemed could be rolled out by the end of 2018, British Airways boss Alex Cruz has revealed.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, which was published on the frequent flyer website Head for Points earlier this week, Cruz said a series of far-reaching changes could be expected later this year or early in 2019.
It's clear something big is going to change, but we don't know yet have full details of what's happening - or whether it'll be positive or negative. The important thing for anyone with Avios points is to keep a close eye out for whatever comes along - we'll have full details as soon as we know more.
See our 31 tricks to boost and max Avios for how to get the most out of your points.
What changes can we expect?
Details are still extremely sketchy - British Airways won't give us many details directly, though it's confirmed that Cruz's comments do represent the latest available info. Based on what he told the South China Morning Post though, we can expect the following:
- You may be able to use Avios to get bigger chunks off the ticket price, under a 'sliding scale' approach. Currently there are three ways to buy with Avios. There's a set price in Avios for a ticket depending on when you travel (you also pay taxes and charges), but you can choose instead to use a few Avios to discount the cash price, or if paying by Avios, you can use a little cash to require fewer points.
However speaking to the Post, Cruz said: "One of the key instruments which I hope we will completely redevelop by the end of the year is the 'Pay with Avios' concept. I got a short-haul ticket for my son the day before yesterday and I used 2,500 Avios to discount it by £20.
"As a consumer, I was looking at it and I wasn't given an option to buy the whole ticket or pay half of the price. What I really wanted was a slider. I am willing to pay £30, "how many points will you take?". So moving it up and down. That is the direction we are heading in."
- You may be able to buy more flights with Avios. On every long haul flight, a minimum of four economy and two business-class tickets are released to buy on Avios, but Cruz suggested there could be some changes to the way tickets are made available.
He said: "There are a lot of people that say “Can I fly to London at Christmas in business class?” Yes, there are always seats available which people log-in exactly 355 days before departure to select. That’s not the point.
"The point we are moving to is that if there is a seat for sale, you should have access to it. You should make a decision how many points you use and how many money [sic] you pay."
- You may be able to use Avios to pay BA for baggage, seats, upgrades & more. At the moment, you can only spend Avios on certain things, eg flights or hotels/car hire booked with Avios.
But Cruz said: "We would like to be in a place, I am not sure if we can make it by the beginning of next year or the end of this year, where every single payment that is made in BA through every channel – baggage, seats, upgrades, tickets themselves – can be paid with Avios."
- The way you collect points COULD change. Cruz gave no details at all about this - but he did offer a broad hint that the way you collect points could change.
He introduced his plans by saying: "So at the moment we have seen how a number of airlines around the world have changed the way in which they collect points and redeem points to be much more value-driven. If the ticket costs £1,000 you get more points than if your ticket cost £100." Already with Avios a discount economy ticket will earn you fewer points than a flexible economy ticket, but we could see an additional sliding scale in due course.
You can read the full interview on the Head for Points website.
What does BA say?
Sadly BA won't tell us anything more at the moment, other than to say: "We continually evolve our products to ensure we offer our customers relevant discounts across our product portfolio.
"There will be no immediate changes to the way our part-pay with Avios prices and discounts are calculated. Any significant change to our programmes will always be communicated to our members in advance."
We'll be keeping a close eye on developments and will update our 31 tricks to boost and max Avios guide as soon as we know more.