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British Airways Shakes Up Loyalty Program: Avios Points Now Based on Spending

Starting on October 18, members of British Airways' Executive Club will shift from earning points based on miles flown to a new system based on the amount they spend on flights

by Lauren Smith

July 18, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of British Airways

British Airways will change the way it awards Avios Points for its Executive Club loyalty program, starting later this year. Instead of miles traveled, travelers will earn points based on the amount of money spent on flights, adopting the revenue-based earning models used by other carriers.

From October 18, rates will vary depending on the traveler’s elite status within the program:

  • Blue members: 6 Avios per £1 ($1.31) spent
  • Bronze members: 7 Avios per £1 spent
  • Silver members: 8Avios per £1 spent
  • Gold members: 9 Avios per £1 spent

The total spend will be calculated by converting local currency into pounds sterling (GBP) and will include the base fare and any carrier-imposed surcharges on revenue tickets. That includes ancillary fees, including upgrades, seating changes, and additional baggage, but excludes taxes and fees. Award tickets also won’t earn points.

Photo: Courtesy of British Airways

Flights taken after October 18, but booked before that date will continue to earn points based on miles traveled.

Ian Romanis, British Airways’ Director of Retail and Customer Relationship Management, said the airline is responding to customer feedback and making its points system “simpler and more transparent.”

However, travelers have usually been annoyed when other carriers have transitioned from a distance-based earning model to a revenue-based one. Many flyers, especially those embarking on long-haul but heavily trafficked and cheap routes, such as those between London (LHR) and New York (JFK), will see their Avios earnings fall, especially when the high taxes on U.S. routes are deducted from the equation.

Photo: British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy of Arkin Si / Unsplash.

Passengers who pay for extras, have high status in the Executive Club or have inflexible travel dates may earn more on select flights. Likewise, business travelers whose bill is being footed by someone else will have even more incentive than ever to spring for pricy seats in premium cabins to rack up points.

British Airways is hardly the first carrier to start awarding frequent flyer points on the basis of spending rather than distance. In fact, most of its European competitors, including Air France and KLM, have already made a similar transition, as have the major U.S. airlines.

British Airways partner, the Spanish flag carrier Iberia, began awarding Avios on the basis of spending in late 2022, meaning it was only a matter of time before the British flag carrier joined it.

“It’s a tried and tested model already used by a number of global airlines, including our sister airline Iberia,” Romanis said.

British Airways is spinning the change as “offering more opportunities to collect Avios than ever before and rewarding loyalty based on customers’ cash spend.” Whether you’ll agree depends on your itinerary and Executive Club status.