International Airlines Group (IAG) has officially unveiled Avios, a new frequent flyer currency which replaces Airmiles, BA Miles and Iberia Plus miles.
To coincide with this launch BA has also made a number of changes to its Executive Club scheme. Some of these changes were unveiled by the carrier last month, including the launch of an all-new Bronze tier (see online news October 18).
But BA has now also confirmed changes to its tier points structure on long-haul flights. Previously a member purchasing a full fare long-haul economy ticket would have earned 60 tier points, with a 1.5 multiplication bonus for travellers in Word Traveller Plus, x2 bonus for Club World passengers, and x3 for First passengers and those travelling on BA's all-business class route between London City and New York.
The full-fare long-haul economy rate has now been increased to 70 tier points with the same multiplication bonuses in place, and in addition a new "super long-haul" band has been introduced for flights over 6,000 miles, offering 80 points for full-fare economy and again the same cabin multipliers.
BA has also increased the benefits of its Concorde Room card, with cardholders now able to bring a guest when visiting the carrier’s eilte Concorde Rooms at Heathrow T5 and New York JFK. The card is issued to members who earn over 5,000 tier points in any one year.
The Executive Club has also gone through a cosmetic relaunch, with new card designs for its Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers – for more information and images of the cards, click here.
Finally the launch of the Avios scheme means members now have increased options for the redemption of their miles (now known as Avios points). Going forward members can redeem points against car hire packages with established BA partner Avis, or against hotel stays with a number of partners.
Speaking to Business Traveller prior to the launch, BA's head of customer engagement Ian Romanis said that the carrier had made the decision to split the launch communication to customers over the last few months, as "there is such a lot of change happening at the same time that we wanted to make sure we took our passengers through the journey with us".
Romanis said that in reality the changes had started as far back as last October, with the launch of the joint business agreement with American Airlines and Iberia, and the introduction of 100 per cent miles on discounted economy tickets (see online news October 1, 2010).
"It’s the biggest set of changes that we’ve made to the Executive Club in the last ten years. But we’re not going to stop here. Are we going to have a change programme as big as the one that we’re launching now? No – but we will continue to look at ways in which we can improve and enhance the programme, absolutely."
Asked whether BA would consider introducing lifetime-recognition for its most loyal customers, similar to AA's Million Miler programme, Romanis said:
"Recognising a customer's lifetime tenure with us is certainly something that I’ve talked about with customers and had feedback on over a period of time, and we are constantly looking at ways in which we can further enhance and grow the programme. The area of lifetime recognition is certainly an area that we are thinking about."
Romanis said that feedback on the changes announced so far had been "broadly positive", and added that the new hotel and car hire redemption options had been something customers had requested "for a period of time".
He said that over time the carrier would look to add further redemption options, but that these would be "very much rooted in travel... as opposed to developing shopping mall products as you see with other loyalty programmes".
Report by Mark Caswell