History of Avios

Why did Airmiles change to Avios?

There were several reasons for the change.

  • The increasing financial costs associated with air travel made the old Airmiles scheme unsustainable.
  • The name ‘Airmiles’ was not internationally owned by the International Airlines Group, whom British Airways operate under.
  • The merger of British Airways with the Spanish Iberia group, in early 2011, was a final reason for the Avios ‘rebrand’. (Iberia customers also saw the demise of their ‘Iberia Plus points’ scheme, as that too was replaced with the Avios).


Who was affected by the switch?

There were an estimated 2.2 million British Airways Airmiles customers who were affected by this change. Airmiles customers could no longer use their Airmiles as normal, and in November 2011, BA introduced the Avios.

Most people successfully moved from Airmiles to Avios, but if you are having difficulties, please use the following telephone number if you have any questions regarding Avios. Airmiles customers can also use this number, even though they’ve been automatically moved to Avios now.

The official Avios customer service/contact number/helpline/bookings telephone number is 0844 49 333 99. Our page here shows all the many ways that you can contact Avios UK.

It should also be noted that all paper Airmiles were expired automatically on 30th November 2011.

Goodbye Airmiles… Hello Avios points

The first thing that customers noticed was that any Airmiles currently held, were automatically converted to the new Avios currency – meaning members received Avios points instead. This occurred back in November  2011. To calculate Avios, you multiplied the amount of Airmiles you had by 10. For example 1,200 Airmiles was worth 12,000 Avios points. You could also try our simple Avios points calculator.

It should also be noted that the old Airmiles website was replaced by avios.com. You can log in there with your existing Airmiles username and password to find your account, which should have been moved. If you are new to collecting Avios points, then that is also the site you will need to use to sign up. If you are having trouble logging into their website, please contact Avios directly on the number listed above.

All-inclusive fees

Under the Avios scheme you now pay airline taxes, fees and charges separately. So for a typical European flight, where the vast majority of Avios are used, you spend your Avios points on your flight – and then pay a fee on top. This fee is £27 for the Euro Traveller class, or a £34 fee if you are travelling Club Europe class. This can all be very confusing if you are new to collecting Avios, please see the information on our Avios Zones guide to see real examples of how all this works in practice!

Note that the above fixed fees are for Avios members who have collected at least one Avios point in the previous 12 months. If you have collected at least one like this, then you are known as a ‘Regular Collector’.

When travelling to zones outside Europe, you buy your flights with Avios points as normal and then you pay airline taxes, fees and charges on top. There are no fixed fees for zones outside Europe and this amount will depend on where you are flying to. Be very careful with these variable fees are they can add a lot to your travel budget. They will be shown when you book your Avios flight online.

Avios Zones are different

With Avios Zones, you might notice some subtle changes to the old Airmiles scheme. There are now nine Avios Zones, rather than seven, and some of the old Zone 2 destinations have moved into Zone 1, meaning you will pay out less Avios points to travel to them. More Avios Zones should technically mean it is cheaper to travel to some long haul destinations as they may now be included in a different zone, meaning you spend less Avios points.

Please see our independent guide to Avios Zones.

Credit card fees have gone

When you book a flight, you will no longer be charged for using a credit card.

Account expiration

With the old Airmiles scheme, your account would be automatically closed if you hadn’t collected any Airmiles within the previous 24 months.This time limit has been increased by an extra year to 36 months for Avios. Expiration only occurs if you haven’t spent, collected, bought or shared at least one Avios point in 3 years.

Collect Avios points by flight distance

You will still be able to earn Avios points when you buy flights, but the amount of Avios points collected will now be based on distance. This applies to flights paid with cash on both British Airways and Iberia flights. You can collect extra Avios points if you opt for premium cabins.

  • Premium Economy – 25% extra Avios points
  • Business – 50% extra Avios points
  • First – Double Avios points

Cancellation changes

You will no longer lose out if you have to cancel, or make changes to a flight you have booked using Avios points as payment. You can now pay a fee of £25 per person, up to 24 hours before the time you were expected to fly. This is a welcome change and it should mean consumers are less likely to consider paying extra insurance against the loss of a flight funded by Avios points, as many did under the Airmiles scheme.

Less airport restrictions

Under Avios, you are now able to make one-way flights or even choose to fly in and out of different airports (on selected airlines). However, if you book a one-way flight you will still pay for half the return fare (in points) plus the relevant taxes, fees and surcharges, so be aware when using your Avios points in this situation. Again, the charges should be made clear at the time of booking. Another difference between Airmiles and Avios is that you no longer pay a supplement for flying from regional airports in the UK.

Using & spending Avios points

This new scheme also means you are not limited to using Avios points on just flights. You can now spend  Avios points on days out, hotels, ferries, Eurostar, car hire and even at Disneyland Paris. Visit the official Avios website at avios.com for the latest details of where and how to spend Avios points.

Read our independent guide to spending Avios points.

Where can I collect Avios points in the UK?

You are able to collect Avios points in the same way that Airmiles were collected.

  • Collect Avios points by buying flights from BA or Iberia
  • By shopping at Tesco with a Club Card
  • By using special Lloyds TSB credit cards
  • Buying fuel at Shell petrol stations with a Shell card
  • By using the Airmiles/Avios eStore for online shopping.
  • Buy Avios points to top up your total

Read our independent guide on how to collect Avios Points.