Airline Mergers, Alliance Integration, and Online Award Booking

Apparently when it becomes possible to transfer points between bmi Diamond Club and British Airways Avios, BA accounts set up for family membership won’t be eligible to do the transfers. Presumably this restriction will have to ultimately be lifted at such point as BA just shuts down Diamond Club. In the mean, you can of course de-link family accounts if you wish to make the transfers.

With South American airlines LAN (a oneworld member) and TAM (a Star Alliance member) under common ownership, the world has been waiting with bated breath for a decision as to which alliance the jointly-owned airlines would belong to. The smart money has been on oneworld. This eventuality became glaringly obvious when representatives from TAM were not on hand for the Star Alliance announcement of South American airliens AviancaTaca and Copa joining Star. It’s now official, as Wandering Aramean reports. There will be a six month wrapup for TAM’s exit from Star. While LAN and TAM are integrating, it’s not yet officially announced that TAM will actually join oneworld, however.

Meanwhile, award space on Avianca, TACA, and Copa is now bookable online on the United, Aeroplan, and All Nippon websites.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The 6-month exit period hasn’t started yet. TAM has acknowledged that they have to leave but they’ve still got 24 months to do it and the 6-month period doesn’t start until they actually pick a date.

  2. I know this is an off topic post/reply but FYI, I called BA this morning and they said that if I was to merge household accounts, even though the points can be pooled together, award tickets can only be booked for members of the household accounts. This means that I cannot book tickets using BA points for friends. I thought this is important to know cause I’m managing quite a number of BA accounts for friends.

  3. Don’t panic regarding bmi transfers to BA! The first comment following the blog post linked to here (and the FT thread linked to there) make it clear that this is a non-story.

  4. Gary, I did that with SPG and SPG wanted my drivers license AND two of my friend’s licenses to match the addresses on file before they would transfer the points. I’ve been plat with SPG forever and they froze all of our accounts until we gave them our licenses. To make matters worse, my two friends are Canadians and I’m based in NYC. You know it’s not going to happen for my friends to get to the DMV to change their addresses to NYC or vice versa. Long story short, SPG put a warning on our accounts. You know how SPG has been recently (giving you problems with your free credit stay). I’ll be so screwed if BA pulls the same stunt that SPG has now, right?

  5. @Gavin – SPG is really really really tough with changing account addresses and then transferring points, they allow points transfers between accounts and then moving the points out to airlines, there’s lots of fraud with folks trading airline miles this way.

  6. @ Gary, I know about SPG’s policies (the tough way) hence my hesitance with doing the same thing with BA on the household account merge. Btw, your blog is truly one of the best out there; keep up the great work.

  7. @Gary: “Who is panicking?” The blogger you linked to was certainly being alarmist, a few people on various FlyerTalk threads are getting worked up about the non-problem and potentially a lot more people will do the same when they read the words “won’t be eligible to do the transfers” in the first sentence of your post. Just wanted to set it straight. 🙂

  8. @Gavin – it has always been the case that if you are in a HHA with BA, miles can only be used for flights for those in the HHA. It’s not a new change.

  9. Avianca is not bookable on
    You need to do some checking before you post. There some comments on the same article you are quoting which say there is no online availability yet.

  10. @Euan, thanks. I didn’t know that. At least BA allows their miles to be ticked for other passengers before combining household accounts. Once you merge the household pool together, you can’t ticket it for “outsiders”.

  11. Have you tried premium product on any of these airlines? Or do you know of any credible reviews? What kind of seats do they have?

    I flew Copa in economy IAH-Panama-Quito, it felt indistinguishable from Continental.

    Also flew TACA to Peru in coach, it felt indistinguishable from a central american bus, including the price 😉

  12. @Gavin – personally I can’t see anything wrong with the HHA system. It’s set up to let ‘genuine’ households pull together their miles so I don’t really have issues with tickets being for members of the HHA only.

  13. It’s my understanding that Chilean anti-trust authorities made approval of the TAM-LAN merger conditional on the merged company being out of Star. I guess the question is whether Skyteam, which is unrepresented in South America (Aerolineas is a “future member” but that seems unlikely to go forward due to Argentina’s chaotic situation) will make an offer so tempting that LAN gives up its ties to OneWorld.

  14. I am afraid that what BA thinks is ‘as simple as possible’ might not be what I think of as ‘simple’. BA hasn’t been very transparent in the whole process – changing status matching periods, removal of bmi upgrade certs at no notice. Let’s see I suppose!

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