One Avios to Rule Them All: Accounts Across Different Airlines To Be Rolled Into One

British Airways corporate parent IAG held its Capital Markets Day last week, And Brian Sumers covered the event in his excellent subscription newsletter.

One of the things he pointed out is that the group’s loyalty subsidiary plans to adopt “a single Avios balance across the airlines.”

Adam Daniels, CEO of IAG Loyalty, has a mandate to turn the frequent flyer program into a stand-alone profit center. And he told analysts one way to make it more user-friendly is to make the scheme simpler. “One of the things we’re going to implement is a single Avios balance across the airlines, so instead of having a balance in British Airways Executive Club, a balance in Iberia Plus, and a balance in AerClub, we’re going to have one virtual balance which is going to roll out individually in the airlines.”

I see how this may work within IAG and its network of airlines (e.g. British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus) but there are open questions about whether this might extend to Finnair which is adopting Avios as its currency or with Qatar Airways which uses Avios.

You can transfer points from Qatar to a British Airways Executive Club account or an Iberia account, or transfer from Iberia or Aer Lingus into Qatar today. However Qatar runs its own bank of Avios and there’s real money involved back and forth with these transfers. A single Avios account seems like it would require a single Avios central bank, which isn’t how Qatar’s partnership was set up (indeed, intentionally).

Assuming that a ‘single balance’ applies to IAG airlines that might mean the end of separate British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus Aer Club, and Iberia Plus redemption opportunities? If so, that would be a real loss for frequent flyers.

  • British Airways is far easier to deal with, from one-way awards to combining partners on an award
  • While Iberia offers fantastic value redemptions for its own flights (e.g. 34,000 miles each way in business class between the East Coast and Madrid, without onerous sucharges)
  • However Aer Lingus Aer Club has really only been useful for upgrading Aer Lingus flights and as a way of crediting United Airlines flights, ultimately, to British Airways

There’s no timetable that’s been announced for this plan, but eventually we can expect to see the end of moving points back and forth between at least BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up. Iberia is amazing value, nonstop from LAX-MAD for 47.5k off peak.

    BA is hugely more expensive. I was going to get the Citi Premier to transfer to Qatar and then to Iberia, now I’m not sure.

  2. So will this mean that I could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Executive Club or Iberia Plus and then use those points to fly on Japan Airlines? Thanks in advance.

  3. I’ve been trying to transfer my avios back to BA from Iberia for months. Iberia customer service has been…..bad.

  4. I would be fine with a system in which an existing total balance would be instantly available across the several carries so that a person could go to any of the websites and redeem without transfers. Just so the insanely expensive BA scamcharges don’t prevail across all. There are too many itineraries that are unbookable because of those.

  5. Knowing IAG, they will merge BA’s YQ charges with IB’s award restrictions and EI’s IT prowess to come up with a worst of all worlds solution

  6. Arturo: yes. Transfer to BA/IB, then book Japan Air using BA/IB’s award plans. Don’t transfer until you understand the cost and know that BA/IB see award space on Japan Air.

  7. I’d like it. I’ve been trying for months to transfer points from BA to IB with no success. Neither IB nor BA can explain or help – they just point fingers at each other. And, yes, the names, addresses and e-mails on both accounts are the same.

  8. I have noticed that now when I log into my Qatar Privilege account, which is linked to my BA account, I see the same amount of Avios reflected as my BA. Previously it was indeed still separated.
    Therefore guess this is already happening and somehow some way – this cummulative all in one is happening. Moving forward it should only be status in which program making it a differentiator.

    Cheers!

  9. Hi… I am looking forward to book tickets from Lusaka to Mumbai (Air Tanzania), but the reviews are so negative…

  10. “Retired Lawyer” Do you have a Household Account? If so, undo the Household account and then try your transfer. Don’t worry, you can immediately re-establish your Household account after the transfer.

  11. I finally got good advice on how to transfer Avios between carriers: 1) make sure to your accounts use the same email address, and 2) do the transfers (they call it “combine my Avios”) in Firefox browser. Once I did this, after months of frustration, the transfers were very easy.

  12. @Cameron,
    The best way to do that is to use avios.com to link accounts, and then transfer Avios from Iberia to Avios.com to BA.

    And yes, Iberia customer support is amazingly awful. It’s like they go out of their way to be unhelpful.

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