No more 'free' flights as Airmiles brand is ditchedNew Avios scheme will force customers to pay taxes

02 September 2011

A plane at the airport

Changes to the Airmiles system mean you'll now have to pay taxes and fees yourself

The company behind Airmiles has announced that the Airmiles brand is to be ditched in favour of a new name, Avios, and comes with changes to how the system works.

The Mileage Company, which runs the Airmiles scheme, has announced that the changes will come into force from 16 November. Flights bought using Airmiles are currently inclusive of tax, but under the new scheme Avios points will no longer be completely free, as consumers will have to pay taxes, fees and surcharges themselves.

Why is the Airmiles charging system changing?

British Airways merged with Spanish airline Iberia earlier this year. The Mileage Company claims that it has introduced these changes in order to simplify its zone pricing system. Zones will now start from your regional airport, with fares based on the distance you fly, so you won't have to pay a supplement to fly from your chosen airport.

However, the company states that it can't control taxes, fees and surcharges and how much they fluctuate, so it's decided to remove these from the 'free' offer, with customers having to pick up the tab themselves.

Is there a plus side of the Airmiles changes?

The new scheme gives customers booking flights with the new Avios points greater flexibility, including tailor-made trips, one-way flights and the option to fly in and out of different airports.

If you change your mind about a flight, you won't lose your Avios points - under the current system you'd lose your Airmiles. You'll now be able to change or cancel your trip for £25 per person up to 24 hours before you fly.

Airmiles has also announced that it will be scrapping all credit card fees when customers book flights. Which? is currently campaigning to get the government to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges.