Airmiles members will now pay tax on ‘free’ flights

The UK’s longest running travel loyalty scheme, Airmiles, has become part of a new programme called Avios. More than two million members will see their hard earned Airmiles turned into Avios’s equivalent. What does this mean for Airmiles members?

Airmiles used to offer free flights in exchange for loyalty points but now with Avios, flights are subject to tax. There is a charge of £27 for a flight to Europe to cover the cost of taxes and fees but longer distance flights are subject to as much as £360 for a flight to New York! So what used to be free can now cost just as much as purchasing a flight direct from the airline!A flight to New York departing on 6th March 2012 and returning on 13th March 2012 will cost 40,000 Avios and £299.53 towards the taxes and fees. Saving these Avios points can take some time and their online calculator can help you work out how long it would take to save those points. If you were to spend £200 on grocery shopping, £550 on credit cards, buy 200 litres of fuel and spend £200 on online shopping a month, it would take you two years to save enough Avios to get a flight to New York. To save these points you need to use their partners, for example, the only credit card to use is the Lloyds TSB Avios Card and to get your grocery points you need to be shopping at Tesco.To compare against the Avios deal, if you were to book a flight using somewhere like, the flight would cost you £362. So all in all the Avios flight isn’t that much of a deal and all that hard working saving those points has really only saved you £62.47.There are other ways you can spend your points at Avios, such as spa treatments, days out and hotels stays amongst many other experiences including even travel insurance!

By using your points towards the experiences you may feel like you are getting something for free as there are no taxes or fees to pay. You can even buy a gift voucher for a friend and let them choose what they would like to do.