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No smiles as Airmiles customers lose free flights rights

The much-celebrated Airmiles scheme is to be revamped, spelling bad news for jet-setters hoping to bag freebie flights.

Millions of members, from Tesco Club Card holders to folks who just frequently travel by plane, have benefitted from the scheme, in which points can be turned into free flights to anywhere the world over.

From 16 November the Airmiles scheme will be renamed Avios and will include sucky rules such as passengers who have points having to pay taxes, fees and charges on flights. Boo hiss basically.

In Europe, charges will be capped at £27, but expect to fork out more if you plan to go further afield – a return trip from London to New York could set you back £300 a ticket.

The Mileage Company, which runs the scheme that was originally launched by British Airways, reportedly lament the introduction of charges, but feel that they could hardly avoid the move. The firm's chief executive Andrew Swaffield said: 'Over the last three years since we introduced completely free flights we have seen the costs increase ... it's untenable for us to continue to offer fully subsidised flights.'

Bob Atkinson, of Travelsupermarket website, said the changes would benefit members of BA's Executive Club. 'Currently a return trip to Copenhagen would cost them 15,000 BA miles plus £80.70 in fees, but from November that will be 9,000 Avios points plus £27,' he said furiously looking up from his calculator. 'Air passenger duty alone is now £12 so that's only leaving £15 to cover all the other charges BA faces, and that to me is a bargain.'

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