Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
British Airways’ new online wine partnership – The Wine Flyer – launched earlier today. It’s an intriguing idea, but having had a quick look, one I’m struggling to make much sense of.
They press release says:
“The airline has announced details of The Wine Flyer, which will launch on 4 October 2022 in partnership with IAG Loyalty. This dedicated online retailer will allow members of the British Airways’ Executive Club loyalty programme to collect up to 10 Avios per £1 spent on more than 140 varieties of wine…
Every wine chosen for the range has been produced by a country on British Airways’ global network, with a focus on both accessibility and quality. Prices start from less than £10 per bottle and the range includes premium brands such as Whispering Angel, Penfolds and Moët & Chandon. Beers, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.
Customers making one-off payments will collect 5 Avios per £1 spent on their total basket value, and those signing up to a subscription option will collect 10 Avios per £1 spent. A special introductory offer will be available until 31 December 2022, offering 10 Avios per £1 on one-off purchases, and 15 Avios per £1 on subscriptions.
Wine can be purchased from as little as 8,000 Avios per case of six, and there will be options to purchase with a combination of cash and Avios.
Why is this weird?
There is nothing strange about an airline/loyalty programme partnering with an existing retailer. That’s a very standard way for an airline to sell some miles and for a retailer to be introduced to some new customers. But that isn’t what is happening here…
The Wine Flyer is a standalone business owned by IAG Loyalty, not just a marketing partnership with an established wine retailer. Earning Avios is a powerful marketing tool and British Airways Executive Club has a lot of members, but is that really enough to bother setting up a whole new business?
Potentially yes – but only if the deals are actually competitive.
Are the deals any good?
I haven’t checked everything, but did have a good look through the champagne offering. Here are some popular options (making price comparisons easy):
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut NV: £39.99
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Rose NV: £49.99
- Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV: £47.99
To be clear, these are dreadful prices – and being able to earn a few Avios doesn’t improve them much.
I like champagne, but I also love a good deal. I therefore try to limit my champagne purchases to when prices are genuinely good. The prices listed above might seem broadly comparable to supermarket pricing, but they aren’t in reality. Supermarkets regularly discount different champagnes, and frequently offer an additional 25% discount on top when you buy 6 or more bottles of wine/champagne.
I’ve occasionally even shared some of the best deals here on InsideFlyer, so that readers could recreate that Business/First Class flying feeling at home. A couple of years ago I explained how you could buy Business Class champagne for just £11.25 per bottle.
The year before, I showed how you could get those listed above for roughly half the price that The Wine Flyer is selling them for. For example:
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut NV: £21.75
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Rose NV: £25.50
- Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV: £26
In case you’re thinking that champagne prices might be a lot higher in general now, that’s not the case. There is always considerable variation depending on what is being most heavily discounted at a particular time, but when I was putting this article together a few days ago, the following were available at Sainsbury’s:
- Piper-Heidsieck Brut for £19.50, if you were buying any mixed 6 bottles of wine/champagne. Champagne taste is personal, but I would argue strongly that Piper-Heidsieck Brut is superior (or at least comparable) to Moët.
- Veuve Clicquot for £33.75, if you were buying any mixed 6 bottles of wine/champagne.
If you shop around and wait until the Veuve Clicquot is discounted somewhere, at the same time there is a 25% multi-buy offer on again, it should be possible to stock up for ~£26 per bottle.
What about redeeming Avios?
It isn’t live yet, however, in future you can redeem “as little” as 8,000 Avios (worth at least £64) for a case of 6 bottles of wine.
I won’t bore you with any more numbers – but honestly – just transfer the Avios to Nectar and choose what you want from Sainsbury’s when there’s a 25% discount on instead…
The Wine Flyer is the sort of idea that might look fine on paper, but is going to struggle in reality. There are perhaps ways it could work, for example, by leveraging IAG’s purchase power to offer good deals and exclusive partnerships with small vineyards and artisan winemakers, etc.
Offering a handful of Avios on overpriced mainstream champagne isn’t going to cut it…
If you’ve spotted a bargain or a fantastic new find on The Wine Flyer, please share it in the comments below and let me know I’m wrong! I’d be delighted to earn some Avios on good quality (and competitively priced) wine, as I’m sure many readers would too.