It hasn’t been a Happy New Year for British Airways!
British Airways paid food service
It’s new enhanced service of paid food went live in January and has resulted in a flood of complaints to the airline. Criticisms have abounded on non-functioning credit card terminals, the inability to pay with cash, limited supplies and poor training resulting in some passengers receiving no in-flight service at all. Could things get any worse?
The winter of discontent
Well, yes it seems they could. As if all that bad publicity wasn’t bad enough, there is another reason to avoid booking flights with British Airways currently as staff seem intent on bringing the airline to its knees. I know some of the salaries quoted in the press are low but the last time I heard, we live in a democracy where slavery is outlawed so no-one forced these people to accept jobs on low pay.
I have little sympathy for legalised blackmail. If you don’t like your pay conditions, leave and get a job elsewhere. Find a job with a better paying airline, or become a brain surgeon or an investment manager. Then you can earn mega bucks. Instead, paying customers are being made to suffer and British Airways will likely be issuing profit warnings before long. Shareholders beware!
In January alone, five days of strikes resulted in the cancellation of 72 flights. To be fair, British Airways deserve credit for managing to operate most flights. That’s not the end of it though, as February looks to be much of the same with two, three-day strikes planned.
I really hope that there is an airline left to pick up when Unite and its members have finished their whining. Otherwise, Heathrow T5 might resemble these deserted hallways!
Then there’s the stories of the low-cost carrier tactics being introduced (and let’s be fair, I don’t usually find British Airways coming out top on fares!), hand baggage only fares, rumours of lounge access being cut and downsizing of seats. Surely this is enough to make anyone run for the hills. One comment on FlyerTalk was simply ‘I see no point in using BA now‘. He isn’t the only one who has expressed dissatisfaction.
It seems the airline whose motto is ‘to fly, to serve‘ is struggling to fly and to serve.
What does this mean for travel hackers?
All of this is pretty depressing if you are a savvy travel hacker. We Brits do not have tons of options for acquiring airline rewards (at least, not unless you are a frequent flyer) and the credit card deals for British Airways are much more attractive than for other airlines, so what do we do? Do we accept a sub-standard service, jump ship or simply try to make our points work harder to compensate for the endless litany of complaints?
If you accumulate most of your points, like me, from credit cards and shopping portals, then British Airways is undoubtedly the most rewarding programme for a UK resident who is ineligible for the lucrative US credit cards. Other programmes such as Miles and more and Virgin simply don’t offer as beneficial sign up bonuses on credit cards as British Airways. Nor do they offer a companion voucher allowing you to fly business for less than economy.
The American Express Gold card offers some flexibility if you are at breaking point. AMEX points can be transferred to a range of Airlines including Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin and Singapore Airlines. Most of these airlines do not offer companion vouchers for British residents though. This means that you are going to have to earn a ton more points to fly business class, unless you plan to travel solo.
So, for me it looks as though I’m not going to be switching allegiance anytime soon. I know my relationship with British Airways will continue to be fractious if the current trend of service ‘enhancements‘ continues, but I just can’t seem to break free. I just hope the strikes are done and dusted by the time I head to Seoul in March!
Some good news
On the plus side, I am delighted that British Airways have announced some NEW services from Manchester to Europe. Yay! The airline discontinued many Manchester routes some years ago limiting redemption options unless connecting in London. This wasn’t such a bad thing when you only paid one set of taxes, but given they now charge taxes per leg for European flights, it’s just another reason not to use them. With direct flights from Manchester, it opens up some new options and I like the look of beautiful, sultry Mykonos.
New flights to the Balearic Islands, Greece and mainland Spain are being introduced, and I would not be averse to using some points to book a weekend getaway.
Where is your tipping point?
What will you be choosing to do? Do you plan to stick with British Airways or go elsewhere? Maybe you have some great tips to share on how to bag more AVIOS. We love to hear from you so jump in and start the conversation below.