Posts Tagged ‘ba’
Loyalty schemes are often touted as a good way to retain customers and to keep them choosing your brand over another, and British Airways’ Avios scheme for airmiles is no exception. However, running a successful a loyalty scheme is a lot like trying to please a good woman- always better to keep her happy, as once you start scrimping on what you’re offering, hell hath no fury…
New changes have been announced to the British Airways airmiles (Avios) scheme that will see the scheme ‘gutted’ and ‘devalued’ for normal, economy class users. However, this is not a cost-cutting exercise, as British Airways are, at the same time, making the scheme far more generous for those who, arguably, need the benefits less as they are already forking out first – and business-class prices.
For example,from 28 April a basic economy-class ticket from London to New York will earn just 865 airmiles, down from 3,458. Previously, a Heathrow-Vancouver economy return earned 9,400 points which was more than enough for a round-trip from London to Milan (subject to a £35 payment). Now, some economy passengers face a 75% fall in the number of Avios earned, to just 2,350 meaning the same traveller would now need to make four round trips to earn enough for a journey to Italy and back.
Passengers in Scotland and northern England face even more dramatic increases in the cost of redeeming points for journeys to Europe. At present they are entitled to a free domestic connecting flight, often to London, but this ‘courtesy’ is also being withdrawn “to bring the UK in line with the rest of the world.”
Business and first-class passengers are the big winners from the changes to point-earning. These travellers will see their Avios points rise by as much as two-thirds, with the Heathrow to JFK traveller picking up 8,645 airmiles, up from 5,187, on a one-way flight. However, when business travellers come to redeem their points, the number of Avios they have to spend will rise. For example, a business class flight from London to Sydney currently costs 100,000 Avios points, but this will rise to 125,000 at off-peak times and 150,000 at peak times.
And this peak and off peak pricing for reward flights is across the board, hitting those who travel at Christmas or during the school summer holidays hardest. For example, a single flight to Rome will cost 7,500 points in July but 6,500 points in January. BA said the new structure means that “for two thirds of the year you will require fewer Avios than now to fly on reward seats.”
To attempt to sweeten the deal and head off the inevitable PR storm, BA is promising to make half a million extra seats available for travellers trying to use their accumulated points. “We guarantee that more than 9m reward seats will be available on our flights, with a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights that are offered for sale on ba.com,” it said, before going on to excuse the changes to the scheme as being in the name of ‘fairness’, by making more expensive tickets earn higher rewards. “In practice this means that if you pay for a flexible ticket you will earn more Avios than the lowest priced ticket in the same cabin.”
So are you going to be affected by the dramatic changes? Or are you more prosaic, happy that getting something for nothing is always a good thing, even if it’s a lot less something than it used to be…
Bad news if you’re going to Europe with BA, Ryanair or Easyjet– Italian and Portuguese air traffic controllers are downing tools, leaving you stranded on the tarmac in a big orange glorified bus with wings.
Easyjet have warned of ‘significant impact’ to their flights, and Ryanair have cancelled 80 flights from today – but only 4 of them are in and out of the UK.
But the air traffic controllers are at least trying to be a bit democratic about their strike this time, and have drawn up a very helpful schedule. Italian air traffic control are on strike between 1pm and 5 pm local time, while Portuguese air traffic control are on strike between 7am and 9am and 2pm until 4pm local time. (Gives them a bit of time to go to the shops and have a coffee, etc.)
On their website, Easyjet has promised to let you know flight developments via email, and customers can check their online Flight Tracker. Some flights to Lisbon and Milan Malpensa have been re-scheduled to avoid the strike times.
Meanwhile, BA said: ‘We have re-timed a number of flights and are using larger aircraft where possible to help more customers from cancelled flights fly to where they need to be. We are advising customers on short-haul services to keep checking the very latest information on our website as the nature of the industrial action may change throughout the day.’
Anyway, if you’re Italy or Portugal-bound today or tomorrow, good luck, and don’t forget to bring your bumper book of Sudoku for the long wait.
At least you can always rely on BA not to charge you for checked in luggage – and you might even get a hard croissant and a cup of cold tea in the price of your ticket. But now BA are going all Ryanair on our asses, with plans to introduce a charge for baggage in the hold.
Their new hand baggage fares begin on September 24th, offering a £10 discount on flights to Barcelona, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam and Stockholm. So effectively, you’re paying a tenner extra to check in baggage.
The airline are already operating the hand baggage fares on short haul flights from Gatwick, and apparently it’s proving popular.
BA’s head of short haul, Robin Glover-Faure said: ‘The hand-baggage-only fare at Gatwick has proved very popular with our customers so we’re now introducing it on a selected number of short-haul routes from Heathrow and London City. If it proves as successful, we plan to roll it out across the whole short-haul network in the coming months.’
Passengers who have already booked tickets will get the full baggage allowance, but after the end of the month, it looks like it’s all downhill from here.
If they get rid of those croissants, there’ll be hell to pay…
Virgin Atlantic are going toe-to-toe with British Airways with a new brand for short-haul flights called ‘Little Red’.
Virgin will start flying between Heathrow and Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen later this month, using the slots that BMI used to fly.
This ‘Little Red’ service will see passengers offered free 23kg luggage check-ins, pre-assigned seats, free snacks and drinks and hot breakfasts in the morning. That actually sounds rather good.
‘Little Red’ has also buddied-up with crisp vendors Tyrrells for special edition ‘Plane Crisps’ and AG Barr to provide Irn Bru on Scottish flights.
Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson said: “Virgin Atlantic has been on an incredible journey since we started with a single plane 29 years ago. Little Red represents the next step on that journey as we go head to head with British Airways to provide domestic flights that deliver Virgin Atlantic’s rock and roll spirit as well as real value for money.”
“The European Commission recognised that a British Airways monopoly would be undeniably bad for consumers and Little Red will stop British Airways dominating routes and driving higher prices.”
Virgin Atlantic are tagteaming on a transatlantic flights venture with Delta Air Lines, provided the US company buys Singapore Airlines’ 49% stake in the UK airline.
This means that Delta and Virgin will be able to share their flights between Britain and America. Sharing the workload could well lead to prices coming down too.
This is good news for Virgin who haven’t been enjoying business recently, posting a loss of £80m thanks to rising fuel prices and the euro zone crisis. Elsewhere, Virgin have announced that they’ll be flying to-and-from the decidedly less-exotic Scotland. There’ll be 18 flights a day between Scotland and Heathrow Airport, which is competition for BA who have pretty much had the monopoly on London to Scotland flights thus far.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: “Throughout our history, Virgin Atlantic has successfully fought British Airways all over the world and has offered passengers a compelling alternative. We will look to replicate that in our short-haul flying and challenge the current BA monopoly on these routes which is causing serious consumer harm.”
Of all the ‘rages’, air rage is the most understandable. For a kick-off, you’ve got the stress of hurtling through the sky in a metal penis with wings which, if it crashes, will almost certainly see you dying in a fireball hell.
Add to this, the screaming children, your ears turning inside-out at the air pressure, the overpriced tat being forced down your throat, people’s smelly feet, the lack of leg room, the hell of having been stuck in an airport prior to boarding, people x-raying your genitals in security, those stupid announcements, stag and hen do’s whooping at your while you weep at the turbulence… and worst of all, the grinning, patronising cabin crew who offer you scratchcards while ignoring your complaints about the tall-man behind you with his knees in your spine.
So it isn’t surprising at all that a drunk American businessman has been charged with assault after allegedly threatening to stab British Airways staff during a bout of air rage at 30,000 feet on a flight to Britain.
Poor ol’ Tim Bradley snapped and began to hurl abuse at fellow passengers and spat at crew after he was refused more booze on the flight to Heathrow. Apparently, Tim got hammered on wine and beer before being refused more burp pop, which of course, saw him flaring up brandishing a bit of glass “ready to attack crew”.
An eye-witness says: “He was shouting at customers and crew, swearing, stumbling about the cabin. His swearing got louder and he was swearing at the manager of the crew. He pushed him in the galley and wanted to know why he was refused more wine.”
“When he got back to his seat I could see him holding the broken glass in his hand. He was saying to people around him, ‘Why have I f******* been picked? I’ll stab the pilots if they want.’”
He was of course, arrested on the tarmac after Flight 288 landed and was charged with being drunk on an aircraft and common assault.
The bitter squabbling between British Airways and the union Unite has caused pain and misery for thousands of travellers; over the past 18 months, industrial action has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and little in the way of progress at the negotiating table. The threat of further strikes has never been far from the minds of the airline or its customers.
That looks likely to change, however. Cabin crew are today voting on a new deal to bring the dispute to a close. If staff approve, the agreement will see concessions returned to cabin crews, as well as a new two year pay deal. Unite is recommending its members accept the agreement.
BA has suffered massive losses in recent years; 2010 saw operations affected not only by industrial action but hundreds of shot and long-haul flights were cancelled by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul. Customer confidence in the airline hasn’t been particularly high in recent months, but if the permanent threat of strikes is lifted, British Airways has at least a chance to win customers back.
We Brits aren’t as mental as Americans. That’s what the chairman of British Airways is implying when he hit out at super stringent airport checks.
Martin Broughton said that we shouldn’t be forced to take off our shoes (his nose works alright then) or have laptops checked separately when checking in for flights.
He added officials should not “kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done”, especially over checks they do not impose on their own domestic routes.
Mr Broughton said: “We should say, ‘We’ll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential’. We all know there’s quite a number of elements in the security programme which are completely redundant and they should be sorted out.”
This comes on the back of murmurs that there’s work being done on new security frameworks and more details would reveal themselves in the coming months.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he was aware of concerns about airport security, saying it would “remain a continuing challenge to the industry”, adding: “I intend to develop a new regulatory system – one that frees up operators to devise the security processes needed to deliver them in line with EU requirements.”
Basically, it looks like body pat-down searches and carry-on baggage checks for passengers arriving from the 14 nations which authorities consider a security risk.
Hopefully, this means that the whole process will speed up and, perhaps most importantly, no planes get blown to shit while we’re sat on them.
After a one day protest by air traffic controllers last week, the French are once more going all out to cause maximum airline misery over the next few days.
A general strike affecting aviation workers has been confirmed to begin this evening – and last until Friday. The strike action is likely to affect domestic flights and short-haul routes between France and European cities, as well as flights passing through French airspace.
Air France is attempting to operate a full service of long-haul flights throughout the action. British Airways’ website hasn’t bothered to add details of any disruption (and in fact don’t even mention the strike is occurring), unlike Ryanair who are fully briefing their passengers.
80 per cent of easyJet flights pass through French airspace, and as a result the airline is expecting disruption and cancellations across the week:
We are working closely with the French Government to try to minimise the impact to our customers, unfortunately however we will have to cancel a number of our flights and have been advised that there is a high risk of additional disruption during the day. As soon as we know which flights are directly affected we will contact those customers affected.
If you happen to be flying to mainland European destinations or beyond this week, check in with your airline before heading off to the airport.
We recently reported on the threat of dual strikes on two of the UK’s major airlines – British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Thankfully, that’s not going to happen – guess which one has sorted itself out? Yeah.
Virgin Atlantic had been at loggerheads with the pilot’s union BALPA over the reduction of holidays for pilots, amongst other issues, but the dispute has been resolved and there’ll be no industrial action as a result.
What’s interesting is the view of the union; this is BALPA’s Jim McAuslan speaking about the negotiations:
“Both sides have conducted talks that were frank, to the point and creative. Whilst the issue has created much debate, we are now happy with both the agreement and the ground that has been laid for our future relationship with the company.”
Happy. To the point. Creative. Perhaps Virgin Atlantic really are unlike any other company, or maybe this union goes about business differently. Regardless, paid-up passengers to British Airways are no doubt hoping their dispute will be resolved in a similar fashion.
The airline and union Unite are due to meet again next week to negotiate over cabin crew pay and conditions, with further disruptions to flights threatened if the matter isn’t resolved.
Something smells fishy according to British Airways, and it’s not the cod in white wine sauce on the Economy menu. With 12 days of scheduled flights in peril after members of union UNITE decided to strike over pay freezes and redundancies, the airline is attempting to prevent the action going ahead by serving papers on the union. The reason? BA are citing “irregularities” in the initial strike ballot:
We are commencing legal action in an attempt to protect customers from the massive stress and disruption threatened by Unite’s decision to call a 12-day strike from December 22.
We have today written to Unite, highlighting irregularities in the union’s strike ballot, which we believe renders the ballot invalid.
The airline called on Unite to call off the industrial action by 2pm today, 15 December 2009. The union has not done so and British Airways is now seeking an injunction to prevent the strike going ahead.
Today’s letter was the third sent to Unite, pointing out the balloting flaws, since last Friday. The union did not reply to the first two letters.
BA say they’re attempting to determine which staff will work through the strike if it goes ahead. If you’re booked for a flight due to depart on a date that may be affected by strike action or 48 hours either side, you can find out more about your options on the BA website.
By the way, if you’re wondering how a group of several thousand employees react when presented with the opportunity to ruin the Christmas plans of millions, this video was anonymously posted on YouTube today – it was shot during the union meeting when the ballot figures were announced (that moment of crushing realisation for BA staff occurs at 1′ 05″):
Finally, there’s always somebody who spots an opportunity at in a time of crisis:
The list of attempts by British Airways to reduce its recently announced £401 million pre-tax loss is beginning to look like a strategy document for Ryanair. It seems any and all suggestions for both raising and saving money are being considered, regardless of whether they fly in the face of common sense – pun possibly intended.
So far the list includes: asking staff to work for free for a month, no longer serving meals on short-haul flights, grounding 22 planes this coming Winter and considering charging economy passengers on short-haul flights for food, raising fees for excess baggage and changing charges for sports equipment.
Now add to that list the introduction of advertising on your boarding passes; the ads will begin appearing on the 12 million online boarding passes printed out by customers every year. BA are also going to begin accepting third party advertising on their website. It’d make perfect sense if it wasn’t for the fact that there’s a recession going on, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that British Airways are desperate for every penny they can find. Time to put BA on Deathwatch?
What a difference a fortnight makes. Virgin Atlantic celebrated its 25th birthday with Bearded Mogul (TM) Richard Branson claiming the carrier was in great shape despite the recession, going on to blow £1.3 billion on new aircraft to prove the point before boozing most of its £68 million profit away on a transatlantic bash.
Then last week Virgin Atlantic announced it was looking to chop up to 600 jobs and reduce the number of flights it operates over the coming winter. The daily service between London Heathrow and Chicago will be axed for the season – a service it only launched just two years ago – as well as dropping frequency on other routes.
Chief executive Steve Ridgway either didn’t get invited to the party or didn’t see Branson’s script, and said:
“The outlook for the industry is as bleak as ever and all airlines are having to shrink their businesses. We will look to minimize the number of compulsory redundancies and ensure we treat our staff as fairly as possible.”
Now the airline has announced a massive reduction in baggage allowance – for premium fares. From September, the maximum weight of each bag allowed will be reduced from 32kg to 23kg. Given that it’s the premium passengers that generate the profit for any airline, it seems an odd cost-cutting move to cut their benefits and reduce their baggage limit by nearly 30%.
Both Virgin and British Airways have launched near-identical sales today – both are offering return economy to the US from £259 in a sale that ends on July 14th, although Virgin Atlantic are currently offering a more extensive choice of dates into next year.