The Executive Club is the frequent flyer programme of British Airways. Members can earn Avios flying on BA and partner airlines and through a number of other means. Here is the latest news in connection with the Executive Club.
Members of the BA Executive Club can now use Gold Upgrade vouchers on American Airlines operated flights.
A Gold Upgrade For Two voucher is issued to Gold members of the Executive Club when they earn 2,500 tier points.
Two Gold Upgrade For One vouchers are issued when a member earns 3,500 tier points.
These can be used to upgrade a complete itinerary to the next cabin, subject to availability.
It was only possible to do this on flights operated by BA and its franchise partners. Any flights in the booking operated by other airlines would not be upgraded.
This is now extended to transatlantic and US domestic flights operated by American Airlines, including regional flights operated by American Eagle. This is regardless of whether the flight is sold by AA, or sold by BA as a codeshare.
British Airways has suspended indefinitely its frequent flyer relationship with S7 Airlines.
Members of the British Airways Executive Club can no longer earn or redeem Avios on S7 Airlines with immediate effect.
S7 Airlines has been a member of the Oneworld alliance since November 2010. This ordinarily entitles members of the BA Executive Club to reciprocal frequent flyer recognition when flying with S7 Airlines.
British Airways’ partnership with American Express has been extended in a new multi-year deal announced by its parent company International Airlines Group.
American Express issues BA branded credit cards through which members can earn Avios points.
BA’s parent company, IAG, has announced that it has signed a new multiyear deal with American Express.
This operated through a separate division of IAG known as IAG Loyalty. As part of this, American Express will pay IAG £750m which is primarily a pre-payment for Avios points it will issue to members.
IAG CEO Willie Walsh did state during its full year results announcement that he had met with Mastercard a few times and they were “mad keen” to do business with IAG. This was no doubt a signal to American Express.
The advance sale of frequent flyer points to third parties is a device airlines use to raise funds. In 2009, American Airlines pre-sold $1 billion of AAdvantage miles to Citigroup. This comes at a time when airlines seek more ways to raise cash by using intangible assets. Yesterday, American Airlines announced it had taken out a $1.2 billion loan that was secured against its trademark and the internet domain name aa.com
IAG is due to announce its half-year results on Friday 31 July and will provide a further update on its finance raising plans then.
The US is well known for being a litigious society, which often takes the form of class action suits brought against businesses by consumers.
To give an example, I recently received an e-mail out of the blue from a law firm that had brought a class action suit against a restaurant I visited in Los Angeles years ago over the treatment of staff tips. Still waiting for the settlement of tens of dollars, after the deduction of the lawyers fees!
BA has itself faced class action suits. In 2018, BA settled a suit, in the form of Avios, brought by members of the Executive Club in respect of cash fuel surcharges which were added to reward flights. Members argued that the fuel surcharges were inflated and had no correlation to the cost of fuel.
Executive Club Class Action Waiver
BA has today, Thursday 28 May 2020, updated the terms and conditions of the Executive Club to include a class action waiver for residents of the US and Canada.
Of the 9 million active members of Avios frequent flyer programmes, there are about 1 million registered in the Americas. This includes members of other IAG frequent flyer programmes such as Iberia Plus.
Where a dispute arises between BA and a member of the Executive Club in the US and Canada, these changes effectively seek to prevent the member from joining a class action suit or taking the airline to court.
Instead, BA aims to resolve the issue on an individual basis only through binding arbitration.
There is also a time limit of two years on members based in the US bringing a claim from when they “knew or should have known” about the issue that caused the dispute. This alone could easily result in litigation. How do you prove what somebody “knew or should have known”!?
We’re not qualified to comment on how enforceable these changes are. It will no doubt be tested at some point in the future.
Full details of these new clauses are reproduced below.
This is one to file under “Not sure how long this has been running, but only just noticed it”.
British Airways’ “Reward Flight Savers” have long been a popular means for members of the Executive Club to redeem Avios on short-haul flights.
Prior to their introduction, redeeming Avios on short-haul flights was considered practically worthless. This was because the taxes and fees were so high, you might as well just purchase a cash ticket with the benefit of earning Avios instead of spending it.
Under a Reward Flight Saver a passenger redeeming Avios on a short-haul flights simply pays a flat cash fee from £1 upwards with any taxes, fees and surcharges borne by BA.
It instantly transformed a short-haul redemption flight from one of the worst to one of the best uses of Avios.
Long-haul economy redemptions have been considered similarly poor value because again, taxes fees and surcharges represent an increasingly high proportion of the overall ticket price.
As you can see from the screen shot below, an off-peak economy long-haul redemption from London Heathrow to Boston costs a minimum of £226.35 in taxes and surcharges and 26,000 in Avios. A cash ticket for the same flights with checked luggage would cost around £385 and earn Avios.
Reward Flight Savers To New York JFK
BA has now extended the Reward Flight Saver concept to long-haul economy flights.
At present, it only applies to BA operated flights to New York JFK. It is also only available to UK based members of the Executive Club.
In a sign that the financial impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is being felt beyond Asia, British Airways has released 100,000 reward seats in its Club World long-haul business class cabin to members of the Executive Club.
This offer is valid for travel from Monday 24 February 2020 to Friday 31 July 2020. It expires on Monday 2 March 2020
It is theoretically on offer across all long-haul routes but is subject to availability.
It is not unusual for BA to release additional Club World reward seats. However, this is usually done over periods such as Christmas when business travel is seasonally quiet. This is a relatively aggressive promotion over five months.
This does suggest that premium travel demand is softening – some global events have been cancelled as a precautionary measure.
Long time BA flyers may recall some extremely aggressive frequent flyer promotions in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
BA’s parent company International Airlines Group is due to announce its annual results on Friday 28 February 2020, where it will give an indication of the likely impact of Coronavirus on travel demand.
Members of the Executive Club can view details of this offer on ba.com
A long standing benefit of the Gold tier of the British Airways Executive Club is the grant of a “Gold Upgrade For Two” voucher to members who earn 2,500 tier points or more in their membership year.
This is often referred to as a GUF2 voucher. BA also grants two “Gold Upgrade For One” vouchers to members who earn 3,500 tier points or more – these can be used either separately or for two passengers in one booking.
These allow members of the Executive Club to upgrade a booking to the next cabin, eg from Club World to First Class. However, this is subject to availability.
BA has advised that from, today Monday 17 June 2019, the use of these vouchers has been extended to existing bookings, as well as new bookings.
To upgrade an existing booking with an upgrade voucher you will need to contact either BA or your travel agent. However, do bear in mind that as agents have only just been advised of this new benefit awareness may be limited. Upgrade vouchers can also take a few days to be processed as it requires manual intervention, so it’s recommended to allow plenty of time in advance of travel to request an upgrade.
There are restrictions on the use of upgrade vouchers and full details of the terms and conditions are at ba.com
This applies only to British Airways operated flights. Rather unhelpfully, BA has not published a set tariff of Avios charges for excess baggage and this is unlikely to be the best use of Avios.
Excess baggage charges can vary widely by route, cabin, and type of fare. These charges have become more prevalent with the rise of “basic economy” short and long-haul fares. They can range from £20 to £120 per bag, so this may be at least a good way for some to take the edge off parting with cash.
Passengers can use Avios to pay for excess baggage charges in full or in part and passengers with existing bookings can compare charges using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com
Full details of BA’s current cash seat selection charges can also be viewed at ba.com
British Airways has once again relaxed its lounge access rules for the Christmas and New Year period.
One of the biggest irritations for Executive Club members when travelling with their family on holiday is that cannot bring their whole family as guests into the lounges.
BA has sought to address last Christmas by allowing Gold cardholders to bring up to five guests into the Galleries Club lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow. It has now become a regular occurrence over Easter and the summer holidays.
BA has, once again, relaxed access lounge access rules for all BA lounges from Friday 14 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.
However, unlike last Christmas, the rules appear to have been relaxed for selected members on an invitation only basis. This is most likely for Gold cardholders with a very high number of annual tier points.
If you are a Gold member of the Executive Club it’s worth checking your e-mails to see whether this applies to you.
Unfortunately, if you have not received an invitation, then normal lounge guesting rules will apply.
A gentle reminder that it is not within the control of the lounge staff to flex the rules. Please do not pressure staff into doing so.
The Gold Guest List is an Executive Club tier above Gold introduced a little over ten years ago. It is not that widely publicised. You have to earn 5,000 tier points in one year to become a member and 3,000 tier points in consecutive years to retain membership. Its benefits include access to a dedicated customer service telephone line, additional Avios redemption benefits, additional lounge guests, and a Hilton Honors Diamond membership.
Given the change of policy for the summer it’s not certain how this will be applied over Christmas.
This is one of a number of measures BA has introduced for families including “status hold” for new parents. If you’ve travelled through Terminal 5 recently you may have noticed a new family check-in area at the North side of the terminal. Certainly from anecdotal experience, even for the most frequent flyers, it is the experience when travelling with their own family that has the greatest influence on their perception of the airline.