Why Virgin Atlantic’s #vanotba £50 flight discount is not worth the effort
Once upon a time, Virgin Atlantic never missed an opportunity to have a joke at the expense of its arch-rival British Airways.
Whether it was BA’s decision to introduce World Images tail fins, or to order twin rather than quad-engine long-haul aircraft or the botched opening of Terminal 5, Virgin Atlantic always seized the opportunity to generate free publicity. Meanwhile, BA had no option but to maintain a dignified silence through gritted teeth.
For a long period of time, this worked very well. It generated huge PR for Virgin Atlantic and, at least in PR terms, closed the gap in terms of the relative size of the two airlines.
Over the past few years, things have gone very quiet in terms of the rivalry between the BA and Virgin. Partly because Virgin has undergone changes in management and a restructuring to stem years of financial losses whilst BA has expanded considerably, primarily thanks to its merger with bmi in 2012. Also, the overtly contrived publicity stunt has long been out of fashion.
So it’s something of a surprise to see Virgin launch a new promotion actively encouraging passengers to switch their bookings from BA to Virgin with the promise of a £50 discount.
Here’s how it is supposed to work:
You make a flight booking directly with British Airways (a price quote is not sufficient).
You then contact Virgin Atlantic twice, first by e-mail and then by telephone to make the same booking, and Virgin will give you a £50 discount off your flight for the same dates and destination.
You then have to contact BA to cancel your booking.
Crucially, you must contact BA within 24 hours of making your original BA booking in order to cancel your booking without penalty. Otherwise, the cancellation will be processed in accordance with the rules of your fare and could be non-refundable.
Passengers are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag #VAnotBA on social media.
1. It feels like it is run for the benefit of Virgin Atlantic rather than passengers.
A £50 discount is, in the grand scheme of things, quite modest. There is also a very limited window of opportunity. The promotion runs from today, Tuesday 13 June to Thursday 15 June.
A cynic might wonder whether this promotion is run primarily to generate PR.
2. It requires a lot of effort on the part of passengers
To take advantage of this promotion, you have to first make a booking direct with BA, e-mail the booking reference to Virgin, call Virgin to obtain a discounted flight and then contact BA to cancel your booking and obtain a refund from BA.
This is a lot of effort for a £50 discount.
3. It could all go wrong very easily
BA’s 24 hour cancellation window, amongst other limitations, only applies to direct flight only bookings. It does not apply to BA Holidays bookings with hotels or car hire or flight bookings via travel agents.
BA is hardly going to be charitable if passengers inadvertently find themselves having to pay for two flights to the same destination on the exact same day.
You also have to wait for BA to process your refund. Given how busy the airline is dealing with compensation claims from last month’s IT outage, this could take many weeks.
A passenger could also easily find themselves having to pay a credit card bill with two flight bookings before the BA flight is refunded. If a passenger cannot settle the credit card bill in full, the interest cost could easily wipe out the £50 saving.
In 1997 BA launched its “World Images” Tailfins. It was regarded as a marketing disaster at the time. Should history be kinder?
It was 20 years ago this week British Airways launched what is commonly thought as one of the greatest marketing disasters of all time.
As part of a company wide rebranding exercise, the company replaced its long standing “Landor” aircraft livery with approximately 50 different tailfins featuring designs representing the many nations served by BA, such as tartan for Scotland and calligraphy for China.
The exercise was carried out with the best of intentions. At the time BA was the self-styled “World’s Favourite Airline”. This was because it carried more international airlines than any other airline. 60% of its passengers originated from outside the UK. The plan was to present BA to the world as a modern, warm and caring airline.
This seemed fitting with the times. Tony Blair had secured a landside victory for New Labour in a General Election and there was a confidence in the UK’s contemporary culture, exemplified by the rise of Britpop.
Whilst the designs we well received by BA’s international passengers, they were not so well receive back in the UK. The label “ethnic tailfins” stuck. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously took exception to the sight of a model BA aircraft at the 1997 Conservative Party conference and covered its tailfin with a handkerchief. “Maggie Puts BA Into A Tailspin” was the front page of the Daily Mail the following day. This was the death knell for the rebranding exercise. Virgin Atlantic, which at the time always seized the opportunity to joke at BA’s expense, painted the Union Jack and the decal “Britain’s Flag Carrier” on its aircraft. Continue reading “British Airways “World Images” Tailfins: 20 Years On”
The planned strike by BA cabin crew has been cancelled.
British Airways has confirmed this afternoon that the planned industrial action by some London Heathrow cabin crew from Friday 16 June 2017 to Monday 19 June 2017 has been cancelled.
This means that all flights from all airports are due to operate as scheduled and there will be no planned cancellations. This also means that any changes to bookings over the planned strike period can only be made in accordance with the fare rules at the time of booking.
This does not preclude the possibility of any further industrial action but Unite, the union which represents BA cabin crew, is required to give 14 days’ notice to BA.
British Airways is offering frequent flyers caught in last week’s IT meltdown a free renewal of their Executive Club status for the next two years.
After British Airways’ worst week in nearly ten years, the airline has begun to take steps to repair the damage to its brand and restore relationships with its frequent flyers.
The airline has e-mailed members of its Executive Club frequent flyer programme who were caught up in last week’s disruption to advise that their current Executive Club card status (e.g. Bronze, Silver or Gold) will be renewed automatically for the next two years.
This means that these members of the Executuve Club do not need to earn the requisite number of tier points to renew their current status level.
This is not the first time BA has done this. It has previously either offered or entertained requests for automatic renewal when there has been severe disruption at London Heathrow or when there has been a downturn in the economy.
Some British Airways London Heathrow cabin crew are due to take industrial action from Friday 16 June to Monday 19 June 2017.
It never rains, but it pours!
Unite, the union which represents British Airways “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew at London Heathrow, has decided to round off BA’s worst week in nearly ten years by announcing industrial action over four consecutive days from Friday 16 June to Monday 19 June 2017.
This is continuation of a dispute that led to well in excess of 20 days of industrial action over February and March, albeit with very limited impact to BA’s schedules.
BA has yet to its confirm its schedules during the strike. However, it does say that all customers will be able to reach their destinations during the strike, suggesting that short-haul routes with multiple flights a day are most at risk of cancellations
What can be confirmed now is:
All flights from London City, London Gatwick and London Stansted will operate as normal.
All flights from UK regional airports (apart from flights to London Heathrow) will operate as normal
The majority of flights from London Heathrow will operate as normal with some flights merged and short-haul flights most at risk of cancellation. There may also be some tactical long-haul cancellations
BA will not publish a list of cancelled flights as it evidently keen to play down the impact of the industrial action.
If your flight is cancelled you wile offered the opportunity to rebook to an alternative flight or a refund
How to claim from British Airways If you have incurred expenses following cancellations and delays to your flights.
The fall out from BA’s weekend IT meltdown continues with the share price of its parent company IAG falling on the stock market and the airline facing questions over its decision to outsource many of its IT functions.
One issue that is likely to run and run is what damages affected passengers are entitled to and what expenses BA is liable to reimburse.
If you have incurred expenses on hotels, meals, ground transportation and communications you can submit a claim for these online:
You can simply do this by submitting a claim through the BA website.
You will need to have details of your booking to hand, and be able to submit copies of your receipts (either by post or electronically) and provide details of an account to which the refund should be transferred.
However, BA has remained silent on entitlement to claims for compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 and refunds for passengers who booked alternative flights themselves
After Saturday’s cancellations BA did eventually rebook passengers on to other airlines.
However, many passengers took matters into their own hands and booked alternative flights directly with other airlines. These would be substantially more expensive than through reciprocal agreements between airlines. See for example:
BA has not, to our knowledge, published a formal policy on this. We suspect that this, and the matter of EU compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004, is likely to run for some time yet and will probably not be resolved without passengers instigating legal proceedings.
However, in terms of submitting a claim for compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 there is general guidance on compensation and a claim form on the BA website.
Update: Since this article has published BA has confirmed that it will consider claims for compensation under EC Regulation 262/2004. The airline will also consider claims for refunds who booked themselves onto flights operated by other airlines.