British Airways announced two major changes to its Executive Club frequent flyer programme today.
The first is the introduction of the option for members to put their account “on hold” for up to a year if they take maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
What this means is that if a member has Bronze, Silver or Gold status they do not need to earn the requisite number of tier points (eg 300, 600, or 1,500 tier points) in their membership year in order to renew their status for another year. However, tier points and Avios will still be earned if flights are taken whilst the account is on hold. Continue reading “BA “status hold” for Executive Club members taking parental leave”
As has been widely reported, today (Tuesday 2 May 2017) the shareholders of Alitalia (one of whom is Etihad) decided to put the airline into a formal administration process with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.
This follows a decision by members of Alitalia’s trade unions not to accept a restructuring proposal which would have involved, inter alia, cuts to jobs and staff salaries and a restructuring of its short-haul operations. Had the restructuring plan been approved the shareholders would have provided new finance to the airline.
Under the administration process, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development will appoint a Commissioner which will manage the airline whilst it is in administration.
The Italian Government has approved the provision of a bridge loan which will allow Alitalia to continue operations for the foreseeable future.
If a buyer for Alitalia is found then Alitalia could continue in some form. However, a question will remain over its London Heathrow slots.
When Etihad acquired a stake in Alitalia in 2014, it bought all of its London Heathrow slots. These were valued at €60m. These are currently leased to Alitalia which uses them to operate five flights from London Heathrow to Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino. (By comparison BA flies to Milan and Rome up to 10 and 6 times a day.) Whilst the precise terms are obviously commercially confidential it seems likely that these will revert back to Etihad at some point after Alitalia enters into administration.
Given that Scandinavian Airlines recently sold two London Heathrow slot pairs to American Airlines for $75million, Etihad could recoup some of its losses by selling them to other airlines or to expand its own network from London to Abu Dhabi. Either way, it is unlikely they will remain with Alitalia.
One of the many perennial criticisms of British Airways is its handling of disruption at its hub at London Heathrow. The airport is full, so when there is severe weather, the airline is forced to cancel flights, with short-haul flights always bearing the brunt. What usually follows is long queues at ticketing desks to be rebooked.
BA announced at the annual Capital Markets Day of its parent company International Airlines Group last year that it was working on automatic rebooking tools during disruption.
BA has today released an update for its smartphone app which includes the option to rebook on to alternative flights during disruption. However, this will initially only be for selected customers. We presume this is for testing purposes.
In addition, most if not all customers should now have a “timeline” feature for each booking on the app which provides a countdown for future bookings and services that are available in connection with that booking.
If you haven’t already done so, we do recommend that all travelers (whether a frequent or once a year BA flyer) download the BA smartphone app. It is the easiest way to keep track of flights both before the day of travel and at the airport. From experience we find it is often ahead of other sources for learning of delays.
It is also an easy way to keep on track of fixed price upgrade offers for existing bookings and being able to book flights without tripping over adverts for hotels and car hire as you do on ba.com!
We also recommend that for security reasons software updates for apps are downloaded as soon as they become available.
Following the news today that Qantas is to fly direct from London Heathrow to Perth from Sunday 25 March 2018, Qantas has also confirmed it is to also withdraw its service from London Heathrow to Melbourne via Dubai, operated with the Airbus A380.
Instead, passengers wishing to travel between London and Melbourne courtesy of Qantas can either fly on an Emirates codeshare service with a change of aircraft in Dubai.
Today, the airline has provided further information of what, and what isn’t, happening with the planned development of the terminal which is to be completed over the next two years.
BA has confirmed that the development will include redeveloped general check-in areas, a new premium check-in area, a new food court post security, redeveloped First and Club World lounges and pre-flight dining facilities, and refurbished gate areas.
Passengers of other airlines which also use JFK Terminal 7, such as ANA, Icelandair, and Qantas, will also benefit from many of these improvements.
The Concorde Room which is for use by passengers travelling in First Class and Concorde Room Cardholders will receive, to use BA lexicon, a “refresh” after being refurbished a few years ago.
The airline has today issued images of the planned check-in and post security areas, but not the new lounges. A cynic might wonder whether BA has rushed out this announcement in order to maintain momentum after a recent PR event for its new London Gatwick lounges and First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
There is also no mention of redeveloping the immigration hall which can become extremely congested and is ill-suited to manage queues for both self-service kiosks and manned immigration desks.
Norwegian’s aggressive expansion at London Gatwick continues with the launch of a new route from London Gatwick to Singapore Changi airport.
The route will launch on Thursday 28 September 2017. It will initially operate four times weekly, increasing to five times weekly from Monday 30 October 2017. The flight will be operated by the mainstay of Norwegian’s long-haul operations, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a two class configuration.
TAP Portugal is to launch a direct route from London City airport to Lisbon from Sunday 29 October 2017.
The route will operate twice daily on weekdays and once a day on weekends. This will be the third London airport served by TAP Portugal after London Heathrow and London City. It will also be the only direct route between London City and Lisbon.
TAP Portugal will also offer connections to the Azores and its extensive long-haul network in Brazil such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and many other cities.
If you have tried to visit the BA website ba.com at any point today, you will have no doubt received the error message above.
The BA website has been down all day today. No reason has been given for this, other than “technical issues”. Whatever the issue is it must be very substantial. As BA.com is BA’s main selling channel, you can be confident there is a lot of pressure to get the website back up and running.
It is also not possible to check bookings via the BA smartphone app. However, live flight information appears to be available on the app.
In light of the fact that online check-in is not available you are strongly advised to allow plenty of time to check-in at the airport.
Given the nature of the issue is unknown, when the website is back up it is worth checking your Executive Club account and any future bookings to confirm everything is in order.
If you are travelling today you can also check live flight information on the websites of Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports.
Edit: The website appears to be up and running at 20:00 BST.
The airline could start charging long-distance flyers for a menu drawn from the aisles of Mark & Spencer, Alex Cruz, BA’s boss, has revealed. The move will spark fresh claims that penny-pinching is reducing BA to “a budget airline”.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cruz said that after “a rough start” customers now welcomed the chance to pay for M&S food on European flights. The airline’s buy-on-board system, which replaced free food on short flights in January, is “a perfect decision”, he said.
“It’s going great. Customers say to us: ‘Finally, I have good choices. No more chicken or beef’.” The service could be extended to long-haul economy. “We might do it,” he said.