Bits: BA long haul buy-on-board confusion, interesting Accor / Economist deal

News in brief:

British Airways tells the press it is considering long-haul buy on board

I had been told, prior to last weeks big British Airways press event which we covered in depth, that Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz was being deliberately kept away from the media.

This or may not be true, but it isn’t hard to believe.  Clearly feeling full of confidence after Wednesday’s event, he gave an interview to The Sunday Times yesterday in which he declared he was interested in introducing buy on board in long-haul economy.

This was not a secret.  He has spoken about the possibility of adopting a different business model at Gatwick to combat Norwegian, and this would be a key part of any plan.  Saying it openly to a newspaper only four days after getting BA some decent press coverage for the first time in weeks was not a great idea, however.

It was quickly picked up by other media outlets and the Press Office was forced into action.  The Times article is behind a paywall but the Evening Standard version is here.  (The Press Office once called me on a Sunday afternoon whilst I was toy shopping to ask me change something in a HFP article!)

The same Times article also suggested that the amuse bouche and ‘flower in the loo’ could be returning to First Class.  Whilst this is good to hear, any impression that this would be funded by charging for food down the back is also not good PR.

PS.  I was also confused by this quote from the Times.  Speaking of buy on board in short-haul economy, Cruz said:

“It’s going great. Customers say to us: ‘Finally, I have good choices. No more chicken or beef’

… which makes no sense, because you would need to go back 10 years, perhaps 20 years, to find a time when short haul Economy passengers were offered a choice of two hot meat meals.  It is all very bizarre.


Interesting Economist / Accor promotion

We have seen a number of Economist promotions recently, including one with Avios which only closed on 31st March.  It offered 13,200 Avios for a one-year subscription.

This new deal is more intriguing.  It is organised in conjunction with Le Club AccorHotels.  The landing page is here.

You will earn up to 12,000 Le Club AccorHotels points with a two-year Economist subscription.

1 Accor points = 1 Avios point in Iberia Plus if you choose to convert them.  (Do NOT convert into British Airways Avios as the rate is 2:1.  Convert to Iberia and move them across to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’).

However …… 12,000 Accor points are also worth a €240 discount on an Accor hotel stay.  Given that a 2-year Economist subscription (print and digital) is £315, this is a very strong rebate if you were after the magazine in the first place.

If you are self employed and can offset the cost of the magazine as a business expense, it is even more interesting.

The deal runs until 31st May.  Thanks to Steve.

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Back in the Etihad First & Business Class lounge, Heathrow Terminal 4
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  1. Andrew says:

    For travelling economy, the whole BoB doesn’t worry me too much when I’m departing Heathrow – I know that I can stock up at M&S (for liquid-free landside) or Boots meal deals airside and get a few bottles of chilled drinks to keep things cool.

    It’s the potential BoB return international flight that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Queueing to board with a rapidly cooling BK Flamer along with a 32oz bucket of Cola doesn’t feel aspirational – neither does stocking up on Toblerone and Snyder’s Pretzels from Hudson News for my transatlanic breakfast.

    • At certain Asian airports they do a second security screening at the gate, so the water etc you just bought for the flight has to get binned.

      • This is at the request of the USA and Australia who don’t allow liquids in hand luggage. It doesn’t just happen at “certain Asian airports”.

        • Genghis says:

          A while since I’ve been but doesn’t BKK have at-gate security regardless of destination?

          • Not at BKK I always grab a couple of cans of beer and coke from the lounge for the flight home and never get checked.
            Also never got checked flying over to Cambodia for the Asian economic group meeting.

            I fly BKK back and fourth 4 times a year.

          • Years ago I was flying from Chiang Mai to Phuket via Bangkok and accidentally left my bottle of Sunscreen in my hand luggage. Got on the first flight with it no problem. At Bangkok I got stopped at the gate security and got it taken off me. We then boarded the plane, which was the same one we’d just gotten off!

          • Genghis says:

            I did Ko Samui to Chiang Mai via Bangkok so perhaps that’s what I experienced

          • James67 says:

            It used to be ahead of each concourse and then it was shifted to the back of immigration on main ramp down to the dragon or whatever it’s supposed to be. In fast track it’s opposite way around, security first then immigration. But don’t be surprised if it’s all change again soon, BKK is a great example of a good airport going backwards. When TG had their direct flights to USA the security for those was a real PITA, even got a grilling just to get into check in area.

        • unsure of the need for the quotes, it happens at certain asian airports is the term used rather than me listing them out. Don’t get the reference to USA or Australia as it happen at KLIA when flying to Dubai (as one example). As mentioned it occurs at the gate.

          • James67 says:

            Yes, happens on a380s to London as I recall but KLIA2 is central security point not gate. Not sure what is happening now with Aur Asia moving to tge main terminal, have they done so? My experience of Asian aurpirtsconsustent with your description but it does vary. Sone even have a basic machine screen to get in the terminal buildings.

        • Also happens at Singapore (its in Asia too).

          Means buying water from duty free and getting it put in a secure bag. The old trick was just to put the water inside your carry on, but they clamped down on that a couple of years ago, thankfully.

          • Yes…KLIA and Singapore both have security at the gates…Not sure why because it seems a much less efficient way of doing things…I think at KLIA there’s a very casual security check before proceeding into the departure lounge anyway?

  2. Bit OT:
    Flying back from TLV with BA in a few weeks in Club (Boeing 787-9) and Avios availability has opened up for First Class. Worth the “upgrade” (if allowed on Avios booking)? c.11k Avios x3 ppl I think

    As an aside, am flying Monarch there so will am sure even BA Club will seem luxurious in comparison…!

    • Lev441 says:

      Although it’s a relatively short flight, if you are Avios rich i’d say go for it!

    • Genghis says:

      I flew back on a 788 in J a few weeks ago. Nice flight. I’d save the avios but each to their own. My tip for TLV: get to the airport 3 hours before. I was interviewed for about 15 mins leaving the country (asking about all of my Muslim country visits) and then had all of my luggage searched (about another hour). The Dan lounge is OK but nothing to write home about.

    • The First seat on the 789 is probably the best BA First class seat in the fleet, so if ever there was time to try it out….

      • Cheers, tempted to do it… Not sure if other passengers will appreciate a 3yo and 1yo running amok (that reminds me to stock up on Calpol…) but assume cabin is pretty empty (hence Avios availability)…

        • They can complain about it in Waitrose afterwards!

        • I’d expect the First cabin to be full, especially on a 789 with less seats available. Done a few F flights on BA and all have been full.

  3. Separate OT:
    My wife upgraded her Amex Gold to Platinum, after her card anniversary, but before receipt of the 10k bonus MRs. She has subsequently tried to claim these, but it has been rejected as she is no longer eligible, given she upgraded to Platinum.
    Anyone been in a similar situation? Strictly speaking I guess Amex are correct, though seems a bit harsh having met all the criteria to receive the bonus.
    And also a lesson to other to wait until he points come through…!

    • Handy to know, I might upgrade my wife once the 10k posts.

    • Lev441 says:

      She should have waited for the points… They post around 30 days after the renewal..
      You could possibly call up and may get an agent who may do it out of goodwill, but I think you’ve learnt a lesson.

    • Scottydogg says:

      When you say upgraded , did you get any American express sign up bonus for upgrading to Platinum ? I’m in a similar situation , we are thinking of up grading just to take advantage of the holiday insurance and Priority pass for an upcoming trip where we will be visiting 8 different airports , I plan to cancel after that pro rata

      • Yep got an upgrade bonus, after contacting customer support. There is also a link floating around for an upgrade but might be targeted, not sure

        • Scottydogg says:

          Could I be cheeky and ask you what bonus you got ? reading on the internet ive seen some people say 15,000 and some saying 20,000 ?

          • Was 15,000. Though I got offered nothing myself.

          • I got offered 5k then asked if it could be increased at all (was hoping for 10k at least) and got offered 20k… so worth persisting!

  4. O/T but Accor related. I am going to book 2 nights with Accor and want to benefit from the triple avios promotion. I can’t see to find where I choose earning miles over accor points, I have looked all over the site……

  5. Mark newstart says:

    will I get the bonus points if I upgrade from Amex Gold to Platinum after I get the bonus from
    the gold?
    Also if I refer someone from a SPG Amex to a Amex Gold or Platinum with I get a bonus?
    know this is old hat to you guys and girls ….. just starting out …………..

    • Genghis says:

      1) Yes, provided the link that is being circulated is not targeted
      2) Not possible. You can only officially refer within family (i.e. Amex Gold->Gold/Plat, BAPP->BAPP/BA Blue, SPG->SPG) though @rams1981 I believe reported some success going from Amex Gold/Plat->SPG.

      • rams1981 says:

        @genghis I did plus topcashback as well! Bizarre and maybe to serve me right one of my legit referrals didn’t track for the 9,000 point and after a few discussions with AMEX I got 6,000 points added.

    • Scottydogg says:

      So there is a link circulating for upgrading from Gold to Platinum ? we are wanting to do this but wanted to hopefully get the sign up bonus for taking out the Platinum . How should I go about this ? any ideas ?

  6. Thanks for flagging this. I was just about to book some BA long haul flights for the autumn, but will go with a different carrier in case they bring in this policy in the interim.

  7. Scottydogg says:

    O/T questions ,

    If I take out a Amex Platinum , with regards to the Priority Pass , do you get a priority pass membership for the card holder and supplementary card holder that allows you to bring a guest in each ? So 2 adults can bring in 2 kids for free ?
    Sorry , I’m just trying to get my head around it , it seems that this could make the £450 fee more realistic for me , is the £450 fee put on the first months bill ?

    • Genghis says:

      £450 fee is usually put on first bill but it can be charged straight away through a statement produced soon after application.

    • Yes, so you can get 4 people into a lounge if your supplementary cardholder is with you. We do this.

  8. Keith S says:

    Would certainly end any flights for me for BA if they do BoB for world flights – totally unacceptable for such long flights and agree with the asia comments

  9. If they bring this in before a pre announcement booked flight do you get a full refund option?

    • When BA introduced this “enhancement” for short haul, all it gave was 1,000 Avios compensation – BUT this was a total of 1,000 Avios regardless of how many flights you had booked ahead
      i.e. 1 flight = total 1,000 Avios, 10 flights = total 1,000 Avios . Unbelievable, but sadly true!

  10. Linda Butler says:

    I was on a flight from Rome last night to Heathrow. I was seated in the extra legroom seats by the wing. We were spending such a lovely time in Rome, we didnt have time to eat before boarding the plane. Unfortunately ALL the food ran out by the first quarter of the flight. By the time the flight attendants got to us there was no milk left for a cup of tea and just one chocolate bar! I think that it is better to offer no food that way we will all make sure we take some on board. Running out after only serving 1/4 of the flight is unacceptable.

    • Yeah, but you only paid £29. Snr Cruz told us. I bet you were ‘glad of the choice’ or some other drivel.

      • the real harry1 says:


        you only paid £29 & it wasn’t just a choice between chicken or beef

        actually it was nothing, ¿tienes hambre, amigo? – but that’s better than being forced to choose between chicken or beef

        according to Senor Alex ‘Loco’ Cruz

  11. OT, at least BA havent resorting to downgrading like this..

  12. NigelM says:

    OT: Somebody told me u get bonus MR points for booking flights on Amex Travel website – does anyone know if this is true? They might have been talking about a US Amex card…

    • I think here you get 2 MR points per 1£

      • James67 says:

        x2 for booking flights anyplace and x3 for booking travel at amex travel I believe?

        • Has to be a direct booking with an airline not an OLTA I think for 2 points.

        • Gold card only not Platinum!
          If you book through Amex Travel, check that you get the triple points. I booked a cruise through them which was charged by Our Holiday Centre and I had a big struggle to get the extra.

          • Platinum gets bonus MR for booking through Amex Travel, but not any other bonuses (sadly)

  13. David2910 says:

    OT: Greenwich council tax. Payable by Amex at Coop paypoint?

    • Genghis says:

      It was when I lived in SE10

      • Sergeant Major says:

        Does anyone know if Dartford Council tax can be paid by Amex? No barcode on the bill and the council doesn’t do a payment card either. Much appreciated

        • Genghis says:

          Note if you currently pay by DD, a barcode won’t appear on the bill

          • My CT bill is on my desk. I do not pay by direct debit and there is no barcode, but they do issue an AllPay card which allows payment of up to £150 per transaction at Coop etc.

          • Genghis says:

            ‘A barcode won’t be on the bill if you pay by DD’ and ‘There is no barcode on the bill and I don’t pay by DD’ can both hold true. My council only puts barcodes on bills where don’t pay by DD (Dartford could be the same) whereas yours clearly does not.

    • IDK about Greenwich but be aware that there may be a £200 transaction limit for Co-Op Paypoint. When I did mine, they had to break it up into five or six transactions to put it through. The first clerk I saw didn’t know this, so the system kept declining the transactions until his colleague came over and told him about the limit.

  14. Martyn says:

    I don’t terribly mind BoB, regretfully that is the way things are going, however I do mind it being done appalling badly. 18.40 service back from Zurich last week (dinner time) and they loaded only two of each hot sandwich options for a full 767. Sat in row 9 and nothing left by the time the got to us, flight attendants requested we fill out complaint forms as “they never listen to us”!

    • I fully understand Buy on board when people fly for 30 pound one way but I actually paid almost 200 euros Amsterdam to London and back in Euro Traveller the other day. Let’s just say it didn’t feel right.

  15. S jacob says:

    The cost of food served on board is very expensive and if passengers are given an option, i am sure a lot of passengers will opt for not having airline food. They can pick up a sandwich or some thing else from the airport for far less money. That means the fare should go down considerably. I don’t think there is a need to feed twice on an 8 hour flight. Instead reduce the fare substantially. This should attract more passengers at the back end. Obviously passengers in the front end would like to be pampered with best food and wine. They should be provided such luxuries as they pay a lot more than the back end passengers.

  16. There’s really nothing confusing about Cruz statements. He’s just fully embracing the ‘post-truth’ world, where it doesn’t matter if a statement is actually grounded in fact. His whole tactic since taking over at BA has been about using normative influence to soften the damage that drastic cuts to service standards have on the brand. Simplified, the idea is that people like to fit in. If you tell people enough times that everyone else loves the changes you’ve made, they will start to express love for the change as well, even if they actually hate it, and will even start to question whether they’re wrong to inwardly hate it…they must be missing something if everyone else loves it, right?! Almost everyone’s desire to fit in eventually trumps their rational thought process, and so that is why every cut has been announced as ‘in response to customer feedback’, and why Cruz is constantly telling us how much customers love the changes. It’s nothing more than a psychological trick.

  17. Seems BA employee also agrees that the company is in a race to the bottom:

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