Is someone secretly stealing your BA On Business points?

A reader dropped me an email to tell me how a number of employees at his Mayfair investment fund had been ‘let go’ recently after it was found that they were stealing British Airways On Business points.

Is anyone stealing yours?

On Business is the British Airways loyalty scheme for small and medium sized businesses.  The only criteria for joining is that you have a VAT number.  I wrote a two-part On Business review here and here.

On Business allows a company to collect points every time one of its employees flies.  The scheme works in a similar way to Avios, except that it is 100% revenue based on the earning side.  The more you spend on a ticket, the more points you earn.  These can be redeemed for free flights or upgrades.

The important thing to note is that you can earn BOTH On Business points and Avios on the same flight.   Signing up for On Business does not impact the ability of your staff to collect Avios points.

But where are your points actually going?

If you or others in your company fly British Airways a lot, it is very likely that you have an On Business accountBut do you know who actually benefits from it?

Would you know if a member of staff had secretly opened an account in the name of your company and was inserting the number into all of your bookings?

When I worked in Private Equity, we had a very clear system for distributing the points.  At our Christmas party, the names of all the support staff were put into a hat and one drawn out.  That person ‘won’ the entire On Business points pot for the year and could book whatever they wanted with it.  It was a decent prize given the amount of travel we did, especially as this was before the last OB devaluation!

If you have never seen a big flight giveaway at your company, you might want to be suspicious.   There is no easy way to check if there is an On Business number in a booking, because if one has been added via a GDS the option to add one will still show in ba.com in my experience – but if you put something in yourself it won’t override what is already there.

If you don’t think that your company is collecting On Business points, perhaps you should suggest they do.  If nothing else, the free flights could be given away at Christmas or raffled off to raise money for charity.  It is a shame to let them go to waste.

The sign-up page is here (click ‘Join On Business’ in the menu bar).  If you are signing up, you will qualify for a special sign-up bonus of triple points for your first six one-way flights within 12 months of joining.  If you say on your application form that you were referred by member OB10171896 then I receive a small referral points bonus – thank you!

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Comments

  1. Would you still earn your usual personal avoid and tier points too?

    • Yes, onbusiness is an extra loyalty scheme for the business on top of personal points

  2. Serena Wilson says:

    Yup, I had the lovely job of taking over the on business account from a leaver who had been very secretive about its administration. Discovered lots of flights in her name to places where we had no business case to be traveling to.

    A horrible situation and not one that makes anyone any friends.

    Also private equity!

  3. Can anyone advise the value of the small referral bonus Rob mentions for referring a new company to the OnBusiness scheme? I have plenty of clients I could get to sign up so wonder if there is any real value in it vs the hassle?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Wonder if my dad will lend me his VAT number?

  5. My first Club World was thanks to OB. Corporate policy was for the analyst to go in World Traveller; because I’m tall my boss said she’d find the budget for World Traveller plus. I argued with the corporate travel agent about the fare (we didn’t need a fully flexible ticket) at which point they offered use of the OB points. No cost to our team budget and me in CW. Result

  6. At a previous employer of mine we found that the travel administrator was offering very cheap premium flights to traders for their leisure travel – taking cash from them, and fulfilling by using the OnBusiness points.
    Her fiance worked at the company too, so when it was discovered, he left too.

    • The scheme suffers from various issues.

      I’m aware of an administrator still having access to the scheme 5 years after she left the company. She enjoyed a *lot* of holidays before it was stopped.

      Even then, it was only because auditors were investigating completely unconnected financial discrepancies at the *new* firm, that the fraud was uncovered. Her holidays didn’t quite match up with her income…

  7. Aeronaut says:

    It seems like BA could do a better job in making it transparent as to whether OB points are actually being claimed on a booking, and by whom. Might put a stop to some of the nonsense.

  8. Joseph Heenan says:

    Hm, the onbusiness site just punted me back to the start of the signup process when I press the final submit button – no error message nor any confirmation it had submitted. Is that normal? Do you usually receive an email confirmation promptly?

    • The same thing happened to me. I gave On Business customer support a call and they created an account for me. Apparently, the webpage doesn’t like Mac computers, Google, Firefox or Safari.

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        Strange, thanks. I’ve tried Safari (twice) and Microsoft Edge (once) all with the same result, which seems to be failing at the final step. Quite an impressive IT failure. Guess I’ll get in touch with customer support.

  9. The_real_a says:

    OB at my employer is used to pay for disability related upgrades since we have an all Y policy.

  10. TigerTanaka says:

    I agree about the lack of transparency. I often wonder where the On Business (and also KLM Blue Biz) points go in my organisation.

  11. Colin JE says:

    Rob
    Thanks for the reminder. You say ‘only a VAT no. is needed. Has the OB requirement for a Limited Company changed please? I have a VAT number but a previous application was rejected because I am set up as a sole trader.

    Also, could an AA flight on a BA codeshare earn Onbusinesss points?

    • I believe you need to have at least one other employee that travels BA for your business. You could always say your partner or a friend who sometimes travels with you does work for you at times.

      • You need to have two different people fly before you can redeem. It has nothing to do with setting up the account though.

        • Colin JE says:

          I regularly book flights for myself and a colleague (not to mention other family members). Does On Business now accept non-limited companies?

    • Colin JE says:

      No mention of VAT, only company registration numb er, so you’d have to be LTD Co. “To apply for Membership, You must apply online at On Business. Membership applications must state the Company’s full name, the Company’s valid company/business registration number, and registered office address …”
      I think that means that small businesses that are partnerships or set up as sole trader entities, would not qualify.

      • You do need VAT. This was a specific change when the scheme was devalued and caused a lot of ire with charities who had their accounts closed.