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The On Business devaluation BA told you about … and the secret one they didn’t

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If your company is a member of the British Airways On Business programme, it will have received an email on Monday. This explained that Marriott will no longer be a partner, and that from the end of the year you can no longer redeem for Marriott Stay Certificates.

(If you don’t know about On Business, I wrote two introductory articles here and here. If you are self-employed – with a Companies House registration number – then you should definitely be a member. Here is a fantastic sign-up bonus as well.)

On Business

The Marriott certificates were not a terrible deal, so it is sad to see them go. The certificates have a 15 month validity, though, so any voucher redemptions made now will still be valid at hotels throughout 2014.

That said, I never redeemed my On Business points for one because they were historically far more valuable when redeemed for BA flights.

However …. that has changed for business class flights.

Historically, when you used your On Business points to book a British Airways flight, you would almost always see availability. I booked a return flight from Germany to London at fairly short notice over the Summer, and despite return cash tickets in Economy being over £400 I was still able to make an On Business redemption.

If you redeem your On Business points for Club World or Club Europe flights, though, it is now a lot harder.

Without telling anyone, BA has changed the way On Business redemptions work. Historically, you could book into ‘D’ class, which is not the cheapest level of Club World or Club Europe.

As of a few weeks ago, Club World and Club Europe redemptions only book into ‘R’ class. This is the cheapest available revenue ticket. If all of the super-cheap Club World or Club Europe tickets have been sold for the flight you want, On Business can no longer book onto it.

This fact wasn’t in the latest On Business email, interestingly.

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Comments (11)

  • I think this will be the nail in the coffee for me giving BA my business (and ultimately collecting Avios)

    I’ve been increasingly frustrated at the lack of award seat availability on BA when I most need them (usually during school holidays). There is essentially zero availability during July and August on transatlantic routes to US and Canada, and with a family in tow flying via Europe or Ireland just isn’t worth the extra hassle.

    I think their motto needs adjusting to “To fly (if you’re a cash fare paying customer), To serve (our shareholders)”

  • James67 says:

    I fear it is not just On Business, a number if emails and other info from BA keep hintinv at forthcoming changes to the EC and based on what is going on elsewhere in the industry the best we can probably hope for is some good and some bad. I’m holding out to early November for a tesco bonus but if it doesn’t come I will convert anyway and get s few redemptions locked in, maintaining a moderate bslance in the hope MFUs continue to be the value they are now.

  • Pid says:

    Can you join On Business and then claim retrospectively for flights taken in the last few months?

    • Rob says:


      “9.10 Reward Points that are not tracked automatically at the time of travel may be credited later at Our discretion. You may claim Reward Points after completion of an Eligible Flight taken by a Travelling Employee by logging into Your account and submitting a missing points claim available at provided that:

      9.10.1 the claim is made within 4 months of the date of travel; and
      9.10.2 You were enrolled in the Programme at the time of travel by the Travelling Employee.”

      • Tom H says:

        Is it the individual(and business) or the just the business which needs to be enrolled at the time of travel?

        • Rob says:

          You don’t enrol individual travellers, only the business. Any flight taken by anyone with your OB number on it will get credited to your account.

  • Alan says:

    Very disappointing news, Raffles 🙁 How did you unearth it and have you noticed a marked difference in redemption availability in CW?

    • Rob says:

      It drifted down to me via BA contacts. I don’t have enough points to book a CW with OB, sadly, but a look at CE availability compared to R class seemed to confirm it.

  • Teece says:

    Hmm. Just trying a few dummy bookings, and I’m being offered one seat on Wed 9th October to JFK, on the 173, which is booking into D class via a revenue booking. Also, for long-haul, don’t forget that I class is lower than R class, so it’s not the lowest of the low.

    • Rob says:

      Interesting. I will have a deeper dig and do some more tests.

      • Teece says:

        That was the only flight on that day (despite others selling D class), and the following day it was only the R class flights that were being offered up, some oddity there. So the general rule does appear to be R. But at least it’s R class, and not I.