Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Hear Head for Points on Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ today, hopefully …

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I am in Stockholm all day today, visiting SAS.  This may have saved me from making a major embarrassment of myself live on national radio!

In theory – although these things are always subject to change – BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ programme (12.15) will be covering the Avios changes today.

The reason I know this is that I am appearing on the programme.  The BBC wanted me to appear live but, because of my Stockholm trip, I was able to pre-record a contribution on Friday.  This means that a) I can’t embarrass myself on live radio by making a mistake or using naughty words and b) my contribution can be edited so that it sounds sensible.

Radio 4

As I don’t know which parts of the discussion they will use, it is difficult to preview it.  With only a few minutes to talk, I was forced to simplify what is a very complex set of changes.

Avios Group chose not to appear on the programme although they were due to submit a statement.  In the interests of balance, I tried to explain why I think they did what they did – although, again, this may not make the final cut.

Please give me a pass for any errors in what I said!  I wasn’t given the questions in advance so I was trying to think on the spot as well as worry about how to present the answers in a way that a mass audience could understand.

If someone could post a link to the online version in the afternoon I’d be grateful.  Although, as I said earlier, the story (or just my bit!) may get cut or pushed back – although the published running order does say that it will be on.

Comments (71)

  • Dan says:

    Just starting now!

  • Modern Day Sinbad says:

    Just listened to it. It all sounded sensible and objective 🙂 Well done Raffles!

  • Roger says:

    A very even-handed contribution from Rob, if I may say so. 🙂 I didn’t learn anything, thanks of course to HfP.

    Pity that BA chickened out and only provided a statement, blaming the devaluation on customer feedback and the need to be competitive. 🙁

    • James says:

      Yes you came off rather well Rob, bravo!

      I did enjoy the avios statement saying that the changes were (in part) due to customer feedback. I presume this is referring to availability rather than the other trifling bits 😉

    • Sounds very much like a certain train company people seem to not like me talking about! 😉

      The customer feedback angle is one companies can use for any change. I disagree with BA’s approach to being competitive. Cramming in more seats, reducing benefits, means they’re pretty much going to take on easyJet on price and initially perceived prestige (but that may run out sooner rather than later).

      In the end we both want the same things here for transport companies to realise that there’s people out there that value loyalty schemes.

      • xcalx says:

        “Sounds very much like a certain train company people seem to not like me talking about! ”

        I don’t think its that people do not like you talking about ECR. More the fact that you seem to hijack more and more topics to beat your drum. Under the right Topic heading your views would be better placed and maybe welcomed.

      • callum says:

        Both BA and Virgin are WELL aware that there are people out there who value loyalty schemes. Are you going to also start a campaign now to inform BA that people prefer getting more Avios for flying and getting cheaper redemption prices?

        • Fenny says:

          What we really preferred was the old Airmiles scheme. All the campaigning and petitions did nothing to stop the change from Airmiles to avios.

    • Tim Millea says:

      I have just finished listening to the pogramme. The Avios section is in the last few minutes. BA’s statement claimed the changes were partly in response to customer feedback. Has any HFP reader been canvassed by BA over Avios?

      • Roger says:

        ‘Has any HFP reader been canvassed by BA over Avios?’

        Not sure if it counts as canvassed, but I completed a BA survey about loyalty schemes a while ago. They clearly didn’t regard my answers as ‘customer feedback’ …

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Tim. Will have a listen myself now!

      (EDIT: no I won’t, as iPads are not supported!)

      • Tim Millea says:

        My iPad supported it, currently in Greece with only iPad. Puzzlement emoji (is there one?).

        • Rob says:

          Dunno. Worked ok when I downloaded iplayer radio. My wife couldn’t get it to play in her office either.

    • Simon says:

      Thanks for the link Tim, the Avios segment starts after about 31 minutes if anyone wants to skip straight to it.

      Rob, you should be able to use the iPlayer Radio app to listen to it.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, realised that! It didn’t turn out too badly, I thought.

        • Simon says:

          Agreed, you came across well and gave easy to follow balanced views. Hopefully a few more people will visit the site after hearing the piece.

  • Alan says:

    Nicely done, Rob – did a good job getting the key points out to the masses 🙂

  • Tom C says:

    Watch out for all the women throwing their underwear at you. Part of the job, I suppose.

  • Harry says:

    Great contribution Rob. Ditto EDI Flyer if that was indeed you. Balanced, objective and fair.

    Shame that Radio 4 dummed the programme down to the level of Jeremy Vine by letting Avios / BA get away with just making a canned statement. In allowing them to talk in “Enhancement” language, they have permitted the ideology that anyone who does not like the changes is not in tune with what “real” customers want.

    Where was John Humphreys to cross examine their spin? And if they do not want to appear on the show, leave the cross examination questions hanging for the listener to decide whether they are just talking Premium language.

    Rather lame reporting by Radio 4 in my opinion.

    • Alan says:

      Haha no, it wasn’t me – I’ve been on the Beeb a few times but not on travel-related topics 😀

  • Kevin H says:

    One point which BA has done its best to hide (and didn’t get covered in the interview) is the massive increase in Avios required for an upgrade booking e.g. a zone 7 one-way from PE to Club in off-peak has increased from 15,000 to 36,000 Avios (+140%) – although, oddly, only 30,000 Avios (+100%) required for an upgrade in the new peak periods!
    As a Gold-for-life member, I wrote to them (twice!) on this – and they ignored the question both times.
    As for these changes being based on customer feedback – utter nonsense.

    • CV3V says:

      I think they customer feedback they refer to goes along the lines of ‘there is never any avios reward seats available’, BA then resolves this by making it much harder to earn enough points to spend on a redemption seat.

      Apparently there are changes coming to Cathay Pacific who may start to limit reward seat availability for oneworld members, with preference to their own scheme. Malaysian already do this, with really good availability for Enrich members. Perhaps BA should do likewise.

    • Rob says:

      We talked about this in the initial chat but I didn’t mention it in the final interview. Ironic that the Scottish guy said that he was now using his points for this instead.

      • Kevin H says:

        Yes, it was a bit odd given the massive increases now required.
        It would be nice to think that BA might realise it’s alienated its frequent fliers with this devaluation and reverse some of the changes – but I won’t hold my breath!