Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: BA cabin crew to strike, Accor / Amex cashback extended, SAS / Avis deal

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

British Airways cabin crew to strike

The British Airways ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew – which is pretty much everyone who has been hired since 2010 – have voted for strike action following their rejection of a 2% pay rise.

Union Unite has given notice of strike action from 21st December, although no dates have yet been confirmed.

Of the 4,000 members of Mixed Fleet, only 1,500 took part in the ballot.  80% of those of who voted were in favour of the strike.

According to a BBC report:

According to a recent Unite survey, half of Mixed Fleet staff have taken on second jobs to make ends meet, and more than two-thirds were going to work “unfit to fly” because they could not afford to be off sick.

It said 84% reported experiencing stress and depression since joining BA because of their financial circumstances.

Some even admitted sleeping in cars between flights, because they could not afford the petrol to get home.

Salaries for mixed fleet crew are reported to start at £12,000 per annum plus £3 per hour of flight time.  Average pay is reported to be £16,000.

I will keep you updated with news of strike dates as they are announced.  As Mixed Fleet only represents 25% of BA’s cabin crew, any action would not have a crippling effect on the flight schedule although there would clearly be substantial numbers of cancellation.

BA A318

Accor and Amex extend cashback deal

Accor Hotels, which operates Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, M Gallery, Pullman etc, has a long-running cashback deal with American Express.

There are two variants – £30 back on £250 spend and £50 back on £500 spend.

You need to log into your American Express account and look under ‘Offers’ on each of your card statement pages.  The offer may be there under one of them – if it is, save it to your card.

This offer was meant to end on 21st October.   What I didn’t notice until recently is that Amex rolled it over and it now ends on 31st December.

You need to complete a stay at a Sofitel, Pullman or M Gallery hotel by the year end.  A list of participating hotels is on the Amex site but pretty much every hotel globally under those brands is included.  Ibis, Novotel, Mecure etc are NOT included.  If you stay outside the UK, the converted bill must be over £250.

You might not be aware of which hotels fall under M Gallery as these are generally local hotels which kept their original branding.  In the UK, participating hotels are:

Castle Hotel, Windsor

Francis Hotel, Bath

Queens Hotel, Cheltenham

The Sofitel properties at Heathrow and Gatwick as well as the St James’s flagship pictured below are also included as are the Pullman hotels in Liverpool (brand new, see the article here) and Kings Cross.

The Accor booking page is here.  Don’t forget to register your American Express card before making a booking.

Sofitel Heathrow Accor

4,000 SAS EuroBonus points from Avis

I don’t cover SAS EuroBonus much on Head for Points, although it is a Star Alliance programme and an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner.

This offer from Avis did catch my eye though.

For Avis rentals booked by 31st December for completion by 30th June, you will receive:

  • 2,000 bonus miles for a 2-3 day rental
  • 4,000 bonus miles for a 4+ day rental

….. as well as a free additional driver.  Full details can be found here.

Comments (86)

  • C77 says:

    Am thankful the DXB route has reverted to legacy WW crew base in time for Christmas/New Year – that could have been quite nasty. Slightly OT but huge thanks for plugging the QR PSA-AKL J deal earlier this year. I had booked for December pre-empting a delay to the route and wanting SYD as my ultimate destination. Managed to get rerouted under the rebook policy and am currently soaking it up at O&O Hayman Island (more avios for my stay here too which you also bought to my attention). QR was a great experience (the only J passenger PSA-DOH) and the A380 down to SYD was just amazing although interesting to see cost cutting afoot there too (it’s not just a BA thing!) compared to my last QR J last year.

    • Stu R says:

      You talk about cost cutting in QR J, what sort of thing are we looking out for here? We’re doing AKL in March and having done most of our long haul ‘up front’ with QR in the past 4 years, I’m hoping it’s nothing too drastic?!

      • C77 says:

        I have a critical eye for detail and remember how things were and are now. In reality these were just tiny things which did not affect my overall experience. These being there is no a la carte dining in the Al Mourjan lounge at DOH anymore. Everything is help yourself from the buffet – I’m personally not a buffet fan. As a result of this the options aren’t as great as they were. According to the waiter, they stopped a la carte dining in October. On board, the eye shades are now somewhat thin and let in the light – gone are the decent quality ones which coordinated with the sleep suit that had a velcro strap. In the bathrooms the cotton hand towels have been replaced with kleenex thin paper tissue that fall apart on contact with wet skin. It’s not even a more robust hand towel. This means you need to take a wodge and pat dry rather than rub dry to avoid getting wet paper tissue everywhere. I told you I was picky! 😉

        • Stu R says:

          I’m picky too, so will probably find myself noticing the same things as you …. I guess we can live with it though given our PSA – AKL tickets in J cost little more than Y, in fact a colleague who’s returning home to NZ for Xmas paid £1500 return in Y, nearly £400 more than our J tickets!

        • North says:

          There was still a la carte dining in part of the lounge in mid-November. It’s in the lower level part of the lounge not the large one upstairs. We had a la carte when we passed through Doha then so it was definitely still available.

          • Paul says:

            And still available first week of December down there when I went through although isn’t it only light snacks/sandwiches?

        • Sam Wardill says:

          The tissues are terrible. I thought it was just poor supply chain planning but now I realise it is false economy

        • @mkcol says:

          I’ve heard that there are passengers from certain parts of the world who didn’t understand the cotton hand towels weren’t for chucking down the loo….hence the waffer-thin tissues being used.

          • Sam Wardill says:

            This makes sense but also no sense. There is a third way (like most other airlines) of using paper towels that can dry hands without disintegration.

    • Waribai says:

      The general wisdom seems to be that in the event of a strike, some ww crewed flights on less lucrative routes could be pulled to cover some mf flights if need be. So no flights are completely safe.

  • Lee says:

    Just sack the BA crew if they do not wish to do their job.

    Plenty more are willing to work for BA.

    • C77 says:

      I’d hate to have you as a boss although you’d probably get on quite well at IAG with that mentality. I’m sure they would if they could. A company’s reliance upon a roles glamourous image to attract a work force as opposed to focussing towards QUALITY customer service is doomed for disaster from a customer viewpoint. From a shareholder/spreadsheet one it looks good. That pretty much sums BA up – short term results at the detriment of customers. And now it seems the workforce to… who would like to stay but can’t afford to.

    • Seat54 says:

      That was my first thought too, but then I did some calculations.
      So assuming an average flying day is 6hrs a day x £3 x 5 days x 45 weeks gives a ball park £4K on top of basic.
      So if you then take the £16k and assume a 40hr week then it’s barely above minimum wage.

      I do think this is a little bit lean but I do understand the structure of basic plus allowance.

      However 1200 from 4500 potential people wanted to strike, that’s only 26%, does this mean the rest are fine with it.

      • Genghis says:

        Only union members can vote. And even a significant number of union members abstained (1000/2500(per BBC)=40%)

      • Tony says:

        The 4000 figure is total mixed fleet numbers, my understanding is that approx half of those are union members and therefore eligible to vote. I certainly wouldn’t assume the remainder are happy with their lot but suspect that as mostly younger employees they don’t see the benefit of joining a union. Union membership has been on the decline in U.K. for some time.
        I fully support mixed fleet in this action. BA sold them a lie with expected earnings and should be ashamed to pay near poverty wages.

        • Paul says:

          I’m still getting to grips with this strike? What lie did BA sell them? Given it only affect some post 2010 joiners, £16,00 can’t be too far from expectations when they started?

          • Rob says:

            £21-25k was apparently quoted to joiners. Which is still poor, frankly. Remember that you generally obliged to live near Heathrow or Gatwick for this job – we’re not talking about living in the regions on £16k.

            But this is a topic I have no intention of exploring further here as it will only end badly!

      • Steve says:

        40 hour week? Is this really what they work? I very much doubt that.

      • Graeme says:

        Perhaps the non-union members are unable or unwilling to pay their subs, either way, there is no information to indicate either way how they would have voted if they were able to AFAIK.

        @Lee thanks for the insightful and balanced opinion on another piece of travel related industrial action, really helps.

    • Leo says:

      Yes because the world and life are really that simple aren’t they.

    • Erico1875 says:

      What a disgrace this country is becoming. Amazon, Sports Direct now BA !!. If you can only afford to pay your employees the minimum wage, more likely the tax payer is going to have to top up many of them with benefits. Therefore, your business really isn’t viable!!!

      • the real harry says:

        but you have to look at it from BA’s point of view

        the original staff are paid too much vs market rates & BA is heavily unionized so can’t do much about that apart from through attrition & these 2nd tier recruits getting paid rock bottom

        the pension fund has a crippling deficit so money has to be found to reduce that

        the fleet is (by industry standards) far too old & needs replacing so money needs to be found for that

        heavy downward pressure on pricing due to the intense competition in BA’s heartland (Europe) and formerly lucrative LH (eg ME carriers)

        I’m really not surprised at the low pay for the new recruits as that was a good mgt strategy – obviously there is a fine line between paying just enough and not enough

        • Lady London says:

          Just to pick out your point on pension fund deficit @harry, I wonder

          – how many years of “pension holidays” did BA take from this pension fund for their employees, in the past

          – how many senior and other employees were given redundancy which included ‘enhanced pension terms’ as incentives for them to take the redundancy? I worked for management who took full pension with added extra years, and a large redundancy package from another large company.

          All funded from the pension scheme that is now underfunded to meet commitments to other employees? Since so many companies took pension holidays in the past, and, excuse me, raped the pension scheme to fund past redundances, I have little sympathy with a number of other large pension schemes that are now saying “ooh, look, we’re underfunded” !!

          sorry for the OT

      • Nick says:

        Add police in that mix…£19k starting salary….

        • Genghis says:

          Army recruits? The list could go on. Whilst I think that people should be paid a living wage, people decide on their chosen career for a number of reasons (money, education, location etc etc). People choose to be BA cabin crew like they choose to join the police…

    • Susan says:

      If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. I don’t want monkeys in charge of my safety.

    • Stu R says:

      My better half earns just £14,400 p/a, if that was the only income in our household, we’d be royally ****ed! I’m really not sure how a single person is supposed to manage on such an income these days; Survive? Probably. Live? Definitely not!

    • Jake says:

      What a disgraceful attitude.

      BA should be ashamed at how they treat their crew. A £16k salary is barely enough to survive where I live (York) let alone in the South East. Having seen the BA documentary of a year or two ago, the exceptionally strict standards they set for their crew – the image of “snapshots” has stayed with me – are completely out of kilter with the wages.

      I know being cabin crew is generally low paid, all travel jobs are (i’m a travel agent myself), but the expectations from BA and the location of their base should mean that their crew should be paid better. All the while, Willie Wash was happy to give himself a 30% rise with a salary of £6.4 million in 2015. What a d1*k.

      It’s these reasons that stop me from flying BA. Any business that treats it employess with contempt isnt good enough to get my money.

  • Zoe says:

    If BA cancel a flight due to their own workers striking is that an ‘unforeseen circumstance ‘ as far as paying out 600 euros for a long haul booking is concerned?
    Iberia paid us out about 5 years ago when the knock on from a strike a few days before had us bumped off a flight to Miami. Too bad that it took 3 days to catch up with our .
    Is a Newark / Heathrow flight likely to be impacted I wonder?

    • Zoe says:

      * cruise ship*

    • Sam Wardill says:

      Of course it is not an unforeseen circumstance beyond BA’s control. There have been no test cases though. This strike will be interesting. It is the first one after EU261 regulations started to get reliably upheld. Either BA pays compensation or it can expect a test case (which is likely to be upheld in favour of pax).

      • @mkcol says:

        Amazed there hasn’t been a test given the strikes which have affected other EU carriers…..surely someone must have been affected enough?

        • Genghis says:

          Airlines are likely just to pay up to avoid it going to court and for any precedent to be established. Worth starting MCOL if airline refuses EC261 if affected…

  • Christopher Sutton says:

    This is the worst news for us as we’re on a LHR to JNB early Jan for a 3 week holiday and I believe the JNB route is mixed fleet. Let’s hope it gets resolved in the next week. Basic maths £16k just isn’t enough for people living in London so I can see their frustration!

    • Graeme says:

      I wouldn’t have thought £16k is much to have a life on outside of London, never mind living in or within reasonable commuting distance to London!

      • Christopher Sutton says:

        Agreed. I remember chatting to crew in 2011 and they were saying how much they were struggling on the MF contract. Thanks keep on thinking that it’s almost as if the job is for a house wife/husband who wants to keep busy!

  • Christopher Sutton says:

    Also I suspect even if you’re not on a mixed fleet route, an aircraft passes around routes so the knock on effect of a mixed route being delayed / cancelled could result in delays across non mixed fleet routes.

  • Nick says:


    Am I reading the ba strike as only 80% of the 1500 who voted will strike or is it all 4000 mixed fleet staff will strike? Have a flight on 28th December so just wondering.

    OT – the flight above is a ba Black Friday package staying in sofitel Brussels I assume that won’t count towards the Amex offer?

    OTT – anyone get the thanks email from QR with 15% discount code for J and 10% off Y?

  • Billy Buzzjet says:

    It befuddles me as to why anyone would want to join BA as cabin crew in this day and age, but perhaps Mr Cruz could introduce bonus payments for BOB and scratch card sales.

  • Duncan Stevenson-Price says:

    Oh no! Husband and I are off to Houston on January 2nd, with a connecting flight from Edinburgh on the 1st. We’ve been looking forward to this for ages, so I really hope we don’t miss out, as we only have a few days in Houston before heading off to San Antonio, Austin, and finally Dallas.

    Our first redemption since starting the hobby and our first experience of premium cabins. It’ll be a bit of a blow to our 10th anniversary if it all goes wrong.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.