More evidence of BA prioritising Avios bookings for downgrades?

(UPDATE: BA has agreed to give me a legal opinion on Monday on whether it believes a BA Amex companion ticket qualifies for EU261 downgrade compensation.)

A month ago I ran this article speculating that BA has begun to target Avios ticket holders for downgrades.

This would be economically rational.  Under EU regulations, a downgraded passenger is automatically due a 75% refund on that leg of their ticket.  For a cash passenger, that is expensive.

For an Avios passenger, it is not expensive to downgrade.  All the airline has to do is refund a few points.

For an Avios passenger travelling on a 2-4-1 voucher, the downgrade is free to BA.  It has been telling some passengers that as their ticket cost zero Avios, the refund is 75% of zero which is, erm, zero.

After my original article there was some debate about whether this is actually happening.  Some BA staff told me that it isn’t easy to tell whether a passenger is on a 2-4-1 ticket or not, although it is easy to spot those on redemptions on the manifest.  Some agents have implied that it is functionality in FLY, the new check-in and passenger management system, which now allows this policy to be implemented.

It is worth noting that the person involved in my original article issued a Small Claims Court against British Airways after being refused any compensation.  As per this page of Flyertalk, it appears that BA chose not to fight the case and settled for the unspecified amount the passenger demanded.

british-airways-ba

In the last couple of weeks, two more readers have contacted me with linked stories.

The key one came yesterday from a reader.  I always weigh up news I receive by email from readers to see how truthful and verifiable it seems, but this is one I trust implicitly – the person involved is a regular commentator and has even written a guest article for the site in the past.

If you read the comments on HFP yesterday, you would have seen his regular updates as the situation developed.

This is what he said to me by email:

“At Edinburgh to start our trip to Gatwick and then what was meant to be Club World BAPP 241 reward seats to Male.  At checking in for EDI-LGW we have been told we have been downgraded, either both to World Traveller Plus or just me with my wife staying in CW.  We have been told that BA has oversold the flight and it’s because we are on reward tickets that we have been selected to be downgraded.”

Here is another email I received two weeks ago:

“I have read your article re 2-4-1 downgrades and it almost exactly mirrors our experience.  The Duty Manager was adamant her instructions were to target Redemption ticket holders first.  Given that our seats were showing as still allocated to us that morning (albeit not available to be printed due to “system error” at the hotel), it appears BA have chosen to sell more CW seats on the day . . . knowing they had a supply of 2-4-1 pax ready to be downgraded

It is a largely win-win situation for BA . . .  if there are any no-shows, no skin off their noses, but hey, why not sell an equivalent number of CW seats to exactly match the number of 2-4-1 holders on every flight!  Cheap trick but as I learned in over twenty years with them, the internal “bar” is set at the greediest money-earning opportunity.”

The reader above is not one I have met but I have no reason doubt the accuracy of what he sent me.  He had even paid to reserve specific Club World seats but even that did not protect him from being downgraded.

To clarify, there is no specific proof that this is going on.  No BA employee has yet sent me a copy of the relevant memo or email.

Do let me know if you are also impacted by this and have been told that the staff that you have been downgraded specifically because you are on an Avios ticket.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. If this is official policy, it will surely be the final nail in the coffin for BAPP. Absolutely no value in 2-4-1 if they continually oversell premium cabins with a view to target those redemptions for downgrade. Who in their right mind would pay nearly £200 for a card where the prime benefit was so hit and miss?

  2. I booked 2 first tickets and one cw, all using miles , at check in , I was told my brother who was in cw was being down graded as the bookings had been booked separate , they couldn’t see any ba membership which he does not have , I discussed with manager explained I was ggl and his down grade was reversed and some one else downgraded .

  3. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    If BA won’t comment perhaps AMEX will. This is their product and if true it is greatly devalued (to the point of zero to me). They have a lot more leverage and a lot more to lose.

  4. Morning folks, now sat in the Conrad seaplane lounge, receiving wonderful hospitality from our very nice Maldivian hosts.

    My wife managed to get a few hours sleep in CW, I however didn’t sleep too well in WTP, mainly because I’m disappointed and to be honest feel lied to and on the recieving end of misinformation. We were fed new info by the BA rep shortly before leaving the LGW lounge that she was wrong to previously say the flight was oversold, apparently it had since transpired there was a safety problem with one of the 48 CW seats, so unsafe for Take off and landing, but a crew member might use it during the flight for rest, when I asked if I could come up to CW to use during the flight I was told that wouldn’t be possible. On boarding spoke with Flight Service Manager who honestly told us CW was full with fare paying pax, no crew in CW and there was not any broken seats, the crew have dedicated rest areas and BA had knowingly and deliberately oversold the flight. To me this series of twists and turns and trying to be fobbed off is appalling behavior.

    Oh and to top it off BA have failed to deliver one of our bags, we know they made it to LGW, my wife saw them being unloaded off the domestic flight, again this is just poor and inexcusable. Will be interesting to see the level of empathy and compassion we receive in response to the above.

    So looking forward to being back at the Conrad this pm, they really excel at fantastic customer service, wonderful hosts.

    • Really sorry for your experience @Anon. I know I’d be fuming. Enjoy Rangali and pick up the fight on your return. Genghis.

    • What a truly rubbish experience – hopefully Customer Relations pull something out of the hat to make it right. On a return flight it might be an option to say you’ll delay your flight until you could both go in CW but obviously no such option outbound, esp with seaplane transfers awaiting you!

    • Lady London says:

      Do BA think you’re stupid? That ‘revised explanation’ was clearly an attempt to cover their a/s/s after the truth had been blurted out previously.

      That’s the same as many airlines having said on the tarmac the delay was mechanical/crew out of hours etc., later tried to say it was weather issue to avoid paying appropriate compensation.

      Does the Daily Mail read HfP?

  5. Is it possible to argue that the cost of the 2-4-1 is actually the amount in £s you would have to spend in order to activate it or even the cost of any redemption for that matter? Surely with that argument, it vastly increases the monetary value of that ticket.

    • The value of the 241 to a collector is the avios saved but the cost is actually the Amex fees+any opportunity cost of using another card. These things aren’t free to accumulate and as such as many people chase them, they have a value. It’d be interesting to know what a court might decide.

  6. bertiepoppy says:

    My issue is why can BA not seek to turn a problem into a success by generous compensation when performing involuntary downgrades. But, until they see the light of day, which of the following three options would you all consider to be most effective in curtailing their worse excesses?

    1. A mass petition (or some other form of communication) with Amex.

    2. As above but at the IAG AGM

    3. Monthly class actions by a “no win no fee” solicitor

    I believe that the sooner there are some Court rulings (possibly here and in the US) on the matter of compensation, the sooner BA will have to fall into line. BTW is there an opportunity for Virgin to take the lead here and boast about the exemplary way they deal with this kind of thing compared to BA.

    BA employees: Do you really get paid enough to treat your passengers with such contempt?

  7. Nate1309 says:

    This is disgusting behaviour from BA. I have been bumped to a later flight on a 2-4-1 redemption to Johannesburg before as CW was oversold. But what has happened to @Anon really takes the biscuit! Hope you have a nice time in the Maldives Anon.

  8. As far as I understand these are contractual arrangements, albeit made more complicated by the involvement of Avios and, in the case of 2-4-1, Amex, but neverless, they are contractual.

    An airline may downgrade, bump-off etc. only for ‘operational reasons’ legally – i.e not for commercial reasons. Anything else must be indiviidually negotiated. If the customer refuses, the airline is bound by the same laws and regulations that apply to any non-redemption customer – a re-route in the same class, food, drink hotel and full compensation as per EU tariffs.

    My advice is not to be the typical British wimp in these matters and plainly refuse to accept the downgrade. Only once customers stand up for their rights will BA reconsider this obnoxious policy.

    • I think that would be my stance as well.

      The annoying thing about the Male trip is that it’s always full, so bumping to the next flight may not work. It’s probably the only route I can think of where staff travel gets blocked out at certain times as well, they can’t even list for it. Overselling the flight is pretty inexcusable because it’s a leisure route and I would be blazing if it had happened to me, I once went on miles to Male and it’s a real pain to get a trip there with a 241, I’d say the most difficult on the network, checking availability at 2am and 6am every day from T-355days.

      It could be possible that the 777 was swapped for one without a crew rest area and therefore a seat was used for the 3rd pilot, but I don’t know the rules on them using a club seat Vs paying passengers, im fairly certain it’s that they come second. I’ve been on flights where one of our club seats is U/S and can’t be placed in the landing/takeoff position downroute, but the local dispatchers have insisted it’s ok and tried to get Pax in it to avoid a headache for them, but I’ve only ever experienced it downroute.

      The FLY system does tend to chose what happens with regards to onloading, but it can also mess it up. I may speak to a turn around manager about it this week and see what they say.

  9. These revelations certainly make the Amex BA cards less attractive as their selling point at the end of your £10k or £20k spend is the 2-4-1 voucher.

    Potential applicants need to be informed of this from the outset at application stage

    If these are not being honoured, I hope Amex will also hold BA to account – or maybe they have built this into their Ts & Cs already

  10. Cheshire Pete says:

    I thought the over riding rule on who gets downgraded is status. I’m curious at what level ‘Anon’ is at? Did they query whether no status or below their status passengers had been targeted first? I was once bumped out of my seat in Row 1 of a CE flight from Istanbul to Heathrow, and at that time was Gold. Piecing together the story of how this came about was a complex BA misdirection exercise! Which this story by Anon reminds me of. This seat change happened the day before. Gold line told me ‘operational’ by staff at Istanbul, at the gate at the airport the dispatch manager told me it was actioned by a staff member from London , from the log which is kept in the booking, and there was no operational reason. On board the flight crew showed me the seat manifest on the iPad and the offending person who got me moved was coloured ‘black’ i.e. GGL. However over riding a seat choice is in fact not policy. So misdirection really, and certain staff at BA can do things in the IT system which doesn’t follow a specific rule, just whimsical, yet covered up to the point of like solving a mystery in a James Bond movie.

  11. I can’t imagine American Express would be too thrilled with this news, unless complicit. Have you reached out to them for comment?

  12. BA is simply not to be trusted. This is a firm which was involved in dirty tricks against Virgin and their modus operandi seems to be “whatever we can get away with” glad someone took them to court and forced them to settle.

  13. Another reason to avoid spending Avios on BA.

  14. The comments about the Amex 241 not being of value anymore is just what BA want to hear. This will be used to enhance them away based on feedback from customers

  15. Concerto says:

    As I said before, boycott, boycott, boycott. Take your business elsewhere, spend those Avios on partner airlines.

    Virgin are not exemplary, they do exactly the same thing. Keep that in mind.

    • Oonagh cacioppo says:

      I would be happy to collect with another airline however the 241 offer appears to be the best use of points. I would be most interested to know if you have an alternative suggestion for using Amex or Avios points for flying Club or First ?

    • James Black says:

      Agree, now I only use avios and 241 on BA flight, now I will cancel my Amex when it expires.

    • Looking to book a trip to NYC in October for Sept 2018. I prey they don’t do this to me.

  16. On a 2-4-1 to Cape Town during Easter. Seems like a flight which they would typically oversell. Wish me luck

  17. Think we need to develop the ‘What to do when BA downgrade you for someone who paid more for the same seat’ guide!
    Refuse the downgrade?
    Ask to be rebooked? With BA, push for other airline?
    Take the £200 cash (and still claim compensation later)?
    Etc.

  18. Mr Bridge says:

    Don’t BA say that they have a minimum number of AVIOS seats available on each flight?

    If they they then sell a seat booked in AVIOS for cash then they do not have that minimum number of seats. This is misrepresentation ( misrepresentation act 1967), and anyone affected, that decides upon further action, may wish to consider the relevance of this act.

    Furthermore, Citizens Advice, have a social policy unit, what this means is that Citizens Advice, nationally consolidates and complies issues that are affecting lots of people. Anyone affected should contact their local Citizens Advice , and ask that the issue is flagged up for social policy.

  19. Just another piece of proof that BA is all about the bottom line and places no value in their loyal Avios building clients.

    I echo the sentiments of bertiepoppy that we look to create class action suits to set precedence such that we are protected in the future.

    Disappointing.

  20. This is disgusting. Whats the point of spending £10k and circ. £200 on BAP Amex if that’s going to happen. We have a reward flight to SIN in the summer with a baby. I won’t be having any of it, the inconvenience with an infant will be even worse! Be interesting to see how other redemption tickets fair.

  21. Absolute disgrace.

    I am afraid that senior management in large corporations will continue this downward trend of treating people badly for a few extra bucks until it effects them personally.

    How will it ever effect them personally ?
    It won’t.

    • James Black says:

      cancel the BA AMEX credit card, the only right choice now!

      • Yeah, I am today. Decision made.

        • We will be continuing with sign-up bonuses but no longer bothering with 2-4-1 vouchers until such time as this is positively resolved.

        • The value of the BAPP is significantly reduced without the 241 though.

        • I agree, but if you can hit your target within say 2 months then cancel, you have bought 18,000-25,000 Avios depending on timing (excluding referral bonuses) for about £35. That’s a better deal than any I’ve seen on here – even including the Avis special!

  22. A few observations:

    1. That Anon was downgraded at EDI and not LGW supports view that FLY and not staff is administering the downgrades.

    2. Anon was unable to select a seat or use OLCI. We need to establish if this is correlated with FLY pre-selecting passengers for downgrade.

    3. We need to establish whether check in and gate agents have any flexibility and authority to override FLY downgrades.

    4. BA reportedly unwilling to contest a small claim therefore they are likely on very shaky ground so if it happens it might be worth telling them to get on the phone with their legal team, as you are aware of this, in the hope that they will relent.

    • Lady London says:

      Not bring able to select a seat can also mean lots of other things. You may actually have been selected for an upgrade. An equipment change could be in the offing.

  23. I am flying to Seoul in a few weeks and if BA were to do this to me, it would be the last time I ever fly with them. It’s hard enough earning those AVIOS, not to mention finding the redemptions and then to downgrade people is just the most horrendous story of terrible customer service, what an utter disgrace this airline is becoming!

    • I completely agree.
      I have a 2-4-1 to use up and if this happens to me I will HATE the company with a vengeance.
      I have a serious back & neck chronic pain condition and if I’ve booked to fly club or higher on a long haul flight its because I know from experience that a couple of hours into the flight being unable to lie down and do some stretches and change positions around I will be in serious pain, pain that will last days.
      It would screw my entire trip up and have me in absolute agony.
      I would HATE the company for that and would probably not take the flight because of it.
      I think I would need serious counselling to talk me out of hunting down some BA Execs and shooting them in the face with a crossbow.

      • Wow…I think you are ready for the counselling sessions now

      • Maybe book airport assistance at both ends of the journey. This may deter them from downgrading you.
        I too have a chronic back & neck condition and long haul in economy is a no go. Search Qatar flights from other european airports for great bargains and use avios to get from the Uk to the european airport. We are flying to the Maldives from Rome in business for £900 each. It is an extra flight but Qatar is a superior product and treat you like royalty on board. (and it was about £3500 each from the UK)

    • Sorry but why are you waiting for them to do this to you? After your next trip just start flying other airlines! Not saying they are all perfect but BA really does so often sound awful

  24. Oonagh cacioppo says:

    I would be UNABLE to fly long haul without lying back for the majority of the journey. Would I have the right to be put on a later flight?
    If so on an outward journey who would compensate for missed onward travel and hotel costs?
    How can one find out Amex perspective on their offer which is obviously in collaboration with BA if BA abuse it?

  25. Reading the comments, I assume that these potential downgrades could apply to anybody who has booked an Avios seat, full stop ? Even down the back….flight full….Avios passengers off loaded ? Including of course, all/any OW passengers that also happen to be on BA ? Also Lloyd’s upgrade customers ?

    • Yes, but 241 appears to be top of the list because BA have convinced themselves they can best get away with selling ‘the companion seat costs nothing’ argument. I suspect they will settle any claims quickly out of court on this one because if anybody takes them to a higher court they will very likely lose big time.

      • Lady London says:

        Settling takes both to agree though. I’d like to think sometime someone will decline saying no thanks but it’s more important to clarify the law for everyone. I know there’s a lot of noise in this discussion now but how many will really decline a private deal with a hush agreement?

  26. We are booked on a 241 BAPP in first to Tokyo next January. I’m pretty certain that in the event of any downgrading attempts, I’d end up on some kind of no fly list, or worse still in jail. If you want somebody to take BA to court, it might just be me, as I would not suffer any such behaviour!

    • Yeah, I very seriously could end up in jail for losing my sh*t. I completely understand this.
      I would be panicking about the pain I know a long haul flight without a bed leaves me in 🙁

      • Keep calm, and don’t fly BA!

        • the real harry1 says:

          keep it rational, folks 🙂

          seats get overbooked, people get bumped or downgraded, that is undeniable fact

          ergo you stand a chance of being bumped or downgraded on every flight you take

          it doesn’t warrant biffing the check-in agent on the nose 🙂

        • Agree, and we have to remember upgrades happen too although when was the last time BA gave somebody one of those? The actual chances of a downgrade on most routes most of the time is likely very small, it has not happened to me ever in over 35 years of flying on any airline but I’ve had many upgrades mostly from UA, AA and LH. Despite this, peoples concerns about this are real and justified, these concerns run deeper than just the disappointment of a poorer seat than they paid for which requires huge efforts for many readers. More fundamentally it is about BAs strategies and their relationship with their customers and how this makes their passengers feel. For years Ryanair were subjected to scorn, ridicule and bad front page press for what, seems to me a least, to be of lesser concern than the policies and practuces of BA these days. I agree too that we should refrain from abusing BA staff for the shortcomings of their employer because that is so unfair, it is fine to make concerns known to them but it should never be disrecpectful or abusive to them personally. At the end of the day these staff are our best chance of a satisfatory resolution and honey always works better than vinegar.

  27. I have had all three trips I have booked with BA this year either changed or cancelled. I’ve started to get a feeling of despair each time I’m connected to a “customer service” operator 5,000 miles away who can seemingly only read answers from a set list.

    I think the main problem is lack of accessible information about passenger rights. With my most recent complaint (cancelled flights from Manchester to Bremen), fortunately someone on HFP made me aware of the distinction between the right to compensation and the right to re-routing. When I pressed the latter, Sun Air (the airline involved) agreed to a few concessions I had asked for in respect of our alternative flights.

    Similarly I have read posters on Flyertalk arguing about whether BA are legally obliged to ask for volunteers before downgrading a passenger (though this would seem to only apply to bumping off), and also quoting passenger rights which actually only apply in the US.

    I posted yesterday that it would be a good idea to draft a standard letter to Amex about the concerns raised by these recent downgradings and have as many Amex customers as possible send it to their head office.It would be useful to clarify, for a start, whether BA are contractually obliged to provide those avios and 2 4 1 seats, as this may be a viable area of challenge.

  28. Sorry, just for my understanding, do BA refund 75% of the taxes & fees payment that you have to pay for redemptions when they downgrade you?

    • It definitely seems like they should owe a refund of taxes if the taxes are higher in the premium cabin (you don’t get to fly in).

  29. Disillusioned says:

    Another reason why I’m personally cancelling all cards that collect avios. It’s simply not worth it.

    Recently been trying to use avios for a booking and the availability / hassle factor is huge.

    Also I priced up 2 full price tickets. Then re priced using my 241 and although the “ticket cost ” was reduced the “tax potion went up nearly £300!!!

    How on earth does the tax increase when the ticket cost half.
    What a racket!

    In the end just bought 2 bus class tickets Oslo to Melbourne for £1790 each with Qatar. Way better value than even with 241 and a squillion avios.

  30. Bryan Celentano says:

    Are we not learning something yet about BA? Stop flying BA! I would suggest that you burn through your avios and 2-4-1s ASAP and pick any of the other budget airlines.

    • I’ve done exactly that, trying out Easyjet for shorthaul and KLM for business longhaul for the first time this year exEDI. If it works out ok I’ll use AY for summer seasonal and KLM for winter. BA reduced to a single z7 CW avios redemption each year but now that I reckon I’m only getting about 1.28p per clubcard point value out of that without a 241 or Lloyds voucher that now looks under threat too. I may continue collecting avios though for regional flights on CX and MH.

    • For me the best use of avios is actually europe short haul in economy. Off peak only 4k and 17 quid each way in taxes. Great for positioning or just for cheap flights to europe.

      Otherwise i use mainly qatar and singapore for long haul… really enjoy flying with them.

  31. Anybody out there that can do the equivalent for BA. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  32. I agree…vote with your feet and avoid BA long haul. There are far better frequent flyer schemes that charge almost half the miles as BA and therefore negate the need of a 2 for 1. You just need to collect in flexible currencies such as Amex MR or SPG.

  33. I guess it’s very difficult to ultimately know the reason why they are downgraded – perhaps all other pax are status holders?
    I think the take home message is that a 2×1 does not protect you against a downgrade. Similarly, a paid ticket doesn’t protect you either.
    And as I always say, if you don’t like Ba don’t fly BA. I’ve made that decision about 2 years ago. You get to experience so many different airlines, and for Europe, RYR, EZY and VY allows me to travel twice as often, if you book ahead and during promotions, you pay every little. Next weekend rtrn to BCN (fri eve and back sun evening) for only 40£ (Booked beginning of January). Very happy to have abandoned BA

    • The BA economy experience is often something like fully booked coach trip and the service often goes down hill

  34. I guess the question is if this practise is legal and according to terms and conditions or not. The fact that it is terrible customer service and bad publicity surely should not shock us anymore? come on people, we are talking BA here. Stopped flying revenue style with them years ago, Do one or two long hauls with QR, and use the Avios to have a good amount of champagne at Christmas in the fridge, suits me just fine!!!!

  35. I’d be interested to know if any of the people travelling on AMEX 241’s had status with BA? As a GGL member, I’d be very surprised if I or my companion were downgraded ahead of a fare paying Blue or Bronze.

    • I’m a Gold and was downgraded on an 241 booking with my wife who is also Gold flying HND-LHR. I was also told it was due to being on an avios booking and that being a Gold member “makes no difference in this case”
      Now the plural of anecdote is not data and it’s possible there were just GGLs on the flight aside from me and my wife (although that seems slightly unlikely).

  36. A small claims court action for the cash price ticket of the next flight should be a suitable compensation or that from a decent airline

    • I agree.

    • If you refused to be downgraded and BA refused to reroute you (reasonably) then that would be fair but I expect you’d actually have to buy the cash ticket to stand a chance in court which could be pricey. As an example a one way fare to Singapore for today costs £3200 with Etihad. £4700 direct! And of course there’d be two of you if flying on a 2for1. That’s a lot of money to shell out with no guarantee of getting it back.

  37. This is so worrying. I know – because they only release 2 club seats – that I’ll be the lowest-paying club passenger on my flight, after using a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher. If I’ve got a seat it’s impossible for someone else to use a 2-4-1.

    If they oversell the one flight a day to/from SYD, and everyone turns up, what the hell can you do? Over 20 hours in PE is not what I’m signing up for. Can you demand a re-route on another carrier? That would cost them money, though, which is what they’re trying to avoid.

    Is there a way of checking how sold the flight is, so we can be prepared?

  38. Oh come on, get real. If a flight is oversold (and yes they all do it) then someone has to choose who to bump

    • But surely the bump should come with sweeteners. Avios has been earnt using their brands or preferred partners over a long period and vouchers even longer.

  39. Just about to cancel my BAPP and wondered if that’s lose me the 2-4-1 I’ve got sitting waiting to be used ?
    Do I need to use the 2-4-1 before cancelling the BAPP ?
    I guess once its used for a booking (but not flown) it (well the flights) can’t be taken away for cancelling the BAPP ??

    • No, you won’t lose the 241 if you have already earned it and then cancel the BAPP. You will however need another AMEX card to pay the taxes etc. on when you come to use the 241.

  40. Seems like this is definitely something which should be raised with Amex, by as many of us as possible. The voucher is something Amex provides to their own customers in return for card fees and spending – BA are letting Amex customers down by doing this. How much do BA care about their relationship with Amex?

    • Can someone post an appropriate letter for us all to send to amex, and an email address to send to ?

      • I agree re the letter to
        Amex . I’ve got a 241 flight in CW coming up in May to Miami . We chose this destination specifically because it was one of the few places available with avios at the time of booking . I will be livid if we get downgraded . We had to use the 241 before June or we would have lost it . We have therefore organised our year / holiday specifically round this 241 redemption . I have booked hotels etc . If I knew in advance that we would get downgraded , we would have bought normal flights somewhere entirely different .

    • I agree. I have just paid my annual fee and is this is the case I’d be writing to Amex to cancel my card.

  41. What you can do is just ring and downgrade to the free Amex BA card, then you keep the 241 voucher.
    Just about to do this ourselves.

  42. John Gallagher says:

    Sounds like using a 2-4-1 is becoming a bit of a risk if you want to fly in a premium cabin.
    I think in future rather than spending on my BAPP card and transferring my Amex points to BA Avios, I’ll look at other cariers to get me to the Far East each each in F.

  43. Mr Bridge says:

    The government has now ruled that the consumer rights act 2015 WILL apply to both airline and rail industries, this came into effect from October 2016.
    This means that IN ADDITION to eu law relating to compensation any person affected after OCT 2016 can use the CRA to make a claim via small claims ( having first seeked ADR).

    Please note that an exemption on 1 year until October 2017 was applied to section 57(3) of the act;

    The downside is that this may well lead to higher airfares

    PLEASE BE CAREFUL AS TO HOW YOU USE THIS INFO

    The Government has concluded that consumer interests are best served if these
    sectors are not exempted from the services provisions, and that the CRA should
    apply in full to the aviation and maritime sectors from 1 October 2016. In relation to
    passenger services operated by EU licensed rail passenger operators, the
    Government has concluded that an additional one year exemption from section 57(3)
    of the CRA, from 1 October 2016, was necessary. The remainder of the CRA will
    apply to these services from 1 October 2016. The sector-specific schemes for the
    three transport modes remain available and are the main means of redress for
    passengers when things go wrong.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/534129/rail-aviation-maritime-consumer-rights-act.pdf

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/contents/enacted
    57Liability that cannot be excluded or restricted

    (1)A term of a contract to supply services is not binding on the consumer to the extent that it would exclude the trader’s liability arising under section 49 (service to be performed with reasonable care and skill).

    (2)Subject to section 50(2), a term of a contract to supply services is not binding on the consumer to the extent that it would exclude the trader’s liability arising under section 50 (information about trader or service to be binding).

    (3)A term of a contract to supply services is not binding on the consumer to the extent that it would restrict the trader’s liability arising under any of sections 49 and 50 and, where they apply, sections 51 and 52 (reasonable price and reasonable time), if it would prevent the consumer in an appropriate case from recovering the price paid or the value of any other consideration. (If it would not prevent the consumer from doing so, Part 2 (unfair terms) may apply.)

    (4)That also means that a term of a contract to supply services is not binding on the consumer to the extent that it would —

    (a)exclude or restrict a right or remedy in respect of a liability under any of sections 49 to 52,

    (b)make such a right or remedy or its enforcement subject to a restrictive or onerous condition,

    (c)allow a trader to put a person at a disadvantage as a result of pursuing such a right or remedy, or

    (d)exclude or restrict rules of evidence or procedure.

    (5)The references in subsections (1) to (3) to excluding or restricting a liability also include preventing an obligation or duty arising or limiting its extent.

    (6)An agreement in writing to submit present or future differences to arbitration is not to be regarded as excluding or restricting any liability for the purposes of this section.

    (7)See Schedule 3 for provision about the enforcement of this section

  44. Another thing to remember is that many of us will have cancelled the BAPP card relating to the voucher ticket being downgraded – how would Amex view that as they always tell us not to cancel the card – the whole thing is a mess. Are there people out there that have flown this year using their 241 and not being downgraded.

    • Mr Bridge says:

      yes twice no downgrades, both in first with 2-4-1

      • +1 but just in J

      • Some good news Mr Bridge! At least they are not targeting every flight!

        above should say been not being!

        • They are only going to target extremely busy flights and anyone flying in F, where they don’t have to release availability, is unlikely to get downgraded as they will have released avios seats knowing they will struggle to fill the flight. 2 seats in J is what they have committed to and 99% of flights this isn’t a problem, however on the odd flight where they can sell cash seats, easily, they have decided to take a hard nosed business decision to it. If the court sides with customers like Anon for more that’s the cash price they will soon stop the practice.
          The fact that the MLE flight is so difficult to book, using a 241, makes this even more galling but the very reason why this has happened.

        • But not every flight is overbooked and requires downgrades… You would need to know what percentage of flights requires downgrades to have any idea of the probability that it might happen…

        • As Anon said yesterday, though, why oversell Maldives? Plenty of people book themselves onto 4 JFK flights on the same night on fully flex tickets and then just take the most suitable one when their meeting finishes. That is a pain for BA to manage, I admit.

          With Male, I doubt there are many fully flex tickets sold in Club and I doubt many people ‘no show’.

        • Mr Bridge says:

          Hang, good point Rob,

          If you have a 2-4-1 booking, why can you not:
          1. take an interest free purchase credit card offer
          2. book fully flex tix for the same flight + free seat reservation
          3. cancel the booking b4 you check in your 2-4-1
          4. your preferred cancelled seats will open up
          5. no need for downgrades as 2 cancellations!!

    • Duncan Stevenson-Price says:

      I flew in January out in CW, back in First on a 2-4-1. Was not downgraded, and the CW cabin was completely full.

  45. Mister T says:

    I’m a relative novice when it comes to AVIOS redemptions and I’m on almost at the point where I will receive my first ever 2-4-1 voucher.

    Following this thread has depressed me and the thought of telling my partner of the possibility of an upgraded trip across the Atlantic might not happen, is not something I am looking forward to.

    So is there any way to holding the credit card companies to account? Although a 2-4-1 voucher is not a purchased product, c/c companies are meant to protect customers if the services or goods purchased are not adequately supplied (getting a full refund). With this in mind, is there any merit in putting pressure on AMEX providers to take this matter up on behalf of their customers? The only way to get the 2-4-1 vouchers is to spend on their c/c and they have endorsed this scheme as an incentive to attract new customers (therefore making a profit themselves). In conclusion, would an increase in complaints to AMEX providers about this matter, coupled with an increase in social media exposure, bring this disgraceful behaviour into the spotlight?

    Sorry for the lengthiness of this email, I am new to this.

    • 99% you will be fine.
      Lgw -MLE is a premium flight, lots of readers have flown many BA reward flight switch no problems.
      The flight in question is one of the most difficult to book as it is one of the best redemptions.
      Plenty of other options east using avios without using a 241.
      However for a bit of hassle I’d rather fly Qatar in business ex Europe for just more than BA’s taxes, which you could do last year before the £ dropped.

      • I agree, I have had a problem free 2 4 1 each year for the past 5 years and been treated like any other passenger on the flight.

        My concern would be that my (much anticipated) annual family holiday would have a slight chance of be marred by this, and also that the problem will be become more frequent as BA lure more people in with decent cash seat offers (THEY say customer numbers are increasing, anyway!).

        On a side note, anyone who wanted to explain “first world problems” to an alien would only need to direct them to this thread. No offence to all of us, but I work with some of the most deprived communities in the country and leaving their town of birth counts as exotic travel for them!

        • The point of your last paragraph ?

        • Mohammed says:

          It’s only a joke. Don’t get all upset now 😉

        • Absolutely, and just to keep things in perspective. CW travel is something I could only dream about without avios – though that doesn’t mean I won’t fight BA tooth and nail for what I’m entitled to! I’m a big believer in promoting the rights of consumers in the face of poor treatment from big companies.

        • Anna +1 I had the same thought this morning 😀

    • Well you say it isn’t a purchased product but you pay £195 for it on BAPP. I’d be interested to see what AMEX says if you approached them with a downgrade which devalues what their voucher. Could I mean AMEX are breaching terms of sale?

  46. This is something that both BA and Amex need to confirm policy on.
    Both advertise the benefits of Avios, yet BA appears to have a policy opposed to the same benefits of Avios that they advertise.
    BA it seems want to have their cake and eat it too; drive customer numbers by advertising the benefits of Avios; and, remove those benefits unilaterally for greater earnings at their own discretion.
    In short, it is dishonest.

  47. Memesweeper says:

    Yes, an airline needs to make a decision who to downgrade when overbooking happens. But IMO this should be first off a call for volunteers (who are compensated). Virgin Atlantic used to do this, but I’m not aware if BA ever have this practice.

    After that then targeting those on award flights might make some sense. But many of those will be loyal frequent fliers … so maybe not so smart to downgrade BAEC status holders.

    Targeting those on 2-4-1s above all others will make the vouchers worthless. Who the hell will want to book a flight and attach a ‘priority for downgrade’ tag to their booking, especially for long haul premium seating? Madness! If this rule is in FLY then I can see it getting removed when the implications for BAs relationship with AmEx sink in with someone in senior management. If it does get confirmed (and thanks to the internet and forums us PAX can work it out for ourselves) and not abandoned then the BAPP will be dead for all frequent/informed fliers.

  48. One potential solution –

    On a flight on which you have an F 241 redemption, one might also purchase the requisite number of F seats on a fully flexible cash basis, and cancel those just before checkin closes.

    Fight fire with…?

  49. Amtexfly says:

    It’s a disgusting business practise to sell a product (2-4-1) and a have a rewards system that for most people will mean filtering funds that could otherwise be used for cash back only to treat these people like a second class citizen.

    Changes and delays are common place in all forms of travel but leaving it until the last possible moment so that a customer has almost no way of making alternative arrangements is totally unacceptable.

    In the relatively short amount of time I’ve been an Avios/BAEC collector I have nothing but praise for the programmes but these stories have made me think that you cannot be sure where you’re going to sit until your bum is on the seat. This needs to be sorted.

  50. Let’s be balanced about how we look at this.
    There will always be a situation where the cabin is full (other flights cancelled etc) and overbooked and I can sympathise with the concept of bumping down redemptions ahead of cash tickets for commercial reasons.

    What really needs clarification is the compensation for that downgrade. In the instance of a companion ticket I think it should be treated as though the avios had actually been used when offering compensation and then the system seems much fairer.

    • It does not seem to bother them that they are actively splitting up 2 people who are booked together before even asking / compensating a solo traveller. I would be more angry at being split up on a long haul flight than being given no compensation – although I would be angry about that too.

      • I thought the whole point of 2 4 1 is you have to be in the same cabin? Talk about bend the rules to suit yourself!

  51. I will watch this article with interest – I only hope that on the affected flights there were no staff members travelling on their “Confirmed” tickets who were not downgraded first.

    • We lost our quiet seats in long haul Club to BA staff and got moved next to the galley, where we got no sleep due to the noise.

  52. I have just sent this email to [email protected] (the chief exec).

    Good Morning

    We have been a loyal BA customers since 2010 when Virgin service standards started to drop. Exec account number xxxxx
    We both collect Avios through BA and Oneworld flights, and through the BA Amex Premier card.
    Recently we have been hearing stories of Avios flights redemptions in premium cabins (and those using the 2-4-1 vouchers) being targeted first for downgrades when you over sell the cabin.
    If this is true then can you please provide me with your policy on who is targeted, and in which order when this happens.

    Kind Regards

  53. Making me a bit nervous as I’m about to use half of a 2-4-1 to book a leg of our honeymoon flights in F!

    However, just a thought here – since their logic is to prioritise redemptions for downgrade first, isn’t it more likely that 2-4-1’s would be the victims of this since there’s two pax on the same PNR both on a redemption booking? (allowing BA to accomplish their downgrade goal with only impacting one set of pax)

    I’d be curious to hear DPs of someone booking two pax together, without the 2-4-1, and hearing if they’ve been downgraded.

  54. It’s particularly galling for them to imply that avios redemptions have lower value when BA offer to sell you Avios for cash at pretty high price/point (which often only sometimes makes marginal sense if you were able to use them with a 241)…

  55. I have just sent this via internal email on the Amex website. I hope others will also do the same.

    We collect avios to use for flight redemptions and use the 2-4-1 voucher when we earn them, as you and BA advertise.

    We have recently heard stories of British Airways targeting passengers who booked this way in premium cabins, being targeted first for downgrades, when they oversell the cabin. With compensation based on the avios and not the actual cash price of the seat.(the second person’s avios is zero when using the 2-4-1 voucher)
    This practice is making us and many other people who do the same, re-consider the value of using your cards to collect avios for flights, and earn the 2-4-1 voucher by hitting a spending target.
    If this is the case then can you please provide me with American Express’s thoughts on this and wether the card’s benefits would provide proper compensation i.e not receiving the service I purchased using the card.

    • Remember that that will go to a call centre in India who will not have a clue what you are talking about. It might get passed on to someone in Brighton.
      I have a case open about non payment of triple MR points for an Amex Travel booking which has come up on the statement as someone else (presumably an intermediary). I have sent all of the documentation with American Express Travel all over it and they tell me it will take 7-10 days for someone to consider it.
      I am going to write to Brighton about that and I will include a separate letter on this matter. I think a mention of the ASA (not a threat) never goes amiss

      • Mister T says:

        Thinking about this from a personal perspective, but I only really got into the whole AVIOS points collection on the recommendation of a frequent BA traveller and the attractive offer of free upgrades and the free 2-4-1 voucher (which isn’t actually free).

        Now, I guess my c/c provider is the entity that lured me into spending thousands of £s to get a voucher, so would it be feasible to put pressure on c/c AMEX providers to compensate customers who are affected by these awful downgrades? For example, if a downgrade was forced on passengers, then the c/c companies could offer to credit people’s airmiles accounts with the equivalent cost value in AVIOS points. This would make up for the disappointment on the day of travel, but would be a better outcome overall compared to the current situation.

        Again, I’m a novice at this so please don’t be too harsh on me if my contributions are poorly informed.

  56. Thanks for the moral support folks, glad to report the hassle created by BA is melting away, like Genghis says Ill focus my time on enjoying being here, hopefully our missing bag will get here tomorrow and BA will realise its important for us all to give a positive resolution.

    Meanwhile the staff here at the Conrad have been superb, even the Director of Operations and Director of Guest Rooms came to meet us in person, welcomed us back and even carried our bags off the seaplane for us, total respect for them mucking in with the rest of the staff and giving us such fantastic treatment.

    Already been snorkelling on the house reef, Titan Triggerfish and huge Stingray spotted in first 15mins at the drop off, this reminds me why I wanted to comeback after being here just 2 years ago. Heading off for the complimentary afternoon tea and happy hour shortly. 🙂

    • Fantastic. It’s 8 degrees here and I’m just off to work! Enjoy, I have fond memories of standing in the shallows with baby reef sharks swimming past!

  57. This makes me very nervous for my upcoming CW flight to jnb. Booked 5 redemption seats, including using 2×241. Not sure I could face 11 hours without a bed.

  58. Mohammed says:

    OT

    I booked couple of days in Jakarta Thamrin holiday inn for 5k points under the IHG promotion. I wanted to change the dates of the booking but it seems the points needed has gone back to the usual 15k. Why is that? Other destinations from the current list are still showing the 5k points but not this one

    • Each hotel has a fixed number of nights available at 5k. When that number is booked it reverts to the usual price.

      • Mohammed says:

        So can I change the date by a day earlier? Will I get the same rate or will it be the standard rate?

        Thanks

        • Once all the 5000 point rooms have gone for a particular date you won’t be able to change to that date. It looks like all dates are gone for your hotel.

  59. Im working towards earning my first 2-4-1 at the moment. Are there any specific routes that are favourites for 2-4-1 redemptions for eithet availability and/or value? Will probably look at West Coast USA or Carribean….

    • San Jose (California) and Oakland are new West Coast routes which are far less popular than LA, San Francisco etc.

    • Seattle and Vancouver seem to have good availability too.

    • 1. Do a few dummy bookings first so you’re familiar with the process – e.g. you have to tick the box specifying you want to use your voucher at the start of the booking or it will quote you for 2 x avios.
      1. Stay up late at T-355.
      2. Be flexible with destinations, and also with dates – mid-week redemptions seem easier to get than weekends.

      For the Caribbean, you are more likely to find availability in low season (May to November) than in the high-demand winter months. I have CW redemptions for August to GCM, travelling out on a Friday as well, so I think season can be more important than when the school holidays are for some destinations.

  60. It is of course not a good experience to be downgraded, but it happens and BA are entirely justified in applying a policy of downgrading miles bookings first (although if I were them, I would also look at the colour of the BA card of the passenger). And equally it makes sense to downgrade the beneficiary of a 2-4-1 ticket as they are (taking that individual flight alone) the least commercially important passenger.

    IMO it is not the downgrading or even the targeting of the miles bookings that is the relevant point here. Rather it is two things:

    1) do BA ignore the 2-4-1 booking when overbooking flights? Ie do they overbook by an extra seat on top of what they would
    normally do, on the basis they don’t care what happens to this passenger? If so, that is outrageous. If not, then the downgrading is just something that has to be lived with as part of air travel (and let’s be thankful we have the EU regs that apply here).

    2) BA need to pay proper compensation for the downgrade. It is important to ensure they are held to account for this.

    So I get why people are upset, but downgrading happens, it makes sense to target miles bookings first, and within that category to target the 2-4-1 ticket. It is how BA deal with it afterwards, and any skullduggery regarding overbooking that are the real issues.

  61. Have not experienced this problem using 2-4-1 flying First. Was wondering if there is any evidence if status is a consideration here. Could the reason we have never been downgraded when using the 2-4-1 or flying on a regular redemption ticket be because we are both BA Gold, and they may not think it worth risking our taking our business elsewhere?

    • Wouldn’t they think that, as Gold status holders, you are more likely to keep flying BA to take advantage of the benefits you get as BA Gold?

  62. In theory, I wonder does this make the Lloyds upgrade voucher a little bit more valuable!? Overall, it’s still bad form on BA’s behalf and I for one will be dropping the Premium card after I hit the £10k spend next month. It’s time to start earning Amex points and converting the points to airlines who actually appreciate reward bookings. After all, these airlines make money selling the points in the first place!!

    • Perhaps, although the problem with the Lloyds Avios card is that for popular routes, you can’t add a return trip at midnight when flights are released at t-355 days like you can with BAEC…

    • Are you sure that the LLoyds upgrade could not be rolled back?

      • Not exactly sure what you mean by rolled back… i think you can add the voucher to a booking *BUT* only by phoning avios which open at 8am – by this time seats on popular routes could be taken by 00:05!

        • I meant downgraded at checkin like the 241

        • I’ve had this problem. Going to try paying full Avios amount at midnight and then calling to get the voucher applied to the booking. Will probably require booking at BA.com and then cancelling and re-booking in Avios.com so the call centre can see the booking. Will be a massive pain!

        • If booking online, seats also show up at midnight at avios.com….?

        • No, they don’t show up at midnight on Avios.com, they show up about half an hour later. I sat with both websites open at midnight hitting refresh to determine that.

  63. OTT…delayed 8hours on return fight booked with BA from USA to Lon, was a code share with AA. Who is responsible for the compensation? BA are saying AA

    Thanks
    Jason

    • It’s not fully clear from your wording. If you flew BA metal = EC261 potentially. If AA metal = nothing.

      • …. but on a codeshare?

        If EU261 is not valid on codeshares operated by non EU airlines then you would expect airlines would be obliged to tell you when booking.

        • It´s all about the opearting company. It´s also our responsibility to be informed correctly.

    • If BA issued your ticket with a 125 ticket number then your contract is with BA.

      Note that flights TO the UK on a US airline are not covered so AA owes you nothing. Question is whether a codeshare with BA makes it a UK flight.

      • Was a BA ticket but was on a AA plane, so potentially nothing?

        • Yep, nothing. In the case fo EU261/2004 it´s all about the opearting comany. Since AA is not a company from a member state (+Iceland,+Norway,+Switzerland) and your are flying TO the UK, EU261/2004 does not apply. Would you have flown BA, then you would be entitled to compensation.

  64. It is not true that the cost of the companion’s ticket on a 2-4-1 voucher is zero. There is always a cash element of the booking, which remains substantial even after the price of fuel came down, as BA disingenuously renamed it from a “fuel surcharge” to a “carrier imposed charge” rather than reducing or removing it. But a more significant point is the number of Avios paid. BA cannot claim that Avios element of the companion ticket is ‘gratis’, ‘free’, ‘without charge’ or similar, because to do so would be a breach of Schedule 1 Paragraph 20 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Given that the companion ticket is given on condition of paying Avios for the first ticket, a court would find the Avios cost of the companion ticket to be half of the total Avios paid for both tickets.

    • Exactly. By legal precedent the amount refundable in the event of a downgrade is 75% of all charges for the sector downgraded, with the exception of taxes and third party fees. For a straight redemption (no 2-4-1) that would be 75% of the avios plus 75% of the “carrier imposed charge”.

      In the case of a 2-4-1 it would cover the avios (on a half each basis as you suggest), the “carrier imposed charge” and the value of the 2-4-1 voucher which I would argue equates to the value of the avios saved for that booking.

    • Could you not also argue that the companion ticket has another cost in the form of having to spend £10,000 on a BA Branded Credit card?

  65. As a recap;

    BA release 2 CW seats on every flight, even then its damn difficult to book requiring getting in a year early.
    You pay Amex a card fee and collect avios to get into a premium cabin.

    In the case of Anon:
    BA oversell the cabin, with 241 tix the first to be downgraded, splitting up travelling companions.
    BA ground crew confirm this is now their approach.
    BA ground crew then go back on what they said and blame a faulty seat.
    BA cabin crew confirm the cabin was oversold.

    What happened to looking for volunteers and providing compensation? BA can oversell but it’s then how they handle their customers and this behaviour is not just atrocious but deceitful.

  66. Social media is a powerful tool. Maybe some # are required

  67. Goldsmiths offered me coffee and biscuits when I bought my last watch. If it was run by BA I’d have paid extra to sit on the Rolex desk, paid to buy a biscuit in store, had my coffee taken away once they’d found out I was paying with Tesco vouchers and paid extra to use my Goldsmiths credit card.

    • Sideysid says:

      Ahh so a fellow HFP reader has also got a Rolex through Tesco vouchers. You can’t do that anymore as they have caught on, what model did you get? I got myself a very nice Datejust II with white gold bezel a few years back.

  68. So if we turned up at the airport and a companion had been downgraded and BA wouldn’t budge, we could simply walk away from the airport. Does the voucher get returned to us? I presume associated hotel bookings through BAEC would also be impacted.

  69. Lewis Watson says:

    Did they offer the option of staying in club for a later flight

  70. I’ve got a 2-4-1 in F and CW coming up. I will be recording any conversations should this situation arise.

  71. This is a lot more complex than I think is currently appreciated and I think the least worst option for anyone finding themselves in this situation is the money claim court option claiming the nearest value of a replacement ticket ie full class CW or First. It isn’t what BA reimburses that is the issue it is what the passenger had lost which is a first class seat or CW seat and any unfair contract termsthat prevent this might be invalid in the UK. A further complexity which I haven’t seen discussedanywahere is the much more complex nature of the return leg. On this leg, having taken the outward leg, the BA Amex 241 passenger cannot change or cancel his ticket without losing it completely. So they in BA’s view have no choice but to accept that BA still reserve the right to try and sell that uncancellable ticket for a seat to someone else and bump them down. British Airways are clearly saying – wrongly in my view – that even though they have a passenger with an inflexible ticket that they presumably are highly likely to use if they do not wish to be stranded abroad or pay for a different ticket can have their seat sold to someone else. I’m not sure that would be considered in the UK to be a fair contract. Anyway, no one knows the answers to these questions even lawyers so trying the court process is a decent eay to test BA’s resolve.

  72. HFP, please update the stock picture you use! That jumbo is a Classic, in the OLD livery, both of which disappeared from the skies a good fifteen years ago. Keep up!

  73. Whilst I think Messrs Sue, Grabbit & Run would be instructed after the event, it does not help our understanding of what options are available should we be presented with this at check in.

    Obviously we can accept or decline whatever BA choose to impose but there are likely to be large consequential losses arising from any refusal to fly. Hotel bills come to mind as the biggest expense followed (or perhaps preceded) by my time.

    Should we choose not to fly in the rear of the plane, then are we in danger of failing to mitigate our losses should we then claim thousands of pounds a day for hotels and time ?

    Likewise, where do we stand if offered a later flight in the booked class ? After working for a year someone might claim their day missed was worth many thousands of pounds. If a family, then a multiple of this ?

    What about a 4 class flight where 241 business are downgraded but space is available in first ? Unlikely you may think but perhaps also there might be 241 in F.

    I think we need to know what our legal position is as in the absence of documentation from BA showing discrimination on the basis of how the ticket is purchased, I fear many cannot take the risk to decline an economy seat and claim for a ruined holiday plus time.

  74. We need more information such as status of both 241 passengers. Any offered compensation at the gate. Offer of delaying to a different flight etc.

    • Our own status was never mentioned, it was the fact we were on a redemption that was highlighted, the mandatory options that were stated by BA were either the companion or both of you will be downgraded, but theres a chance if someone no shows you may both sit be in CW, what do you want to do?

  75. A lot of our avios are earned through our Tesco club card membership. My husband does the Tesco shopping and I sort the airline tickets. I told him about how BA were treating some people who had purchased 241 redemptions in good faith. He said it was a bit like getting a two for one voucher as part of Tesco’s loyalty programme, selecting the appropriate product off the shelf, presenting the voucher at checkout and paying, only to be stopped at the exit by security to be told “Sorry Sir, demand for this product is greater than our stock will be able to cope with. We have customers who don’t have a loyalty voucher and who are prepared to pay full price for this product, so we are going to take it off you and let them buy it instead”. Just imagine the furores that would create! But isn’t this precisely what BA are doing here?

    My husband is happy to continue to deal with Tesco and leave BA to me…..and we have 2×241 trips booked!

  76. Doesn’t this happen very rarely? Is the HFP community worrying unnecessarily? Obviously awful for Anon and anyone else this has happened to. I know my partner, from reading this today, and the previous article on this a month ago is now concerned about our 2 for 1 in September 🙁

    • The thing is …. you never know, because you don’t know, even if you boarded ok, whether others were removed. How often is CW full though?

  77. Just seen your PS re legal opinion, Rob – interesting they’re going to do that but presumably it will be in their favour otherwise I can’t see why they’d (a) pass it on or (b) treatment customers in the way they have Anon!

    • Will be interesting to see what the BA legal opinion will be, gut feel it will be in their favour, the same as everyone other airlines interpretation of EU compensation which won’t work out when tested in court.

    • What really annoys me about what happened to Anon was the changing reasons (deceit) for the downgrade. Think I would want the reason in writing (broken seat) as evidence.

    • Lady London says:

      more likely they’re getting a legal opinion they hope will cover their aS/S/es.

  78. Lady London says:

    Wow. More skulduggery from British Airways.

    I really hope someone takes them to court over this. I’d really love a court to tell BA that the value that needs to be compensated against, is the cost of buying that same routing in equivalent class that same day. After all, that:s the position they’re putting downgraded and offloaded passengers in.

    I was on another Easyjet flight yesterday. I was just thinking that the onboard service was just the same as BA was thirty years ago. Except BA did not sell food on board. Oh wait….

  79. Lewis Watson says:

    I assume BA doesn’t give you back the 2 for 1 voucher to use at a later date?

    • Klaus-Peter Dudas says:

      Well, if they are arguing that the cost of the tickets is 100% Avios for one ticket then the other ticker must be 100% voucher, so they must surely compensate 75% of half of the voucher, so 37.5% of a 241 voucher. Not sure how that works though

  80. Rob perhaps it’s worth adding a few additional articles to your Avios university learning guide.

    What happens when you book flights and you would like to change them?
    What happens when you get bumped from your original booking class and what points can you argue to try and stop this from happening?
    Including what your next course of action may possibly be i.e. requesting a later flight ask for food vouchers hotel accommodation etc

    It would be a phenomenal article and one I am sure all HFP members will read it before all future Avios redemptions. A logical argument is the best course of action when trying to discourage this kind of behaviour. I for one would have it preloaded it on my mobile at time of check-in, in case the worse happened.

  81. I’m just glad I have never bothered with the 241. The difficulty of maximising the value of it is not worth it for us.

    I really only use avios for RFS of which I have done hundreds, whereas I’ve only ever paid for an HBO once

  82. A legal opinion from BA – it’s not exactly going to be in the customer’s favour, is it ? That said, at least it will give us some more information to chew over.

    • That seems likely, however, this is going to snowball way beyond HFP and if BA has too much to hide or simply cannot stand the heat of too much bad press then they might reconsuder their policies and nip this one in the bud now before it gets out of hand. That would be a great result for HFP readers.

      • If you buy a flight on points 355 days before the flight and BA then keep selling tickets and overselling a flight, and then have a policy to downgrade the points booking as it costs them less in compensation (pause for breath), I can’t see from a moral standpoint that this is acceptable in small claims court. Simply it should be last in first out.

        Due to the Amex TnCs about booking companion into same cabin you could have assumed a 241 booking as unmovable, unless both passengers get moved (which would cost BA more in compensation).

  83. Thanks for the update rob and fighting what is clearly a rip off if the stories are true.

    OT – My groupon Iberia avios have landed!!!

  84. Memesweeper says:

    Quote: UPDATE: BA has agreed to give me a legal opinion on Monday on whether it believes a BA Amex companion ticket qualifies for EU261 downgrade compensation
    /Quote

    Interesting!

    If they do suggest no compo is payable that undermines the value of the benefit Amex/BAPP offers.

    If they prioritise them for downgrades too … they are idiots. They’ll kill the scheme.

    • Looking forward seeing their response. BA are going out of their way to run the company into the ground and alienate customers. I have been a loyal BA customer for years but if they do that to me I am of there. That is just not acceptable.

  85. Their own T&C’s state that both persons must be in the same cabin
    ———————————————
    “British Airways American Express Companion Voucher

    Terms and conditions

    Paragraph 18: Cardmember and their Companions must travel together at all times therefore must be booked onto the same flight and cabin class when travelling using a Companion Voucher.”
    ———————————————

  86. We were downgraded on an Avios, Amex 241 flight from F to J. We were explicitly told that we had been selected by the station manager at the airport as we had reward tickets even though we both have Gold BAEC status. In terms of additional compensation we were told that BA did not offer any compensation for the Amex 241 voucher.

    • I may just start taking a screenshot of the cash price of the reward seat along with a screenshot of the cash price of the cabin below, just in case.
      I’d be issuing a claim for the difference in cash between the cabins 🙂

    • It’s not an exact science then, is it ? If there’s no protection for golds on redemption it opens up a huge can of worms on who is (potentially) targeted for a downgrade.

  87. We have 2 F reward flights in September. I will be scouring the ticket desks first to see if they are offering upgrades to First before we check in.
    I assume I can jut ask before showing my reservation. I will start recording with phone in pocket as I ask.

  88. It seems with these policies in few years time BA will have to allocate large pot for compensations similar as PPI claims , for me targeting companion vouchers specifically sounds like a fraud committed by the management

  89. I wonder how many 2 for 1’s are used per year. How many of these do the bean counters at BA see the potential to downgrade if they overbook. Do they never think of the potential loss on the other side through bad press and loss of customers. Let’s hope someone in the HFP community takes them to court over this

  90. When is Anon’s return booked for? If there are any First /CW seats left perhaps we should be booking all of them fully flex, then cancel a few hours few the flight to ensure it can’t happen on the return journey.

    • Had to laugh out loud on that one, let’s hope BA see the harm that a short sighted policy is doing to their long term loyalty and revenue streams.

      I’m willing to kiss and make up I just hope they are too.

      Also not a whisper on our missing bag, very quiet on that front despite the best efforts of folks here at the Conrad…

    • Until this year I always used my 2-4-1 as they offer incredible value (if they can be relied upon to get you what you booked) if used well, even taking into account the £200 card fee.
      However being a single chap, I have found myself unable to make use of the 2-4-1 this past year and one of my 2-4-1s actually expired this Feb.
      Felt gutted as it had cost me money (card fee at least, bit of switching spend from one card to another – losing points on the other card).
      With Qatar J fares coming up at such decent prices ex-EU (albeit worse now thanks to Fx) I’ve fallen ut of love with BA and am falling out of love with Avios too. I do find them very useful for shorthaul trips & positioning flights but the faff is just getting too much and with BA’s standards dropping so much there’s truly very little difference with a LCC now. If the LCCs started offering garaunteed empty seats next to you for a premium I think I’d never make another CE redemption / flight again !

    • You, Sir, are a genius.
      I’m in.
      Let’s protest this change by just booking up seats we never intend to use & releasing them at the last minute.
      Of course sadly they’d just revoke that benefit instead of looking to remedy the real problem.
      But it would certainly p*as them off in the short-term.
      I’m in
      Perhaps we need a dedicated thread on FT to organise the systematic sabotaging of BA’s new ‘policy’ in this manner.
      I like it 🙂

  91. By entering into an agreement with Amex and BA that you can have a 2-4-1 voucher for spending £10000 are you not entering into a contract with them? If should BA then not adhere to that agreement are they not in breach of contract? I hope everyone affected by this sue BA if they do not offer compensation to the same value as a cash purchaser as others have said.

    • flyforfun says:

      The contract with Amex is for voucher for 2 for 1. It’s not class specific. You can use it for Y travel if you want.

      If you get downgraded, but still get 2 seats for the price of one, then Amex has met its obligations. It’s BA who are screwing around with this. I blame the accountants who don’t understand the damage being done to Brand BA. It’s just another LCC in my mind now and as such that’s how I treat it. My last J long haul flight was so poor, the traveling on some Asian carrier’s Y class is a better experience.

      • Don’t blame the accountants, they just provide numbers. Blame the actual people who make the decision. Whatever people think, “beancounters” are not the people who sit there picking out who to downgrade.

      • I disagree…….. you have your opinion and I respect that. However, the overwhelming majority of 241 holders don’t want to use it in Y as it would be cheaper to pay cash for a Y ticket. BA and Amex know that’s the case. I’m sure contract law would prevail in this set of circumstances. In furtherance to Markw’ comment, you pay for a specific class of cabin, you hand over your 241, a shed load of avios and £1000 on taxes and they accept your booking – contract formed. They then break that contract by downgrading you.

      • A requirement of the 241 is both pax are booked into the same cabin. The 241 offers little value in WT or WT+, another reason why customers use it for CW or F. BA are in breach of the Ts n Cs a reed with Amex on their own BA branded card.

    • With my non paying Amex I have to spend £20,000 to get my 241. I will go MAD if they downgrade us in May

      • Joan, you,would be well advised when you refer your OH or if you get a new BA Amex, that you pay the fee get the BAPP, bank the 26k avios, plus referral bonus, then spend fast as you can to get your 10k spend, and get a pro rata refund.,it’s such a hard slog to have to spend 20k for only a 1 yr 241.
        Let’s hope we get a straight answer from BA soon.

  92. Thanks for highlighting this Rob and also for at least challenging BA regarding the EU261 compensation. Personally, I would go further and actually ask them to articulate what criteria applies when downgrading passengers and whether a company policy exists which covers said criteria (clearly there will be). That way, we can establish whether those travelling on reward tickets are included in said criteria (we believe they are) and what the pecking order is for those to be selected for a downgrade (we clearly believe that those travelling on reward tickets will be first to be chosen).

    If the above question is posed, my expectation would be that BA respond in an open and transparent way. If they choose not to, and the issue is explored further, then there may be a substantial number of individuals who collect AVIOS in all guises who could pause and ask themselves whether they would wish to continue to participate in the scheme. I do accept that many just wouldn’t care but a fair number of us count on the fact that we can book premium cabins and not have to expect that there is a greater chance at being downgraded or treated as a second class passenger (pun intended) purely because we are travelling on a reward ticket. A lot of us invest a lot of time and effort to collect AVIOS including a credit card fee etc. and I for one am concerned by what Rob has articulated in this article.

  93. If an airline is found to have deliberately oversold a flight, and as a result has forced a passenger into a lower class of cabin, it should be fined in line with other companies which have been sanctioned for mis-selling, e.g. Vodaphone in 2016 were fined for “mis-selling, inaccurate billing and poor handling of complaints” yet it seems to me that BA gets away with this routinely!

    • Bloody interesting perspective.

      • But what do you do about bankers who get their PA to book them a flexible seat on every flight out of JFK one evening so they can rock up and jump on at their leisure, leaving another 5+ flights going out with an empty seat that BA could otherwise have resold?

  94. Surely anyone who travels regularly on an airline will collect loyalty points and use those for reward flights. To target redemptions is as likely to catch regular passengers as those who only manage to fly in the higher classes because they have spent the last however long amassing loyalty points via other means. Actively overbooking and targeting 2for1 redemptions seems to be a level of discrimination that could be queried in a class action.

  95. Ric Parker says:

    We flew back from Warsaw in January having booked two Club tickets with Avios and 2-4-1 voucher. Because of the cabin crew strike a charter plane was substituted which was all economy. BA have said they will refund the difference I.e. A few Avios for one passenger and some tax. I do not feel this is good enough. I have complained but they will not shift.
    Ric

  96. EU261 states that the should an airline downgrade you it has to refund “(c) 75 % of the price of the ticket”.

    In my mind the price of the ticket is different to how much was paid for the ticket. If you by a £10 CD but only pay £7.50 because you have a coupon for a £2.50 discount, the price of the CD is still £10. If it was defective the retailer would either refund the full cash amount (£10) or refund the amount paid (£7.50) and reinstate the coupon.

    In the instance of a 2-4-1 the price of a return ticket to Bangkok would be 300,000 Avios (150,000 x 2) but the paid amount would only be 150,000 because a voucher had been used. The fact that a voucher has been used does not change the the price of the ticket, it just changes the amount paid.

    Per my reading of the regulation, the refund calculation is made on the price of the ticket, not the amount paid for the ticket.

    • the real harry1 says:

      I like the logic. Quite clearly the price of the ticket – valid for both tickets – is the price paid for the ‘full’ cash ticket.

    • I agree entirely. No ticket is priced at zero so their 75% of nothing = nothing is nonsense.

      A companion ticket would be viewed in the same manner as a standard reward ticket in court I believe for the reasons you state, its value (price) is identical and the fact a coupon or voucher was used to reduce the price paid for it is irrelevant. The fact that Avios is the currency it was purchased in also becomes irrelevant. Standard reward seats are treated in exactly the same way as cash seats under EU261 and are thus entitled to the same compensation and the rules state this. I have experience of this on a RFS flight were I paid 15k Avios and £35 x 5 seats and got a cheque for 400 Euro’s per seat under EU261, just as a revenue seat holder next to me will have been awarded.

      BA are clearly bending the EU261 rules by declaring that a companion ticket is of zero value compared to that of a cash paying passenger and I look forward to them being tested on this one. It will also be interesting to learn whether this practise of overselling CW then downgrading 241’s is leading to BA breaking their promise of 2 x CW seats on every flight. That would leave a very bitter taste in my mouth after that was one of their devaluation pledges.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Anon should still have taken the £200 voucher though – as it doesn’t prejudice EU261

        • I tried to accept the £200 as a pure gesture of goodwill.

          However the offer of £200 & its T&Cs of acceptance quotes section 7.3 of the EU261 stating that is being made in part payment of compensation.

          When I signed for accepting the payment purely as goodwill, I crossed out of the relevant sections referencing EU261, as a result I was then advised by the BA staff rep that management may deem me not eligible for the £200 in such circumstances, and I was advised it was not possible to give me the gift card and therefore it was in my own interests to allow the BA staff rep to submit a report to Customer Relations upon my behalf.

          This of course was all being conducted in the lounge in front of other pax, taking upto an hour of our time, when we were meant to be relaxing and looking forward to a CW flight I’d booked 11.5 moths earlier….

        • If an airline wants to deliberately downgrade a passenger, purely for commercial reasons, and said passenger can’t be persuaded to accept the downgrade and has no choice then BA should compensate them for the difference in cash, between the cabins, plus the stress caused by having to fly in a lower cabin.
          The passenger who should not have been in the cabin was the last passenger to book the seat not the ones who, in BA’s mind, has paid the least 🙁

        • the real harry1 says:

          ah right

          watch out for those titan triggerfish, I had a very scary encounter with one that came at me like a rocket, luckily all it bit was my fin as I kicked it away

    • Bloody good point.

  97. BA really don’t care about 241 vouchers. I had used 2x on first tickets to SEA for a family of 4. We had to cancel and it took BA a full month to put them back on my BAEC account..meanwhile the clock was ticking on their expiry, our ability to book disappeared (we’re restricted to school holidays..so good luck finding redemptions unless you book 255 days out!). BA couldn’t have cared less. I spent hours on the phone to them onto be promised a variety of people would look into it and never did.

    Once I’ve burnt through my current batch of 241s I’m giving up on them and switching to spending my avios on RFS flights instead. It’s easy enough to get bargain cash fares with better airlines to destinations I want to go to during times I want to go! And along with all of that goes my loyalty to BA, which has been entirely enhanced away.

  98. EU261 is quite clear than 75% of the cost is due as a refund, including airline points systems. It is therefore quite clear that 75% of the 241 voucher is due as a refund. Since this was the difference between booking one seat and booking two, it is clearly the cost of the second seat.

    I would think 75% of the taxes and fees on the second seat are also due back, unless EU264 only covers the fare.

    If BA can’t manage to refund 75% of a 241 they should simply round it, which would be a whole 241.

    In any reasonably well argued case a judge should find this way. If I were claiming I would ask for the validity period to be the same as it was at the time of booking the downgraded flight. I can’t see a judge finding that unreasonable.

    This is the reason BA are folding court cases. They don’t want to set a precedent. While people let them get away with it they will continue.

  99. OT – does anyone know if breakfast is included in the HHonors WEEKEND NIGHT CERTIFICATE that comes with the credit card?

  100. Having ploughed through all 200+ posts, I just wanted to clarify my position.The ‘arguments’ seem to be centered around the 2for1 voucher. My wife and I are currently in New Zealand and due to fly back from Australia to the UK at the end of April .We have never aspired to the heady heights of a 2 for 1.
    However, we are travelling back in Club World on two Avios seats.
    Are we saying that, ‘beware, you or your wife, or both, could be downgraded, at the behest of BA with absolutely no recourse at all while boarding in Sydney? ‘
    My wife would be absolutely gutted and probably wouldn’t talk to me again.

    • There is always a very small risk of that, whether booking cash or Avios.

      This article’s findings suggest that risk becomes greater for an Avios booking, and greater still for a 2-4-1 booking; and in each case the default compensation offered will be incrementally more ungenerous.

    • If you get downgraded with an avios booking, where both of you have paid avios, the compensation can be a bit easier to claim because you have paid a set amount (the avios + taxes/carrier charges) that is definable and you would be covered clearly by EU legislation.

      The ambiguity comes with the 2-4-1 because what BA do is downgrade the “companion” who they argue has paid nothing, so is due a percentage of nothing.

      If you were to get downgraded on your award flight you could try and argue that they should put you in the same class at a later flight.

  101. Wonder if BA’s lawyers are reading the posts in preparation of their response. Could be quite a few rewrites going on.

  102. Another possible consideration is the wording of the T&C’s that the companion has to sit in the same cabin as the voucher holder. Is that a Term or a Condition of using the voucher? My understanding IIRC is that a Term is mutually negotiable by both parties but a Condition is legally enforceable by either. If it’s a Term then surely they have to give reasonable notice that they intend to negotiate and not wait for Anon to turn up at the airport.

  103. Oonagh cacioppo says:

    If being downgraded can you request a later flight but remain in Club or First due to bring in too much pain to sit upright for + or – 12 hours?

    • That is absolutely what I would need.
      If the answer is no then I’d not feel able to take the flight and would have to make alternative arrangements, booking a last minute business class fare with another airline – I can’t afford that but I would HAVE TO if I was stranded somewhere 🙁

      • If you were stranded why would you HAVE TO travel business class?

        • Chronic pain issues in my neck & back mean I would be in agony after a couple of hours stuck in an upright chsir . I need to be able to shift positions a lot and lie down too.
          Don’t give a sh*t about champagne, fancy food or a bigger TV.

  104. As coincidence has it, my wife’s 2-4-1 came through this week. In the email it describes:

    When you book a Reward Flight (departing and returning to the UK) on any British Airways mainline flight with a BA flight number, your Voucher gives you a second seat for a companion, on the same flight and in the same cabin.*

    What’s that little * all about? T&C’s at the bottom the email perhaps, where on the first line (looking all new and out of place) reads:

    “Companion Vouchers are subject to availability.”

    Could this mean “availability at time of booking” or “availability at time of flight”?

    Also, something that’s a bit different from expected (my CAPS):

    “Companion Vouchers must be exchanged for a RETURN ticket and all outbound travel from the UK must be taken before the expiry date of the Voucher(s). ”

    and:

    “Return flights MUST BE booked at the SAME TIME as the outward journey is booked.”

    Both of which seem contrary to what is the commonly perceived wisdom…

    • Yes – and also contrary to the Terms and Conditions that I accepted when I took out the card and they need to give me 3 months’ notice of any amendment.

      • +1

      • Oooh, interesting. What are the card Ts& Cs you refer to ? Where can I find them ?? (Obviously in the TS & Cs but something more specific would be great !).

        • If a term is not mentioned as part of the T&Cs you accept, then it is not a T&C. I.e. no mention in the T&Cs I accepted of return being booked same time as outbound.

    • That clause isn’t ‘brand new’… a little digging through old emails shows it’s been there since at least September next year…

      More importantly, is it being enforced?

  105. Hi folks,

    It’s dark here at the Conrad Rangali now, sunset was lovely as was complimentary afternoon tea and Happy hour.

    Just got off the phone with a very nice & caring, attentive lady in the Manchester BAEC office confirming our missing bag will be here tomorrow, huge relief to see that when it gets here, our options for evening wear will be less restrictive that the snorkeling shorts I’ve been wearing for the last 2 nights… 🙂

  106. If anyone else wants to write to American Express the address is:
    American Express Card Services,
    1, John Street,
    BRIGHTON,
    BN88 1NH

    I think that the main point to mention is their reputational risk as their name is all over this offer.

    • Yes, it’s their voucher, Amex provides it – and given that quite a few Plat card holders also have a BAPP, it’s a problem which could affect some of their ‘better’/higher-spending customers…

    • Mark,

      Have you a physical name to write too? A particular head of a department?

  107. Ian Hubbard says:

    I have a 241 voucher and am (or maybe was) planning to use it to go to the U.S. Sept 2018 in first class. Like others I am now very uneasy as I believe it has the potential to totally screw up a holiday. Question, how far could I be bumped i.e. club, premium economy or economy? Looks like I will be downgrading my BAAE card……….
    In anticipation thanks for taking the time to answer.

    • the real harry1 says:

      people need to be a bit more rational, keep things in perspective & stop acting like the only gay in the village (nothing personal to OP & just a reference to a silly character in Little Britain)

      you can clearly be bumped down anywhere or off the plane entirely

      BUT

      you are unlikely to be downgraded
      you are unlikely to be downgraded more than 1 class
      you are unlikely to be bumped off the plane especially if you check in ahead of time as far as possible

      • Do you remember Robs story from 2013 when his 2 yr old was selected to be bumped off his DXB-LHR flight?

        • the real harry1 says:

          ISTR he reacted rationally & sorted it out

        • Indeed he was. BA did book him into a five star hotel for the day and issue him with a ticket for the evening flight, though, which was thoughtful of them.

          That was a cash ticket and both me and my wife were Silver cardholders at the time. Obviously the lad wasn’t, which may have been why he was thrown off.

  108. Michael_S says:

    Rob, every time you post an article about BA squeezing something here and there, I tell to myself “wow, this must be their lowest point ever”, until you post another one. Then they complain you are biased against BA!

    I have 241 BA 001 coming up next monh. What are the chances of me being put in a bus from LCY to LHR and shipped to NYC in economy (or cargo?). Don’t tell me it can’t happen, we all know there’s – hopefully only a slim – chance!

    • Only 11 pax on board when I was on BA1 a few weeks ago. You’ll probably have the whole row to yourself!

    • I’ve a 241 on BA002 for the summer.
      I’m not particularly concerned. It would have to be a truly exceptional situation for there to be nothing available in J between NYC and LON on any particular day across both airlines.

      I know there are only a few data points but something like Male seems much more at risk.

      • Agreed, apparently the Caribbean destinations are another “nightmare” for the BA rep to have to deal with disappointed customers.

        • That’s probably because people booked to the Maldives on non-refundable tickets have a weird habit of actually turning up for the flight, unlike business travellers to JFK on fully flexible tickets …..

        • The real nightmare part is trying to reroute them to their Caribbean destination via the USA when they don’t have a visa, and this is prior to more recent restrictions with immigration in the US…. :/

        • Hopefully that’s from Gatwick. My 2 4 1 Caribbean CW redemption this summer is from Heathrow!

        • Dont want to spook you, but can you see availability for cash bookings on your CW flights?

          You could phone up BAEC to ask if your flight is going to be intentionally overbooked?

          That way at least you are provided with enough info to decide whether to risk keeping the booking or to cancel and make alternative arrangements.

        • Anon, just out of interest did a dummy search for 4 x CW seats and got a quote though we don’t go till August. However, that’s their low season and in any case GCM doesn’t attract a huge number of British holiday makers, despite being a British territory. We try and keep it a secret lol!

  109. I don’t even have a BA Amex any more, even though I did get 4 x F return tickets to Canada with it. I’d rather use up more points to fly on another airline or just pay for a J ticket on another airline than have to fly BA.

  110. The real harry – Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

    However unlikely, if the policy of delibrately making cynical & calculated overbookings on popular routes (and lets call it what it is, ie “gazumping”), if you have a flight booked to high demand & low frequency destination, I would suggest BA now consider your 241 booking to be a “Standby Companion” Ticket and nothing more.

  111. In fairness, I was also told by the BA rep in the LGW lounge that the new computer system remembers if you or your flying partners bookings have ever been subjected to a downgrade so that you or your partner will never be selected again for a future downgrade.

    But please bear in mind the same person told me the false story about the “faulty unsafe & unusable” CW seat that might be used by a crew member during the flight but I wasn’t allowed to use.

    So I’ll leave you guessing (along with me) if the first statement is true or not…..

  112. Another snippet from my flight, BA had also managed to split up a couple in WTP that were on their honeymoon.

    Just before takeoff I volunteered to swap my WTP with the groom, also suggested to the FSM that a offering them a spot of CW champagne would go a long way to sweeting them up, to give him credit, he duly obilidged and they were v grateful.

    My wife also swapped her seat in CW so an other couple could be together.

    If BA want anymore help with customer services, I’m happy to be of assistance. 🙂

  113. Wonder how many instances of downgrading are as a result of Gold holders using status to force a seat open.

  114. Graham Walsh says:

    Just seen a similar story on LinkedIn.

    https://www.linkedin.com/hp/update/6241368823249932288

  115. Assuming that Singapore and Hong Kong you have less chance of being downgraded. I have 4 first tickets (2 for 1) booked for September this year. I get the impression that these routes have more capacity.
    All of us will be in Silver.

  116. LondonFoodie says:

    This just convinced me not renew the Amex card. No point getting the 241 and saving all these Avios if in the end you get downgraded because plane is full. Never happened to us so far, but perhaps we booked on flights which weren’t super over-booked, or before this policy came into force. Would have been gutted if I booked a Maldives flight and got downgraded.
    I think I’m getting the HSBC card.

    • the real harry1 says:

      get rational

      so it never happened to you, is never likely to happen to you – but you think it’s a good reason to abandon 241

      you’re worse than my wife with SARS & Bird Flu – my gods that was 2 wonderful holidays in Paradise (Thailand) that I only just managed to persuade my mad mad mad irrational (at the time! 🙂 ) woman to take, given the silly, inflated news

      as it turns out, they were naturally wonderful holidays with zero extra risk

      • Real Harry – understand where you’re coming from regarding people remaining rational, but we are not all Mr Spock, we are emotional beings hence why we want to experience holidays in far flung places in the first place, despite me wearing my heart on sleeve occasionally, Im actually a pretty analytical guy who also believes people should be dealt with fairly and with decency.

        So maybe a reasonable course of action is for BA to proactively form pax in advance that their high demand & low frequency flight has been overbooked?

        With flights like ours there’s no flight later that day or even the next day. I was even preselecting my preferred CW meal 48 hours before takeoff, pretty sure BA already knew then the likely situation that was to transpire.

        BA knows what flights they’ve already overbooked in similar circumstances, they also know if a 241 has been used on those flights, if they’d offered me a suitable alternative routing from EDI a few days earlier I’d of took it with appropriate compensation.

        We all know how popular Qatar business class product is, I’d of accepted that alternative if the flight & connection times from EDI suited our circumstances.

        As for advising on anyone else “irrational” enough to be concerned about been downgraded, maybe see if the cabin you’ve booked into has seats left to book from 2 weeks before you’re journey departure, if there’s nothing left phone BAEC to ask if the flight has been overbooked, at least you’d have more info than me.

        • the real harry1 says:

          sorry Anon – I was experiencing real pain at the flashback of my wife moaning at me non-stop for several weeks pre the SARS & bird flu holidays, coming back to haunt me 15 years later 🙂

        • No harm done, I still like your story tho, btw I took a great trip to Hong Kong during SARS and Bird Flu.

        • LondonFoodie says:

          Real Harry –
          Here’s my rationale and hopefully it will show that my behaviour is rational:
          – I assume that the new rules are indeed in place, meaning that if a flight is over booked in CW, I will be the one bumped if I have a redemption flight, especially with 241
          – I know from past experience that I am most likely to book CW/F flights on popular dates to popular destinations by booking 355 days in advance and calling the service center to secure return flight.
          – I assume (maybe wrongly so) that popular flights will be over-booked in most classes
          – If my assumptions above are true, then there is a good chance that I will be bumped off my “hard earned” CW/F flight.

          So if the main reason for me paying £200 for the Amex is to get a companion voucher to redeem on premium cabins, and there is now a real risk (50%? 30%?) that I will lose this benefit, it does not make much sense for me to continue using the card in order to earn Avios I’m unlikely to use.

          Hope this makes sense and explains why this isn’t just an irrational knee jerk reaction.

  117. the real harry1 says:

    Raffles:is your website under attack by anti-BA people? Seems there are a lot of new people spouting similar nonsense.

  118. Harry, l think people are slightly ! Concerned as this may be a new development BA are thinking more about enforcing. The fact that one of our main contributors was affected is quite enlightening. It may well be route focused, ie very popular limited access places like Male, or indeed a Gold card holder insisting on their rights as Gold. I think we would have had more reports over the past few years from readers if it was happening at a higher frequency. I think as BA read this, they will realise quite quickly this may well jeopardise their relationship with Amex. As the 241 is very much a big part of pushing the BAPP card. Let’s see what the legal stance is that BA might present to Rob in the next week or so. We wait with bated breath. But l agree Harry, l think it’s is most unlikely we will be downgraded with such high frequency.
    Anon, you are being very gracious about the whole episode, and both you and your wife are very generous in spirit with swopping seats etc. Have a great holiday, and we will def not be trying to use our 241 for that destination. Sounds gorgeous, but Phuket, and Bali will do us. We thankfully have never been downgraded on any of our Asia routes in F.

  119. Well said Polly!

    To add, we had 3X 241 in the last 3 years in J/F and were never downgraded once.

  120. Ian Hubbard says:

    The real harry1 – thank you for the early morning chuckle…………… I have been an avid reader/lurker since 2013 and it is the situation described that has provoked my post. On a positive note hopefully the routes I wish to fly will not be under the same pressure as the Maldives……………. Ps still chuckling

  121. Let’s see what they say. If this is true, it will be the end of the road for me and BA. My employer had just opened up the travel policy so that we can take the most sensible long haul flights rather than having to fly ba. And from a personal perspective, the rather rapid erosion of the entire experience of flying with ba, the devaluation of avios, the fact that cruz and team smoky don’t seem to want me on board any more and the fact that better airlines are often much cheaper means that i would be a fool to fly with ba unless I had to.

  122. My reply from Amex:-

    Thank you for sharing your concern with us.

    Whilst I understand your concern but I am afraid that we are unaware of any such issue as of now. Also, the usage of the Companion Voucher and Avios come under the Terms and Conditions set by British Airways Executive Club, and any changes made are entirely at the discretion of British Airways, therefore, we are unable to influence their decision. All we do is inform British Airways as soon as you meet the spend criteria of £10,000 with the anniversary year to trigger the Companion Voucher.

    However, we thank you for sharing this issue with us and we assure you that I have immediately shared your valuable suggestions with the management so that they can look into this further.

    • Hmm.

      I think this is a bit like the bob in ET. It’s not just an issue that affects the FT community like the enhancements to CW, this is something that will affect a fair chunk of the wider, ‘normal’ population. I don’t have any friends who spend any time on sites like this or would even notice many of the things that cause outrage on FT, but all of them collect avois and most of them have the BA credit card. To find out that 1)they will be targeted for downgrades and 2)they will not get a penny of commensation for it is so obviously unfair that it could potentially be a story that affects far more than our little community.

      I love Amex, and I really feel for them here. The BA they signed up with is a different business to the one they find themselves hitched to now. I dare say that if BA do confirm the stories, I won’t be the only one cancelling by BAPP and at that point they might try to do something. Let’s see.

      • I’ve received an email from Amex this morning asking me to add a supplementary cardholder to my account as ‘all of the spend counts towards your Companion Voucher.’ What timing!

        Although Amex are distancing themselves from the issue ( see above), if BA single out these passengers for downgrading, then the main reason for paying for the cards is questionable.
        When we make a booking, even with Avios there is money involved going to BA in the ‘tax’ payment, we expect this contract to be honoured by BA.

        Rma

    • That’s a complete cop out response and one which clearly hasn’t considered the prospect of Amex customers moving to other (cheaper) credit cards!

      • Further to this, my OH was horrified when he heard that the BAPP Amex fee was going up to £195 and wanted to cancel. I persuaded him not to by showing him the value of the 2 4 1 voucher (roughly £1500 this year if you look at the cash price of our companion ticket, as long as we don’t get downgraded lol!).

        I’m sure other customers will feel this way, and Amex needs to realise this.

      • To be fair they cannot say much different at the moment – there has been no formal change in the arrangements, just some anecdotal evidence that 241s (or specifically, the companion) are being singled out for downgrade; allied to BA’s clearly unlawful approach to EC261 compensation.

        If either leg is true it is enough for me to cancel my BAPP, but I do that with sympathy for Amex. My guess is that BA will refuse to comment on downgrade policy and deny that 241s are targeted; and we will get their view that such vouchers have no cost so EC261 provides £0 compensation for downgrades. Amex might ask for some sort of clarification from BA that their customers are not at the bottom of the pile, but presumably BA will just say that decisions on downgrades are complex etc etc and [x]% of 241s were not downgraded so nothing to worry about. And the truth is, the chance of downgrade is very slim.

        Still enough for me to cancel, though.

      • Presumably this is a response to a secure message so will have come from the contact centre in India who have trouble dealing with simple things.
        I have sent a letter to Amex in Brighton by special delivery asking for clarification.

        • I completely disagree. Amex customer service on simple and complex things has been excellent for me and my family, by phone or by secure message – and I make lots of requests for help!

          What is really annoying is that having cancelled the Platinum card and the SPG card over the last 18 months, the BAPP is the only Amex I can really justify any more, and I am almost certainly going to cancel it unless BA say something substantially comforting as regards downgrades and EC261, and at the moment I cannot really see any amex that makes much sense for me. I think I might just end up with one card, being the IHG card. Pit.y

        • the real harry1 says:

          Could you give your reasons as to why you couldn’t justify getting an Amex Gold Card?

        • I can for the signup, but the fee for the second year doesn’t justify the benefit for longer term use. i can justify all of the Amex cards for churning, but that is not what I am after. I need a regular credit card and at the moment, I can’t find an Amex to fit the bill.

  123. I can think of a way of mitigating the downgrade risk here…keen to hear what everyone else here thinks….

    Step 1. book your 2-4-1 redemption ticket as normal
    Step 2 for the exact same flights as your 241, make 4 or 8 or 10 (as many as your credit card limit would allow) fully refundable cash tickets to block out large chunks of the cabin
    Step 3 on the day before your flight, cancel all your cash tickets and get the refund back

    Obviously you may loose any cancellation fees on the cash tickets and BA may well still oversell the cabin even after cancellations…. but would this work in theory?

    • In theory. Would I do it? No.

      My Easter F booking LHR-SIN, KUL-LHR costs £9,275.47 per person fully flex and with £35 cancellation fee per ticket x the number of tickets you want to book, means this is not that realistic.

    • It depends on how many tickets they oversell the cabin by. I had a First flight which I knew was full (Expert flyer) and I could still make a dummy booking for 1 seat but not 2. So I wonder how many seats they try to keep selling in CW?

      • CV3V, I’ve just signed up to a free trial of Expert Flyer to check my travel dates. Why do they have so many different codes for the cabin classes? There are at least four for the business cabin alone!

  124. If people are paying the fee mainly on the grounds of the 241 voucher, having it assigned zero value by BA is quite offensive.

    Raffles, if you ever get clarity on this issue would it be worth updating the corresponding credit card review to warn readers of the possibility of this happening?

  125. I don’t know if anyone asked previously but was the First cabin on Anon’s plane also full (if the plane has a First cabin)? What is the chance of being upgraded rather than downgraded?

  126. Did BA provide their “legal opinion” as promised today?

    • the real harry1 says:

      Raffles won’t give it away Monday night 🙂

    • No. However, they do appear to be working on it – I’ve had 3 emails from the press office.

      • the real harry1 says:

        I think that for various reasons they will accept a solution in our favour.

      • The suspense is killing us!

      • I think we are all waiting with bated breath on this one Rob. Will you be doing a new post or just an update on this one which has already gained over 350 comments.

        • Will do a new article. But, frankly, they would be crazy to confirm their position to me, either way.

        • Interesting! I thought they (BA) agreed to give you clarification on this issue? Sounds like they’ve had second thoughts after reading all theses comments and now need legal to look into this deeper. I’m sure this will become clear very soon. Really glad you decided to covered this issue Raffles, keep up the good work!

        • The press office agreed that the lawyers would do this. When the lawyers heard, they presumably spat the coffee out of their mouths in shock.

          However, we can track Anon’s claim starting next week ….

  127. DreamingOf1stClass says:

    Here is my email and response I received today. Seems to be a standard response being sent out. Credit to a previous poster for the email he posted which I amended a little bit.

    *Response*
    Your message:

    Thank you for writing to us with this query. I hope you are doing well.

    Whilst I understand your concern but I am afraid that we are unaware of any such issue as of now. Also, the usage of the Companion Voucher and Avios come under the Terms and Conditions set by British Airways Executive Club, and any changes made are entirely at the discretion of British Airways.

    Therefore, we are unable to influence their decision. All we do is inform British Airways as soon as you meet the spend criteria of £10,000 with the anniversary year to trigger the Companion Voucher.

    However, we thank you for sharing this issue with us and we assure you that I have immediately shared your valuable suggestions with the management so that they can look into this further.

    If you have any other queries, please feel free to e-mail us.

    ________________________________________

    Hi,
    I have recently taken out my card with you as I collect avios to use for premium cabin flight redemption’s and in particular for the 2-4-1 voucher, which both you and BA strongly advertise as a major benefit of the card.
    I have recently heard stories of British Airways targeting passengers who booked a premium cabin with a 2-4-1 voucher (link below) being the first customers targeted for downgrades, when they oversell the cabin. With compensation based on the avios and not the actual cash price of the seat.(the second persons avios is zero when using the 2-4-1 voucher)
    If this is the case can you please provide me with American Express thoughts on this and whether the cards benefits would provide proper compensation i.e not receiving the service I purchased using the card.
    This practice is making me re-consider the value of using your card to collect avios for flights, and earn the 2-4-1 voucher by hitting a spending target.
    If it is confirmed that the 2-4-1 voucher is being targeted by BA and proper compensation not being offered then I’m afraid I will have no other option but to cancel the card, £195 is a lot of money to pay with no benefits attached.
    https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/02/25/more-evidence-of-ba-prioritising-avios-bookings-for-downgrades/
    Regards

    • That is the same reply that was received by Anon above, which suggests that they were expecting this question an had the reply pre-prepared.

  128. Oddly enough all UK Domestic flights are unavailable for booking today and that includes using them for a connection even for paid for tickets. What are total farce – and the Twitter team still insist no dates are set for the CE change.

  129. Danl69 says:

    I think ba is missing the point – to me it’s not the compensation but the ‘spirit’ of the downgrade policy

    It’s customer service at its usual with ba.
    Have our card , be loyal , and we will give you a reward – only to take it away due to excessive greed in over booking a flight

    I’ve been gold for years now often use the vouchers – if it happened to me it’s good bye ba and the tens of thousands a year I spend with them even though they are inferior now to the competition.

  130. Anthony Dunn says:

    Well, this is remarkably straightforward: should BA try this one on me and (BAEC Gold) my Senior Management (BAEC Silver and the Companion voucher holder) when we do a BA/AE 241 LHR-MAA-LHR in June17, BA will (a) end up in a Small Claims Court and (b) Amex will be told that their 241 Companion offer is not worth the paper it is written on and that we will be cutting up our cards. That will hit BA as well.

    Thereafter, once we’ve used up our Avios, we will be switching almost all the flights that we can away from BA. Just when will BA senior management realise that they are close to breaking the back of their most loyal customers’ loyalty?

  131. annette says:

    I am shocked & amazed by this. We have just booked our first 2 4 1 reward voucher which was with lloyds avios amex card. Took us forever to book it as all the seats had gone by midnight on our first date choice, now to be told after all our effort we could be bumped off, i am gutted. Never flown business class before & was so looking forward it, now i have reservations. Hope by the time we fly this will be resolved.

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