Bits: new way to spend Emirates miles, BA removes therapeutic oxygen, Abu Dhabi ‘no rain’ promise

News in brief (we’re a bit behind after spending two days at the Business Travel Show last week):

A new way to spend expiring Emirates Skywards miles

I get a lot of emails from HFP readers concerned about some Emirates Skywards miles which are approaching expiry.

Your options are fairly limited.  There is no way of extending their life so you need to spend them before they expire.  For small amounts your options include:

There is now a new option.  Thanks to a new partnership with Rocketmiles, you can now redeem Emirates Skywards miles for hotel rooms across the world.  You can combine miles and cash – as long as you have at least 5,000 miles – so this is a good way of using up your entire expiring balance.

You can also earn Emirates Skywards miles on hotel rooms booked via Rocketmiles.

Full details can be found on the Emirates website here.

Emirates Rocketmiles

BA to remove therapeutic oxygen from short-haul flights

In an interview with Skift last month, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said “If one particular day we don’t come up with an idea to reduce our costs, then we’re not doing our job.”

And so it came to pass on Friday that BA announced it will no longer provide therapeutic oxygen on short-haul flights departing after 1st February 2018.

Customers requiring therapeutic oxygen on short-haul flights are being told to make their own provisions.  You need to receive medical clearance from BA before you can bring your own therapeutic oxygen onboard, and it must be from a list of acceptable providers.

British Airways will continue to provide therapeutic oxygen on board long-haul flights.


Etihad offering a free repeat holiday if it rains!

Etihad is pushing its Etihad Holidays packages at the moment with an interesting guarantee.

If you book a break in Abu Dhabi, and there is more than 5mm of rain during your stay, Etihad will provide you with a free replacement holiday up to the same value.

The small print is confused, however.  The website for this offer mentions ‘1st May to 30th September’ but the small print talks about stays between 1st June and 31st August.  This is a major difference as your best chance of a downpour is obviously in the shoulder season, primarily May.  That said, the chance of a payout is slim in any event.

(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.)

Review of the Upperdeck lounge at Glasgow Airport
Bits: Laithwaites offer update, 15% Iberia discount, Finnair A350 daily from London
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  1. Rob hutch says:

    We’ve got a couple of thousand vietnamese LOTUS miles each through Skyteam at home. Options seem a bit limited to use them. Anyone got any ideas?

  2. It is only left to re-quote,

    In an interview with Skift last month, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said “If one particular day we don’t come up with an idea to reduce our costs, then we’re not doing our job.”

    • Shame the focus isn’t “improve our service to customers”

    • The daily cost cutting enhancement I would like to see is the removal of Alex Cruz as Chairman and CEO. Hated by staff and hated by customers, he may be overseeing short term increases in profit but the damage to the BA brand over the long term and a resultant downturn in financial performance is likely to be his long term legacy. Perhaps the analysts and major shareholders including Qatar will eventually demand his enhancement.

      • We, as a family, always used to choose BA over other airlines for our leisure trips but that is definitely in the past now. The fact that you had checked luggage, complimentary refreshments on board etc and just the feeling that it was a REAL airline made the extra, to me, worth paying. All of these little pluses appear to be getting eroded away on a day-to-day basis so why bother? I will be looking to use them as little as possible going forward although, in these days of code-sharing, it isn’t always easy to do.

        Now, I admit, this isn’t going to hit their bottom lie very much as we fly, maybe, twice a year and usually in cattle-class, but if others follow it will soon add up.

      • It actually makes sense. He is a one trick pony, good for cutting costs. But by his own admission cost cutting is now in the dna of the business, so he really doesn’t add anything now

        • Precisely! Well put.

          Any reasonable, somewhat experienced manager can engage in harsh cost cutting — there must be hundreds of able and willing airline executives to do so for BA.

          It follows, that there is no reason whatsoever to pay the premium for Chairman and CEO post to a person who does just that and does not add anything else.

      • A news story over on Travelmole today “Pakistan International Airlines is investigating reports that seven extra passengers were allowed to stand in the aisles on a packed flight to Saudi Arabia.”

        Let’s hope Alex Cruz doesn’t get any ideas.

        One would think that one thing you can rely on BA for is safety, but when I flew back from Calgary in economy about 4 years ago, boarding was a free for all and there was no attempt to regulate the size of hand luggage or to help passengers to stow it. The plane pulled back from the gate with passengers still standing, trying to find space for their bags, and with overhead lockers open. The staff merely shouted at them.

      • I think it already transpired that there is no support for this management and approach– this is NOT like BA top management are doing something critical, even if the airline going bankrupt this is not saved by taking away a pack of crisps, perhaps by better customer service and regard to passengers and own personnel?

        Now when efficiency drive crosses this explicitly with health and safety… I would rather have oxygen available on my flight and I have seen it regularly used on flights such as SQ.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Context is everything. What if the next unreported statement was:

      ‘Upon completion our next, more difficult task, is to find a way to add value. To improve the customer experience. This we must do twice a day or else we are not doing our jobs properly.’

      In mitigation however, having flown BA, I feel that this is unlikely.

    • Exactly … Thanks Rob for reminding us all of the overarching strategy that joins all of this cost cutting together. Please keep reminding us of that quote.

      I wonder how many BA middle managers will be “brainstorming” this week for the next thing to cut. The barrel has been scrapped enough though, anything more, it’ll wear out and they’ll be a massive hole left.

  3. OT-Amex Pro-Rata Refund

    Doing my first churning on a paid card, just wondering how do Amex calculate fees for the period the card was used.
    Assuming that charging period starts from the day the card was approved, not from the date it was received.

    Say, If I cancel card 1 month and 1 day after applying, do I get charged for 2 months or is the fees calculated on daily basis?

    • Daily

      • I thought they had started rounding up to the nearest month?

        • It was daily as I calculated in Dec for Plat. For last BAPPs and SPGs, I’ve waited for the points to post so has been about on the month anyway.

    • I have just this morning cancelled my Platinum charge card, having collected 35000 points for spend, 5000 good will points for a statement cock up, and 9000 for a Gold card referral. Not bad for about £45!

      Agent confirmed refund is calculated pro-rata on a daily basis although not sure if it’s from the date the fee was posted, the date you activated your card or what …. apparently the credit will post in 48-72 hours.

    • I’ve found the Amex Platinum to be calculated daily but the BAPP rounded up to the nearest month.

      From my calculations it looks to be based on the day you get approved.

      • RussellH says:

        I cancelled an SPG Amex at Christmas after a period of between 1 and 2 months.

        I could make neither head nor tail of how the refund was calculated, but I got back rather more of the £75 than I had expected.

  4. After the “food for money” on short haul, How far will Alex Cruz go to destroy BA? Can someone tell him that BA isn’t Vueling (where he comes from), nor is it Aer Lingus or Iberia… as a BA gold member, BA shareholder and friend of BA cabin crew members, what he is doing is long-term damage to BA Despite shoe-term gains (or savings as he calls them…)

  5. Concerto says:

    To be honest, I think it’s too late, but I’m not London based so it is easy for me to completely avoid them.

  6. It’s one thing to cut food etc to remain competititive, but cutting things that are there for our safety is truly unacceptable. Shame on you Cruz.

    • Just reading about BA these days advereseky affects my mental health.

    • BA Sucks says:

      I’m not one to defend BA, but on the oxygen issue, it is not a cut that impacts safety. BA are just following easyJet and many other legacy carriers by getting people who need oxygen to ‘bring it on board’ themselves. Other carriers, such as Ryanair, offer ‘buy oxygen on board’ charging upwards of £50 for similar services.

  7. Many of the BA cost savings over recent years have ranged from irritating to disappointing as they continue their apparent race to become a low cost carrier.

    But as someone with a family member who needs therapeutic oxygen I find this particular cut abhorrent.

    Access to onboard oxygen makes travel a lot less stressful. While we have a portable unit there are limitations and most portable oxygen units have a limited battery life and in reality with some exceptions are not that small.

    I have no problem being expected to pay for this service. Even Ryanair provide this service and have always been very helpful when traveling with my father. This service offers increased comfort and reduced stress for him. This makes all the difference!

    This is one cut that targets a vulnerable group who used to be able to trust BA and for me is a sad commentary on where BA are at now.

    • +1 Here here.

    • BA is running around with blinders cutting cost like George Osborne on steroids. Instead of converting free services to paid-for services to cover for the costs, BA is missing a trick or two to keep clients flying with them.

  8. OT

    Can anyone recommend me to AmEx Platinum Portugal?

  9. Nick Burch says:

    OT, but BA related. Just had an email from Amex saying that if I added a Supplementary card to my British Airways American Express Premium Plus card by 31 March 2017, I’ll earn 3,000 Avios for the first approved card. Not sure how targetted an offer it is?

    • Had the same but for AMEX gold.

    • I got it on my BAPP but not my wife. My wife has it on her Gold. Nothing on my Plat, nothing on either of our SPGs.

      • I got the same e-mail on my gold card. Does anyone know if it the supp card holder has had an account within the lat 6 months will that matter?

        • It shouldn’t matter, I had the offer on both my BA and Gold card sent to me this morning and I have just asked for supp cards for my partner who already has the same cards. After about 5 seconds of applying, I checked my account and the points had already posted. It really can’t get any better than that. Fantastic service.

    • I had an offer of 5,000 for my platinum card this morning. To anyone who already has one – do they get their own online account or is their only way of knowing what they spend from me checking and adding it all up?

    • Janeyferr says:

      I’ve had an offer of 1000 Nectar points for a supp Nectar Amex.

    • Got the offer on Gold that was cancelled 2 weeks ago

    • Better than me Alan – I got nothing!

      • Although I did get 6 x £5 small shop statement credits for 6 transactions that didn’t post at the time of purchase but already got credited manually so thank you Amex for the bonus £30!

        • Nice one 🙂 I’ve just had quite a bit more courtesy of Barclaycard customer services on the Hilton card 😛

  10. I too would love to see Alex Cruz given the boot. Fair enough BA needs to compete with the low cost airlines but the focus should be improving operational efficiency rather than engaging in all this cost cutting that directly affects the end product and the perception of the brand (which no one can argue he isn’t destroying for what is ultimately his own financial gain).

  11. Speaking of Abu Dhabi, has the EY sale gone unnoticed?

  12. OT: What’s the longest it has taken for an international transaction to appear on your AmEx statement?

    Had a hotel stay in one the Tokyo Hyatt’s which is missing from 20/2 however, every other transaction I made even after e.g. airport duty free have posted – wondering if and when it will post :d.

    • That doesn’t sound that long to be honest. I had a stay at Hyatt Regency Nice in April 2014 which was not charged until June of that year. Until the transaction occured, I definitely thought I had got away with a free stay!

  13. Cold shoulder season?! 🙂

  14. In my experience, large legacy companies cannot ever be effective at competing with smaller, more nimble companies.

    They can copy competitors and cut costs as much as they like, but they will never truly be able to match a company who had low cost ingrained from the start.

    They will never get the price point correct, but will remove effective customer service to the point where there is no longer a differentiator or brand value still in evidence.

    Sad story for such a brand.

    • Easyjet fleet: 237
      British Airways: 269
      Ryanair: 373

      Not sure you can call Easyjet and Ryanair small companies any more. Of course they don’t have long-haul planes.

    • True. If you look at Norwegian, for example, they charge for long-haul food but I understand that on some planes you can order whatever you want, at whatever time you want, via your IFE screen for delivery to your seat a few minutes later. THAT is how you mix low cost with a decent level of service.

  15. First comment but love the H4P website, grabbed some great offers.
    Surely with comments coming from the CEO regarding Daily cost cutting exercise that we can put BA in the Budget no thrills airline compartment and just fly cheaper hoping for better rewards with other airlines.
    I thought I would give BA CW a try in May for my quarterly BKK trip as Thai royal silk has the better class but I want to see with regards to this cost cutting exercise especially after my NY new year holiday I had with BA.
    I truly hope another airline comes up with a better reward deal then BA I would imagine many people abandon a sinking ship if there practice is

  16. Yes, just been watching TPG’s interview with Alex Cruz which was interesting:

    Definitely seems to be trying to emulate Ryanair

  17. My biggest concern is his aim of turning Avios purely into a revenue based loyalty programme. If you start out from that basis on an LCC then granted it may have proved successful. However, taking the existing aspirational aspect out of redeeming is a dead end if you ask me.

    • The CEO has told me to my face that it won’t happen, and I believe him because he understands the reasons not to do it.

      • That’s a relief then! Any chance of getting an HFP interview with Cruz? TPG’s was informative but with a rather US slant. Surprised to see it had less than 8k views too. Thought they had a bigger reach than that!

  18. OT and hard to stomach and believe: BA just topped the UK superbrands survey for third year running. It’s all over the media, takd your pick,

  19. Pangolin says:

    Is Cruz going to remove the fire extinguishers next? Let me guess, he’ll allow them to stay in First class cabins for when he takes a flight himself. Oh silly me.. he’d obviously be flying in a LearJet rather than slumming it in 1A.

    The cost savings for therapeutic oxygen removal must be nominal compared to the potentially open-ended negative reputational downside. Cruz isn’t even a good businessman if he has no idea of cost-benefit analysis.

  20. O/T…. Remember a few weeks back when Heathrow Rewards offered a 50% bonus when transferring HR points to Avios – well that runs out tomorrow.

    They also had a second promo where “new accounts” got 3000 HR opening bonus if punters spent more than £150 in one day. I offered the suggestion that one could perhaps open a new account & pre-order £150 of currency from Travelex to try the double stack these bonuses. Well the good news is both myself and my better half did exactly that and have received 9000 avios between us for buying just over £300 of dollars at 1.22.

    I know others where intending to do it too and this is a gentle reminder that the clock is ticking..

    • the real harry1 says:

      nice but I read a couple of posts here from people later than you who were in dispute with HR, who were refusing to give the points for currency purchase, would be good to know if they resolved the issues

    • Buying a 150 £ gift card worked for me (Waitrose card bought in WHSmith). Buying Boots card in Boots wouldn’t qualify – own branded gift cards are excluded from points collection.

    • Johnny_c-l says:

      S***! Thanks for the reminder, I totally forgot about this. Have transfered to avios which should get me to the line for Superboost too.

      Currency did not work for me this time, but may follow up with an email.

      Thanks Roberto for the reminder to xfr!

  21. OT: What is hilton govt rate in this:

    Quick Look Hilton East Midlands Airport hotel – Double Hilton Suite
    Rate plan Price Per Night (GBP)

    Is it different to the Public sector rate? I am not getting same rates when using PR11PN

    • Hi Boi, I usually see these rates when booking through my corporate travel agent (I work in the NHS) – only used it twice, but have also been asked for ID twice at two different hilton properties.

      Assuming you have that, sure you’ll be fine

      • Thanks both. I work in the NHS too. The PR11PN rate not available for this hotel in April. I will book the govt rate and take my NHS badge?

    • The ‘PR11PN’ rate is cheaper in almost every instance I’ve found, for example in May using your hotel, it’s £73 on government rate but £59 using ‘PR11PN’, if you’re paying for it out of your own pocket select the ‘PR11PN’ one otherwise, let your employer take the hit.

      I know with government rates you need to show ID, not so sure about ‘PR11PN’ as I used it once and wasn’t asked for ID, I did have it at the time, but not tried since as I’m rarely travelling with someone that has the required ID proof.

      Do they usually ask for ID proof when booking through ‘PR11PN’? If not, I may cancel a booking and rebook saving £120 in the process!

      • I have never been asked for ID and used the public sector rate many times. Could have been lucky though.

        I think the government rate is supposed to be for official work related travel rather than leisure fares.

        • I used gvt rate regularly in the last 2 years and primarily in Middle East and continental Europe and have never been asked for an ID (although always had it with me)

  22. the real harry1 says:

    O/T where’s the £ going? I know we mostly all take a lively interest in this, so here’s an interesting take (that I largely subscribe to!)

    The pound is the ‘most undervalued major currency in the world and will rebound to its pre-Brexit levels’ – Analysts at US bank Morgan Stanley say the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal has already been priced in by markets

    • the real harry1 says:

      I believe in this message enough that about 10 days ago I crystallised my wife’s ‘big’ pension Brexit currency gains & heavily rebalanced her main pension fund towards GBP, the portfolio of funds needed re-weighting & de-risking in any case.

    • I expect GBP will go back up against the USD in 2-3 years, but it may drop further in the short term especially if the Fed continues rate hikes. However, if Trump’s economic policies end up being stupid then the GBP may recover against the USD more quickly.

      Against the EUR, not too sure. The euro is still struggling to go back up against the USD after its “Brexit-style” fall in 2013

      • oops meant the latter half of 2014, slippery fingers

      • the real harry1 says:

        do you think there is much merit in the idea that all over the world, major producers/ countries would like to see their currency devalued? Not the Switzerlands, but the trading nations.

    • So much uncertainty in GBP, EUR and USD at the moment. Bitcoin may actually prove to be a great choice if your holding currency as cashZ

    • Someone was predicting that another Scottish referendum would cause the pound to fall. I would have thought that Scotland getting independence would have helped the pound.

    • I think the euro will weaken against the pound and USD from todays rate as for the USD I am not sure, trump will no doubt make a big impact on the economy long term.

    • Please do not listen to bank analyst and currency strategists even from places like a big bank.

      Their role is to generate more business/trading.

      Pound devaluation has to do with current account (of international banking operations) deficit, as of known for Q3 2016, the UK’s Balance of Payments Current Account Balance is

      -25, 494 million pounds (25.5 billion)

      There is a reasonable expectation that Brexit will lead to decrease in the services (financial services) that UK provides to the European countries in particular and therefore, less payment and capital inflows.

  23. the real harry1 says:

    OK here’s what’s on my mind. There has been enormous negativity about IAG/ BA [I’ll call them BA] these last few weeks. Yet I think the company is at heart trying to do the best for its stakeholders, as any company should. In BA’s case, the stakeholders include shareholders, pensioners, deferred pensioners, employees incl mgt & those working on planes & behind the scenes, doubtless also those who depend on BA for business, & of course customers who fly.

    We all know BA has to make up colossal deficits in the pension funds.

    At any one time, BA has to balance the rewards/ benefits for its stakeholders. Ie a big dividend for shareholders or re-investment in the business might mean no extra money for the pension fund deficit. Cutting back on costs means reduced service, F&B for flying customers.

    Whilst I am still very sore about getting my contractual F&B (for flights bought before the changes, so contractually agreed & paid under existing conditions at the time) getting stolen away – & I’ll fight them for it & win, I’ve got the screenshots etc – I don’t have a particular problem with BA making F&B a paid item. I don’t have a problem with BA making Oxygen a paid item either, same as Ryanair. People get annoyed when a previous benefit is taken away – but they need to understand they are paying for a clear current deal & the deal can change over time. You sign up willingly to the deal in force & can’t expect to get a previous deal or benefit.

    So the BA deal is getting worse in some respects. It’s also getting cheaper – tickets ARE cheaper & more competitive vs the opposition. I can’t understand why so many people are simply moaning about change.

    • The problem is that though tickets are getting cheaper, they are not as cheap as the other companies they are getting closer to in service values. I personally prefer the buy on board idea but I can understand the upset of other people.

    • I rarely find BA tickets that are as cheap as other legacy carriers, nevermind low cost carriers. They may be getting cheaper but not fast enough.

    • I completely agree with you. Flying has never been so cheap – and I guess it´s getting cheaper. However they won´t get as cheap as low-cost airliens (BA is still able to fill planes at higher prices due to frequency, main airports, global network, which low cost do not have). If you don´t like BA anymore don´t fly with them, no one really foreces you to fly with tem. There´s plenty of competition, specially out of London. Change or adapt.

    • Not sure how it all comes together, do customers have to buy tickets to make (institutional) shareholders happy?

      The culture is and always has been about disproportional bonuses for top management.

  24. Roberto – and others
    Well done – but, sadly, I had a different outcome. The 3000 HR points for my currency purchase were not posted so I eventually rang Heathrow Rewards (on its 0500 number which connects to someone – with good English – in Ukraine) who told me that currency purchases were excluded from this promotion!
    Seems to be a bit of a shambles.

  25. OT

    Anyone know if the current £50 off £200 Amex Travel offer definitely works for cumulative spend?

  26. You can also spend Emirates miles on Qantas! I just used up 20,000 that were about to expire, by booking a one way flight from Sydney to Perth (a 5 hour flight that usually costs around $400-$500AUD one way on Qantas). Great for anyone visiting Australia who needs to book internal flights! Not sure if you can also use Emirates miles for long-haul Qantas flights (UK to Aus for example).

  27. Had something similar for my Amex Nectar card (only got this for the enhanced 40,000 account opening offer)

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