Bits: Avios Group CEO replaced, BA Buy on Board – just fancy that …

News in brief:

Avios Group CEO replaced

Andrew Crawley was appointed as CEO of Avios Group earlier this week, replacing Gavin Halliday.

Andrew is starting his new role “with immediate effect” (he was previously head of IAG Cargo) whilst Gavin “is leaving IAG” having resigned on Friday.

Gavin Halliday was a friend of this site – we drive huge amounts of third-party partner revenue for Avios Group, after all – and we had various lunches over the last couple of years where we chewed the fat about developments in the industry.

I always felt that Gavin ‘got it’ in terms of how the programme had to work in order to thrive.  His problem was always how to broaden out the appeal of the scheme, both geographically and demographically, with BA being so tightly focused on London.  Revenue had stagnated but this was due to the BA changes in 2015 which reduced the number of Avios purchased by the airline, and the increase in flight redemption rates will clearly not have helped either.

The one thing we never really discussed was IT, which appears to be the biggest Avios Group issue.  The long delayed launch of Aer Lingus AerClub – which still has IT problems – seems to have delayed the plan to move Iberia Plus and British Airways Executive Club onto the same platform, and possibly the delay in launching Avios with Royal Air Maroc as well.

I wish Drew – who I haven’t met – well in his new role, and hope that Gavin has more luck than his predecessor, who left Avios to became of CEO of airline Monarch as it was on its spiral into near bankruptcy!

British Airways

British Airways Buy On Board – just fancy that ….

There will be a full report on the British Airways press event yesterday on Head for Points tomorrow.  It finished late yesterday and it takes time to put together a considered overview.

Meanwhile, with apologies to Private Eye, the following caught my eye whilst reading third-party reports of the event in my hotel here in Hong Kong:

Spot the difference:

“We have reached this point as a consequence of an increasing number of requests from our customers, “ Cruz said. “We have customer saying to us “Do not force me to eat just what you have – there is very little choice” … Today’s product launch is in reaction to customer response around choice and quality.”

BA CEO Alex Cruz speaking to Business Traveller, September 2016

Latest figures show only 2.5 per cent of flights now run out of fresh food and we are focusing on the few flights where we can now sell more. I think also crew and customers are starting to understand that not everyone can have their first choice, without creating huge amounts of waste. I flew with easyJet every week for seven years and don’t remember ever getting my first-choice food; I was always prepared to have a second option. It’s a mindset shift.”

BA CEO Alex Cruz speaking to James Brown, Customer Service Manager at Gatwick, in the March 2017 BA staff magazine

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  1. Scottydogg says:


    I think I know the answer for this but though id check .
    Ive just cancelled Amex gold card , I wanted to sign up for a platinum in July as we are travelling for the month of April and will be visiting a good few airports so though it would be good to have lounge access .
    Would I get the sign up bonus ? only 3 months later ……I messed up my timing with cancelling that gold , my partner has a gold card too so can’t sign up in her name either !

    Any help ?

    • Nope, you need six months without an MR-earning card. Perhaps look at SPG or BAPP in the meantime?

    • Brian says:

      Get your partner to upgrade to Platinum and see if Amex will give her a bonus for doing so?

  2. aliks says:

    On our recent (economy) flight to Athens, the head flight attendant come over to talk to me about BoB. I told her I wasn’t too worried about the change as the previous food offerings were such low quality.

    Given that we are always in the lounge beforehand, we don’t really want free food on European flights just a coffee maybe – so its not even much of a price hike.

    • David says:

      Selfish comment. What about people that don’t have lounge access? There used to be a good selection of free drinks. Terrible in my opinion.

      • Why is it selfish? Someone is simply expressing how it effects him?

        • David says:

          And I was just expressing that I felt that the comment was selfish, in my opinion.

        • callum says:

          Your opinion is wrong (yes most opinions are subjective, but yours is objectively wrong).

          Not being too worried about the severe suffering wealthy people (if you can afford to fly, you’re wealthy) go through when they can’t get some complimentary food doesn’t make you selfish.

        • Louie says:

          I’m with David. Perfect example of when my mum would have said “I’m alright Jack”. Or I don’t care how other people are affected as long as I’m not affected myself. I don’t see that the subject matter matters.

        • callum says:

          Jesus Christ, it’s a tiny packet of crisps or half a wrap. Your sense of entitlement is beyond absurd if it’s “selfish” to not be “too worried” over the wealthy having to go 3 hours without a complimentary snack!

          Either that or you must live in a constant state of severe depression – a hell of a lot more people go without a hell of a lot more for their entire lives…

      • Inclined to echo Leo’s comments.

        David, it was a personal response to an open question on how they felt about the new service.

        Most people would reply in the context of how it affected them individually.

        If I were asked (and I wasn’t feeling grumpy) I might of said that BA should keep Tea/Coffee & water as complimentary and honour the benefits of any tickets bought prior to the announcement of this enhancement.

        • the real harry1 says:

          yep I’ve got no problem whatsoever with BOB as it does actually make my flights cheaper, I’ve noticed, for the times we actually pay – and makes cheapie HBO £70 a decent alternative to £17.50 + 7500 Avios if you want to conserve your Avios stash

          but I do seriously object to not getting my F&B previously paid for on my T-355 tickets, as y’all know! 🙂

    • AndyR says:

      Some outstation lounges are crap though. Also what about your return as BA don’t provide lounge access in Athens?

  3. Arun T says:

    Airline CEO’s always tend to be a ‘special’ type of person….but the more I read about Alex Cruz, the more I seem to think he has genuinely lost the plot with this ‘low-cost’ strategy.

    The one major caveat, is that IAG is making money – and that’s all his employers care about. Until that stops, he will keep pushing it!

    • Nicholas Danks says:

      At the end of the day, the market is full of choice. I guess we have a narrow ‘lense’ through which we view changes; the real measure is the bottom line profit and long term sustainability of their business model as required by their shareholders.

      I’ve got quite a lot of skin in the game with over 1m of avios and 4 x 2f1 vouchers, however I’ve resigned myself to Longhaul Y or J in QR as a way of earning enough avios to fly me and my family around within europe using RFS.

      I suspect Alex Cruz’s success as measured by the board of IAG will be judged by his impact on shareholder value; not by us FF diehards who mourn the loss of perks or downgrading of service.

      This is just my objective view – I don’t like the way things are going either 😛

  4. Jonny says:

    OT: Just booked a week’s parking in June at Gatwick through the official airport “Premium Valet Parking” service (dropping off car outside the terminal). myGatwick was offering 20% off, which made it cheaper than anything else as far as I could tell. Hope this helps someone.

  5. Kenny says:

    so he did it to give customers more choice but they definitely shouldn’t expect to get their first choice. sounds like its really solved the problem.

    • Flim flam. Customers already had the choice of buying sandwiches, snacks and drinks before boarding if they wanted something specific.

      My 11 year old won’t touch unfamiliar food so I always have a stack of plain ham rolls in my handbag – if it’s a longish flight I freeze them so they’re usually just nice and chilled by the time we eat them. fortunately I had made extra for our flight to Lanzarote last year – we arrived 10 hours late and Ryanair wouldn’t even give out free water!

      • Kenny says:

        Exactly. I say keep decent quality complimentary drinks and snacks and if people want something extra they know they can buy before they board.

      • Cheese and smoked salmon also freeze well, and a mini of concentrated cordial, like Squash’d can be added to water to make soft drinks. I suppose you could even put miniature spirits in your clear plastic toiletry bags if you wanted a drink but don’t want to pay BA £7 for the privilege. You might have to be discreet with the booze but it sounds as though the cabin crew won’t have time to spy of passengers as they’ll be too busy trying to find enough food for the rest of the cabin!

        • Nate1309 says:

          100ml mouthwash bottles are perfect for inflight drinks. Trust me….

  6. Peter says:

    On my flight out to AMS on Monday, the flight was already 45 mins late, then the captain makes an announcement that he has made a decision to go without the payment machines for BoB. Fair enough that would have delayed the flight even more and its only a max of an hour flight. So no choice of what to eat 🙂

    • More importantly, no profit for BA!

    • Fenny says:

      I thought you were going to say that the BoB was free, with no way to pay for it, and the service was happily taken care of well within the flight time!

  7. John ABZ says:

    Working as an air courier I get flown in economy by whichever airline gets me from a-b quickest. I have flown dozens (30 plus) of econ flights recently on both larger and smaller carriers. Sometimes I have to fly BA. From Air Maroc to Singapore Airlines without a doubt BA are the worst regarding free meal offerings and indeed general standards. I don’t mind paid for meal offerings on the likes of Flybe because they have genuinely cheap flights. So yes agree the Boots meal deal is what I do on BA flights as out of principle I won’t give them a penny. So when it comes to choices for leisure travel I do earn and burn some avios for routes only served by BA reward savers e.g ABZ-LHR but for others e.g. annual Florida hols I’m with VA from now on. But anyone can get a free meal on BA flights – just lift your seat pad and you’ll find the free BA buffet.

    • Interesting thanks John.

      What class do you fly with VS, I’m trying to find out if INV-MAN-MCO would avoid APD in UC when connecting with FlyBE

  8. James67 says:

    Rob, can you email me a referral link for PRG card please? Thanks,

  9. Genghis says:

    OT. Question to the HfP Scottish contingent. I’d like to visit Barra and do the beach landing. Any suggestions on what else to do whilst in Scotland combined with Barra? I see the flight is from Glasgow. I’ve been to Edinburgh many times (but Mrs G has not), Glasgow, Fife and Arran. I like walking and whisky and have never been to the Highlands. Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    • James67 says:

      Check out Rabbies Tours if you want a stress-free approach. They are well-regarded, depart both Glasgow and Edinburgh for day and multiday tours, use midi coaches with panoramic windows that can more easily get off the beaten track. A lot of time is spent away from the coach hiking and sightseeing and a good chance to meet people from all over. If you prefer to go it alone probably best to hire a car and explore. My preference would be west highlands as combines mountains, forrests, lochs, sea lochs and coast. Drive around Loch Lomond, Trossach, Oban (ferry to Mull), Glencie to Fort William, Mallaig and Skye, on via Loch Ness to Inverness. Side trip to Ullapool, south through the Great Glen to Perth and into Edinburgh. Cairngorms are nice too but little water, best route is probably Perth to Aberdeen via Braemar (watch out for Our Liz 😉 ). Edinburgh through borders via Galashiels, Selkirk and Moffat into Dunfries and through Galloway to Stranraer and then a drive up Ayrshire coast (ferry to Arran departs Ardrossan) to Glasgow. Lot’s of possibilities depending how much time you have. You can do a day return on Barra flight wh9ich would probably be my choice unless you are intent on island hopping. You might want to consider a rail pass and use on west highland line, Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness, Inverness to Edinburgh, Glasgow to Stranraer and Borders Railway. Hope that’s enough to get you started, welcome and enjoy.

      • Genghis says:

        Top info @James67. I was thinking perhaps 5 days so will do much more research. A very good starter for 10. 🙂

        • James67 says:

          With just 5 days and info you provided my recommendation would be one day each Glasgow and Edinburgh, one day flight experience, one day west highland tour, and one day whisky tour.

      • You’ve covered most of Scotland there James and all the places we plan to visit in the near future. Everywhere is lovely – so much to see! We travelled south today in the van to Delamere Forest – our first long drive!

        • James67 says:

          Yes, didn’t know how long Genghis planned on visiting so just provided some key routes and places for him to google. Given your love for touring I’m sure you will have taken to caravaning like a duck to water. My parents deprived me my teens with their stupid van but there were a few memorable exceptions.

    • Hubby has just been to Islay with a friend – they visited 2 of the 8 distilleries on the Island. Skye is also beautiful and Eilean Donan Castle is stunning nearby.

    • the real harry1 says:

      1. Go to Islay for a couple of days and do the whisky tours – which are not really touristy, just honest.

      2. Go to Oldshoremore (actually get closer, see your maps) and walk out to one of the loveliest beaches this island can offer – Sandwood Bay

    • Genghis – you’ve totally derailed a perfectly good discussion on BoB and the CEO of Avios, totally outrageous behaviour how dare you, such arrogance!!!!!!!!

      …. Sorry could resist 😀 my thread was hijacked then, now back in the world of reasonable people…

      I’ll defo vote for Barra, (and the rest of the Outer Hebrides), Islay, Skye, Pitlochry, Cairngorms, the Dunblane DT is a good evening stopover in a classic Scottish country house hotel and its heading north to Perthshire from Edinburgh. If you’re an aviation fan scenic flights are available from Perth airport flying school, you may even be able to charter a one way?

      Please send me a pm with your intended dates, as would be good to meet up and buy you a wee dram. Sure some other affable folk on here (Liz, Alan, James67) would be very happy to meet up if its at all possible with your tight timescales.

      Sláinte! 🙂

      • the real harry1 says:

        not me then 🙂

        heh heh I’ll be in Cornwall or out at our place in the sun (where I am right now!) but I do know Scotland well

      • Absolutely – would definitely be up for a Scottish HfP meet-up! I’m mainly to be found travelling between Dundee/Perth/Edinburgh!

        • James67 says:

          A wee dram or two(hundred) at the Balmoral would fit the bill nicely. They might even have some Gin lurking around someplace for Anon and his ilk.

        • I’m rather fond of the Scotch bar at the Balmoral, the SMWS venues on Queens St are at the Vaults are dandy too.

      • Genghis says:

        Sounds good Anon. Need to run it all past Mrs G first.

    • Kinkell says:

      Hi Genghis, I live in the Highlands….. north of Inverness. You want the NC500. ( North Coast 500) a driving route round the north highlands . Scenery stunning on west, pretty highland villages on East with Glenmorangie distillery in Tain. Speyside is the place to go for whisky..Glenfiddich at Dufftown and Macallan near Aberlour. Whatever you do, Wherever you go , nowhere to beat The Highlands!.

      • Sounds fantastic – I wonder if we could all fit in Liz’s new caravan for a wee HfP roadtrip? 😀

      • James67 says:

        NC500 is getting a lot of positive coverage in travel press. On our list for next spring.

        • Genghis says:

          Thanks so much guys. Will do a bit of planning and get the boss’s approval. How bad of me derailing a discussion. Oops. J won’t be happy.

        • I understand the NC500 route is too tight for a caravan – on our to do list too! Van is a 3 berth – not bought our awning yet! I’d need to bring my hubby – he’s the van tower and the whisky drinker!

  10. Billy says:

    That comment from Cruz about a mind-shift is terrible!

    I’m a BA fan but why is he aspiring to easyJet standards?

  11. It was being ‘Rob’s mate’ that did for Gavin haha

    Drew is a nice guy but was too BA – the reason he was sent to IAGC was to have the BA beaten out of him. And he’s the guy who brought in the new On Business when he was Head of Commercial.

    Make of that what you will.

    • the real harry1 says:

      these FTSE100 cos can get pretty stupid with their politics

      still fed up I got bumped thanks to some idiot thinking I was a threat so put in a cost saving argument

      as it was, I got nearly a year to recruit my successor before I had to go (all very civilised, wealthy sector) and ended up offering him pretty much what I was paid, very good guy from GlaxoSK.

      so I got forcibly retired aged 36, life’s a complete butch

      • Even I managed to get to 40 ….. 🙂

        • LOL after spending two decades in training I’m only properly starting now and 40 is looming!

        • the real harry1 says:

          I worked pretty hard I those 10 years 🙂

        • the real harry1 says:

          well, OK, not the first 3 years – that was one big p-up, first with the Bank then with the other Co, which had a 2 year grad trainee scheme mostly in hotels on expenses back then

          not sure you would find a 2 year grad trainee scheme these days but it was good fun, they recruited about 75 of us that year so we used to party quite a bit

        • the real harry1 says:

          are you a medic, Alan?

        • LOL yep 😉 So sadly not on big City-style bucks unless I headed off to Australasia/North America!

        • the real harry1 says:

          my bro in law is in the same boat, oncologist, I guess he’s same age as you, also spent a year in Aus, FFS don’t tell me you’re married to Kate?!!!

        • Haha LOL nope – don’t worry I’m not your brother-in-law stalking you 😉

        • the real harry1 says:

          that’s good, not on best terms as she tried to cheat me out of money

          anyway – my relationship with bonnie Scotland – worked there 2 years out of Glasgie – great times – plus spent all my holidays there 8YO onwards

        • Ah, excellent – well hopefully you’ll make it back up soon. August always a good time to visit Edinburgh – points are excellent value at hotels thanks to the the Festival being on! Do let us Scots know if you’re up visiting 🙂

  12. I wouldn’t mind BoB if flights were actually cheap. There’s been a ridiculous increase in prices for European flights. What’s the point in flying BA in Europe when you could save money and spend it towards buying business class on long haul?

  13. Genghis says:

    OT Just had dinner with a BA source. BOB coming to Y long haul

  14. Interesting comment about IT- isn’t Avois IT wholly managed by the parent IAG group?

  15. RogerWIlco says:

    The best part is when you gt no choice at all – because catering was not loaded! BA’s reaction to the complaint? We’re sorry, bad luck. Compensation (for BAEC Silver)? Zilch, nada. At least on EZY you get your second choice.