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

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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


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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British Airways American Express

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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

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There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (147)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Bryan says:

    Flew business from LHR to TXL and they had 4 plough man’s for the whole of the bus cabin and the rest was a seafood/chicken combination. Ridiculous that first choices are not available at row 2.

    • Fenny says:

      Especially for those with seafood allergy!

      • Leo says:

        Like me. That would have ****** me off if I had paid for club.

        • Leo says:

          Having said that this was the position I found on CX regional business last month – no option but prawns. Sigh were apologetic but no alternative.

  • Hugo says:

    The really sad thing is how Alex Cruz so readily says that as BA clients we should expect EasyJet standards

    Definitely feels like a market gap for a premium UK carrier has now opened up

    • Rob says:

      If you look at the Business Traveller quick interview with Cruz, he goes on about what a £29 passenger heading to Rome expects. BA is actually flying business pax on £200 tickets, however, who want more and will end up on Alitalia.

      • Fenny says:

        I won’t be flying Alitalia again until they have explained exactly why I haven’t received the status upgrade I was offered and hit the criteria for. I’ve been emailing them since last July and have yet to get anything meaningful out of them. Does anyone have any idea what the Italian version of the ASA is?

        • Alex W says:

          You’re not missing much, i had their gold card from the status match and it got me pretty much sod all benefits when flying with Sky Team.

          • Genghis says:

            I got Business Class check in and fast track at XIY when flying CZ and that is all. Sky team = the alliance of losers

      • Julian says:

        Rob,

        Are you you talking about business passengers who fly on last minute purchased full price Economy tickets with BA because their employer is too stupid to let them buy a Business class ticket instead (often costing very little more) when BA short haul Economy fares rise above a certain price level?

        Last May bank holiday I actually found BA were selling a one way flight from LHR to PMI in economy for £529 one way about 29 hours before departure but strangely enough a last minute single Avios redemption seat in Economy was also showing as available for 7,500 Avios and £17.50 or alternatively 2,500 Avios and I think a further £40 cash on top of the basic £17.50 Avios charge (which would have made an Avios worth over 20p per point). Unfortunately someone else beat me to booking that seat by about 5 minutes so I had the probably unique lifetime experience (I mean for me, especially as the remaining IB Express LHR to PMI flight slots have all been cannibalised this year in to further much more expensive BA slots from LHR to PMI) of travelling on an Iberia Express Business class Avios redemption seat instead. Only hamburger or a vegetarian pasta choice seemed a rather disappointing offer for the 6 business class seat cabin (one and a half rows) but anyway I had both in order to see which was less disappointing (answer the hamburger was actually pretty tasty and made from premium quality beef).

        However my last experience of flying Alitalia in Economy from FCO to LHR in Nov 2014 was that they only provided some kind of bread stick and something like only either water or a child’s style orange squash for free (definitely no alcohol) and you also couldn’t buy anything else instead to supplement this. So are you in fact talking about the Alitalia Business class offering vs the BA business class offering from LHR to FCO or vica versa? Either way Alitalia don’t fly LON to BCN from any London airport so Alex Cruz surely couldn’t have travelled with them???

        So rather confused as you can see by your report………..

        Regarding the new Avios CEO I would be extremely concerned that after his recent Cargo work experience he will only be likely to see us all as Self Loading Freight and so treat us accordingly. It is also surely only a matter of time before the new Avios CEO further worsens any remaining short haul (RFS) Avios redemption value and increases BA’s revenue streams by making an Avios Economy redemption seat only come with up to 23kg of hand luggage (if you can get that much in the new smaller dimension carry on size limit) with any hold luggage then being a cash charge on top in just the same way as your Economy drink and sandwich will also now be………………….

        • Sean says:

          What’s confusing? AC said at the launch of BoB that it was being driven by choice. Now he says that one shouldn’t expect choice.

  • Rtid says:

    O/T

    I need to make a spend of £1k to reach a 2-4-1 target pretty quickly. its probably not morally correct to do, but does anyone have any suggestions on what I can buy online, bag the voucher, but then for whatever reason I need to cancel/return the item? sorry in advance if this behaviour is frowned upon.

    • CC says:

      Refundable hotel/flight is what Ive seen advised in the past.

    • C77 says:

      Yes have done this a couple of times/years with a flexible / refundable ticket (using Ukraine as country of residence to avoid the additional credit card fee). From memory I think there was a £25 refund fee applied when processed but this was a small price to pay in terms of what I was actually gaining. I only cancelled/refunded once the voucher appeared within my dashboard on ba.com.

    • joelyp says:

      Agree refundable hotel is best (avoiding airline ticket cancellation fee). Book something in the card’s home currency, though, to avoid losing out on exchange when refuding.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        In my experience usually hotel rates that are refundable are charged at check-out and not when you book.

        • Alan says:

          Not if you use the likes of Expedia – they let you pick when you are charged.

        • Genghis says:

          hotels.com sometimes has the option to pay now in GBP or pay later in hotel’s functional currency on refundable stays.

          • Alan says:

            Haha snap – I suspect it may be all the Expedia-owned brands that offer this!

    • joelyp says:

      Should also mention that, assuming you pay taxes and fees on your Amex for your 2-4-1 redemption, shouldn’t be long before you can refund the £1k temporary spend!

      • Gill says:

        a Paypal transfer incurs fees but is pretty quick.

        • Genghis says:

          And is an easy way to have your Paypal account locked down pending investigation and funds frozen for a while?

    • Mr Walsh says:

      buy bunch of gift cards maybe to use them later?

  • C77 says:

    While there appear to be copious amounts of ambient, non-fresh items to purchase, my recent experience of BoB suggests fresh items are in short supply. Crew member happily shared with me on a recent mealtime flight from Malaga that there was no yoghurts, 1 bacon roll, 1 beef sandwich, 1 cheese sandwich loaded and all of which had sold out in the first row. So I’m left with Tyrrell’s Crisps and the sodding Percy Pigs. Tourvest appear to run the onboard offering for BA and are the ones who seem tp have a lot to answer for in terms of quality and quantity of BoB product.

    • AH says:

      one guy on our flight was given his bacon roll after we landed. its a complete joke.

  • AH says:

    BA still not replied to my issue about a booking BoB was introduced & then not feeding my large travelling party (group booking). At no point did they notify me of the change or offer refund/cancellation option on the flight.
    told them 1k avios miles was not enough to cover a meal oneway, let alone a return flight & they was in breach of the contract under the Consumer rights Directive 2013.
    9 days to wait before I escalate it Cruz. Since first escalation has not bothered to reply. Then I guess I will take legal action. As this was 3.5 hour flight BA should have done better. Especially as we had a 2.5hr bus trip to our final destination & only a planned stop near 2hrs into that bus journey.

    • TripRep says:

      Have you considered emailing CEDR to query if they would review this?

  • Sam wardill says:

    When I saw this headline I misread it and thought it was Willie Walsh leaving. My heart jumped as I anticipated the reversal of the recent decline in standards. It fell again when I read the article.

  • Rich84 says:

    Been flying with Ryanair/Easyjet for years and stopped buying the on board food a long time ago, we just get drinks on board. We always buy our sarnies etc in advance so get what we want and pay a lot less. I have always avoided flying with BA if possible but expect food/drink to be included when paying their prices – no point now and to be honest for short flights I have no problems with either Ryanair or Easyjet. In over 10 years of using them regularly we have rarely been delayed or had any other problem.

  • Alan says:

    Sadly the statements from Cruz are very Trumpesque in the way they refer to “what I’m hearing” and “what we’re being told” rather than being based on actual logical reasoning and fact…

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