Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Share your BA shut-down experiences …. and BA adds £16 to Expedia etc bookings

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

I don’t try to pretend that I’m an expert on things I don’t understand.  That’s why I am going to spare you my thoughts on the impressive British Airways shut-down yesterday.

There is plenty of in-depth coverage without a paywall at The Guardian, BBC News etc.  It does seem that, this time, the failure went far beyond the FLY passenger management system which has been the cause of most meltdowns over the past year.

I was just lucky that, despite it being half term, I’m not actually on a BA flight until next Friday.  It is a minor consolation for me given that we booked into a UK countryside hotel this weekend just to find that the weather forecast for today and Monday looks appalling …..!

If you were caught up in the chaos yesterday or the consequences today, feel free to share your experiences in the comments to this article.

PS.  Given that BA’s outsourcing of its IT operation will have played a large part in the poor response yesterday, it does not bode well for the BA call centre in Newcastle which I understand is on the verge of being transferred to Capita.

British Airways Embraer 190 London City

British Airways to introduce an £8 fee on third party bookings

Back in 2015, Lufthansa took a brave leap and imposed a €16 fee on every ticket booked via a travel agent or indeed anyone who used a ‘global distribution system’ such as Amadeus, Sabre or Travelport.  The airline claimed that it was paying up to €18 in fees for every ticket sold and wanted to encourage passengers and agents to use its own website.

Many thought that Lufthansa would backtrack but it held firm.

British Airways and Iberia have now decided to add their own £8 / €9.50 per segment (so £16 for a return flight) fee from 1st November.

It isn’t clear what the impact of this will be on the leisure market.  Only BA knows what percentage of leisure passengers book on, say, Expedia versus  How many passengers, when they see British Airways on Expedia costing £14 more than easyJet, will know that BA is actually £2 cheaper if booked direct?

The share prices of Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport all fell on Friday by up to 4% (see this Reuters report) which implies that the market believes trade customers will simply move to booking direct.  Concur, for instance, claims that it will be able to integrate direct booking seamlessly into its system so that corporate users see no change to their current booking process.  Leisure travellers won’t do that if they are not educated that direct booking is sharply cheaper.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (November 2022)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £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

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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

Comments (230)

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

  • jane says:

    we were lucky. we were due to leave Thessaloniki at 1310 and were told of the problem and the delay and that it was unlikely that we were leaving for a while. This was at around 1230 and that we would be updated at 1350. Suddenly at around 1330 we were boarded and off. We arrived home just over an hour late. It was quite chaotic at Gatwick though.

  • Frank says:

    Interestingly, severely media report that ‘BA will refund the BA ticket cost for people that have chosen to fly another carrier’. No mention of actually paying for the alternative travel cost. BA will probably try and get you to claim that on your travel insurance, if past performance is anything to go by!

  • Wally1976 says:

    I feel for everyone caught up in this. As someone who works in IT I don’t really find these things too surprising. Just really really glad we choose to fly with Easyjet over to Paris for Disneyland trip today, we’re all so excited (and that’s just the adults!). Good luck to everyone affected.

  • Paul says:

    I was not affected. I dont fly till Wednesday.
    My views however are that this could have happened to anyone. Indeed I think AA and some other airlines have had similar issues.
    What is unacceptable is the lack of contingency planning by both BA and Heathrow airport. The scenes of chaos and mayhem at T5 yesterday were again a national embarrassment. There are rules governing the transportation of livestock in the the EU and rules around the handling of disrupted passengers. The livestock are treated better.
    3-5 hours to get out of an airport is wholly unacceptable. It seeed to me that forcing people in departures to return landslide via passport control was rediculous and should a complete lack of concern for passenger wellbeing.

    No food, no staff, no information and the BA issued a letter which flies in the face of EU 261 by limiting what could be spent on hotels, transport and food. £200/£50/£25 was in the letter however their duty of care under the regs had no limit and the costs incurred simply have to be reasonable.
    Yet despite this who is challenging BA over their behaviour or Heathrow airport over their response.
    Some may argue that yesterday was a situation no one could plan for however I disagree. Most accidents occur at airports and it is reasonable to assume that if there was an accident at Heathrow involving loss of life, that the airport would close. Given that, what planning is in place to safely and humanely evacuate not one but all the terminals at Heathrow.

    As things stand it doesn’t matter if the issue is ATC,wind,rain, an inch of snow or an IT glitch the result is the same. People are forced to go through very serious disruption which impacts their wellbeing due to a lack of planning and cost cutting.
    Finally the sight of Alex Cruz in a high vis vest on a twitter video was rediculous, especially in what was clearly Waterside. This PR stunt simply made the hapless Mr Cruz look stupid and rediculous, however he had nothing to say in any event. Meanwhile passengers trapped on his aircraft were not fed thanks to his BoB rules. He needs to go and right away.

    At the end of the day BA+Heathrow = National embarrassment ( yet again.)

    BA should face swift and substantial financial penalties whilst payment of EU 261 should be made mandatory via automatic direct payment to form of payment. People should not have to claim. Heathrow airport meanwhile is a vital national asset and if it can’t be run as such then nationalise it or give it to someone who can.

    • Crow says:

      They “force people to return landslide via passport control” because many of those in departures will be foreign nationals, some without required visas or right of entry, and only UK Border Force officers can determine their status.

  • Simon says:

    Awful day at LGW yesterday trying to only get to Glasgow on 1355 flight.
    Massive queues to drop off bags then a long wait in crowded departure lounge. At around 1400 rumours started to circulate no flights were leaving until 1800 then no flights at all. Eventually all BA passengers asked to refer to Airline desk, which turned into a fractious scrum, to be told no flights out and be given standard compensation letter. Police were on hand to deal with aggressive and angry passengers! It was actually a police officer who gave me my compensation letter and told me to “rinse BA for as much as possible!” That did make me smile on a difficult day.
    It took a further 3-4 hours to retrieve our suitcase and leave LGW. I concur with news reports and previous posts regarding awful comms from BA. Their long suffering staff on the ground did their best in difficult circumstances.

  • James Lever says:

    I was due to fly out Saturday at 9.45pm to India from LHR, I had no direct communication to advise there were any issues. I happened to check before departing and noticed that all flights before 6pm were delayed – and then shortly afterwards all <6pm flights cancelled, I left an hour earlier to allow for the congestion issue but then saw a notification on facebook saying all flights are now cancelled.

    It was a bit confusing as their channels of communication were inconsistent. (facebook more current then, and twitter) I decided as all flights were cancelled to turn back at Gatwick. I ventured into the terminal at Gatwick departures (on the off-chance I could talk to someone) and was quite disappointed to see Gatwick desks void of staff. I hope they were all helping passengers air-side and not hiding as they had no information to give.

    When I got home, I somehow managed to get through to the BA call centre within a few minutes (lucky), who were understanding and helpful on advising the options for my booking, they told me my booking was under airport control, they couldn't rebook it – I would have to go to the airport on Sunday, which at that moment I didn't think to question more.

    I had two days of meetings and am returning on Wednesday. I booked part Avios return and rebooking with another airline was a far higher price even for economy.

    Upon reading information saying do not go to the airport this was in contraction to the information earlier, I had questions – so tried 10x times to call back, after listening to the pre-recorded message you were either put in a queue or told there was too much demand and cut off. I eventually got into the queue only to be placed on hold for 1h20 then was cut off. At 10pm all calls to BA gold number were giving out a this number isn't active. A wasted 3+ hours of trying to contact which was frustrating and I can't imagine what it would have been like if you were returning home.

    I called at 6am, had a short wait, the call centre staff said they had 140+ calls queued, but they were helpful in rebooking in the same class but for a different route today to accommodate an internal flight I had, appeared almost instantly in my booking, and checked-in fine.

    I imagine for business travellers, most may have rebooked probably non-BA, so availability should exist – for Leisure routes I do wonder how well this will be handled. If money was no object I would have rebooked on another airline, but being a part avios booking it added complexity. The BA staff when you get through were understanding and helpful.

    So as of now, I'm booked today arriving Monday am, WT+ isn't quite ideal to arrive same day, but I'm glad to be on a flight and don't need to change all my plans.

    Problems happen, communication has been bad, I hope BA learn from this, and I hope in future BA will update their own channels first in future, and be able to extract travellers email/text messages so they can send direct emails/SMS to people in future with relevant information.

    I hope everyone who's been stuck gets away shortly. Difficult day.

  • Tony says:

    Was meant to fly business class to BKK yesterday from T5 at 1600h. Absolute disaster, obviously. Finally got out of T5, without our checked baggage, and booked overnight accommodation and up at 4am this morning. Phoned BA call centre as soon as they opened at 6am (half hour on hold) and was lucky to be booked on 1600h corresponding flight this afternoon. The early bird and all that.

    At T5 baggage enquiries now in the hope that we can reclaim our luggage this morning.

  • Waribai says:

    We are due out of LGW tomorrow to HER so fingers crossed things have cleared up by then. Feel for those caught up in the mess yesterday though. TBH with young kids in tow, the biggest concern would be getting our bags back as the luggage pile up looked horrendous.

    Still can’t get over Alex Cruz in the Hi Viz jacket! Doubt that will assuage any ire.

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

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