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

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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 ba.com.  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.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

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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

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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

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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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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.

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

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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.

  • Seanuc1 says:

    Was booked on 1830 GLA – LHR cancelled. After 3 hour wait a very helpful BA ground staff rebooked on the 0650 which has also been cancelled. Was informed yesterday by BA groundstaff and could try rebooking myself which I have now done on the 1405 at a cost of £360 for ET. This flight is now delayed until 1639 and they won’t let me through to the lounge. Feeling rather stranded as no accomo in GLA this wknd and hoping I’ll get my £360 back at least! Any advice greatly appreciated! ✈

    • Ade says:

      Sleeper train is probably a good last minute alternative if all else fails!

      • Mark Cairns says:

        Took the overnight sleeper from London to Edinburgh on Friday night – had to stop the service in Preston due to overhead line damage by a freight train.

        Had to make a wedding so took a 4 hour taxi at cost of £300. Don’t assume the trains work any better.

        • Really? says:

          Who will ultimately pay the £300 taxi fare? Insurance/Rail company?

    • Tariq says:

      If it was me I’d rent a car and start driving. That or head into town and take a train.

    • CV3V says:

      Get a refund, go book easyjet or ryanair who have been flying out of GLA all weekend.

      Easyjet at 1620, £65.99.

      Ryanair flight at 2050 to STN £57.99.

    • Andrew says:

      The West Coast manline is closed this weekend.

      Bus from GLA to Queen Street Station
      Train from Queen Street Station to Edinburgh Waverley
      Train from Waverley to London Kings Cross.

      Last train to London from Edinburgh leaves at 19:00 and arrives into Kings X at 23:57

      Alternatvely, walk round to the ServisAir/Flybe desk and see if you can get on the 15:10 to Southampton, it was on sale to a moment ago for £119.

      Squeezyjet have a flight to Gatwick at 21:20 for £85

  • @mkcol says:

    Was on the BA32 from HKG-LHR last night.
    Big queues around the gate in HKG with a couple of staff walking around with fairly home-made signs indicating indefinite delay, then later explaining why.
    Started boarding probably around the originaly ETD, and IIRC pushed back about an hour late. Landed into LHR about 15 minutes late this morning, and the place was deserted (which was a treat).
    Our connection to ARN had been canx so we decided to just lump it & head on home, we were on a B2B there anyway so all in all relatively fine for us. From touchdown at LHR to waiting at Costa for valet parking about an hour, including pulling our cases out which had originally been through checked to ARN.

  • BA2 says:

    I appreciate it might feel as though you’re being ‘lied to’ – and it’s definitely true that some staff do seem to make things up as they go along (it’s human nature not to like not knowing an answer so sometimes people do say things they’re not 100% sure of) – but on the whole staff do only give out what they know, it’s just that they themselves haven’t been told anything! We saw that yesterday with the ‘flights will leave… oh no, wait, they wont’ line.

    And Paul, I know you meant cabin crew (not FAs, please, we’re not American here!), but the point stands – crew can’t operate on an aircraft on which they’re not trained, and there isn’t a single crew member (flight or cabin) that’s trained on both mainline and CityFlyer fleets – for all intents and purposes they’re two completely separate airlines. Crew training isn’t even done in the same place! So mainline crew won’t know how the emergency equipment works, let alone the service. FWIW, CityFlyer itself is based in Manchester, but its crews are based in London and Scotland (EDI and GLA), so unless one happens to commute from MAN and was available on an off day, it would be hard to find another one at short notice.

  • Renato C says:

    Hi Guys.
    I am stuck in Geneva – my 9pm flight was cancelled and re-booked tomorrow morning.

    What are my rights besides the 250eue compensation?

    Can I book a hotel myself and claim it back?

    Thank you so much!

    PS: Hopefully my AMEX platinum insurance will also kick in.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, you can incur ‘reasonable expenses’ – and don’t bank on the €250. In London they were saying £200 was ok for a hotel.

      • Really? says:

        Why maybe no €250 ?

        • TripRep says:

          There’s rumours BA have been trying to claim the outage was due to extraordinary circumstances out with its control.

          Stay tuned, expect Rob to express his opinion on BAs stance/defence with regard to EU261/2004 later this week.

          • Geordie says:

            I hope that every single passenger that has been, or is delayed, as a consequence of this fiasco collectively puts a big dent in BA’s bottom line. I know which parent company I’m going to be shorting when Tokyo opens tonight… 🙂

          • FunTraveller says:

            If BA try to evade their EU261 obligation I would support a massive civil class action against BA for compensation.

  • joelyp says:

    I had booked flights on Friday evening for travel Tuesday 30th. On Saturday morning I wanted to change one leg of the flight under the 24-hour cooloff period. Of course, ringing the Gold line I was told they couldn’t even open the booking reference. Sometime in the afternoon ba.com was up sufficiently to allow me to check the price of a new ticket, which should have been as per old ticket plus a few pounds of additional tax. I didn’t want to book a whole new ticket and cancel the previous and block a chunk on my credit card, So I rang BA again, and their systems still couldn’t look at old bookings. They told me that the cooloff period was being extended to give 48 hours instead. I asked what would happen if, due to the delay in being able to change my ticket, the fare went up, and I was told they would look sympathetically on that.
    Gave up trying to get through and being cut off after an hour on Saturday night, so rang 7.30am today. While I was very pleasant and even apologised for being a burden on their time (!), operator was very offhand. Told the change would cost me another £350 despite being in the same booking class (albeit changing from LHR departure to LCY). I pointed out this sounded very odd, and also that there would have been negligible additional cost had BA processed it the previous day. I also said I had been told BA would be sympathetic. I was told very brusquely that I couldn’t have seen prices the previous day, as she was also working. She would not listen that I was talking old versus new bookings. Did I want the change or not?
    I took the change and asked for her to note that I was paying under protest, and would contact customer services to follow up. “I’ll write it in my own words, and will not mention paying under protest”, I was told. While I appreciate the stress the operators were under, not impressed.
    We’ll see if ultimately I get the money back, but I doubt it. Might wait a bit before contacting customer services.

    • John says:

      Umm, the 24-hour cooling off period only applies to cancelling completely for a full refund, and rebooking it yourself. Just because one agent was possibly willing to let you make a change for free rather than cancelling and rebooking, does not mean that others will or should.

      It is BA’s fault that they couldn’t cancel and refund on Saturday, but it isn’t their fault that you didn’t want to use up your credit limit to book the flight you actually wanted while waiting for a refund. Did you ask whether you could cancel the incorrect ticket for free?

      • joelyp says:

        My understanding is that you are also able to make changes within the cooling off period in lieu of cancelling and rebooking, subject to any repricing, but without change fees. I’ve done it before several times, and each of the three times I actually managed not to get cut off on the phone over the past 2 days, the agent was told I wished to modify (not cancel) my flights under the cooloff period, and was clearly familiar with the process.
        The incorrect ticket could, of course, have been cancelled for free under the cooloff period.

        My point is that I purchased a ticket with a contractual flexibility (at least based upon BA’s repeated verbal explanations to me of the policy), which BA was unable to execute in a timely manner due to a failure of its systems when I sought to exercise that flexibility. BA needs to make good on it, without penalising me for their delay.

        • joelyp says:

          A bit of a dig around the internet throws up several Flyertalk and other threads where BA agents have confirmed what is sometimes termed a “correction policy”, allowing fee-free changes to a ticket (even if ticket is non-changeable) for 24 hours from booking, as long as booked more than 24 hours before departure. However, doesn’t appear on the website as far as I can see.

  • Martin says:

    Probably a cleaner unplugging the plug to plug the Hoover in that caused it.

  • Paul Hampton says:

    Beginning to get a bad feeling about our re-arranged flights for tomorrow. Take a look at the arrivals and departures boards at LHR and you will see the cancellations are continuing unabated. We are supposed to be connecting via LHR from MAN to NCE, but already the first flight on that route tomorrow has been cancelled. Anyone who thinks BA will be substantially recovered tomorrow is dreaming.

  • R Owens says:

    My husband I were booked on Heathrow to Belfast at 6pm on Sunday. Flight cancelled and only my husband was offered a new flight,
    nothing for me (Monday evening so a no go as he is a contractor and needs to be in work tomorrow!). Which is odd as he isn’t a member at all and I’m silver!

    We have now booked on flybe, flying London city to Edinburgh tonight then staying over and flying to Belfast in the morning. My husband will be in work by lunch so not a total disaster. My only worry is how and when we will get all the money back!

    • Q says:

      Do you go to work with your husband?

      • Genghis says:

        Or @R Owens and husband live in Belfast and were returning home from London?

    • JohnNI says:

      We were due to fly to Belfast on the 19.20 flight. On way to airport about 4.30 pm we got a text and email to say flight was cancelled. After returning our hire car my wife called BA and asked if we could be rebooked on a codeshare flight wit Aer Lingus tomorrow at 11.10 which was done and we had our confirmation within minutes on our executive club. She enqired about a hotel and was told it would be easier for us to arrange our own hotel, so we are now in the Premier Inn in Uxbridge have had a nice meal and keeping fingers crossed all goes well in morning. The £40 cab fare a shock as it is only about 9 miles from LHR but as we should be able to claim it back not too worried.

      • Rob says:

        Black cab fares are not regulated at Heathrow unless heading into London as it is outside the zone where you must charge what the meter quotes.

        The guy would have queued for over an hour in the hope of a £75+ fare into the centre so you can’t blame him.

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