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Bits: BA losing all US ground staff, United drops three routes, 40% bonus buying Hyatt points

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News in brief:

British Airways to make remaining US ground staff redundant

According to reports from BA sources on Flyertalk, it was announced internally on Friday that remaining British Airways ground staff in the US are to lose their jobs.  A private contractor will be taking over the handling of British Airways flights.  It is likely that the current staff will be given the chance to transfer, although I don’t know if there are similar rules to the UK on protecting existing pay and conditions.

This follows the recent decision to transfer the Manchester and Newcastle call centre staff to Capita.

Even New York JFK is included in this move.  You would have expected British Airways to want to keep direct control of its staff at such a key gateway, but it seems not.  The airports affected are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Washington, Philadelphia, New York Newark, New York JFK and Boston.  All of the other BA US bases are already outsourced, I understand.

In case you’re wondering, this is not the normal way that long-haul airlines operate.  Most of the major foreign long haul carriers at Heathrow use their own dedicated staff and it is generally seen as a better way of keeping control of the situation on the ground when things go wrong – which, in the airline business, they often do.


United Airlines drops three UK and Irish routes to New York

United has announced that it is ending services between New York and three UK and Irish destinations:

Birmingham to Newark will close on 5th October

Glasgow to Newark will move from year-round to Summer-only, with no flights between 28th October and 4th May 2018

Shannon to Newark will move from year-round to a 75% service, with no flights between 25th November and 9th March 2018

Aer Lingus will continue to fly from Shannon to New York, and Norwegian is likely to pick up the slack elsewhere over time.

Hyatt Regency Churchill

Up to 40% bonus when you buy World of Hyatt points

Until 9th August, Hyatt is offering a 30% – 40% bonus when you buy World of Hyatt points.

You get a 30% bonus when you buy 5,000 to 9,000 points and 40% on any larger purchase.  This is a better deal than those we have seen recently from Hyatt which have tended to cap out at 30%.

This is obviously worth a look if you need to top up your account.  It may also be worthwhile if considering a stay in a top tier Park Hyatt such as the ones in Paris or Sydney, where buying the points may be cheaper than paying cash.

The new Park Hyatt resort in Mallorca is another location where buying points may make sense.   Prices for cash are still a little scary – rooms from Euro 545 in August, or Euro 680 if you want a cancellable one – despite being about 25% lower than they were in 2016.  A redemption at 20,000 points per night ($336 / £256) would be a good deal.

The Hyatt ‘buy points’ site is here.

World of Hyatt update – October 2022:

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New to World of Hyatt?  Read our overview of World of Hyatt here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on what we think World of Hyatt points are worth is here.

Buy points: If you need additional World of Hyatt points, you can buy them here.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from Hyatt and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (44)

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  • Ian says:

    Most if not all US states lack anything similar to our TUPE legislation, which isn’t surprising given the general state of worker’s rights over there. Paid sick leave, holidays, and health insurance are luxury benefits provided by only the most generous employers, at least when it comes to low-level front-line jobs such as the BA airport workers.

    It’s commonplace for US-based ground staff of international carriers to be outsourced to companies like Swissport, Menzies, et al. They directly employ a station manager to oversee the contract staff, but the inevitable reduction in wages and benefits impacts the level of talent they can recruit.

    The current staff will probably be able to transfer to the new operator, but they may not want to.

  • Andrew says:

    Oh goodie. – Capita seem just fabulous at managing things for transport companies…

  • shd says:

    Network-wide, BA service is so consistently inconsistent that most customers won’t notice a difference after outsourcing.

    Perhaps BA should outsource cabin and flight crew, too? Sell the aircraft and lease them back?

    • Nick says:

      Most of the newer aircraft are leased anyway, and the older ones that are not are worthless to buyers (or at least, are still worth more to BA than the price they’d get for them).

    • Fenny says:

      Do they go “ping”?

    • Lostantipod says:

      BA may be consistently inconsistent, but you would think they would at least protect their level of service on their cash-cow TATL routes. After all, it’s not about checking in and tagging my luggage. – what I value when I travel for business is how I am handled when there is a disruption, be that minor or major. Just another sign of the race to the bottom….and managers trying to protect this year’s bonus….

      • shd says:

        No idea what level of service you mean.

        My worst-ever BA flight was LHR-JFK. My best-ever BA flight was JFK-LHR, the inbound of the same booking.

  • Anna says:

    Will there still be any U.K. call centres though (not that I ever manage to get through to them!) First Direct bank has a long standing commitment to maintaining all of its call centres within the U.K. which speaks volumes about how important this actually is to customers. BA should take note (they won’t though).

    • The Original Nick. says:

      Amex is fine.

    • Callum says:

      I’d argue the exact opposite… The fact virtually no companies make such a commitment shows most customers don’t really care where the call centre is.

      • Anna says:

        I disagree. First Direct did a lot of customer consultation and decided to retain UK call centres despite the higher cost, because feedback indicated that this was actually very important.

        • ankomonkey says:

          Could this partly be as First Direct don’t have their own branches, so the call centres are a more important facet of their business (although FD customers can do a fair amount in HSBC branches)?

      • Fenny says:

        BT’s consistently awful non-UK call centres are the reason none of my family use BT, including my SiL, who used to work for BT!

  • Olly says:

    Another nail idriven in the coffin by Alex Cruz. I wonder if he is working for a rival airline trying to completely destroy British Airways.

  • Tom Murray says:

    We were in NY in December 2015 and on standby at JFK. Finally got on but ‘no food’ in J as it was an ‘eat in the lounge’ red-eye. The BA check in girl phoned a friend to get us in so we could grab a decent snack before boarding. Unusual, and on thanking her discretely she said it was her last day as a BA employee there – along with many others as from the new year most of BA check in was being handled by a US agent. The writing was on the wall then?

    • Tom Murray says:

      p.s. You wouldn’t want to be on standby in the US now. I can’t see that an agency employee will tip you the wink that the flight’s looking ok or that there may be the chance of a jump seat. Even T5’s ‘automated standby’ system gives you a BA employee at check in and at the gate. Will US contract employees really care about Exec Club members either? Yes they’ll be trained to but they won’t have that ‘same company’ identity. We’ll all still fly BA though…..

  • Warkman says:

    Yet another blow to those in the midlands wanting to get to the USA.
    Flights constantly more expensive than even Heathrow, so choice becomes indirect or 2~3 hours driving after a TATL flight.
    BHX needs to decide if it’s just a Indian continent flyer or wants to be bigger .

    • Catalan says:

      Maybe because BHX has discovered more people fly to the Indian sub continent from the Midlands than do trans-Atlantic? Supply and demand.

      • ian says:

        Even as someone who lives in Birmingham I go out of my way, literally, to avoid United’s old 757-200 on the route to NYC. It’s a truly horrible experience.

  • Nick says:

    “British Airways to make remaining US ground staff redundant”

    As any frequent flyer knows too well, when you have contracted out staff replacing company staff at airports you lose yet another ‘direct’ customer connection level. There is little, if any, such connection then, until you cross the threshold onto the plane.

    BA should play “Down down deeper and down” on their U.S. flights now, as boarding takes place. With apologies to Status Quo!

    • Callum says:

      You do lose it, but whether that matters or not depends purely on how the staff are contracted.

      My experiences with contract staff on other airlines has only been positive. They had the same powers, cared the same (the number of low wage employees who love their company and so will go above and beyond can’t possibly be as high as many on here think!) and were actually more convenient given they were floating around doing flights for multiple airlines whereas normally in the outstation (1 or 2 flights a day), dedicated airline staff would only be around during the flight preparation window.

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