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Bits: BA call centre staff reprieved, the future of Hilton lounges?, Aer Lingus / Alaska partnership

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News in brief:

British Airways call centres to remain in-house

British Airways has announced that its five main contact centres, in Manchester, Newcastle, Delhi, Bremen and Hong Kong, will remain in-house.

Detailed discussions were believed to have been held with Capita but the shock profit warning issued in late January probably scuppered the deal.  The collapse of Carillion also meant that any announcement of outsourcing was likely to result in more negative PR for the airline.

Final agreement on the call centres remaining in-house will depend on employees voting to accept more flexible working agreements.  A cheerful email from Alex Cruz, announcing the news, told the staff that “[they have] fallen significantly behind” compared to their competitors.

Conrad Centennial Singapore lounge

The future of Hilton executive lounges?

If you read our two articles this week explaining the Hilton Honors scheme in detail, you will remember that a key benefit for top tier Diamond members is guaranteed Executive Lounge access.

The problem is that, due to generous status matches (which is how I got my Diamond status) and a US credit card which gives away Diamond status to all holders, lounges are getting busy.

The Conrad Centennial Singapore has just unveiled an unwelcome new development.  The 31st floor executive lounge has just received what is, by all accounts, an impressive makeover (see photo above).  Whilst the work was going on, guests had to use a makeshift facility on the 4th floor in what I think was the poolside bar.

The hotel has now announced that only guests who have paid for club-level rooms will be allowed to use the new lounge.  Diamond members as well as guests upgraded to club-level rooms will have to use the makeshift – albeit apparently to be upgraded – 4th floor facility which is going to become permanent.

PS. Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

Aer Lingus Alaska Airlines joint venture

Aer Lingus launches a new partnership with Alaska Airlines

Aer Lingus starts flights to Seattle in May.  Seattle is the home base of Alaska Airlines, and the two companies have announced a new partnership agreement to provide feed to each others flights.

This will include reciprocal frequent flyer arrangements.

In reality, this makes little difference for Avios collectors.  You can already redeem Avios for flights on Alaska Airlines via British Airways Executive Club as this HFP article explains, albeit you must call.  We may see Alaska services being bookable online via avios.com.

The downside is that Alaska Airlines frequent flyers will be in competition with you to snap up Aer Lingus reward seats, but this is unlikely to impact routes outside the US West Coast corridor.

It is unclear how, if at all, this will impact the Aer Lingus partnership with United.  It is a little weird that you can earn Avios by crediting a Star Alliance flight on United to Aer Lingus ….

PS.  If you read my article earlier in the week about why I didn’t think Avios would be devalued sharply, Alaska is one reason why.  If you credit a cheap Club World sale ticket to Alaska Mileage Plan you earn 150% of miles flown (see their chart here) so over 16,000 miles for a return to LA.  A fully revenue based Avios scheme earning 4 Avios per £1 would earn you just 6,000 Avios if you paid £1,500 for your ticket, even less if taxes were excluded.  Mass defection to schemes like Mileage Plan is the last thing BA wants.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Bonoglobetrotter says:

    OT – when using GUF2:
    1) can I use Avios on the outbound sector and cash on the inbound sector, and get them both upgraded using GUF2?
    2) if so, will I have to pay disproportionately high taxes and cash fare based on a one way inbound price, or will BA charge half the cash cost of the return cash ticket?
    3) and can BAEC CS book in the lowest revenue class for the GUF2 ticket eg R or A?

    Thanks.

  2. I’ve been to the Singapore Conrad and it is indeed a very busy executive lounge. Its very nice, so this isn’t surprising!
    However, a big reason why I do my best to retain diamond membership is these excellent lounges. And I’m sure that other diamond members save up their points to stay at these more luxurious resorts rather than pay with cash. If they restrict lounge access to cash payment bookings, this would be hugely disappointing for I’m sure 75% of diamond members.

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