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.

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

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.

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  1. Andrew says:

    OT If you qualify for BA silver on the outbound and return before the tier points credit, are you able to get into the lounge? I’m guessing not thinking of the practicalities of it but thought I might as well check!

    • Genghis says:

      Even when you get the required TPs it takes a day or so for status to update.

    • roberto says:

      Be prepared for a knock back but in reality you may get in.. I got into the Flounge at LHR recently by doing just that.. Was about 12hours after my last flight to get to gold. The tier points hit 36 hours later..

  2. OT- Marriott rewards

    I am 60 points away from travel package.
    Any quick option to get these points easily?

  3. I have been toying with the idea of getting my IHG platinum status matched to Hilton diamond before it expires and maybe picking a Hilton with an exec lounge on my next trip (not entirely sure where I’m going to go yet though!). Not sure if it’s really worth it for a twice-a-year at most leisure traveller who normally doesn’t spend much time in the hotel though!

  4. Cash at 1.2p per point

  5. 6,000 pennies or 5,000 avios? I’d take the pennies, but if you get over 1.2p of value from an avios, take the avios

    • Genghis says:

      But you can buy avios a lot cheaper than 1.2p so even if you get more than 1.2p of value from an avios, take the cash.

  6. OT: Booking the WA Rome for a last minute easter trip and advised by Amex that the 50 off 250 will trigger with any GBP charge from Hilton to the card. Will see if the dynamic conversion is worth the punt at checkout as the hotel is not on their list. Anyone had success with similar?

  7. OT are RSF fairs changeable on the day free of charge or is only cash fares?

  8. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Take which is of more use/value to you. If you are 5,000 short of a trip get the Avios. If you have lots of Avios you have credit exposure, take the cash.

    Putting a simple value of x avois per pence somewhat ignores the importance of money being legal tender with lots of uses.

  9. OT – do ba tier points roll over to the next year membership if you achieve gold prior? Like delta for example

  10. Lady London says:

    Sorry to be grumpy but it’s a pity British Airways didn’t dump Delhi call centre. Terrible experience at the hands of their Customer Un-Service team which is based there.

    • It’s par for the course. Where do you think the Amex ‘chat’ personnel are based?

  11. Lady London says:

    Maybe you could keep it a cash fare and if you wanted, use part pay with Avios in the course of booking that fare?

  12. Cate ⛱️ says:

    OT as bits, Ethiopian airlines has new routes coming into Gatwick.

  13. Alex if you are reading this (which of course you are not) the reason your call centres are so bad is down to one reason. Delhi. As a BA Gold you expect better. It is like talking to someone who speaks the same language but just has no a clue what you are saying. Whenever I have called and got put through to Delhi the call has never ended well. They either give out the wrong information or I just end up putting the phone down in frustration. Without doubt it is one of the many reasons why I am about to become Silver from Gold (tomorrow the 31st!) and why I will no longer try to maintain any status with BA in the future. The BA Delhi call centre is probably the biggest single asset that your competitors have. They must be delighted that it is staying!

    • Lady London says:

      +100001. Encounters with British Airways teams in Delhi are exactly why I let my Gold status go down to Silver. If I had to deal with them again I’d probably avoid British Airways for all future flights. On one long call they actually had me in tears. They were being obdurate about something they had completely missed the point on and were wrong about.

      So @Simon I loved your comment about British Airways’ Delhi team being their competitors biggest asset.

  14. 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?


  15. 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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