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What did the Financial Times have to say about the quality of British Airways wine?

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I would normally have let this go by, but I thought it was an interesting addition to my review last Saturday of the drinks offered in Emirates First Class, including a £250 Haut Brion and £790 cognac.

In the FT last weekend, Jancis Robinson went on a bit of rant about British Airways wine.  She worked for the airline for many years as its chief wine consultant.  Whilst the FT article is behind a paywall, you can also read it on her blog here.  Here are a few quotes:

“In 2009 Willie Walsh, then head of BA, decided to abandon the policy of choosing wines on the basis of what they tasted like and instead, to cut costs, appointed a single exclusive supplier for each of the three classes. In 2010 I resigned.”

“Unfortunately, the wine selections on the two major airlines based in the UK, Virgin and British Airways, belie our nation’s standing as a major global force in wine. Virgin appeals much more effectively to the cocktail sipper than to the wine drinker, while the current state of wine buying at British Airways is described by one close trade observer as ‘at rock bottom – there’s only one way for them to go’.

BA’s wine buying is currently in the hands of two young Frenchmen working for the parent company IAG who have no wine-buying experience. The dire state of their budget can be judged from a recent discussion on Flyertalk.com. The Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc then on offer in BA First Class was spotted in Morrisons at £5 a bottle, two for £9. Even more recently an Argentine Malbec that retails for $10 was served in First Class. All submissions in a recent First Class tender for wines over €6 a bottle from the cellar door were rejected. (The budget for forward buying of claret used to be €25.)

The glass of champagne that welcomes anyone who has paid thousands for their seat at the front of a plane is seen as the most important wine served on any plane. Even BA realise this, and have not (yet) pared Laurent Perrier’s Grand Siècle from First Class – although one can only imagine the negotiations that keep it there. And they cunningly also offer a much cheaper champagne and, quite rightly, an English sparkling wine too, which presumably helps to reduce costs.

Krug and Dom Pérignon are de rigueur for the Asian airlines, and Emirates have been known to offer the super-special, extra-aged Dom Pérignon P2. If you were really greedy you might even be able to drink the cost of your ticket.”


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable 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 long list of travel benefits 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.

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