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James Hillier is to leave British Airways Executive Club

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James Hillier, the man whose signature has probably adorned over one billion British Airways Executive Club emails over the years, is leaving the company this month.

A lot of people don’t believe that James exists.  After all, his name has appeared on BAEC emails for so long that it started to feel unlikely that one person wouldn’t have changed job in that time.

James Hillier leaving British Airways

James is real, however, and I met him last year at a BAEC event.  He was a really nice guy, but to protect his identify he didn’t want to be photographed.  His LinkedIn profile is similarly blank, but if you search his name on social media it is linked to so many BA rants that I don’t blame him.  Being the ‘face’ of the Executive Club is probably not always a good thing.

James has been at BA for just short of 30 years and has spent 22 years working on Executive Club.  I wish him well for the future.

He will be replaced by Niall Rooney, who currently has the intriguing job title of ‘Interim Head of Ground Experience’.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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. 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 BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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 BA Amex American Express card

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.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Amex Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel 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 Visa card

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 card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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.

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

Comments (169)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Genghis says:

    I don’t know if I’m being stupid but looking at the timings, will this new Emirates flight sit on the tarmac at Stansted for nearly a day before going back to Dubai?

    • Steve says:

      Existing flight lands in STN at 13:20 so that will fly out as new flight at 15:00

      New service will arrive at 18:45 and flight out at 20:15 under exisitng service

      Overnight sitting on the tarmac will happen in DXB unless they want to put it into operation on a shorthaul ME route

      • Genghis says:

        Of course! 🙂

        • TimS says:

          Overnight on the tarmac at STN would be an expensive exercise!
          I can’t remember what the rates were but if we ever had an aircraft with excess downtime we would always position from STN to MSE to save costs…not that that is an option now, either for the airline or the airport!

  • IslandDweller says:

    @Genghis. No, Emirates are assisting the schedule of the existing flight, so both services will only be in STN for a few hours.
    Be interesting to know what’s driven the success – is it London market or have they tapped into underserved markets such as Cambridge and East Anglia?

    • Rob says:

      Have to say, it was fairly full in Business when I did First (despite the rubbish business seat layout) and I was chatting to a guy by the doors who said he flew it once for a fortnight for work. There is probably enough tech- and pharma-driven business from Cambridge etc to fill the premium seats, plus the usual local leisure travellers.

    • flyforfun says:

      Combination of both I would say.

      I have a number of friends up there, both Town and Gown. For both it means a saving of several hours or in some cases an overnight airport stay when flying somewhere. My friends in Ely now only have to travel 45 mins to STN, instead of 3 to 5 hours to get to LHR or LGW and with less traffic risk. They have started looking at options Emirates opens up for them, like to Australia where they would have faced a few hours in a car after a 24hr+ flight going from LHR or LGW.

    • Yan says:

      and wealthy international students coming to Cambridge schools from Asia, as mentioned in EK press release

      • ADS says:

        yeah EK seem to be targeting Cambridge area students – although hard to see that sustaining the flights all year !

  • Dominic says:

    OT received “exclusive for you” Marriott bonus points offer yesterday, stacking with the 19th March one. 18k points for three stays in 3 months

    • CV says:

      Yup! 22.5k points for two stays with minimum two nights before end of April. Quite generous indeed.

      • Russ says:

        Here, starting with second stay, 1500 extra points for 3 stays taken before end of May. Not as generous as Dominics which is brill.

      • Dominic says:

        I thought I was doing well.. that’s every more generous o.O

    • Dominic says:

      To be honest, assuming I don’t receive another in the next three months, yours would actually be of more value to me, as I stay every week on business! But yes, it is a very generous offer for a low stay allowance – although it does awkwardly help me spread my stays between Hilton and Marriott due to low requirement!

  • Neil says:

    I took this exact flight only 3 weeks ago. Although F was empty when I upgraded using points, the return in J was near capacity. The flight attendant informed me economy only had 3 spare seats, I can only imagine they are pricing this route very competitively but personally the smart ones will pick this plane over an A380 if flying economy. After all, no one enjoys being herded around like cattle.

    • John G says:

      You mean prefer the A380 over the 777 right? Try flying a EK 777 then an EK A380 back to back and tell me which made you feel more like cattle! Personal space is terrible on the EK 777 at shoulder level whereas their A380 seats are quite roomy (as Y seats go!)

      • Neil says:

        Different strokes for different folks. You prefer the A380, I prefer the 777 purely based on the fact that there isn’t an extra 150 people on the plane. Everything from the speed of the meal service to collecting your bags is painful in Y purely because there is more people. You may also argue that this shouldn’t be true as their is more staff but again, you may have also had a different experience with a different airline.

        • BJ says:

          Sounds like your judgement is coloured by your specific seat location on a380. Depending on airlines, the number of pax on an a380 versus a 773ER is not hugely different, and differences in staff will compensate. As for bag collection, that will be largely airport-dependent as opposed to aircraft-dependent.

        • Alex says:

          I flew on 777 and 380 before, quietness and normal humidity on 380 made me choose it over 777 on my upcoming flight to Sin (in cattle class).

        • Neil says:

          Looks like my experience on the A380 with BA in cattle class is completely different to some. Might be time to give it a go with an ME airline.

    • Sarah says:

      Having done Economy on an Emirates 777 followed by an A380 I would hands down choose the A380. I thought the 777 was horrific as the seats were so narrow, and I’m not even a large person.

    • Kevin C says:

      I much prefer flying on a 380 in economy class, certainly on the ME airlines. Far roomier.

  • Leafwarbler says:

    OT – BA’s tier point calculator doesn’t recognise Easter Island (IPC) as a destination even though LATAM fly there from SCL. Anyone know why? Or know what the J tier points and air miles are or this route?
    Thanks.

    • Paul says:

      140 tier points. 3k Avios. Both each way.

      I missed out in one direction as I had a phantom LATAM frequent flyer number on my ticket as well as my BA number so make sure you fight to have it removed. Lounge staff said they had fixed it but they didn’t took about a 45 minute before another flight I noticed it happened to remove it.

      Missing out on the Avios didn’t bother me too much as overall I was up because LATAM gave me Avios and tier point on my redemption bookings elsewhere on my trip…

      I stuck some pictures of the trip on my Instagram linked on my name

      • Kevin C says:

        We’re going to Easter Island this summer. I will look whenever Instagram works again.

        BA don’t recognise Easter Island for a reward search or a hotel search either. And then I found it absolutely impossible to book internal flights using LATAM’s website. Spent ages putting in all the details and then it failed just before payment. Expedia and Amex Travel worked.

        If anyone has any more tips for Easter Island, the Atacama desert or Santiago, please add them. Thanks.

      • Leafwarbler says:

        Thanks, Paul – looks good! Don’t have any loyalty numbers on the booking at all; will ring the Latam call centre to add BA.

        • Paul says:

          Also, for Chile flights, book on the LATAM Chile site using google translate if required. Much much cheaper, particularly to Easter island. It is an amazing place

          I can also second atacama and the salt flats

  • Louise says:

    OT: looking for some advice, have two Lloyd’s Upgrade vouchers, one expires end of March, so looking to maybe redeem both together. It will be 2 Adults and toddler travelling (over 2 so have to get a seat)

    Having mainly travelled west we are considering Hong Kong, and utilising the low taxes back, and maybe using the two upgrade vouchers to upgrade two adults and child to CW for one way HKG-LHR

    We have approx 400k virgin miles and 80k Amex MR points so I was thinking of using them for getting out to Hong Kong, is there any lower tax redemptions I haven’t thought about?

    • Neil says:

      Hong Kong would be your best option as you can fly out with Virgin & back with BA using the vouchers.

    • BJ says:

      The cheap tax options exHKG I believe you are thinking of ended last November. ExUK, if you want to use your Lloyds voucher and cut taxes you are looking at departing Inverness or Jersey. Unkess either are convenient or you fancy another break then the net saving is probably not worth the hassle.

      • meta says:

        No, not yet for BA at least. It’s still £33ish for one-way from Hong Kong and since Louise’s voucher is expiring end of March she can still benefit from the fact that BA hasn’t changed the taxes.

        • Vivian says:

          yep, just booked one-way CW ex-HKG yesterday (for flight in November) and the tax was £34.20.

        • BJ says:

          Didn’t know that, thanks.

        • Tom1 says:

          Slightly related, I just cancelled a VS reward flight from HKG-LHR. taxes were less than £30 so I expected to not get a refund when I cancelled (as VS cancellation fee I thought was £30).

          Got the refund confirmation today and got the full fees/taxes back. So didn’t cost me anything.

          Is that normal?

          • Rob says:

            Check that the fee hasn’t been separately charged to your credit card.

  • Maciek says:

    Shame about James leaving – I had a pleasure of meeting him last year. I hope this is not a sign of new round of “enhancements” coming to BAEC…

    • Mikeact says:

      I wonder what this will mean for the EC? I mean I guess that Niall will want to make his mark…….further changes on the way ?

  • Anon says:

    What’s a good price to India (either DEL or BOM) in J. Can do KLM from LHR for about £1300 which may become closer to £1200 with the Opodo offer, or can wait for a QR sale and try and get it closer to £1000. Ex-EU is fine as well.

    • BJ says:

      Try Finnair, seen DEL under £1100 but that was about two years ago and I think fares have generally crept up a little.

    • Dominic says:

      £1300 is pretty standard pricing for DEL. Definitely not a deal, but not a bad price either.

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