Bits: BA pilots strike moves nearer, BA Amex ‘buy Avios’ bonus, Marriott & BA’s GDPR fines, Stansted Express family deal

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News in brief:

Strike by BA pilots looking more likely

As we have covered before, the British Airline Pilots Association is currently balloting its members who work for British Airways on industrial action.

It turns out that BALPA and BA spent Monday and Tuesday at ACAS to discuss possible resolutions.  Whilst it seems that the cabin crew unions may be prepared to recommend a revised British Airways pay offer, which includes improved annual bonuses, the pilots want more.

In a statement published last night on Twitter, BALPA said:

It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at ACAS we are still no further forward. BALPA tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing. Until BA changes its attitude there is little prospect of talks resuming.

It is certain that the strike ballot, which closes on 22nd July, will be in favour of strike action.  Given the legal notice period required, this is anticipated to begin at some point around 6th / 7th August.

British Airways pilots strike

American Express pushing a ‘buy Avios’ bonus – worth it?

A lot of HFP readers emailed me yesterday about an British Airways American Express cardholder offer that was emailed to them.  We covered this last month, but the feedback yesterday means that I want to run over it again.

It is a little weird in how it is set up.

When you buy at least 20,000 Avios for £335 via the standard ‘buy Avios’ page here, you will get a bonus of 10,000 Avios.

This assumes that:

you register for the offer on your BA Amex online statement page, and

you pay with your BA Amex

You must buy at least 20,000 Avios.  Because the bonus is fixed at 10,000 Avios, the best option is to buy exactly 20,000 for £335 and no more.  In total you will receive 30,000 Avios, although the bonus Avios will come via Amex and won’t arrive until your next BA Amex statement is generated.

You are paying 1.1p per Avios via this offer.  This is OK but certainly not one to jump on unless you have a specific need for them.

Every so often BA runs a ‘50% bonus when you buy Avios’ offer.  These offers are better than this BA Amex one because:

the occasional 50% BA bonuses let you buy as few or as many Avios as you want, whilst this BA Amex offer only gives a 50% bonus if you buy 20,000 points

the occasional 50% BA bonuses give you the bonus Avios immediately, whilst with this one the bonus will be added to the next monthly sweep from your BA Amex card

the occasional 50% BA bonuses let you pay however you want, whilst this offer forces you to use a BA Amex

the occasional 50% BA bonuses do not require pre-registration, whilst this BA Amex does – and if you forget, you don’t get the bonus

However, if you can get your head around these restrictions then you are getting a decent 50% bonus if you buy exactly 20,000 Avios.

To take advantage of the Amex offer, you need to buy via this link.  The offer runs until 15th July (EDIT: has been extended to 22nd July it seems).

Marriott follows BA with a huge GDPR fine

The proposed £183m fine to be paid – subject to appeal – by British Airways for the massive data breach last year has been well reported by the national media, so I don’t want to spend more time on it here.

What may have passed you by, however, is that Marriott revealed yesterday that it is facing a proposed £99m fine for historic data breaches at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which continued for a period after Marriott acquired the company in 2016.  The breach began in 2014.

Marriott’s fine, whilst issued by the UK Information Commissioners Office, covers damages for the entire EU.  30 million sets of EU customer data were leaked, of which 7 million sets related to UK residents.  The majority of HFP readers will be included.  Data stolen includes credit card numbers, passport details and date of birth.

Marriott intends to appeal against the fine, even though it is substantially lower than the maximum allowed which is 4% of global turnover.

These fines are, of course, huge numbers.  It is not a revenue raising exercise, however.  It is making a point to the business community that the cost of spending what is needed to properly protect the data of your customers is not wasted money, as many corporates seem to view it, but a bargain compared to the cost of not doing so.  If you are thinking of retraining for a new career, there will be a lot of cyber security consultancy roles being advertised in the next few months …..

Stansted Express family tickets

Stansted Express family ticket offer

Stansted Express has launched a new family ticket deal for trips this Summer.

Until 30th September, children under 15 travel free when a special family ticket is purchased, which is priced at the same cost as a standard adult return.  Up to three children are included.

This ticket can only be bought in advance via this page of the Stansted Express website.  It is only valid for return trips starting in Central London – so it can’t be used by tourists flying into Stansted and then home again at a later date – and only for economy tickets.

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Comments

  1. Excuse my ignorance but can someone help by answering the following for me? Am flying Heathrow to larnaca out on 7th, return 22nd.
    1. Worse case there is a strike. Quite a few flights go to Larnaca so is it just a case of sitting and waiting for another flight?
    2. If a strike is announced can I book another flight with another airline and bill them even though I booked with Avios?
    Hopefully it won’t happen but it’s nice to get organised just in case. Thanks and good luck to everyone. Keep us updated Rob..

    • roberto says:

      Ba will proactively source you another flight. They are well used to this type of situations as planes go tech every day so that will happen as soon as the dates are announced.

      You cant book elsewhere and bill BA no. If there are no other options you are happy with then you should be able to cancel the BA flight(s), get you money back, re-book elsewhere at your expense and claim the difference via your travel insurer/creditcard or perhaps under EU261.

      But dont get ahead of your self just yet. Look at a plan (b) and (c) and be ready if and when the you know what hits the fan.

      • Thank you Roberto. Appreciate that..

      • How much spare capacity do you think there is in August to these places? Nil, in reality.

        • roberto says:

          True , Larnaca will not have the spare capacity of say NYC or LAX as there are far fewer flights ( see my previous post on the page before about posters flying there ) that why its important to look ahead of time and try to find a back up plan.

          BA will however try to accommodate as many people as possible. Once the dates are announced everybody will know more.

          I fly to the UK on the 13th ( from Malaga ) and to Mahe on the 14th.

          • Gavin says:

            Larnaca (as far as I remember) is rarely cancelled due to only 2 flights a day, which are usually full, also cargo and a lot of US connections from Cyprus. It’s 3 years since I was flying there every week but never seen it cancelled during previous (cabin crew) strikes

  2. Andrew says:

    So I have business class flights to Tenerife and back 9 and 23rd August for the family. Accommodation non-refundable, but travel insurance and bought on BA Amex.

    Am I right that the best way to make sure we can have the holiday is to pick up some fully flexible (which would include refundable?) tickets on Iberia now? If BA fly we can ditch them, if we can get cheaper later or get sorted by BA we can ditch them – if not we’re guaranteed flights at what will be (at the time) the best available price and then just s75 the cost?

    • roberto says:

      If you really want to make sure of you trip you could cancel the BA outbound and book with another carrier going out. Leave the return as is. Flights will be £150 or so per person. However thats your cost , nothing has been decided yet. The strike might not affect you and you have just burned cash for no reason. Refundable flights cost a fortune , certainly more than a basicone way easyjet or other wise.

      Did you book the inbound/outbound legs on different bookings or just one? Is its a 241?

      • Andrew says:

        Straight booking but as a return and non-flexible so I don’t think I can pro-actively cancel one side. I’m also concerned about the avalanche once it goes official.

        • roberto says:

          Booking as 2 x 1 one flights would have been better as you could have cancelled the outbound and left the inbound alone. It may have also been cheaper but that ship has sailed.

          Your only real options are (1) wait and see or (2) cancel and rebook flights with another carrier. Personally I am in the (1) camp currently and like you there wont be a lot of spare capacity to my destination. If I was going somewhere with multiple flights a day I would be feeling much more comfortable.

          We dont know when (if at all) these strikes will happen so there is not much else to do until then.

    • Would s75 (or insurance) cover you for replacement flights booked before your original ones were cancelled? I wouldn’t like to risk it.

      • Andrew says:

        They should cover whatever is the cheapest option for me. If there is a cheaper alternative I couldn’t go beyond that but I’m pretty sure it will cover me if the tickets are the only way of making the flight (s75 is very pro-Consumer).

  3. Roger says:

    OT – IHG Ambassador

    I have a personalised offer of 15000 IHG points for getting InterContinental Ambassador programme by 15th August for 200 USD.

    Are there any benefits from this which may be valid at non IC too?

    I am already Spire Elite, so 15000 IHG points for 200 USD does not seem to be a good value unless of course there are other significant benefits.

    • Craig says:

      The only tangible benefits in year one are decent upgrades at least on paid stay, do some research first though and late checkout which I have found a godsend. The weekend certificate can be hit and miss, the last time I went to use it I ended up cancellable and booking cash because it was cheaper! In year 2 however, the 10% rebate on paid stays can cover the cost if you are a heavy earner. I’m expecting 84000 points back this year!

    • My wife got this too. Don’t see the value with no IC family trips lined up.

      • Roger says:

        For IHG hotels any point in using IHG black card if the hotel is in EU and charges in Euro?
        I can of course use the Curve to avoid the currency conversion fees.

        Wish IHG Black had no currency conversion fees as an offer!

        • Genghis says:

          You get double points – 4 points / £ equivalent but charged 3%. Good if your employer are paying.

  4. Quick query – I have bookings to NY on 10 August – my wife and daughter 1 on a BA holidays booking (with 2 hotel rooms for us all) and Myself and daughter 2 on a 241 booking. Have same situation back from Boston on 21st. Both bookings on the same flights. Is there any way I can ensure that in the event of a strike we are all re-routed on the same flights?

    • Shoestring says:

      not really but they are pretty helpful really and will do their best to keep you flying together

      did you pay by credit card? see Section 75 protection advice above which could be helpful if the alternative flights offered are not good enough/ do not suit your needs

    • Lady London says:

      I am not sure if it would work for these booking types but I suggest you call BA now and ask if they can “TCP” (To Complete Party – it’s basically a linking process) tgem

  5. David says:

    I’m travelling solo from Heathrow T3 next Wednesday night 8pm, aiming to arrive at LHR for 5/6pm. It’s a non-upgradeable economy flight and I don’t have PP/DP/Amex Plat. I have Lounge Club from the Rewards Gold. Which is the best lounge I could pay to sit in – I’m talking best food and not crammed with people. Or, are none of them really worth it – I’ll need a bite to eat and a couple of beers. It’s been a while since I’ve flown from T3 so no idea on how busy it gets.

    • Shoestring says:

      Only 1 lounge available to you – Club Aspire, deffo worth your free Lounge Club entry if you have time to eat & drink nice & leisurely, calm & comfortable with good wifi – try the single malt Scotch, very floral and easy-drinking

      if they say no room at the inn, the pub is OK with Guinness £5/ pint

  6. @mkcol says:

    OT: Just been offered Intercontinental Ambassador for US$200 plus I’ll get 15,000 Reward Club points.
    Seems decent, especially as I’ve a 3 night Intercontinental stay in Washington DC already booked.

  7. Shoestring says:

    O/T spend £80, get £20 back – Eurostar

    • Harry T says:

      WorldRemit isn’t working because I need to prove I live in Australia and I’m a resident. As I live in the UK, am not an Australian citizen and have some residual savings in Australia, can’t think of a way round this…

    • Jonah says:

      Isn’t it hotel spend only?

      • Shoestring says:

        [OFFER DETAILS
        Save to Card to get a £20 statement credit on an eligible transaction of £80+ in participating hotel(s) and online at Eurostar by 9/8/2019. Valid once per Card for the first 15,000 Cardmembers to save. Terms, location & payment restrictions apply.
        Available in participating hotel(s) and online at http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en.%5D

        well, the ‘online’ bit covers everything you pay online, not just the hotels they offer

  8. So was 30 mins away from landing at Gatwick when pilot turned Around and returned to departure airport

    What can Amex plat insurance provide?

    Guessing no eu 261

    • Shoestring says:

      no EC261 compo for ATC problems

      you’re entitled to duty of care though (hotel & food/ drink not booze) – don’t take a rubbish hotel if offered, you can choose your own, £200 budget, plus reasonable restaurant expenses & taxi to hotel

      • Is that with vuelling?

        Does Amex offer anything enhanced on top of this?

        • Shoestring says:

          duty of care has nothing to do with Amex, it’s your EC261 right to be looked after in this situation

          • Yes I understand the airline has the duty of care

            My question is whether I can also (in addition) use my Amex plat and or ba premium travel insurance benefits too?

          • Shoestring says:

            yes if there’s something extra in the T&Cs & you qualify, so read them perhaps 🙂

            insurance cos are notoriously good at never paying for a benefit when you can claim it from somewhere else

    • Lady Lodon says:

      What was the reason for the turaround?

      • Gatwick ATC went down. Whole airport was in shut down mode for a few hours. Nothing in & Nothing out

  9. Louise says:

    OT Tesco 40% bonus to Avios offer in email

    To qualify for the 40% bonus Avios the Eligible Participant will need to have collected Avios with Shell Drivers Club in the last thirty-six months.

    From 11 July 2019 any Tesco Clubcard points converted to Avios in your Tesco Clubcard account by midnight on 31 December 2019 will qualify for 40% bonus Avios. Any points earned after this date will not qualify for the 40% bonus.

    • Shoestring says:

      strange requirement but that’s me out, then

      • Indeed, when I first glanced at Louise’s comment I thought I’d messed up transferring my Tesco mobile stash but seems not. I doubt there are many customers left with 5 figure clubcard balances so not as great as it looks.

      • Louise says:

        I think it’s aimed at those who converted shell to Avios, as the email wants you to get petrol at Tesco stations!

        • Shoestring says:

          yep but I don’t understand the logic, why reward ex Shell users for having used Shell in the past? there’s nothing in the Shell relationship going forward. Tesco don’t seem to be incentivising new, desirable shopping behaviour – but rewarding old, now unwanted buying habits

          • pablo says:

            It’s to encourage Shell users to switch their fuel purchases to Tesco.

  10. Blimey all these moaners. Well if you don’t want to go at Xmas or next Summer it means some others who didn’t get tickets (again) this time might be able to go! Just remind me how much did the ticket cost and did you not get one drink and a raffle entry?

    • Ooops wrong thread!

    • And crisps / nibbles, cakes and fruit salad 🙂

      • Lady London says:

        Only for some!

        Marriott were very generous but I don’t thini they catered for 500. I couldn’t get near the bar to get my free drink, had water all night (not really focused on alcohol, so actually didn’t mind) and donated my drink ticket to a good cause. However what I did miss was the muffins/macaroons of which there was no sign!

  11. My flight tonight from Gatwick to Edinburgh’s just been cancelled.

    Flying with BA.

    Never happened to me before.

    Can anyone help with what I’m entitled to? What to expect from BA before I go to the desk?

    Cheers

    • Shoestring says:

      there were big ATC problems tonight at Gatwick so zero compo

      you’d be entitled to re-ticketing (or refund)

      re-ticketing – you get duty of care until your new flight, ie hotel @ £200/ night plus food & drink (no booze), taxi to hotel

      don’t automatically accept some rubbish hotel & a £10 snack voucher – you can choose hotel/ food for yourself, just be reasonable & keep receipts

      • Thanks- so do I just pay for everything then claim after?

        • Shoestring says:

          yes

          you might find BA send you to a perfectly nice hotel & give you a taxi voucher, which would be easier than claiming those bits back

          otherwise keep receipts & use the online claim system, normally there wouldn’t be any problems except they don’t like big taxi bills

          • Shoestring says:

            they must pay for communications as well, it used to be 2 phone calls a day but I reckon they’ll now pay for wifi if it’s not included

          • Thanks. Joining queue now.

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