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BA can now kick you out of the Executive Club if you criticise it online

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British Airways made an interesting change to the terms and conditions of British Airways Executive Club on Friday.

You can see the full T&Cs here.

British Airways Executive Club status cards

The changes are around the definition of ‘misconduct’. This is what the rules now say:

“Misconduct”

includes:

  • failure to comply with these Terms and Conditions or the terms and conditions of a Service or Airline Partner; or
  • attempting to obtain Tier Points or Avios points by Fraud; or
  • misusing the Services; or
  • misconduct on board a British Airways or Airline Partner’s flight or in a Lounge or while checking-in; or
  • any misconduct including but not limited to the use of false, threatening, abusive or derogatory language or behaving in a threatening, abusive or derogatory manner in dealing with or directed at British Airways’ staff or the staff of any Service Partner; or
  • any conduct, including but not limited to making misleading statements, which causes, is intended to cause or is likely to cause a detrimental effect or reflects unfavourably on the reputation of British Airways or any aspect of its business, brands, products or services; or
  • failure to comply with the applicable conditions of carriage and any other applicable rules and regulations.
British Airways Executive Club misconduct

What has changed here?

The two paragraphs in bold are the ones which were added last Friday.

The first one is self explanatory and I would hope that no-one would have an issue with it. Anyone who mistreats British Airways staff or contractors is likely to be banned from travelling with the airline, and having their Executive Club account closed is likely to be the least of their problems.

The second one is more interesting:

“any conduct, including but not limited to making misleading statements, which causes, is intended to cause or is likely to cause a detrimental effect or reflects unfavourably on the reputation of British Airways or any aspect of its business, brands, products or services”

Whilst the exact wording has been left suitably vague, this appears to be a catch-all phrase to protect British Airways against customers who make derogatory claims about the airline on social media.

To be fair to BA, the word ‘misleading’ is used. However, this is ‘including but not limited to’ misleading statements. In theory, BA can expel you from the Executive Club even if your claim is true if it makes the airline look bad.

Realistically, I would hope that this won’t happen. I very much doubt that BA is planning to come after people who post critical comments about the airline online if those comments are true.

It does, however, give the airline some power against people who post a one-sided story online without mentioning any mitigating factors or attempts by the airline to provide recompense. It clearly gives them some power if the story is untrue.

To be fair to British Airways …..

This change may have been triggered by the recent cabin crew dispute.

BA received some criticism online for removing staff travel privileges from an ex-employee during the dispute.

The story put around was that this person had been posting criticism of the airline online.

I saw some of these posts. They were, frankly, obnoxious, and included posts comparing BA management to Nazi war criminals. The person involved got off lightly if their only punishment was the removal of staff travel privileges.

I also know myself, from looking into occasional cases on behalf of readers who claim to be have been wronged by the airline, that there is often some key fact that the reader has ‘forgotten’ to share. Experience teaches you that, unfortunately, you should always treat online criticism with a pinch of salt.

No Executive Club member should be concerned that British Airways is trying to stifle genuine criticism. I doubt my account would survive a month if that were true!

You should, however, think twice about posting anything online which would not stand up to scrutiny – although I hope that would always be the case anyway.

Hat-tip @jtgenter on Twitter

Comments (95)

  • Novice says:

    Another reason to use other airlines and maybe it’s time to use the Avios asap and collect something else… BA love to shoot themselves in the foot…

    • Novice says:

      BTW, if you are paranoid like me then you can complain about everything to your heart’s desire as all you got to do is have a different email addy for everything you are using so nothing can ever be traced back to your real personal self… Did you all think I would give HfP my real addy… No chance… I change my vpn on a regular basis and make it look as I’m somewhere I’m really not.

      Despite being the insta generation, I have no social media as there is no benefit to anything like these things. I’m miffed Amazon knows what kind of lifestyle and opinions I have because they have been storing everyone’s data/history since 1995.

  • ChasP says:

    The real problem is that if BA choose to arbitrarily suspend your account then even if you are totally in the right it would take cash and time to get it back and UK courts (unlike US ones) arent as keen on awarding large sums of damages

  • Journeying John says:

    What to do when you’ve been exposed for poor customer service, anti-consumer policies, bad service and overpriced products?

    Try to silence the consumer!

    Wake up BA , it’s 2020, not 1970!

  • Alex Sm says:

    Aeroflot started doing this a long time ago, even to celebrity passengers who took to social media to complain