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Why I’m Falling Out Of Love With British Airways

It hasn’t been a Happy New Year for British Airways!

British Airways redemptions using AVIOS
Source: PIxabay

British Airways paid food service

It’s new enhanced service of paid food went live in January and has resulted in a flood of complaints to the airline. Criticisms have abounded on non-functioning credit card terminals, the inability to pay with cash, limited supplies and poor training resulting in some passengers receiving no in-flight service at all. Could things get any worse?

The winter of discontent

Well, yes it seems they could. As if all that bad publicity wasn’t bad enough, there is another reason to avoid booking flights with British Airways currently as staff seem intent on bringing the airline to its knees. I know some of the salaries quoted in the press are low but the last time I heard, we live in a democracy where slavery is outlawed so no-one forced these people to accept jobs on low pay.

I have little sympathy for legalised blackmail. If you don’t like your pay conditions, leave and get a job elsewhere. Find a job with a better paying airline, or become a brain surgeon or an investment manager. Then you can earn mega bucks. Instead, paying customers are being made to suffer and British Airways will likely be issuing profit warnings before long. Shareholders beware!

In January alone, five days of strikes resulted in the cancellation of 72 flights. To be fair, British Airways deserve credit for managing to operate most flights. That’s not the end of it though, as February looks to be much of the same with two, three-day strikes planned.

I really hope that there is an airline left to pick up when Unite and its members have finished their whining. Otherwise, Heathrow T5 might resemble these deserted hallways!


Service cuts

Then there’s the stories of the low-cost carrier tactics being introduced (and let’s be fair, I don’t usually find British Airways coming out top on fares!), hand baggage only fares, rumours of lounge access being cut and downsizing of seats. Surely this is enough to make anyone run for the hills. One comment on FlyerTalk was simply ‘I see no point in using BA now‘. He isn’t the only one who has expressed dissatisfaction.

It seems the airline whose motto is ‘to fly, to serve‘ is struggling to fly and to serve.

What does this mean for travel hackers?

All of this is pretty depressing if you are a savvy travel hacker. We Brits do not have tons of options for acquiring airline rewards (at least, not unless you are a frequent flyer) and the credit card deals for British Airways are much more attractive than for other airlines, so what do we do? Do we accept a sub-standard service, jump ship or simply try to make our points work harder to compensate for the endless litany of complaints?

Multiple credit cards
Source: Pixabay

If you accumulate most of your points, like me, from credit cards and shopping portals, then British Airways is undoubtedly the most rewarding programme for a UK resident who is ineligible for the lucrative US credit cards. Other programmes such as Miles and more and Virgin simply don’t offer as beneficial sign up bonuses on credit cards as British Airways. Nor do they offer a companion voucher allowing you to fly business for less than economy.

The American Express Gold card offers some flexibility if you are at breaking point. AMEX points can be transferred to a range of Airlines including Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin and Singapore Airlines. Most of these airlines do not offer companion vouchers for British residents though. This means that you are going to have to earn a ton more points to fly business class, unless you plan to travel solo.

So, for me it looks as though I’m not going to be switching allegiance anytime soon. I know my relationship with British Airways will continue to be fractious if the current trend of service ‘enhancements‘ continues, but I just can’t seem to break free. I just hope the strikes are done and dusted by the time I head to Seoul in March!

Some good news

On the plus side, I am delighted that British Airways have announced some NEW services from Manchester to Europe. Yay! The airline discontinued many Manchester routes some years ago limiting redemption options unless connecting in London. This wasn’t such a bad thing when you only paid one set of taxes, but given they now charge taxes per leg for European flights, it’s  just another reason not to use them. With direct flights from Manchester, it opens up some new options and I like the look of beautiful, sultry Mykonos.

Source: Pixabay
Mykonos – Source: Pixabay

New flights to the Balearic Islands, Greece and mainland Spain are being introduced, and I would not be averse to using some points to book a weekend getaway.

Where is your tipping point?

What will you be choosing to do? Do you plan to stick with British Airways or go elsewhere? Maybe you have some great tips to share on how to bag more AVIOS. We love to hear from you so jump in and start the conversation below.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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  1. Oh no! I had no idea there was so much criticism surrounding British Airways’ new policies. My dad used to work for British Airways prior to his untimely passing a few years ago and he loved it but he was working in their customer service realm and I’m sure these negative comments would be exhausting for him to handle. It does sound like a budget airline and no knocking budget airlines but if you are representing a whole country, at least do a good job!

  2. Wow, I hadn’t realised there was so much bad stuff going on at BA! For short haul flights I usually go with low-cost airlines, so although the new routes from Manchester are handy I don’t think it makes up for everything else! Hopefully things will get better soon!

  3. I’d probably not fly with British airways seeing as they treat their employees like crap and their flight services like food are unorganized. I’m glad they’re offering more flights from Manchester, but the fact the workers went on strike for 5 days shows the character of the corporation.

  4. As a frequent traveller I am always after the best price for a flight but part of me does think that we have also become part of the problem. If we were not constantly looking for a better deal, paying less, seeking out different ways to earn points towards goods then perhaps service wouldn’t suffer. We want the best of both worlds – a cheap price with the best service and unfortunately I don’t think that is possible,

  5. This has very good information that I did not know about. I actually have never flown British Airways. I don’t mind still testing them out especially if the flights are cheaper then other airlines.

  6. Hey, Anne, I traveled to London before. 4 times ago and tried Britsh Airways which wasn’t really good especially with prices which are Higher than any other Agency, for Example, this website offers deals lower than Britsh airways like +100$ per flight http://englandcheapflights.com But Britsh Airways good for only being well known and trustworthy but really high prices.

  7. Hi Anna,

    I approve of your comments about BA.
    My new year trip to New York was not that over rated. Service was poor and the code sharing on the way back was truly shocking!. BA are starting to feel like a budget airline.

    Your comment about slavery is quite shocking and your attitude about aspiring is even worse.
    There are people that aspire to be air hosts! Some don’t find they can get other jobs.
    Degrading people is not the way forward.

    For me I changed to Thai air for my quarterly bangkok trip as BA had just dropped so badly and with the A380 royal silk was a good fit.

    But like you I like the thought of how BA are and not becoming. So I have decided to book my May trip to Bangkok with BA. Only business class available.

    So I think this will be there last chance saloon to redeem me back in the world of how amazing BA is with the new changes but the new budget airline MD..

    • I’m not aiming to degrade anyone. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be an air hostess or steward, but there is something wrong with accepting a job with a certain salary and then attempting to force the airline into paying an higher amount. My point isn’t to diminish anyone in that role (it’s a pretty thankless task in my opinion) but to emphasise that everyone has a choice and they can choose to go work for a different airline or do a different job with potential to pay a higher salary. I’m not saying BA is right to be paying so little but it is becoming increasingly evident they are struggling with competition and the customer is suffering through cuts in service. Striking simply adds more to the customer’s pain and more people may elect not to fly BA which ultimately puts the airline and/or jobs under pressure.

  8. Naive “analysis” of the BA strike situation – particularly your comments regarding slavery which border on the offensive. Are you saying that no-one has the right to aspire to better working conditions?

    I’m glad I don’t work for you.

    • I do think everyone has the right to aspire to better working conditions. However accepting a job which pays a low amount is a choice that someone has made voluntarily. To then strike because of poverty pay is crying wolf and no one is forcing them to stay in their jobs. Striking is legalised blackmail in my opinion

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