BA Executive Club? Ridiculous.

I’ve had a BA Executive Club account for about 18 months. During that time I must have been on perhaps 15 BA flights – some UK domestic, some within Europe, some to the US. For quite a while I’ve also had a BA-sponsored American Express card, which pays miles into my Executive Club account. I’m not flying on BA all the time, because I find that pretty hard to do – basically I wouldn’t pay extra to fly with a particular airline, and usually it’s hard enough to find flights that go to the right place at the right time anyway. Overall I certainly fly more than most people I know. I’ve collected roughly 30000 miles up to now – is that much? I don’t know.

Today I thought I’d look into something that I’ve never looked into before: see whether it makes sense to upgrade a flight with those miles. I’d tried before to use the online function to do that, but every time I’d been told there was some sort of problem and I should contact my "booking agent". Flight booked online, sometimes even through BA directly, so wtf is that about the booking agent? Why no proper information about what the problem is? Hm…

So I took the time to call them and spend 20 minutes in a phone queue. Of course it was the wrong phone queue – even though I’d taken the number from that online error page, there’s a different, Executive Club specific number I should be using. Okay, got transferred. Other girl, same problem, transferring me elsewhere again. Finally somebody who knows what to do, he looks at my booking and goes "well, that’s not the right kind of ticket". What? Kind of ticket? "Yes, you should have a ‘flexible’ ticket so you can change it later. When booking online, there’s a choice between a cheap and a flexible ticket." Ah, how stupid of me.

I ask the guy if I could theoretically get anything useful for my 30000 miles on my flight to Orlando and it turns out that 25000 miles will buy me an upgrade to World Traveller Plus. Wow! Hallelujah! Just 18 months of careful airline selection and already can I afford 10 additional centimetres of leg room! So he goes, "I’m going to call our sales guys and ask them what the upgrade to a flexible ticket would cost for the trip." Comes back, and it turns out that upgrade costs about 420 quid. I say hey, that’s a bit expensive, isn’t it and he replies "no, and that’s just for one leg of the trip because <weird stuff here> – you can’t get the upgrade on the way back, but for the one leg it’s just 12500 miles".

Phew. That’s it, is it? Pay around 3 times the price for the London-Orlando leg of the trip to get a flexible ticket, and then 12500 miles to upgrade to the next, almost identical, class of travel. Frickin’ unbelievable.

Now, people tell me there’s more to frequent flyer programs – for instance, when you fly enough within one year, you get into a higher class and then you get all sorts of benefits like 150% miles on the mile (What’s the idea with "miles" anyway? The miles I get credited don’t have any similarity to the distance between the start and end of my flight.) and free upgrades to higher classes. Well, BA do 125% and 150% miles, yes. Other benefits available here (or probably not, because you have to be a privileged person with your own login in order to see this). But as far as I can tell they never give me any free upgrades, whatever I do. And most importantly, to be a better Executive Club member than I am today, I need to collect Tier Points. Now wtf are Tier Points suddenly? Check my account – I have ZERO of them. I need another 600 and 4 qualifying flights to get to Silver membership. Hm…

Looking around, I see where to get Tier Points from. Obviously I don’t get them from the kinds of flights I always use, otherwise I’d have some. But there’s a wild list stating that depending on the class and area I fly in there are 20 different fare classes (yes, really!) and all of them collect Tier Points (no further details). For some reason apparently I manage to travel outside these classes all the time – no info on that either.

Now how to figure out what fare class a ticket is in? Oh, easy: look at your boarding card. Yes, that card you get at the airport to carry around for an hour. And yes, the info is on that part of the card that gets ripped off and taken away from you when you board your plane. If you have some form of printed ticket that nobody uses anymore these days, it might also be on there. E-Tickets? Nah, not on there. Well, go figure.

Eat shit, Executive Club.

11 Comments on BA Executive Club? Ridiculous.

  1. With the BA Travel clinics you used to get miles for your travel vaccinations, I got 50 for a hepatitis jab!

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  2. When I flew a lot for work I found that on one year I took an equal number of flights with BA and KLM pretty much all Edinburgh to Madrid. I had frequent flyer cards for both.How many points did I get with BA? ZERO. How many points did I get with KLM? Almost enough, but not quite, to get me to the carribean island of Aruba and back.

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  3. Just found this blog entry and can empathise totally. I too have used BA as my "carrier of choice" and also have the BA Amex and am a memeber of the executive club for 2-3 years now. Up until lately I didn’t have too many complaints and managed to get return flights, business class to the Carribean using miles and a companion voucher which the BA Amex issues after exceeding a certain spend amount within the year (£10k on my particular card). However lately the whole executive club sell and service has gone down hill and I find that it affords even less flexibility.My example, booking flights from Aberdeen to Vegas with a NY stopover. Contacted the executive club and booked WTP flights to/from JFK and upgraded to business with 50,000 air miles. Was offered JKF to Vegas return flights on Delta in coach class, price seemed OK so went ahead and booked. Received two different booking references which didn’t raise any concerns so left it at that. A few days later I contacted BA to enquire what the cost would be to upgrade the Delta flights to business and change return airport to Baltimore and was quoted a cost that was the same price as the cost of a compete new ticket from Delta!!! Now considering I’d already shelled out £600+ I was not best pleased. Tried numerous avenues to get this investigated/corrected with BA customer services to no avail, eventually wrote to Clare Hatchwell (Head of BA Customer Services) directly and did not even get the curteousy of a reply. Decided to wait until I got to NY and contact Delta directly but by then the price had shot up, to make matters worse Delta informed that as the booking reference was BA stock (what the heel does that mean?) then only BA could change. Contacted BA USA to see what they could do only to be told that I’d need to contact BA UK to reolve, now get this, the number they give is a UK number so this would be at my cost! Contacted BA UK again only to get the same BS as before. Giving up hope ever getting a fair deal from BA on the Delta issue I then enquired if I could change the departing airport from JFK to Newark on the return leg as this would make the travel itinerary easier. Was told that this could be done but I’d lose the air miles and would need to travel WTP!At this point I began losing the will to live so kept on the original itinerary.Lessons learned:BA can sell tickets for other airlines and are free to charge whatever the hell they want for those tickets, and do so. There is no regulaionin this area even though the IATA claim a one world, one ticket poicly so I can only assume that this refers to the actual ticket and not the price. Never, ever book any other airline through BA.BA customer service is currently the worst I have ever experienced and it would appear that they will quite happily pander to corporate entities or high rollers but don’t give a toss about the avergae Joe. My advice, use another carrier.The executive club is now a worthless entity that offers false hope of free flights, upgrades, customer service etc. This only really applies if you buy full fare tickets and who on earth does that? This kinda backs up my statement that only the big spenders get the benefits.Finally, if they can’t even be bothered to respond to what I though was a reasonable request (Why they are charging twice as much as Delta for the same seat/ticket on the same flight?) then I don’t think I care too much about travelling with them in future (this does have the added benefit of avoiding Heathrow). I still have some miles left on the account and with some strategic BA Amex spending to get the companion voucher plus accumulation of air miles I’ll look to clear the balance on both whilst taking my last flights as a final goodbye to BA and won’t be spending anymore of my hard earned cash on them. Plus posting my experience/advice on as many blogs/consumer sites relating to this as I can. There’s only one way to hurt big business and that’s in the pocket. After the T5 fiasco Willie Walsh better get the house in order otherwise it’s all downhill from here for BA.

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  4. Hello there! I agree with Graeme, never ever book flights through British airways unless you fly with their airplanes. If you need to get a flight at the airport, it’s better to find low-cost flights on the Internet while you are at the airport. The commissions that they charge are totally ridiculous most of the time, they probably call it yield management but in the customer’s eyes it’s robbery!

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  5. Well, for some so called experienced travellers reading these blogs and messages they don’t seem to know their way around the travel world system very well.

    BA exec miles in association with ONEWORLD have in my experience been brilliant, plus having the AMEx BA card gets you even more not just an airmile for every pound you spend.

    With just four round the world flights and about 10 longhauls plus several European flights, then reading ALL the blurb carefully I managed to amass over 900,000 airmiles in 5 years which has got me; 2 longhaul 1st class upgrades into NewZealand and 2 pairs of flights to HongKong and back 1st class just on Airmiles and using AMEX 2 for one offers.
    I still have over 200,000 airmiles and haven’t been anywhere for a year.

    All I can say is that you moaners are typical of the majority in all walks of life, your policy is moan first blame everything and don’t read and study what you can actually get.

    When is the last time for instance you went to your local citizens advice office or local Council offices and applied for that to which you are entitled? You will be amazed what you are entitled to have as a rebate for instance.

    Calling BA Exec club has always been easy and friutful in my experience.

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  6. Well, on behalf of myself and all the other insufferable moaners I apologise to you for getting the whole matter so drastically wrong. Obviously it is impossible that our combined negative experiences could somehow be just as real and relevant as your positive one. I will be careful not to post any more opinion pieces on my blog, let alone the kind that attracts comments from people who agree with me.

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  7. I remember a few years ago when I flew on LAN and wanted the miles credited to my BA account. Fine, there’s a form for that. Send it off. Wait. Phone. Wait. Phone again. Wait. Letter. Seven months later, finally credited with no apology or explanation of why they took so long. But what’s this on my statement? “Miles expired”! No sooner had BA added the miles to my account but they took them straight off again because I hadn’t used them! But I couldn’t use them because you hadn’t credited them! Stony silence. Bit more to-ing and fro-ing and eventually give up in disgust.

    The earlier poster who commented about getting far more from KLM has been my experience too, albeit comparing Continental (as it was) with BA. Spent about the same, flew a similar sort of profile (mostly transatlantic, some domestic US/UK), got several upgrades and lounge access on CO; nada on BA.

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  8. Everything about BA is sh*t. The Executive Club is nothing of the sort; Tier points are rare as hens teeth and the state of every BA plane I’ve flown with over the past 12 months has led me to believe thay long since ran out of money – a surprising scenario since flying with them costs so bleedin’ much.

    Icing on the cake is the new slogan ‘To Fly, To Serve’. Gimme a break. They employ cabin staff who are surliest bunch of tw*ts ever to grace an airline.

    BA are sh*t. End of.

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  9. Hi Oliver et al,
    I could not agree more with everyone here, BA/Iberia’s avios is USELESS. Now, I have been with KLM/Air France and it is as crappy as BA – i have sent more than 25 e-mails and called the phone number – NO ONE EVER HAS ANSWERED, I swear. Not one line.

    The only programme that works is Miles and More, I actually got a FREE trip to Paris return with 15000 miles in 2009, plus Lufthansa is great- NEVER a bad experience. I was really disappointed when BMI was sold off to BA.

    So in the UK we are really stuck, so what to say, relax and enjoy.

    Best,
    Nico

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  10. mark ociepko // May 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm // Reply

    I am a new member and have twice tried to phone BA executive club enquiries on 0844 493 0 747.
    Each time I gave up waiting for one of the team to get in contact.
    Guess what each time I held I waited 30 minutes before giving up.
    I took out the BA /Amer Exp credit card in good faith and because it gives 3000 avios on a £500 spend.
    I am going to quit because the above tel no has no one at the end of the line. It is the worst service you can possibly. It is an affront to human dignity.

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  11. R.C.Geggus // July 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm // Reply

    Most of the comments match my own experience. Whenever I try to use Avios/Air miles -Guess what -there are no seats availabe or flights either . After trying for the past 7/8 years I am still hoping.

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