This morning I posted the details of British Airways’ new frequent flyer program, Avios. Well, I posted the details to the extent I could make sense of them, which wasn’t all that much!
Then a couple of hours later I posted suggesting that Avios awards weren’t pricing correctly based on the new published rates. As I showed, the Avios award calculator suggests that New York to London to Barcelona should cost 60,000 miles one-way in first class. I mean, how much clearer can it be?
Let me mention in particular the first highlighted point above, which reads “Prices shown are the lowest based on a one-way journey, with up to one connection (on BA flights only).”
Yeah, one thing they forgot to mention. They lied. Each segment prices individually, which is why this award costs 75,000 miles — 60,000 miles for first class from New York to London, and 15,000 miles for business class from London to Barcelona. So very quietly British Airways has eliminated the concept of the “free” stopover, since you’re charged separately for each segment. The above isn’t just a typo, but an outright contradiction.
But here’s what I find truly
hilarious ridiculous. Check out the “answers” that the British Airways Executive Club representative on FlyerTalk provided us with.
Remember how British Airways advertised that the cost of 97% of awards would stay the same or go down? Turns out they really meant:
We did say that 97% of our flight prices got the same or better – this was for BA flights to and from London. I apologise if this was confusing and I assure you we will continue to monitor your feedback on this.
It would seem to me that this is something that would be worth disclosing at the time, no? Isn’t this considered false advertising? After all, many people may have not redeemed their miles before the changes under the expectation that most awards would go down in price or remain the same, only to find the restrictions that weren’t disclosed.
Then there’s this:
2c) Will BA ever publish a “distance band” as IB have?
Our pricing is not as straightforward as publishing a distance banded model – instead we chose to develop a calculator and our forthcoming zone map tool to help retrieve the prices for the flights you are looking for instead
Whew, I was worried for a second that I wouldn’t need a “calculator” or “tool” to figure out how many miles I would need for an award ticket. And here I was expecting the program would be “simplified.”
We have said so far that this is the beginning – we are always looking for ways to improve the Club so please continue to read our communications as they are issued
I can hardly wait to see what’s next! Perhaps you can instead develop an award chart whereby the cost of a ticket is based on whether there’s a full moon or not?
And here’s my absolute favorite:
10) Why was the partner award chart not announced in advance of the changes? Poor communication ==> poor loyalty
I think this is a fair challenge. On hindsight, I think I would have developed the Avios calculator in advance to ensure that you had access to be able to price all of the individual queries that our members had. Looking at booking behaviour at the time, I thought it would be useful to issue the prices for BA flights in and out of London and indicate that partner parallel routes would be the same price. I now see that more detail may have helped. The only thing I can offer are apologies and the explanation that we were limited in terms of development with the timescale we had.
On hindsight? On hindsight?!? British Airways, did you miss the… oh, I dunno…. thousand blog posts/articles/tweets/forum discussions begging you to disclose the new award chart upfront? If you were limited in terms of the development due to the timescale, maybe you shouldn’t have rolled out the new award chart so quickly.
I like British Airways, I really do. I think they’re a great airline. But their rollout, communication, and disclosure with these changes have been an absolute marketing failure. And that’s putting it nicely.
Am I off base?