Disappointing BA Award Avail plus Appalling Fees!

Old Jan 23, 11, 3:44 am
  #1  
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Disappointing BA Award Avail plus Appalling Fees!

Just trying to use some of my significant mileage balance this week for a spring holiday, and very disappointed in BA availability, and especially, the degree that they've used "fuel surcharges" as a blank check excuse to crush their best customers when trying to redeem miles.

I"m a Gold Exec, have been for years. I fly biz class US-Asia EVERY MONTH. Probably spend something like $50,000USD a year of my employer and clients travel money just with them not to mention the other airlines that get slices of my business ($100k a year total maybe?).

Well while I appreciate a lot of good things from BA, the award travel benefit has been inflated down to nothing.

At this point a round trip ticket to anyplace I want to use them for means something like $600-800 in cash fees to me. And that's even if its a "World Traveller" coach ticket more amazingly. Some of the fares I checked are LESS to just buy the whole ticket than to use a slew of miles and pay the absurdly criminal fee.

On top of that seat availability is extremely limited (despite a cheerful "extra seats have been made available due to your premium status!" notice).

Meanwhile over at my United Star Alliance account, fees for a RT business ticket to the other side of the world? $35. Availability? Almost any date I want, any class.

I mean I love the BA flight quality (as long as things are running smooth at LHR on any given week of course) and I love the lounges, but it's policies like this that are going to take, JUST IN MY CASE ALONE, 10's of thousands of dollars out of their till because they are taking benefit directly out of my personal pocket.

My wife and I found this before where we practically just couldn't use miles because the street price was about the same as the fees (and you're always better in that case buying in case of a bump situation) but if it gets any worse, I'll NEVER use my BA miles. Meaning I'll never want to fly with them anymore...

I see lots of AF/KLM folks complaining about this as well, hopefully some EU characters will step in and give these airlines the smackdown for slowing taking away what was formerly a real premium for long term customer loyalty (and a lot of cumulative cash spent!)...
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Old Jan 23, 11, 4:12 am
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But why would you want to use your miles to fly WT?
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Old Jan 23, 11, 4:13 am
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Originally Posted by boslhrzrhpvg View Post
On top of that seat availability is extremely limited (despite a cheerful "extra seats have been made available due to your premium status!" notice).
BA-Award availability is almost like an oxymoron nowadays.

And I don't think Golds have it easier when looking for awards than Silver members.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 4:39 am
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was it April you were looking at? there are only 6 school days in the whole month of April this year due to extra bank holiday so the whole of the UK will be headed off somewhere!!!
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Old Jan 23, 11, 6:11 am
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On the whole BA award availability between the UK and North America and Africa is really outstanding. Decent to Asia. There are some hard routes and some intra-European routes are surprisingly difficult. But overall BA is better than most airlines with award seats.

For folks looking for several premium cabin award seats on the same flights, there's no better airline than BA. Looking for 4 or even 6 seats, BA is your answer. Occasionally LH will offer it too, but not as often as BA, and no other airline besides LH comes close.

Now, BA is awful for Y availability. And the fuel surcharges are noxious, of course they're not really that out of line with other European FF programs. SAS Eurobonus is a great European program on this front, but htey're the exception.

And fuel surcharges make Y redemptions ludicrous. The fuel surcharges are basically the same regardless of class of service. So it rarely makes sense to use BA miles for Y travel, and the space is tough to find anyway. BA miles make good sense for premium cabin travel only.

Another challenge of course, and the reason it may seem like the charges are higher for premium cabin redemptions, is the UK APD - the luxury tax on premium cabin departures from the UK. If you're flying out of London rather than just connecting through you get whacked pretty hard. That's not really BA's fault. If you redeem a flight departing hte UK on United you'll get that charge as well. The last award I redeemed that departed UK in a premium cabin on United the taxes/fees were > US$300.

You can reduce your fees by booking on other carriers, the fuel surcharges vary from none to less than BA with partners. Going to Asia consider flying Cathay.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 6:19 am
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Very wise words from gleff .
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Old Jan 23, 11, 6:30 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Very wise words from gleff .
+1. Especially the point about multiple seats in premium cabins.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by FlyingDentist View Post
+1. Especially the point about multiple seats in premium cabins.
I agree whole heartedly with this particular point. Over the past few years I have made very good use of redemption availability for multiple pax flying in F particularly. On one trip four of us and all others either flown or booked three of us.

The fees and surcharges are a rip-off, but that's the rules of the game. You either accept them and play it to the max or move elsewhere to play!
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Old Jan 23, 11, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Very wise words from gleff .
Ditto, a very good summary of BAEC. No point redeeming in Y, good value for J or F though you need to be flexible with your dates and try to plan in advance.

It is true though that availability has dropped as loads have picked up. That's the nature of the scheme though unfortunately, fare paying passengers will always take priority.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 7:48 am
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You might argue that the favourable availability is a by product of the ruinous surcharges

Having booked an EDI-SFO (T class/MFU) yesterday for March, even I was taken aback by the difference in fuel surcharges between WT+ and Club - the uplift was approx 30 per TATL sector. Anyway, since pressing the button on this trip and now having reviewed my booking, I am aghast to discover this trip will actually earn more BA Miles than I spent on the MFU.

Swings and roundabouts
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Old Jan 23, 11, 7:52 am
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Have managed to redeem 5 in F on the same flights to and from South Africa in Sept 2010 for travel in Jan 2011. Coming back we were the only ones in F and BA opened up the other 9 seats in F (eg whole F cabin). As another poster said if you are looking for narrow date ranges in April/May where lots of holidays in the UK fall, it is almost certainly a case of availability having been snapped up by others.

Given how much you spend on BA are you not close or at Gold Guest List? That allows you to convert revenue seats to award seats.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
But why would you want to use your miles to fly WT?
Yes very odd....although this seems to be more a rant about having to pay taxes/charges on any redemption. Considering the OP is such a high spending customer of BA's as well as being a Gold it should come as no surprise that such taxes/charges have to be paid on redemptions.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 8:39 am
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Originally Posted by stevie-d View Post
The fees and surcharges are a rip-off, but that's the rules of the game. You either accept them and play it to the max or move elsewhere to play!
It is all down to planning. I have been BAEC member for many years but really it was only when I joined FT that I REALLY learned about those 'rules of the game'.

Before FT can you believe I was redeeming in Y s/h.

Since FT I have used miles for Club, First and even Concorde.

So boslhrzrhpvg, learn the rules and THEN you will know how to play the game.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 8:44 am
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Welcome to FT boslhrzrhpvg.

I have normally seen favourable availability in CW on dates and flights that I am interested in redeeming on. However I dare say that if you looked towards redeeming in the comfy seats you would find excellent value for your miles.
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Old Jan 23, 11, 9:39 am
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I'm afraid that I don't have a lot of sympathy with boslhrzrhpvg (welcome to FT by the way).

Anyone who invests heavily in any service provider without researching their loyalty scheme shouldn't be surprised if the outcome isn't exactly as expected. Every week we have (mainly) US based BAEC members posting the same issue - "Outrageous that I have to pay the taxes and fees!". I don't like it either, but I know that this is part of the deal, and am happy to pay $800 in taxes and fees for F tickets that would cost $10K if I were to use cash.

I, like others, plan ahead, am slightly flexible with dates, and destinations (eg SEA rather than YVR) and think I've got a pretty good deal over the years.

However, given the OP is a Gold Card Holder could they not avail of the Priority Award?
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