British Airways – that Alex Cruz interview
When I had heard that more news was about to emerge regarding the proposed changes to the Avios scheme I was not expecting it to be in an interview to the South China Morning Post of all things! You may well have seen the interview and commentary on other blogs by now. In my opinion it didn’t really give us much we didn’t already know, other than timescales have slipped. Here is a short summary of what he covered:
- BA are already trying to be more customer friendly with things like the maternity/paternity benefit and giving leeway on getting tier points by the end of the collection year (it is usually a 2 week extension to the collection year if you ask).
- There will be more minor type improvements as above throughout 2018.
- Pay with Avios will be improved to allow you to pay with all or a few Avios, ideally using a slider scale like Hilton. He expects this by the end of 2018.
- As he has previously said there will be dynamic pricing of Avios meaning that as ticket prices rise and get closer to the time so will the Avios price. He would like every seat for sale to be available as an Avios redemption.
- He would like to see differently priced Avios seats on the same flight (like Etihad currently do).
- He would like all extra charges such as seat selection, baggage etc to be payable with Avios by late 2018, early 2019.
- The changes will be much slower than expected due to developing the required IT capability
- He is still leaning towards a more revenue based earning rate
- He completely avoided the question about the changes to status qualification criteria
So overall there is very little new to talk about except maybe the slider and the confirmation that dynamic pricing means what we expected it to. The big question is the numbers involved and will the basic cost of a ticket go up as part of the new system? Watch this space…
BA call centres reprieved
There has been a lot of speculation that BA were about to close their two call centres in Newcastle and Manchester following a review. It had been believed that Capita would take them over. I hate outsourced non-UK call centres for U.K. companies – it’s not just the language barrier or the fake English names, it is more the lack of empowerment to actually do anything or be able to veer beyond a set script. So although I find the BA call centres range from excellent to indifferent, I welcome this news. It was also revealed that BA would be investing millions in new technology to improve the call centre experience.
BA joins TSA pre check and Global Entry in London – my experience
If you travel a lot to the USA you may have considered getting Global Entry which allows you to use special kiosks at the airport and hopefully eliminates queuing. It also gives you TSA pre check for security in the US when travelling on certain airlines. The good news is that apparently British Airways will be joining the TSA pre-check program this summer. It will mean that as Global Entry you will automatically get a separate queue and not have to remove your shoes or laptops and liquids from your bag. For Executive Club members you could get it randomly if you are lucky, although TSA have been threatening to take away the random pre-check for a while but there is no sign of it happening yet.
Global Entry costs $100 for 5 years plus the cost of the UK background check which is £42. I have found the whole process relatively quick with each stage only taking a maximum of around a week. Once you have filled in the online parts you then need to attend an interview which used to be the tricky part. The good news is that they are currently doing interviews at the swanky new US Embassy in London and there was plenty of availability for April still showing when I made my appointment. Interviews are available until 3 May 2018. You can also do the interview on arrival at some US airports or make an appointment in the US city you are visiting. The interview here lasts around 15 minutes and is more about explaining the program and taking fingerprints than deeply probing questions.
I shall be trying out my Global Entry in a couple of weeks time and will report back on whether it was worth it.
You can find more information about Global Entry here.