British Airways Finally Delivers Some Good News!

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It won’t be news to regular readers that I don’t hold British Airways in particularly high esteem – I actually dislike the airline quite a bit. And it’s not just one thing that the airline has done which has resulted in how I feel….it’s been death by a thousands cuts.

This is the airline which….

  • …..charges flyers to reserve a specific seat when purchasing a Business Class fare.
  • …..charges ridiculously high surcharges on reward flights (so much so that most long-haul Economy Class redemptions are terrible value for money).
  • …..up until very, very recently, had decided that a single flower in the First Class lavatories was an expense too far.
  • …..decided to offer a short-haul Business Class cabin which gives passengers the same leg room as they would get in Economy Class (most passengers would be lot better of in the exit row seats).
  • …..introduced “Hand baggage Only” fares that denied oneworld status holders (of all tiers) the right to select a seat in advance….despite the fact that a specified benefit of oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status is the right to select a seat at the time of booking.

There really is a lot to dislike about British Airways and the direction in which its CEO Alex Cruz is taking the airline (I’d be typing all day if I was to list everything out) but, if I’m to be a credible critic of the airline, I need to make sure that I also give it credit where credit is due….and it’s due right now.

a row of seats in an airplane

Apparently British Airways has “been listening to your feedback and “Here’s what Executive Club Bronze, Silver and Gold Members can look forward to…

Free seat reservations on Basic fares

Our members have told us that while they love the Basic (Hand Baggage Only) fare as they’re often travelling for business and don’t want to check in a bag, they still value the ability to pre-reserve their seat. So, from the 14th June, if you are a Bronze, Silver or Gold Executive Club Member, we’re reinstating this benefit for you.*

If you have already paid to allocate a seat and are due to travel from the 14th June, you may be eligible to receive a refund on the cost of that seat reservation.

* Your current Executive Club tier seating policy applies, find out more details here.

This may not seem like a big deal to those who don’t travel regularly on BA short-haul but this is huge news for a lot of us who do.

I have a regular BA short-haul route that I fly quite frequently (I have no real alternative to BA on this route) and I almost always fly with just hand baggage. Despite this I always buy a regular Economy Class fare rather than a “hand baggage only” fare (HBO fare) because I want to be able to select a seat in the exit row for what is a long flight (for short-haul).

The difference in price between a regular Economy fare and the HBO fare is usually around £20/$26 each way and, while this may not seem like much, it can really add up over the year…….especially if Joanna and mini-Joanna accompany me on a few trips too.

Now that BA have apparently seen the light and will allow me to use my oneworld status to select seats at the time of booking (even if I’m booking a HBO fare), we can stop paying for fares whose benefits we don’t need and put the savings towards something we actually want or need.

While for me that was the big news out of BA in this announcement, there was one other benefit the airline has introduced.

Maternity/Paternity Exemptions

Per British Airways:

Exciting rewards for new parents

We’re now offering new parents some great benefits. Executive Club Members who may be taking fewer or no flights during their maternity, paternity or adoption leave can put their account on hold for a year, protecting hard-earned Executive Club Bronze, Silver or Gold status.

In order to qualify for this, members just need to provide a letter from their doctor, a birth certificate or documentation relating to the adoption or paternity leave and email it to, along with their Executive Club membership name and number.

As a further bonus, if you use this benefit, we’ll gift your new addition 1,000 Avios when you enrol them into your Household Account.

Follow this link for the full terms and conditions of this new benefit

Bottom Line

None of this really changes my perception of British Airways much but I am impressed that the hierarchy (a) appear to admit that they annoyed Executive Club members when they announced that seat selection would no longer be a status benefit on HBO fares and (b) that they had the sense to roll back this policy….eventually.

Some of the big winners here will be business travelers whose companies insist they purchase the lowers possible fares. Up until now these customers have had to play the seat lottery even if they hold oneworld status……but not for much longer.

It’s not often that we see airlines hold up their hands, admit they screwed up and then do something about it so well done BA….and thank you.


  1. There are a few great things about BA that make it my preferred FFP. First, it’s the easiest to get to Emerald Status of all the Oneworld airlines. One First RTW ticket and Gold is done before the trip is 2/3rds over. It’s also great for non-UK residents. I go to Tokyo and Hong Kong from China often and last minute tickets business class often cost $2000, but just 15,000 to 20,000 pts. with no fuel surcharges and availability is rarely a problem. The lounge access in the US is great. I fly out of LAX a lot so the Qantas first lounge is available when on an AA ticket. I love the Korean tacos and the Angus minute steak. 7500 pts between LAX and SFO is hard to beat as well. I only use BA points on partner airlines and cash only on BA. Just wish I had credited all those RTW trips in the past to BA and I’d be lifetime GGL now.

    • There are definitely some sweet spots to the Executive Club (as you point out so well) it’s just a shame that the airline’s most captive audience (those based in the UK) don’t get to benefit from all of them. RFS is ok in Europe (no arguments there) but it’s nothing compared to the value that those using Avios in the US or, as you point out, Asia, can get.

      While I’m not a fan of BAEC I don’t really like it or actively dislike it as a rewards program – it has it’s place in a frequent flyers arsenal….although the number of Avios needed for a long haul premium cabin redemption is laughable.

      It’s the airline that I have quite a bit of disdain for – sub-par long haul premium cabins, pathetic short-haul premium cabin, ever decreasing amenities, underpaid staff etc… etc….. BA was once a pretty good airline…now it appears to aspire to mediocre.

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