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British Airways management has had a lot to be embarrassed about this year (the poor treatment of staff and the poor treatment of customers being the main ones) and it appears to be hell-bent on continuing to embarrass itself with a woeful offering in its Black Friday sale.
With Virgin Atlantic offering roundtrip Business Class fares from £999 (~$1,330) to almost all the destinations that it serves and 50% off all award bookings, a lot of people (including me) have been eager to see how British Airways would respond. Well, if you were expecting anything even vaguely good you’re about to be very disappointed – what BA has come up with for Black Friday isn’t even as good as the sales it offers at other times of the year. It’s not even close.
As best as I can tell these are the headline deals on offer:
- Use the promo code “BASpecial” to get 20% off your fare
- Save up to £200 on all-inclusive holidays
- Book a European city break from £99 per person
- Upgrade to World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) from £200 per person
- Collect 50% bonus Avios with Avis
- Get a bonus of up to 50% on Avios purchases (deal covered here)
Most of these deals are genuinely laughable as a “Black Friday deal”.
A quick look a the current lowest fares that British Airways is advertising to various parts of the world shows that a 20% discount won’t come close to offering customers the kind of fares that the airline has offered in just about all of its sales in the past few years (let alone the prices that Virgin Atlantic is currently offering), and that fact that the airline has chosen to advertise this offer through the Daily Mail (and nowhere else) only compounds the embarrassing nature of the promotion.
The £200 saving on all-inclusive holidays won’t make the slightest bit of difference to most bookings, the £99 per person city break deal is usually on offer most of the year round, the upgrade to Premium Economy looks interesting until you realize that the airline appears to have inflated the Economy Class fares that it’s offering, the 50% bonus on Avios purchases is a deal we see at least two to three times a year and does anyone really care about earning 50% more Avios on an Avis rental?
If this is the limit of what British Airways plans to offer for Black Friday/Cyber Monday it will be a big miss-step by the airline. While travelers like me were prepared to wait a few days to see what the airline would offer in response to Virgin’s stunning deals, a lot of people will now be heading over to Virgin’s website to see what they can book.
Yes, Virgin Atlantic operates to considerably fewer destinations than BA but, right now, people are more price-conscious than ever and, based on what I’ve been hearing, they’re not being as choosy as usual when it comes to deciding where to travel. For a significant number of people, getting a good deal is a bigger factor than ever so given the choice of BA’s pathetic “sale” or Virgin’s deeply discounted fares, I’m willing to guess that a lot of people will compromise on their next vacation destination in order to book a great deal. Failing that, they’ll probably choose not to travel at all.
British Airways has now published its Black Friday deals and they look woeful. None of the deals that the airline has published are in any way “special” and considering what we’ve seen the airline offer in the past, this seems more than a little strange. There’s an outside chance that we may see more British Airways deals released for Cyber Monday but I suspect it will be too late by then. With Virgin’s great fares rapidly selling out, who’s going to wait until Monday in the hope that BA comes to its senses?