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Saturday, February 21, 2009

More about miles

I recently wrote a whinge about BA miles and how useless they are because you can't use them in the school holidays. I only posted this to this blog, which does not have a readership of millions and, I am certain, has absolutely no influence in the world at all. But because my blogs are linked to Twitter, there was a corresponding tweet (with "BA" and "miles" in it).

A couple of days later, I received a letter from British Airways. It did not refer to the blog post or the tweet, but said that British Airways talk to 150 Gold members every month to see how to improve the Executive Club and that based on those conversations they had decided to allow Gold members to book reward flights (for double the miles) during school holidays. I'm sure this must be a complete coincidence, since I don't believe that BA's marketing department could be so ruthlessly efficient as to monitor Twitter to see what nobodies like me are saying about their service. But it did make me think.

So I decide to reinvestigate. I logged back in to my Gold account, and tried book a flight to San Francisco. The July flights are only available (at the time of writing) for two days (10th and 16th July) and those are not in the school holidays. The first day in the school holidays for which a flight is available is 5th August. So, if I exercise my right as a Gold member to go out at the end of July and come back a couple of weeks later, it will cost me 100,000 BA miles plus UKP 212. If I pay for the ticket, it will cost me UKP 689. This makes 100,000 miles worth UKP 477. Say UKP 500. That's 200 miles per UKP 1, so I'm "selling" the miles for 0.5p each.

Now, in a couple of weeks time I have to travel to a European capital city. The BA business fare is 582, the "rival" operator (not one of the budget airlines) business fare is 488, so say for sake of argument it's a UKP 100 premium for BA. This will earn me about 3000 miles, so I'm "buying" the miles for 30p each.

Perhaps my arithmetic is rusty, but it appears to me that BA are selling me miles for SIXTY TIMES the price they are buying them. Now, this isn't quite the equation because (as I'm sure is the case for most people) it's their company that buys the miles. Nevertheless, it means that whereas before I tried to redeem my miles I used to travel BA as a matter of course, imagining that the miles would be some compensation to my family for me being away so much, now that I've actually tried to redeem the miles I'm less likely to travel BA in future, so I still don't get the marketing policy. It should be an integral part of Silver or Gold status that you can use your BA miles to earn rewards whenever you like. I can understand why rewards seats are restricted in general, but they should not be restricted for the most valued customers.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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