British Airways’ Parent and Lufthansa Enter Binding Agreement for sale of bmi

Via Seth, the agreement between British Airways parent IAG and Lufthansa for the sale of british midland’s mainline operation is now binding (though subject to regulatory approval). So Virgin, which isn’t usually a serious player in such matters but throws their hat in for theatrics, is out.

To me it didn’t much matter whether British Airways or Virgin took control of bmi, I’m a recently-requalified bmi Gold member and wasn’t especially looking forward to having status with either BA or Virgin, or the accompanying devaluation of points.

Because of its Star Alliance membership and cash and points award chart, plus allowable one-way awards with stopovers, the bmi award chart has always been really generous. British Airways now charges a separate award for each segment, bmi even allows stopovers for no extra points. And bmi charges a 50% mileage premium for business class over economy, rather than double miles.

Assuming the transaction closes by the end of the first quarter of 2012, we still don’t know exactly how long bmi will be operated as a standalone entity before being integrated into British Airways. We can strongly expect that the independent brand will eventually go away and that they will no longer be a Star Alliance member, that bmi destination miles will become ‘avios’ and that elite members will be granted some status in the British Airways program.

We don’t know, of course, whether bmi Gold members will be given British Airways Gold status or merely silver, usually acquiring airlines tend to be generous in these matters because it isn’t all that expensive to do so and it helps to retain the other carrier’s customers.

What I’m still hoping to see is a Star Alliance-wide status match offer for bmi elite members, or at least a Lufthansa Miles & More status match offer. I didn’t spend my year re-qualifying for bmi’s top tier in order to become a oneworld elite, I’ll soon be an American AAdvantage Executive Platinum member and really don’t have much use for British Airways status.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Now that bmi is toast, what options do we have left for connecting to the rest of Europe when we fly into LHR on UA? Seems like we’re stuck going through BRU on SN or FRA on LH.

  2. The document released to investors states clearly that Star Alliance membership will terminate at completion (ie Q1 2012) even though the BMI brand will continue to exist for quite some time.

  3. This is a real shame. I got into the miles game for a very specific route, I have family abroad that can basically only be reached by BMI. So I’ve been stacking up on star alliance miles (US Air) and redeemed a few times on this BMI route. I guess I’ll have to use up all those miles now and start saving up One World miles.

  4. what happens if somebody book award ticket with stopover at LHR using US airways miles for coming summer?
    Will their tickets have to be re issued

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