According to Head for Points British Airways plans to introduce fares that exclude lounge access and priority boarding for elites.
There are plans to introduce an ‘even fewer frills’ economy ticket which will probably exclude lounge access and all other benefits such as Priority Boarding.
Already BA has ‘handbag only fares’ that unbundle checked baggage and eliminate the free checked bag benefit for elite members. This exclusion is spelled out specifically in oneworld elite benefit rules as well, meaning that an American AAdvantage Executive Platinum does not receive a complimentary baggage allowance when flying BA on one of these fares.
Head for Points says he’s ok with extending the concept. I am not.
It eliminates the very concept of an elite benefit. Effectively they would be selling lounge access and priority boarding to elites on a per-trip basis (for the cost differential between these fares and the next-lowest).
Either an elite frequent flyer is a valuable customer, or they are not.
With the devaluation coming to the British Airways frequent flyer program, the juice as they say just doesn’t seem worth the squeeze over at BA. The program remains good only for short haul economy redemptions and business class up to 1150 miles (which will still be double the price of coach, rather than say a 50% premium, but off of a low base so reasonable). Indeed flying for miles makes sense only for both people in Europe who buy full fare business and first class tickets for work and want to redeem points exclusively for economy.
Most importantly for this discussion, British Airways already had a status program heavily skewed towards high revenue passengers. Come April 28 the lowest fare classes earn even fewer tier points than before. Someone earning status with BA is generating a lot of revenue for BA, yet being told on the rare occasion they buy the lowest fare BA offers that they are not a welcome customer. That person should clue in and choose not to fly BA. Even if they’re based out of London.
It’s a very important message not to forget: I am not my fare. I am a valued customer, or I am not, and how welcome I’m made to feel should not change between Tuesday on a full fare and Thursday on a discount one when I’m buying a ticket pretty much every week.
I do not, however, expect this particular idea to spread to the U.S.
- Credit card companies pay for their members to have priority boarding (and free checked bags). So US airlines are already monetizing this benefit. It would be difficult to give this only to co-brand cardholders and not to 100,000 mile flyers. If anything the trend has been towards saying cardholders have similar value to the elite flyers.
- Already US airlines do not offer lounge access to elites on domestic itineraries. So this would only apply to elites of their frequent flyer partners, or to international.