British Airways Executive Club is THE BEST Frequent Flyer Programme(?!?!) and Other Bizarre Results at the Business Traveller Awards

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The Business Traveller Awards took place in London this week and provided the usual mix of sublime and ridiculous that normally constitutes travel awards.

You might think I would have got used to the results of these things by now, but no, I remain consistently amazed at what they manage to throw up. What makes these particular results even more perplexing is that Business Traveller is great and the results are genuinely what readers think:

“Business Traveller Awards are voted for by readers of the magazine, with the results authenticated by an independent auditing company”

Some of the results are what you would probably expect – Qatar Airways winning ‘Best Business Class’, Singapore Airlines winning “Best Economy Class”.

Some of results might raise an eyebrow but are comprehensible – Hilton Honors taking ‘Best Hotel Loyalty Scheme”, Emirates winning “Best First Class”

Then there are the results that just seem stark raving bonkers – let’s have a look at a few of those:

BEST FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMME

  1. British Airways Executive Club
  2. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  3. Lufthansa Miles & More
  4. Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Really?

None of the top 4 would make make my list, but let’s focus on BA Executive Club (BAEC) because it won.

I suppose on the elite qualification and benefits side, BAEC is broadly competitive, though I’m struggling to see what sets it apart.

On the earning and redemption side, BAEC is surely towards the back of the pack these days.

There is one undeniably good thing, which is short-haul redemptions generally (Reward Flight Saver in particular, but apart from that BAEC really struggles.

On the earning side most Economy tickets only earn trivial amounts of Avios, and even with Business and First Class, you would be much better off crediting to Alaska Mileage Plan.

When it comes to long-haul redemptions, BAEC has very large cash ‘surcharges’, the amount of Avios required for premium cabins is enormous (up to 400,000 for First Class to Sydney Return!), and award space on popular routes can be extremely tough to find.

There are many, many better value schemes available if you want to redeem for long haul flights.

BEST AIRPORT LOUNGE

  1. British Airways Concorde Room, London Heathrow T5
  2. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow
  3. Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Doha
  4. Cathay Pacific, First Class, The Pier, Hong Kong

It’s not even worth debating this one.

BA Concorde Room Toilet / Shower Room. Timeless elegance, in the grand tradition of public toilets at bus stations all over the country (admittedly with bidet).

I would guess that most people voting haven’t actually been to the Concorde Room and just like the name (it is a cool name). Either that or they love Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle even more than I do!

BEST SHORT-HAUL CARRIER

  1. British Airways
  2. Swiss
  3. Aegean Airlines
  4. easyJet

Yes, in a year when BA decided to try and outdo Ryanair when it comes to short-haul flying, they still scoop the gong. Amazing.

BEST BUSINESS HOTEL IN THE UK

  1. InterContinental London Park Lane
  2. Sofitel London Heathrow
  3. Claridge’s, London
  4. The Dorchester, London

In case you think I’m picking on BA (I am), the Intercontinental Park Lane winning best UK Business Hotel is also clearly nuts.

I’ve stayed quite a few times (using Points or free night certificates!) and it’s a ‘nice’ hotel. The staff are good, the rooms are comfortable, but that’s it really.

Room service breakfast is pretty good.

For most business travellers it’s simply in the wrong part of London. The rates are high, and if you have the sort of expense account that allows you to spend £300+ per night (lucky you!), stay somewhere convenient for your meetings or somewhere a bit special.

Even if we were just looking at IHG hotels in London, I would say the Crowne Plaza City is a better hotel for most business (and many leisure) travellers even if the prices were similar and the Crowne Plaza is always much cheaper.

Bottom line

It looks like me and Craig still have a lot of work to do when it comes to our Alaska Mileage Plan evangelism.

In the meantime,  I should probably go and congratulate BA… 🙂

Hat-tip: ViewFromTheWing

Comments

  1. Adam says

    I wonder if BA won best loyalty programme due to the sheer amount of account holders out there against other flyer programmes?

    Maybe the demographics of BAEC holders are frequent Business traveller readers generally and remember avios is probably the most collected and redeemed frequent flyer points out there.
    Doesn’t mean it’s No.1 as this award was just the opinion of one magazine.

    Maybe IF should hold their own FF awards to set the record straight.😃

  2. Ziggy says

    @Adam I suspect you’re spot on….but then that means that Business Traveller readers aren’t the brightest.

    “I credit to BAEC so it’s the best” or “I’ve seen the Concorde room so it’s the best” are pretty ridiculous ways to vote in awards.

    The idea that any BA lounge is better than the Al Mourjan lounge let alone The Pier is laughable.

  3. Tom says

    Never mind the suggestion that the CCR is the world’s best airport lounge, surely more ridiculous is it implies that QR’s overcrowded business class lounge (Al Mourjan) is better than the first class one (Al Safwa)! The only think that’s potentially right about that list is The Pier at number 4, but certainly not behind those lounges!

    Marketing pretending to be journalism at its finest.

  4. Exxpertskier says

    I’ve worked in the travel industry for 30 years with major airlines and tour operators. When I’ve attended expensive travel industry award dinners over the years, I was always staggered at how often BA came out top when the travel trade hated the airline. It’s all about advertising revenue in trade and other publications.

    By the way, I loathe BA too, forced to fly them now because of the BA/Amex deal. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

  5. Emiliolargo says

    Not wanting to defend BA too much but Flying Blue regularly wins the Freddie Award for best programme. Compared to FB, BA is in a different class.

  6. Keith says

    As a ‘Gold for Life’ BA Executive Card holder due to 30 years of company policy of flying BA when I retired I picked other airlines and the difference is dramatic. Perhaps the readers only have experience of one airline and therefore have no comparisons. The Qantas lounge at Sydney, the Qatar lounge in Doha and probably many, many others make the Concorde room (where English is not the first language of any staff) a laughable joke. BA also have the ability it seems to remove Avios from your account but aren’t so quick on giving them back. I was booked in First to Rio in January on an Avios ticket, the plane has changed to a Dreamliner with no First…….can I get the miles refunded? 6 weeks I’ve been waiting and nothing!

    I thought BA were the best because that’s all I knew, now I pick and choose I know what BA stands for. Bloody Awful.

  7. Paul says

    As above, I am a BA Gold for Life, but prefer to travel to Frankfurt to pick up a Lufthansa business class flight than suffer BA. Luft lounges are not the best in the world but do score better than BA lounges around the world.
    BA Exec Club have without a doubt lost the plot – when was the last time a Gold Card member ‘felt special’ when desperately trying to use their miles – ah yes, I remember, when a seat was specially allocated at double the points you would normally have to use – however the miles ‘devaluation’ was a killer to the whole scheme.
    The airline has an ageing fleet, a steadily diminishing route network and pretty much always poorly prepared food.
    Do give my regards to BA when you congratulate them.

  8. Matthew says

    The one thing I really like about BA Exec Club is that it’s relatively easy to game the tier points system and get to Silver status, with all the benefits that enjoys across Oneworld (including valuably for me in domestic American lounges!). E.g. flying a return business class on Qatar.

  9. nicola cooper says

    BA silver club member – just got back from Iceland where we flew Business to maintain our silver status, only to arrive at the airport and be told BA has not renewed its contract with the Saga lounge (so Iceland Air and Finnair passengers only) – this was NOT made clear when booking, so how do they justify the extortionate prices for business class when not even offering a business lounge????? They are definitely chasing Ryan Air to the bottom – poor economy class even have to buy their own sandwiches … if any are left. We should at least strip the word “British” off them, as they are not fit to represent the country.

  10. Briandt says

    With all these 1000’s (?) of disgruntled BA customers, it’s still sadly not too easy to get certain popular routes with Avios., so please, hurry up and cancel your membership and maybe open up some more seats…or do you all just cherry pick when it suits you ?

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