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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
- British Airways Executive Club
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
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
- British Airways Concorde Room, London Heathrow T5
- Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow
- Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Doha
- Cathay Pacific, First Class, The Pier, Hong Kong
It’s not even worth debating this one.
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
- British Airways
- Aegean Airlines
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
- InterContinental London Park Lane
- Sofitel London Heathrow
- Claridge’s, London
- 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.
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.
In the meantime, I should probably go and congratulate BA… 🙂