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British Airways BA Charges Customers Twice to Keep Paid Mileage Purchased Already

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by copythat

copythat's picture
In My Life

I like flying British Airways and don't mind donating mileage to charity, but it makes me angry to be paying for miles twice (now Avios) twice. Purchased mileage is good for three years. BA used to offer a way to extend mileage by donating to charities. That option no longer exists and airline customers have to pay again, to keep a product already purchased previously.

British Airways reportedly ditched its charity option, of donating miles to a chosen charity from its list, a couple of years ago. The airline needs to answer as to why it never notified customers -- and it did not. When I specifically asked a BA phone rep when customers received notification, I received a stutter followed by the employee's thought that maybe notification had gone out via email. That's what makes me really furious because British Airways doesn't just send a regular update for a member's account but actually sends interim advertising emails for its services and promotions. When I told the employee I have every email sent from BA over the past 7 years and that there has never been a reference to such a serious change of being able to donate mileage and instead have to pay for miles twice, he said he couldn't confirm any such communication was sent. To the best of my knowledge and by what seems confirmed by the British Airways rep, there wasn't notification sent via any electronic method which is absolutely outrageous considering I've agreed to all BA email communication. This seems to have been a hidden shift in practice and doesn't seem ethical that there was no notice.

Granted, the original British Airways policy unto itself seems to equal its own form of double-dipping. Passengers/customers were required to donate mileage (a minimum 1,000 miles had to be donated from each mileage account in order to maintain current status and not lose all that mileage.) Losing 1,000 purchased miles, or at least being under the impression that loss was going to a good cause even though I had bought it myself, sits better with a customer than having to again purchase more mileage just to keep the mileage you've already purchased.

To make matters even worse for customers that have to buy mileage just to keep their existing mileage already bought through BA Executive Club, the airline charged an outrageous fee for even the most minimal purchase of 1,000 miles. I asked the representative if at least the additional fee itself could be waived for customers who are simply trying to renew the status of miles already purchased. He said he thought there was a chance but when I talked to a manager at BA, it was the worst customer service experience I've ever had. The man was rude and condescending even though I was polite and a customer for nearly two decades. The British Air manager treated me like I was asking for free miles even though I explained I'd bought them and was willing to buy more, only asking about any fee waiver of the additional $25 or so. Since the change to naming mileage Avios, it appears BA is no longer charging that fee so I'm not sure if customers complained or how it magically disappeared.

I'm a frequent flyer for national flights and use BA for international when possible, with nearly half a million Avios points/miles. Obviously I'm not going to allow almost 500,000 miles to expire because of the volume but that also means I've gotten stuck in renewing paid mileage due to an injury that hasn't allowed recent traveling for myself or other family. British Airways doesn't allocate what mileage has been purchased or earned. I really feel that a purchased product shouldn't have an expiration date as long as a program is in place. No matter what, customers shouldn't have to pay for the same product twice.

We originally ended up with nearly $3,000 worth of Executive club miles because BA claimed it was ending its program of being able to purchase mileage. At the time there was a household account and BA had a weird method for those linked accounts, where it took odd amounts from each. Even the British Air rep couldn't explain how it was determined for what amount or percentage of points came from each account. Use of mileage for a trip ended up leaving strange pockets of miles in several accounts that were significant so we chose to add to them through purchased mileage. But literally after returning from the scheduled flights with BA, and having bought the miles only right prior to leaving, the company announced it wasn't ditching the program after all. Of course mileage is normally non-refundable however the airline's advertising of discontinuation, followed by an immediate switch after customers obviously bought miles for their accounts, was not a very cool technique . I didn't complain about what felt like a bait and switch, nor did I call my credit card to dispute the purchase.

To renew mileage, I can choose to pay nearly seven hundred dollars for the annual maximum of 24,000 per account or $53 for a minimum 1,000 Avios miles. The more mileage a customer purchases, the better the rate per mile, but an existing Executive Club member has to buy at least a thousand miles in order not to lose all existing mileage. At fifty bucks per account, per family member, it adds up. Aside from the fifty bucks, it makes me angry that I'm paying twice.

Of course every program needs to have an expiration date, or at least that's how companies feel, but airline customers should not be paying two times for the same mileage. It doesn't seem ethical or right, and it also doesn't seem like it should legal. Regardless of legality, it makes a passenger angry. If a company is giving away something for free, i.e. earned mileage from traveling (which obviously isn't so 'free' since a customer is purchasing the flight and choosing to use the airline) it should be put into a separate category than paid miles. There's something very wrong with a customer being forced to pay twice for the same product. British Airways doesn't even list or provide any e-mail address to contact the company. Please contact me if you've had this problem or know of any way to better fix the issue.

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Average: 5 (2 votes)


The fares should only be

February 4, 2013 by laurasheilds, 11 years 23 weeks ago

laurasheilds's picture

The fares should only be including the flying costs and the required charges. Others should not be included so that the traveling will become easier for all the people.

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