British Airways Extends Elite Status For Two Years Due To IT Fiasco
British Airways is still dealing with the aftermath of its disaster last weekend in which the airline had to effectively shut down its London operations for an entire day due to an IT failure. The meltdown occurred during a busy Memorial Day weekend, which is also celebrated as a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. At least one outlet has reported that the outage was due to an IT maintenance contractor shutting off a power supply, though other reports state the cause has not yet been determined.
In the meantime, it appears British Airways is trying to make things right with its top customers. The carrier has begun sending emails to its Executive Club elite members offering an automatic extension of their current elite status. The emails are signed by James Hillier, the Executive Club manager, and read in part:
As someone who flies with us so often, I want you to know that we always strive to offer you the highest level of service, and make your journey as comfortable as possible. However, we clearly fell far short of this commitment last weekend.
I’m so sorry you had to endure such inconvenience, and understand the frustration it must have caused. So as a gesture of goodwill, we’d like to renew your current tier status for a further two years, regardless of how many Tier Points you collect in that time.
While this would seem to be a pretty generous extension, it pales in comparison to what British Airways is likely to end up owing its customers — elite or otherwise — under EU Regulation 261, which governs passenger compensation in the event of cancellations and significant delays within the European Union.
The action also begs the question: Are British Airways' elites starting to bail on the carrier? While the airline is the largest in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, it has been on a cost-cutting rampage that includes removing amenities from its Club World service, scaling back food on transatlantic flights and outsourcing some of its IT services to third-party contractors in India. Have the airline's service cutbacks finally caused its best customers to begin fleeing? Only time will tell.
H/T: Live From A Lounge