BRITISH Airways passengers in Scotland reacted with fury after being told today they will have to pay to fly to London to use their Avios “air miles” on European flights.
Thousands of Scottish members of BA’s frequent-flyer executive club clock up Avios points which they can use for free flights - often for taking their family on holiday.
However, BA has told them that from 28 April: “You will now be charged for any UK domestic connecting flights to and from the rest of Europe.”
Long-haul flights paid for with points are unaffected, with connecting flights from Scotland remaining free.
Travel writer Robin McKelvie said: “Scotland’s least popular airline at it again - British Airways changing Avios for Scots so connecting flights we have to take not included.
“It’s pretty shocking the way they treat Scottish travellers.
“What do Scotland do to you, British Airways? You’ve ditched so many flights and now our Avios connections to London. Double whammy.”
A Scottish university professor and fellow executive club member said: “A huge part of BA’s business in Scotland is retained by effectively bribing people to travel with them by giving out Avios they earn for work travel to London that they can spend on themselves on holidays.
“If they have to pay much more to use Avios because the London connections aren’t included, what does that mean for the incentives in choosing how to travel to London from Scotland?”
Scottish business leaders were also unimpressed.
Garry Clark, head of policy and research for Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It does appear to make BA’s loyalty scheme significantly less attractive for Scotland-based travellers.”
British Airways told members it was “restructuring” the points system as part of making more seats available for members.
It said: “We’re making these changes to provide more opportunities for you to spend Avios on reward flights, as well as to ensure that the executive club continues to deliver a competitive and rewarding loyalty programme for the future.”
Duncan Edelsten, from Edinburgh, who has been an executive club member for 25 years, said: “This struck a raw nerve.
“BA treats Scotland very badly. It forces one to go through [Heathrow] Terminal 5 - and now the domestic connection will have to be paid for.”
A spokesperson for SCDI said, “We understand that this is a commercial decision, however it’s disappointing the rule changes will mean increased costs for some business travellers from Scotland using BA’s executive club, who generally have to connect via London.”
A BA spokesman said: “Currently, customers on reward flights connecting from around the UK on to short-haul and long-haul flights don’t have to pay Avios for the domestic connection.
“It is unsustainable for us to continue offering this benefit, which is not available to executive club members based in other European countries.
“Customers on reward flights will now be required to pay the required Avios for any UK domestic flight connecting to a European destination.
“Customers in the UK regions will still be able to get free connections when redeeming on long haul.
“They will also have some new redemption opportunities through our partnership with Flybe from 4 February.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS