British Airways Threatens Those Who Criticize The Airline

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways has updated its Executive Club terms again. Just a few months ago the airline updated its terms to add a class action waiver and arbitration agreement, while now British Airways has updated terms to threaten Executive Club members who speak unfavorably about the airline.

British Airways’ updated “misconduct” terms

As noted by @JTGenter, on September 25, 2020, British Airways expanded its definition of “misconduct” in the Executive Club terms & conditions.

Misconduct in the Executive Club program was expanded to include the following:

  • any misconduct including but not limited to the use of false, threatening, abusive or derogatory language or behaving in a threatening, abusive or derogatory manner in dealing with or directed at British Airways’ staff or the staff of any Service Partner; or
  • any conduct, including but not limited to making misleading statements, which causes, is intended to cause or is likely to cause a detrimental effect or reflects unfavourably on the reputation of British Airways or any aspect of its business, brands, products or services

I think the second bullet point there is the most interesting. Let’s take out the “including but not limited to” section, and you’re left with this:

“any conduct which causes, is intended to cause or is likely to cause a detrimental effect or reflects unfavourably on the reputation of British Airways or any aspect of its business, brands, products or services”

Airlines have long thought of loyal frequent flyers as brand ambassadors, but this is a step beyond that. I feel like we should also be salaried at this point, no?

In other words, in theory you could be kicked out of Executive Club for any conduct that reflects unfavorably on the reputation of British Airways. Does Tweeting something unfavorable, or writing a negative review of the airline, qualify?

It’s funny to see this update around the same time as the story about the guy who was jailed in Thailand over a negative hotel review.

British Airways’ old business class is the best in the world, bar none šŸ˜‰

This is worth being aware of, but…

I’m writing about this not because I think British Airways will suddenly shut down Executive Club accounts of everyone who has criticized the airline, but because I find the update interesting, since it’s not a change in terms that we’ve seen at many airlines.

I have a few general thoughts:

  • First of all, keep in mind that airlines reserve the right to terminate frequent flyer accounts for any reason and at their discretion, and that includes taking away your miles; that’s not an option they exercise very often, but it’s something that they claim they can do
  • With people being increasingly uncivil towards airline employees, I think there’s nothing wrong with threatening customers who are abusive towards staff (the potential issue is that we sometimes see employees on power trips make threats and act out of line)
  • The definition of “misleading” can also be open to interpretation, as we saw with the recent defamation lawsuit in Thailand over a man’s review of a resort

British Airways’ business class is exceptionally spacious šŸ˜‰

Bottom line

British Airways has updated its Executive Club terms to threaten Executive Club members who do anything that could have a detrimental effect on the reputation of British Airways.

On the surface I think this takes it a step too far, though I doubt we’ll actually see this clause enforced much. For that matter, British Airways already had the right to terminate Executive Club accounts for whatever reason even before this change.

What do you make of this change to Executive Club terms? Is it reasonable, or does it cross the line?

  1. Could even a comment on a post qualify you to be kicked out by BA?

    PS – I too was simply “stunned” by the old BA biz class seats.

  2. I donā€™t feel itā€™s aimed at you Ben or other sites doing fair reviews. More than anything you promote and explain their hard and soft products. This is clearly aimed at dissatisfied passengers that want to vent via social media. BA is saying do so at your own risk.

  3. Definitely their Busy Class cabin us spacious.. hahahahaha. This is absolutely ridiculous by BA, like many will say: I would take my business elsewhere. I have programs with AA, AS and QF… My points will be collected there and BA would be criticized or praised as I has been doing in letters directly to them.

  4. Itā€™s a lawyer on a power trip (does anyone read those T&Cs they agree to on Google or wherever, or read the copyright statements at the start of a dvd?). This is the same thing.

    The airline already claims total power to close the account at its own whim, so this makes no difference. Though it does reveal just how much contempt the average multinational has for its customers.

  5. So they know theyā€™re crap but they donā€™t want to hear it, way to go BA. Peter hit the nail on the head with his comment. Also didnā€™t realize there were people who are prepared to fly BA more than once…..

  6. As said, BA is simply clarifying one of its “for any reason” reasons. Unfortunately, the lack of civility and restraint that is emboldened by online distance has real consequences and is rapidly contaminating in person contacts, so that open hostility to any control over ones behavior, even in the confines of economy class, has increased. BA and most other carriers, in coordination with the police powers of states, have become less restrained in stating and showing this authority.

  7. Let me go vent at their twitter, facebook, and tripadvisor. I have 0 problems being banned or kicked out of their executive club. Their excessive “carrier imposed surcharges” on award flights left a bad taste. Last straw was a flight that was around $1,100 if I bought cash, but the award flight was around 60,000 miles and fuel surcharge for around $900. I always filter BA out on any flight searches out of principle. Stingy pompous airlines.

    (waiting for BA to ban me for this post)

  8. Retaliation against negative reviews is illegal (at least in the US) as of 2017, when the CRFA was passed, which the FTC is tasked with enforcing. Personally, I would love to see BA get taken to task for violating this…

  9. I like BA’s old style 777 business class if I can get a window seat. Very private. Facing backwards. Like a private cabin.

    However, BA ending A318 LCY JFK service is a bummer.
    BA is stupid.
    BA should be banned.
    BA should be ended as an airline because of this.
    BA is bad, the worse airline in the world because of this.
    BA, do you know my account number?

  10. To me this reads as being targeted towards primary towards people whose behaviour directly threatens either employees or the airlineā€™s reputation with other passengers, eg violence, excessive drunkenness etc. The reputation bit is likely also geared towards people who make wildly inflammatory claims about the airline to tabloids, which actually isnā€™t all that unusual here (the British tabloid press loves a story about airline service failures – not just BA – which are often extremely exaggerated).

    I agree that spelling it out in this way makes it sound unnecessarily ominous, but as many have pointed out they have long had carte blanche to cancel your EC membership whenever they please, this just highlights that they expect you to have some defined standards of behaviour. Not really sure why this update was required though….

  11. BA has done a fine job crushing their once decent reputation, all by themselves.

    They don’t need my snark to help fan the flames of the dumpster fire.

    Despite being Oneworld Emerald, It’s been 10+ years since I’ve been on their metal, and I haven’t heard much positive since I last flew them.

    Fuel ssurcharges, substandard business class, inflexible change policies….the list goes on.

    I welcome them shutting down my account…it’ll save me a step.

  12. Come the fudge on. Yea, they can pretty much shut down an account whenever they want. I think that’s always been kinda the case, no?

    This just goes to tell you, how disloyal loyalty programs are. My advice? Pay money, buy ticket with cheapest airline and forget loyalty. Status and points with airlines seems worth very little now, especially with transferrable points like Amex, Chase and Capital One. In the future, these “clubs” will even be worth less.

    Why join anything run by someone who poos all over you? I know this sux for the business/corporate commuter, but for the rest of us, the only vote you get is by taking your money to those who treat u the best.

  13. The final word on whether this will rest with a court.

    Anyone can put anything they want into an agreement, but courts have the final say on what is enforceable and they generally take a particularly dim view of lopsided terms that are imposed upon one party by another such as here as compared agreements that are entered into jointly by both parties.

  14. Chase and Steve are correct here — at least with respect to American members of the BA Executive Club program.

  15. Everyone needs to get a grip of themselves. Nothing is going to happen to 99% of members/flyers. I strongly suspect this change has come as a result due to some nob who has abused the system for their advantage.

  16. So $ 765 copay in addition to 80K miles for a one way Transatlantic flight in Business is just cool, when right now they have a special return from LUX via LHR to SFO in Business for $ 1,020 ? Go figure !

  17. @Chase – it is only illegal if entirely factual and doesnā€™t include opinions. Trust me – many in the US have been sued (and lost) over negative reviews

  18. Please be advised that the following have been banned from our flights and removed from our Executive Club membership rolls.

    All of you who disparaged our great brand.

    Have a Capital day!

  19. I have avoided BS like the plague for > 30 years – mainly due to their terrible industrial relations. But also the product hardly compares favourably with the MEs and larger Asians. But stunts like this only serve to strengthen my resolve. Keep alienating your potential customers BA !!!

  20. maybe there is something wrong with a company that doesn’t want critiques? I would think you use this this to improve your product/service? Or to make you stand out?

  21. AaronP, Or how about 70K +$766 with Alaskan miles, HNL to MUC, in what they call ‘First’, which actually is 6 hours in Eco, 10 hours in Business, and the final 1.5 hour hop in First. What a deal !

  22. I totally think you have misunderstood why this has been added. Individuals abusing the Executive club and manipulate it for their own benefit. BA staff, ground staff, crew and contact centre employees regularly being abused by aggressive behaviours. Added into the T&C of the enrolment makes it easy to ban membership!
    UK laws are also different from US , the lawsuit, compensation, mentality ! Donā€™t you get it… the more people that sue and gain monetary benefit from a company, just increase the cost!

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