There’s a fine line between fraud protection and annoyance. The pendulum for British Airways Executive Club awards bookings has swung into the annoying direction.
Yesterday I tried to book a JAL business class award for a friend from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) using British Airways Avios. While BA charges 75K and AA charges 60K, my friend’s husband had a lot of American Express points and no American Airlines miles.
Anyway, this wasn’t a case of blocking, as we have seen of late on Cathay Pacific. No, the space showed up just fine on the British Airways Avios redemption website.
But when I clicked through to book, I noticed that the account holder’s name was pre-populated and I could not modify it. When I tried, I received the following pop-up window:
I suspect that I could have circumvented this by setting up a Household Account, but there was only one seat left and the process of adding family members is arduous. Anyway, I called British Airways, waited for 30 minutes to speak to an agent, and was finally able to book the ticket (rather easily) over the phone.
Here’s the odd thing. I tried to replicate the problem with other accounts and other routings…to no avail. I’m not sure if this was a random test or what, but it seems it has happened to a few others as well. The account holder had a zero point balance and transferred in points from American Express, but it was not a newly-created account.
Anyway, I just wanted to put out this data point for discussion. Have any of you run into a similar restriction? If you do run into it, don’t worry — just pick up the phone and call. BA will even waive the telephone booking fee for you.