What British Airways buying BMI means for Qantas passengers

By John Walton, May 4 2012
What British Airways buying BMI means for Qantas passengers

Qantas' main European partner British Airways finalised the deal to buy its own biggest local rival, British Midland International (BMI), at the end of April.

But what does it mean for Australians -- especially Qantas passengers -- heading to Europe?

Reading between the lines of the public announcements by BA, the plan for BMI is to fold it into British Airways' operations as soon as feasible. That could be some time, though, what with union negotations, government decisions over takeoff/landing slots at Heathrow, and everything else that goes with a merger.

So what's changing in the meantime for passengers, for frequent flyers and for business travellers? The overall message from both the Qantas and British Airways spokespeople Australian Business Traveller spoke to is: not much, at least for the short term.

We've broken down the information based on whether you've got a BMI flight booked and are wondering whether it will run, if you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer flying BMI, or if you're a BMI Diamond Club frequent flyer.

If you have a BMI flight booked and are wondering if it will run

Bottom line: don't worry.

A British Airways spokesperson told us: "It’s business as usual at bmi. British Airways plans to operate bmi’s summer schedule into and out of London Heathrow, so customers can continue to book and fly with confidence."

If your flight is after the European summer season ends towards September or so, you might want to contact the airline periodically to see what the situation is with your flights.

As a footnote, there are parts of BMI that aren't being folded into British Airways. That's mainly the BMI Regional subsidiary, which are business-heavy flights on small jets. This airline is being spun off separately, and your bookings are likely (though by no means guaranteed) to be honoured. 

However, if you're booked on bmibaby, the low-cost sibling of BMI that flies some regional routes, that airline is being wound up quickly and some routes are being cut as early as June. Check out the list of cut routes for the full details.

If you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer flying BMI

Bottom line: you're probably out of luck: no QFF benefits or points when on BMI.

BMI isn't officially a Qantas partner, nor is it a oneworld airline, so you're unlikely to earn points. You're also unlikely to see your Qantas status matched on BMI.

The exception might come if you book a flight that has a BA flight code. "Nine British Midland International routes have carried the British Airways code since early April," BA's spokesperson told us, which means that you may be able to gain Qantas points on those.

When Australian Business Traveller asked Qantas for clarification on what Qantas Frequent Flyers can expect, a spokesperson told us: "We do not have any information available for this at present."

But booker beware: "all BMI flights in and out of London Heathrow will become available to book on ba.com," British Airways' spokesperson told us.

The unwary traveller booking on BA's website might not realise that you're unlikely to get points or status for flying with bmi, even if you book it through BA. So if you're keen to get Qantas Frequent Flyer points, make sure that your booking doesn't say "operated by BMI" in the small print.

If you're a BMI Diamond Club frequent flyer

Bottom line: it's still running for the moment, but look for another program.

In Australia, advanced-level frequent flyer milehounds are likely to have been BMI Diamond Club frequent flyers, since it was one of the better programs within the Star Alliance.

But no more: "BMI's last day as a Star Alliance member was 20 April," BA's spokesperson confirmed to us. You can earn Star Alliance points until the end of May -- but not on Lufthansa, Swiss or Austrian, since it's Lufthansa who sold off BMI to BA.

If you're a Diamond Club member who hasn't been contacted to offer a free match of your Diamond Club status to British Airways' Executive Club frequent flyer program, or for any further questions about hte merger, check out British Airways' extensive question and answer page for your next steps.

More from AusBT for business travellers heading to London:

We'll keep you updated on the latest news you need to know from across the business travel world, both here and on Twitter. Follow us for the very latest: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 169

There is an inaccuracy in this report.  I am a BMI Diamond Club member and the communications received directly from BMI indicate that one can still receive miles and status credits from Star Alliance flights with BMI Diamond Club until the end of May.  The only exception is with Lufthansa group airlines (includes Austrian, Brussels and Swiss).

The specific text from the email sent to Diamond Club members is:

I'd firstly like to advise that from 20 April bmi will no longer be a member of Star Alliance.

However, you will still be able to enjoy the following Star Alliance benefits associated with your membership tier level until 31 May 2012.

  • You will continue to earn membership status miles and earn and spend destinations miles on bmi and Star Alliance carriers (excluding Lufthansa Group airlines) until 31 May 2012
  • For all Star Alliance carriers you will also be able to take advantage of your bmi and Star Alliance status benefits, including lounge access, priority check-in and priority boarding until 31 May 2012
  • From 1 June 2012 any benefits associated with your tier membership and the ability to earn status miles and earn and spend destinations miles on Star Alliance airlines will end
  • Star Alliance award bookings made before 31 May 2012 will be honoured

In addition, BMI Gold or Silver status holders are being offered status matching with BA Executive Club - although given BA's resistance to allowing Australia/NZ residents holding a BAEC account (as I know people who were forced to shift to QFF some years ago) - it is unclear what this means.  The status matching is generous, as it means BMI Silver becomes BA Silver (equal to QF Gold) and BMI Gold becomes BA Gold (equal to QF Platinum).  Anyone who understands what Star Gold and Silver offers knows this is effectively an uplift of BMI Silver holders to the OneWorld rough equivalent of Star Gold, and BMI Gold to a level beyond.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Thanks for the update -- much obliged! I'll edit the article to reflect that.

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