Via Seth, the agreement between British Airways parent IAG and Lufthansa for the sale of british midland’s mainline operation is now binding (though subject to regulatory approval). So Virgin, which isn’t usually a serious player in such matters but throws their hat in for theatrics, is out.
To me it didn’t much matter whether British Airways or Virgin took control of bmi, I’m a recently-requalified bmi Gold member and wasn’t especially looking forward to having status with either BA or Virgin, or the accompanying devaluation of points.
Because of its Star Alliance membership and cash and points award chart, plus allowable one-way awards with stopovers, the bmi award chart has always been really generous. British Airways now charges a separate award for each segment, bmi even allows stopovers for no extra points. And bmi charges a 50% mileage premium for business class over economy, rather than double miles.
Assuming the transaction closes by the end of the first quarter of 2012, we still don’t know exactly how long bmi will be operated as a standalone entity before being integrated into British Airways. We can strongly expect that the independent brand will eventually go away and that they will no longer be a Star Alliance member, that bmi destination miles will become ‘avios’ and that elite members will be granted some status in the British Airways program.
We don’t know, of course, whether bmi Gold members will be given British Airways Gold status or merely silver, usually acquiring airlines tend to be generous in these matters because it isn’t all that expensive to do so and it helps to retain the other carrier’s customers.
What I’m still hoping to see is a Star Alliance-wide status match offer for bmi elite members, or at least a Lufthansa Miles & More status match offer. I didn’t spend my year re-qualifying for bmi’s top tier in order to become a oneworld elite, I’ll soon be an American AAdvantage Executive Platinum member and really don’t have much use for British Airways status.