Hacking the British Airways Website and Selling Miles for Big Profit

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • United is ending its Tokyo – Seoul route in late October and 3 Boeing 737s will be transferred out of Guam reducing the size of the Guam hub.

  • Selling miles at a discount is big profit

    “It’s consistent with trends across the industry to monetize virtually everything,” said Gary Leff, a miles expert and blogger.

    …Leff said he has discussed the basic economics of selling miles with a senior executive at one of the programs. That airline executive is OK with customers who buy a hundreds thousand or more miles and use them to redeem free flights in business and first class that might otherwise cost $5,000 or more, Leff said. Even on those transactions, the airline makes a profit, according to the executive.

    “He basically says, ‘We have done the math — we make money selling miles at a higher price than it costs to redeem the miles,” Leff said. “That’s even true knowing that the miles are going to be used for more expensive awards.”

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek sold for $766,000 per key

    Credit: Hyatt

  • Much of the US business of Gulf carriers is flying passengers beyond to India, Pakistan, and the surrounding region. So it’s no surprise that Air India has seen its US bookings double since the laptop ban.

  • Hacker sentenced for taking down the British Airways website (for an hour)

  • DHS Secretary: No imminent attacks planned against aviation, suspected terrorists just ‘talk’ about aviation, and that’s why we may expand the electronics ban to more airports.

    “It’s real. I think it’s getting realer, so to speak,” Kelly said. “We may take measures in the not-too-distant future to expand the number of airports.”

    We know on any given day, there are dozens of cells that are talking about aviation, and you just watch them over time and see if they develop and they go from talking to actually doing something.

  • New Emirates video detailing their electronics handling service for US-bound #electronicsban flights: (HT: YHBU)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I say that Air India stuff is bs. Now, admittedly, it’s off a small base, because the Middle East airlines’ subsidized fares between India and the US has crushed that business for profit-motivated carriers. But think about it: who previously paid extra to fly those routes nonstop: business travelers. Who MUST use laptops on those long haul flights? Business travelers. Do you really believe that “important” business travelers were willing to waste their time connecting in the Middle East as long as they could use their laptops? I’m sure there were a few, but we all know that the thing which high valued customers value the most is time.

    Add in the supposed Air India fare increase, and this story doesn’t pass the smell test. The typical Middle Eastern airline pax is flying those airlines because the fare is cheap and the service is good. They’re not going to suddenly pay more because of a “laptop ban.” Only a tiny percentage of them even use a laptop on the flight.

  2. @IAHPHX
    A large number of folks flying on business especially IT are forced to fly economy due to company rules. These folks still need to use their laptops on board. And now they have an excuse to push their travel departments to buy the more expensive Air India tickets which saves them time, has more leg space than ME3 in economy and better food. Indians hate travelling through the middle east because Emirati airport staff are racist. They equate Indians with cheap unskilled labor so IT professionals hate flying through the middle east.

  3. “Sure, IT worker, fly economy and give up the physical custody of your laptop! I’m sure no company secrets are on it!”

    … said no IT department ever.

  4. “Even on those transactions, the airline makes a profit, according to the executive”

    The price anchoring effect repeatedly kills me on travel blogs. Pieces about getting a r/t biz ticket for “only 75,000 miles plus $450 in fees, and that’s a great deal because the cash price was $4,000” — I’d get the whole thing in coach for 40,000 miles!

  5. Your stupid title implies a hacker stole BA miles and sold it for profit.
    You need to do away with these stupid misleading titles.
    And you put way too many stupid articles in this one section.

  6. @Josh G – is that really what you got out of it? The piece is on the profitability of selling miles. And it’s not super critical of the practice either.

    Clearly you care what I think because you keep reading, commenting nastily, and frequently making off-base and incorrect claims proving you know very little (though when that’s pointed out, you don’t acknowledge it you just stop commenting on the post and move onto another one, rinse repeat).

    You’re coming dangerously close to coining a new ‘Derangement Sydrome’ for inclusion in the DSM-VI…

  7. @ Prabuddha — Interesting insight. Thanks for sharing. I’m not a regular on those India flights, and I’ve only connected through Europe, but I don’t recall seeing a ton of people using their laptops on those flights. Never more than 5%, which is pretty much what I see everywhere. I’m certain there would be businesses reluctant to have employees CHECK their laptops — and I could imagine some booking away from the ME3 for that reason now — but I have a very hard time believing this policy change could drive a 2x increase in Air India’s bookings.

    It will be interesting to see if on the conference calls later this month, anyone asks the US airlines if their bookings to India have increased since the Mideast laptop ban. If I had to guess, they’d say yes, but not by a lot.

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