British ad industry watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority has rapped British Airways for a "misleading and ambiguous" free flights promotion.

According to the airline, the promo which targeted 250,000 members of BA’s Executive Club had been "a huge success" resulting in 125,000 free flights. It promised a voucher allowing one person free travel anywhere in the world with the purchase of certain tickets.

However, one mailing pushing the offer omitted to mention twenty-nine specific terms and conditions with which travellers must comply to qualify for their free ticket. “An oversight”, claimed BA, and promptly pulled the mailing.

But another piece promoting the offer read : "All you have to do is take any Club World, Concorde or First return business flight before July 31, 1999 … As soon as you've flown, we'll automatically send you a Free Companion Voucher to use when you book your next flight." The wording implied that any business class ticket would qualify for the offer – whereas it applied only to seats in three specific categories. Therefore the word "any" was misleading, ruled the ASA.

A catalogue of other errors and omissions was also criticised by the ASA. Denying a customer complaint that BA had inflated fare prices for respondents to the offer, an airline spoke said: “We're sorry that five of our customers felt the mailing was ambiguous."

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)