Your post at 16.34 is a masterful summary.
The decision is sensible, understandable and rational from a commercial standpoint. The communication was crass and inept. The person responsible for drafting the email should be fired, not least because he/she has
(a) clearly annoyed BA’s premier customers (Sin number 1)
(b) out of all proportion to the scale of the issue (Sin number 2)
(c) and offered absolutely nothing in exchange (Sin number 3)
These are absolutely basic sins in marketing. Viz:
Rule 1 – if you have to annoy anyone, try not to annoy those who give you most business
Rule 2 – if you have to annoy premium customers, try to keep the downside of the annoyance smaller than the upside you think your move gives you
Rule 3 – if you cannot avoid annoying people, try to add a little sweetener (“a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”)
One despairs for BA: they employ some of the worst PR people in the industry, and a basically very good product comes across poorly and is not given the credit it deserves.
Incidentally, the idea from RfmT at 10.02 is a brilliant one – using miles to buy access. The “one guest” rule really annoys me – most of the time I travel alone and don’t use it, and once a year I travel with my family and can’t use it for all of us!