British Airways reinstates Executive Club benefits

BA A319

British Airways reinstates Executive Club privileges

Bronze, silver and Gold members can now reserve seats without charge on hand baggage-only fares

British Airways has reinstated some Executive Club privileges as a result of customer feedback.

CEO Alex Cruz says

“Our Executive Club Members are highly valued and in response to their feedback we are reinstating the ability for Bronze, Silver and Gold Executive Club Members to reserve their seat for free on a basic fare.  We are also introducing a new option to ‘status freeze’ for anyone on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.”

From June 14 any Bronze*, Silver and Gold Executive Club Members will be able to reserve their seat on a basic fare for free, members who may have paid to select their seat and are due to travel from that date can also receive a refund on the cost of the seat reservation.

Cruz continues: “Our members have told us that they love the basic low cost fare as they’re often travelling for business for a day and don’t want to check in a bag, but we understand they still want to be recognised for their loyalty, so we’ve reintroduced this valuable member benefit.”

In addition, Executive Club Members who travel less as a result of maternity, paternity or adoption leave will now be eligible for a ‘status freeze’ where their membership will be put on hold for a year to avoid losing their statues.

Cruz, said: “A huge number of our customers are parents so we’re extending their benefits for maternity and paternity leave and offering a gift of 1,000 Avios for their new baby. Just because they’re not flying for a while, doesn’t mean their loyalty and new arrival shouldn’t be celebrated and rewarded!”

 

British Airways releases images of Boston lounge

BOSTON, USA: View towards the Boston skyline from the bar in the new British Airways lounge at Boston Logan International Airport on 21 March 2017 (Picture by Nick Morrish)

 

British Airways’ has opened a Boston lounge, coinciding with the launch of the A380 on the London route.

It features a horse-shoe bar with views of the Boston skyline. Customers will be able to enjoy generous seating, fine dining, a shower suite and study area, and free wifi throughout.

The new lounge is 30 per cent bigger than its predecessor, accommodating 220 customers, and offers direct gate access on to the aircraft.

British Airways sees Buy on Board approval growing

British Airways new range of short haul economy food with Marks & Spencer

British Airways sees Buy on Board approval growing

Speaking at the Hangar 51 technology event, Chief Executive Alex Cruz says the Buy on Board offering is improving, as is customer satisfaction

The Chief Executive of British Airways, Alex Cruz, says that he sees customer approval ratings for Buy on Board improving, and technology problems with the introduction of the new service are being solved/

Speaking at the Hangar 51 technology event, Mr Cruz admitted that there have been challenges with the introduction of the new technology, but they are being overcome. For more details on the event where the interview took place, as well as the new technology initiatives being introduced across the IAG group of airlines and an interview with XX Scott, IAG Head of Global Innovation, click here

Vvvvvvvvvvvv

How important is technology to the roll out of new products such as Buy on Board?

Incredibly important. All of our passengers today are being trained by start-ups like the ones that have presented to us today in terms of their expectations. “I want it faster, I want it quicker, I want it easier, I want it safe and secure. That mindset has always existed in the travel industry, but when you put it into practice you have slow websites, slow apps, slow experiences. So to be able to breathe in the air of innovation of this kind of start-up and incorporate some of this technology into what we have to offer customers is perfect. Because most of our customer base and most of the travellers out there are increasingly expecting these sort of experiences. There’s no doubt.

But this kind of customer expectation – you can’t respond individually if someone doesn’t get their sandwich on board or the payment system fails.

Perhaps not individually, no, but what BA has been doing for a long time is segmenting the problems so they can be addressed, and segmenting the experiences so they can be addressed. So we can’t ultimately respond to all kinds of inquiries about all kinds of things. Eventually technology might get us there, but I can’t see it just yet. But to be able to segment this is possible, and the analytics that you’ve seen today show a way of addressing problems that are coming up, to have access to that data and that ability to see where the problems are and how important they are to people, that’s attractive. I think it will be a long time before technology allows us to address everything for everyone, but when it comes to addressing what’s most important to people, then we are making inroads on doing that.

How confident are you that you will overcome the technology problems of Buy on Board?

Every single technology hurdle that has come up within British Airways over the years has been dealt with. When it comes to individual, small devices [such as the on-board handheld payment devices], then the problems are solved in days. When it comes to big problems with networks and main frames sometime it takes weeks. From the day we went live with the Flight system at Heathrow to where the problems came down to just a few, then it took a few weeks, yes. The mindset is there addressing the hurdles behind the scenes, but it depends on the actual problem that it is. Smaller things, web related, are fast to solve. Big mainframe things used by multiple airlines tend to be slow.

And Buy on Board?

We are already have some technology to take a look at every single  transaction that takes place inside of the airplane on board. We analyse it every day, then twice a week on top of that, and it’s given us tremendous visibility on their spending habits, their waiting times, the availability of items, the amount of stock not consumed. And it has allowed us to immediately react. There were stock changes in the second week and we’re on the tenth week now. It has been refined over and over again, and that process will continue. We are missing a magic piece of learning or a box for throwing all this data in and out come up with the perfect solution. You have to remember we started with this on January 11, but some of our competitors started on this 20 years ago. We won’t need 20 years before we get it nearly perfect, but we need a few more weeks. But yes, we are using technology to understand what the passengers think about the service and the service is working.

And customer satisfaction?

We measure customer satisfaction every day, we have gone through three cycles of generic customer feedback [to measure satisfaction before Buy on Board and after] to see how it is going and we are seeing improvements. We know it’s a change of model. But to stick with the theme, we are using technology to improve – we went contactless for this so people could use cards such as American Express, and that’s one example of the ways we are improving the experience.

 

 

IAG presents the first five winners of its start-up event

Hanger-51-thumbnail

IAG presents the first five winners of its start-up event

Hangar 51 event has demo day for start-ups with digital developments to be explored by the IAG group of airlines

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level, Vueling, IAG Cargo and Avios has presented the winners of its first Hangar 51 competition. The idea of the competition was to have a “global accelerator programme” termed, Hangar 51. Some 450 start-ups pitched their ideas and a short-list of five were chosen to work for 10-weeks based at IAG’s HQ in London.

Stephen Scott. IAG Head of Global Innovation

Said that the programme was designed in three phases: acceleration, incubation and then investment.

“The acceleration is the front door. Start-ups don’t know who they are approaching because there are 60,000 people across the various corporates within IAG.”

Of the 450 ideas pitched, Scott said some were commercial products, already formed and focused and so ready to be sued by one of the airlines or the loyalty programme. The idea of the Hangar 51 programme, however, was to  choose products or solutions where there was more moulding and research to be done, and where the various mentors within IAG or one of the corporates could help shape the start-ups idea.

Scott said that the IAG research fund allows the team to try out things including ideas that might fail, but to “iterate and experiment” before the operating companies got involved.

“In many cases the start-ups perhaps aren’t aware of what the true commercial idea might be, and the R&D budget gives us the ability to trial many things without having a full product or market in mind.”

The five chosen were:

Esplorio

Category: Data Driven Decisions

Esplorio was born out of a frustration towards the lack of easy-to-use travel tracking tools. The Esplorio app is a simple way to record and share travels, ensuring that travellers never forget their amazing experiences and adventures. With experience in computer science, marketing and engineering, each team member brings something different to the board.

Team: Resolver

Category: Digitising Business Processes

Resolver is an independent online resolution service helping consumers to raise issues and helping businesses to be more effective at resolving them. Resolver already powers all parking ticket appeals in England & Wales and the team comprises of industry experts with extensive knowledge in building digital products and engaging customer.

Team: Undagrid

Category: Digitising Business Processes

Team: Vchain Tech

Category: Wildcard

Currently, decisions driven by sensitive data depend on either unreliable or fragmented data sources. Vchain Tech uses blockchain technology to build patent-pending Digital Identity SaaS to help airlines share data safely and securely when passengers take connecting flights. Vchain benefits from a team of serial entrepreneurs, whom have over 15 years’ experience scaling startup businesses.

Team: Warwick Analytics

Category: Data Driven Decisions

Warwick Analytics produce automated predictive analytics software. Developed over a decade of academic research, the technology is designed to predict and prevent issues in manufacturing from even heterogeneous data. The team are all experienced serial entrepreneurs specialising in data science.

 

 

http://www.hangar51.com/

 

 

First look: British Airways Gatwick Club lounge

London Gatwick British Airways lounges

First look: British Airways Gatwick Club lounge

Having missed its planned opening at the end of January, the new British Airways lounge complex at London Gatwick – part of its move to the airport’s South Terminal – is now up and running. This brings to an end the temporary arrangements at the No. 1 lounge and Speedbird lounge that have been in place for the airline’s First and Club World / Europe travellers and Executive Gold / Silver card frequent fliers.

Like its Heathrow equivalent, the lounge complex offers separate spaces for First Class and Gold card holders and Club World / Europe and Silver card holders. Having looked at the First lounge (and how to navigate to the lounges from security), we’ll now make a right from the shared reception area into the Club lounge.

If on paper the First lounge is the more exclusive space, the Club lounge counters by being visually more impressive. The new lounge includes both British design and art. The furniture is by UK manufacturers Boss, using Scottish leather by Andrew Muirhead and fabric by Osborne & Little. The lighting is by British lighting designers Tom Dixon, with Elstead Lighting creating bespoke copper ceiling pendants and table lamps.

It’s not all British, though. The bar stools and table lamps are by Philippe Starck, there is pendant lighting by Moooi (Dutch), Porcelanosa tiling from Spain and Italian Carrara marble. Art works are by Sir Terry Frost, Chris Ofili and John Hoyland.

Not immediately obvious, there are a few seating areas to the left when walking in, followed by a high table with leather bar stools opposite a coffee / tea station. Looking up and ahead, past the spherical light fixtures above, there is the first sign of what follows just after: a significantly larger space with double-height ceiling, opening up to include a mezzanine level accessible by two separate staircases.

Continuing on, the main food and drink stations are underneath the mezzanine – like in the First lounge, these are very similar, if not identical, to what’s found at Heathrow. Seating circles all the way around the mezzanine, running alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows giving views of the aircraft movement outside. On the other side, the lounge has a few internal windows overlooking the terminal below.

The main floor of the lounge was fairly busy during our early morning visit, with only occasional seats unoccupied. This in contrast to the mezzanine, which was almost completely empty, and probably a good spot to seek out for those wanting to be somewhere more quiet.

With the exception of the blue leather swivel chairs, the distinctive lighting above the centre bar and a few other details in the First lounge, furniture and design is shared between the two, leaving the feel of one lounge complex rather than two distinct offerings.

While the First lounge has hot breakfast items and its waiter menu, the Club lounge runs out at bacon and egg salad sandwiches (along with pastries, yogurt and fruit) at this time of day. The buffet dishes change towards the afternoon and into the evening.

There is one WiFi network, and while the Club lounge does not have a dedicated business centre, there are plugs at every seat. The Club lounge offers showers alongside its toilet facilities and has a kids’ play room as well. During the winter schedule, the Club lounge opens at 05.15 and closes at 20.00.

Paul J. DeVries

First look: British Airways Gatwick First lounge

The bar in the British Airways First lounge at Gatwick's South Terminal

Inside the new British Airways Gatwick First lounge, now in soft opening

 

Having missed its planned opening at the end of January, the new British Airways lounge complex at London Gatwick – part of its move to the airport’s South Terminal – is now up and running. This brings to an end the temporary arrangements at the No. 1 lounge and Speedbird lounge that have been in place for the airline’s First and Club World / Europe travellers and Executive Gold / Silver card frequent fliers.

Like its Heathrow equivalent, the lounge complex offers separate spaces for First Class and Gold card holders and Club World / Europe and Silver card holders. We’ll cover them separately as well, starting with the First lounge [to add later: you can read about the Club lounge here].

Before getting to the lounge, there is the new BA check-in, found in Zone A of the South Terminal. Divider screens, lighting, carpet and a row of potted plants have been used to create a premium check-in area. From there, it’s a short walk to the escalators going up, then down the corridor to the ‘Premium Gatwick’ security channel.

That’s where the journey to the lounges becomes slightly more cumbersome. Rather than going down the escalators, look out for the corridor on your left, turning to walk down this instead, remaining on the same floor. Pass the currency exchange and veer to the right, where you’ll find the signs pointing to the lounges overhead, next to the JD Sports store.

Then it’s down another, rather sterile, corridor, through two sets of manual doors – not great with suitcases in tow – until you reach a set of lifts. Take these up to the fifth floor and you’ll be greeted with a large LED screen welcoming you to the new lounges; interestingly, it seems BA has opted not to use its ‘Galleries’ branding at Gatwick.

One further right turn and you’ve arrived at the (combined) lounge entrance. Once through the glass doors, there are two check-in desks, where it’s a left for the First lounge and a right for the Club lounge.

With the exterior walls being full-height windows, the views out over the apron and the runway are excellent and give the space all the daylight it can take. In the First lounge, the square corner space straight ahead when walking in contains the majority of the casual seating, with armchairs – similar in design to what can be found at Heathrow – in a variety of colours and a mix of leather and fabric. There were also a few sets of stylish swivel chairs in dark blue leather that we had not seen before. Lounge furniture doesn’t have the easiest life, which makes it all the more noticeable that seats and side-tables are still in mint condition.

Double back immediately upon entering and you’ll find yourself in a small area with just four pairs of high-back chairs, half of them in bright pink fabric and half in tan leather, contrasting with the dark wood on the walls.

The rest of the First lounge extends behind reception along the windows, with first the bar / dining area. Dark grey carpet and wood makes way for light tiles here, with a centre bar and a set of contemporary light fixtures above being the focal point. There are bar stools along the window, while bench seating runs along the back wall, which together with individual chairs and marble-topped tables opposite forms the majority of the restaurant seating.

The food and drink offer is very similar to what can be found at Heathrow. The First lounge has both a buffet and waiter menu, with dishes changing based on the time of day. Hot breakfast items (salmon and scrambled eggs, Eggs Benedict) came on different tableware than the usual plain white, in what felt like a step up in presentation – and quality – compared to what we’ve recently seen at Heathrow.

The bench seating continues into the final distinct area, a business centre with work spaces, two computers and printer. Plugs are offered throughout (though teething problems that also caused the opening delay have been mainly electrical, resulting in reports of blocked power points and hot food / water not being available), with UK/EU (but not US) and USB options. WiFi is similar in set up to Heathrow, with rotating passwords on display stands.

Finally, the First lounge has its own toilets, straight ahead on the left when walking in. Rather than the fully individual ‘mini-bathrooms’ found at Heathrow, this is a more traditional set up with vanities in the main area and separate cubicles. Showers are only available in the Club lounge.

The winter schedule sees the First lounge open at 07.00 and close at 20.00.

 

 

 

 

 

British Airways launching new menu on London-Hong Kong route

British Airways' new 80th anniversary London-Hong Kong menu

British Airways will be introducing a new culinary menu aboard its London-Hong Kong route starting May 1.

Available for first class and Club World passengers, the revised menu has been launched to coincide with the 80th anniversary of BA’s flights to Hong Kong. The airline consulted its archives of past dishes served on the route during the ’50s and ’60s in order to get inspiration for a number of the dishes.

“Food is one of the main drivers for people to book an airline,” said Colin Talbot, head of catering at BA. “We know that if we get that food right on all of our flights, it’s the number one driver for bringing people back. We spend a lot of time trying to get it right and for our customers, food is an emotion and a passion.

BA’s new menu includes both British and Cantonese-inspired dishes, with separate menus offered for first and Club World passengers. A selection of some of the new dishes includes:

First class

  • Salmon with caviar, ginger and pistachio dressing
  • Seared salmon with pistachio and saffron sponge
  • Vegetarian tart with zucchini, carrot, red onion and ricotta cheese
  • Beef short rib with mashed potato
  • Prawn, white mushroom and truffle wanton and noodle soup

Club World

  • Parma ham, melon, blue cheese and walnut
  • Pan-seared salmon
  • Tomato, asparagus and mozzarella cheese
  • Beef bourguignon with potatoes and porcini mushrooms
  • Duck with duck reduction sauce, baby carrots and asparagus
  • Chocolate orange-style dessert and pastry

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific had the opportunity to sample some of the dishes at a media event in Hong Kong earlier today. Notable highlights include the wanton and noodle soup, the beef short rib, and the duck, while both classes’ appetisers in particular in are suitably light for eating prior to sleeping on the flight.

The menu will be available on all flights between the two destinations, though according to Talbot it won’t be rolled out to the airline’s club lounges.

British Airways first launched its London-Hong Kong route in 1936 when it was known as Imperial Airways – the first commercial airliner to land at Hong Kong’s former Kai Tak Airport. The trip took eight days, had 23 stops and cost about £175, approximately £11,113 (HK$127,800) when adjusted for inflation in 2016.

Last year, British Airways served a total of approximately 54 million meals and 20 million litres of wine and champagne on its flights.

ba.com

Concorde arrives at Aerospace Bristol

Concorde-at-filton

Concorde arrives at Aerospace Bristol

New £19million museum will open this summer

The last Concorde to fly has now been moved to a new home at Aerospace Bristol, a £19million museum in Filton, to the north of Bristol, opening this summer.

The complex move was conducted with by engineers from British Airways and Airbus, as the aircraft was towed across Filton runway and up a ramp into the new purpose-built hangar at Aerospace Bristol. The hangar, constructed by Kier, had a wall removed to allow the aircraft to enter the building and, with less than a metre between each wing tip and the building, Concorde was slowly and carefully winched into her exhibition position.

British Airways’ Concorde Alpha Foxtrot – also known as 216 – was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly.

She made her maiden flight on 20 April 1979 and touched down on her last flight to Filton on 26 November 2003. Since that landing, Alpha Foxtrot has stood alongside the Filton runway, cared for by Airbus UK. Now inside, she starts a new chapter as the centrepiece of the new Aerospace Bristol museum.

Iain Gray, Chairman of Aerospace Bristol, said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Concorde 216 into her new purpose-built home at Aerospace Bristol. With such enthusiasm for Concorde in this country, and particularly in Bristol where she was designed, built and landed for the final time, it is only fitting that this magnificent aircraft should have a permanent home at Filton. I would like to thank all of our donors for helping to make Aerospace Bristol a reality and look forward to welcoming our first visitors on board this summer.”

www.aerospacebristol.org