What I find interesting about all of this is when looking at other more ‘universal’ forums such as Flyertalk the same kind of conversation is happening around the world with nearly every airline.
In the Cathay Pacific forum CX regulars are complaining about the cost cutting and downgrading of J class catering.
Likewise on the Singapore Airlines forum SQ regulars complain of a general ‘decline in service levels’.
People’s expectations of an airline will largely be based on the area of the world they live, what their home airline offers and what the main competition offers. In Asia, CX and SQ have always been at each other to be top dog – throw into the basket TG/JL/MH/NH all airlines with exceptionally high standards and levels of catering on regional flights that we could only dream of in europe. It is funny to read in the CX thread the disgust of Y class passengers on the HKG-MNL route (two hours duration) no longer receiving a hot meal, instead getting only a sandwich. In europe, people seem thankful for a drink and a bag of nuts on a similar length flight.
Cathay is probably my favourite airline to fly with overall – although I must admit with an earlier poster in that perhaps their weakest point is their onboard catering. No choice of starter and the mains are generally pretty poor too. Like BA they just heat up everything together instead of ‘plating’ the items in the galley. The way they deliver the service however far surpasses BA.
One thing I believe though is that if SQ stood still – so would CX et al. However, competitive forces in that region keep things moving. Although they are both obviously feeling the pinch of the ME3 carriers hoovering up a lot of their traditional europe – oz traffic and are having to respond by reducing costs (and fares) also.
Fortunately for BA their primary market has always been London to North America. The competition historically offered a lot less and was a lot slower to enhance. The US carriers, Air France, LH, KL….most of which didn’t even have a fully flat bed until recently. However, the tide is now turning. Nearly all these carriers offer a product better than BA’s. However, their weak point (for the short term) is it is still very much a gamble on whether the aircraft you will fly with on say AA or AF will be a nice new one with a fully flat bed and direct aisle access – or an old angle flat seat configured seven abreast on a 777.
It is no coincidence that BA did not launch new J products on the A380’s or 787’s which many (including myself) would have thought an ideal time to do so. They have their time frame mapped out – once the likes of AF/LH/AA have the majority of their fleet kitted out with new products BA will reveal their own new product and so the gazzumping game will begin in europe/US. It’s just that it happens a lot less often and a lot slower than in Asia.
Where the asian carriers will ALWAYS have the upper hand in terms of service versus BA is consistency. BA’s own ‘mystery shoppers’ have highlighted this time and time again – they have experienced among their very best flights ever with BA, as well as the very worst.