Reply To: BA’s July 4th double celebration

Back to Forum


Hey all, just to pick up on the issues of the cabin conditions in many of the BA long haul fleet.

Firstly, I offer no excuses or defenses. Having to work on some of these aircraft it can be downright embarrassing. Especially on the non-refurbished 767’s and the oldest 747’s.

Thankfully though, the leadership team are taking note of this issue and have put in mechanisms to improve interior maitenence. The ‘Inflight Customer Experience’ head is particularly passionate about this.

Anyway, here are a few of the reasons for the state of some of the aircraft.

First and foremost of course is cost. If the plan that was on paper ten years ago had happened the 767’s would have been in the big airplane graveyard a few years ago now, alongside some of the older 747’s. In their place shiny new 787’s and A380’s would have been flying for some time now. As most of us know, there were massive delivery delays to both the A380 and 787 which meant the older aircraft had to be kept in service. At the time BA realised this (a few years ago) it was when the airline was in a bit of a pickle financially and industrially. Any non-fuel expenditure was pretty much ruled out. A little further on, and BA is doing ok. Yet competition remains fierce and non-fuel costs have to be maintained. Any expenditure has to have a guaranteed return. Thus, the decision was taken to not refurbish the older 747’s that will soon be on their way out. 18 of the oldest 777-200’s which have a long life ahead of them would be fully refurbished in all classes. In fact BA was not prepared to pay themselves to refurbish the 767’s either as even with the 787 delivery delays the cost could not be justified. However, BA struck a deal with Boeing who would stump up for the 767 refurbishment of seven long haul aircraft in part-compensation for the 787 delivery delays.

Secondly (and this is my personal beef) is the dreadful cleaning that the aircraft receive in London. An old aircraft that has not been refurbished does not mean it cannot be a spotlessly clean one. Yet for some reason when the crew board the aircraft (even when the aircraft has been on the ground overnight) cleaning just is not up to scratch. Crumbs in seat creases, marks on sidewalls not cleaned, tray tables not cleaned. This just isn’t on. I know in the west we operate in a difference environment. The cleaning is contracted and for a full jumbo we get five or six demotivated primarily immigrant workers who amble on and go through the motions. When we land in the far east or similar where labour is much cheaper and discipline a lot more part of the culture we get an army of thirty of forty cleaners who leave that aircraft looking immaculate after 45 minutes.

Finally, there are interior issues that need engineering attention. Say a broken armrest, or a seat pocket hanging off the seat or a unserviceable toilet. These are all tasks undertaken by the aircraft engineers. But unfortunately, the engineers are needed elsewhere. The newer fleet that we should have had, we don’t. So our older aircraft that are still in service require more mechanical attention with some of them requiring in depth checks which shouldn’t have been necessary as they should have flown the nest by now. So the time that engineering should have free to dedicate to interior issues is being spent of the mechanical ones. And with aircraft in for more indepth checks (sometimes for days), it means that those flying with cabin defects are being kept flying.

Again, not offering excuses. But though it might be an interesting insight.

Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription

To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below