I have been a loyal BA customer for 30 years and have retained Gold status year on year, since the current Tier system started over 20 years ago. I am also LH Senator and Air France / KLM Platinum Elite Plus for life, amongst others and I therefore feel that I am in a position to draw reasonable comparisons.
Regrettably, with experience of carriers other than BA, I really have to question why I continue to support this airline. The CW and F products are now very tired, both in concept and appearance, whilst I really don’t understand what all the excitement is about with “New” First – electric window blinds?! I’ve recently flown “Old” and “New” First. “Old” First was generally filthy and worn whilst “New” First was cluttered in the B747s with no feeling of any real improvement on “Old” First other than the fact that it was less filthy and worn. The catering standard in First has declined beyond all recognition with food choices having run out on two of the flights last done.
There is much talk about the superiority of Mid-East / Far East carrier’s First and Business products. However, you don’t have to look that far afield to find a quality premium product as I found recently when I flew out of LCY via FRA to MEX on LH. Business Class on their Emb-190s has the next seat unsold, unlike BA, and offers superior in-flight catering. Transferring onto First Class at FRA provides a car upon arrival at the bottom of the steps which takes you directly to the LH First Lounge that knocks spots of the BA T5 Lounge, particularly now that it has been down-graded. First Class on the immaculate LH B747-400 (as distinct from their B747-8i) is upstairs and comprises a self-contained unit with a proper bed and a separate seat. Catering is what you would expect of a quality airline in First Class. Upon arrival at MEX, I was met off the aircraft and escorted through the Diplomatic Channel at Immigration thereby saving me well over an hour in the congested queues there. This is First Class as it should be.
For such a superior product, you would think there would be a substantial price differential. There was – I priced the trip with BA before booking for comparison – LH was much cheaper.
BA needs to think long and hard about its current and future First product because calling it First is a misrepresentation. Perhaps rebranding this as Club World Plus might be a better representation – or better still, come to terms with the fact that BA clearly no longer has the appetite for offering a proper First and scrap it, focusing instead upon investment in providing a world-beating Business Class