Reply To: BA Club Europe seating

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I’ll be fascinated to see how this pans out – not so much because I’m a regular CE traveller (as I’m not), but more from a general observer of how service providers alter service levels and then deal with reaction to them.

Some thoughts:

I was interested to note elsewhere compliments regarding the SWISS Recaro seats. Notwithstanding the width issue, I’d actually observed to myself during my last CE flight, two weeks ago, that I still find the existing BA seat far more comfortable than the Recaro hammock. I was in 2D on an LGW 737 on both an outbound and return sector.

I also note widespread comment about the lack of consistency between the SWISS products. I am something of a stickler for consistency.

My dispassionate thought would therefore be that the only justification for 2-2 is if BA knows that it is underperforming (and by that I mean is the minority carrier) on the majority of its CE routes as far as high-yield O&D pax are concerned. If they know this to be the case and can only continue by aggressively conquesting from competitor carriers, then 2-2/Middle-free is a compelling marketing message, especially if the net effect is not to reduce the number of J seats but, by moving the curtain back, actually reduce the number of low-yield Ys.

If however, and this is where I believe their commercial wisdom may be questionable, they are already the dominant high-yield O&D pax carrier on their served routes, then potentially cheesing off up to c40% of the existing CE traffic, especially if (by dint of experience) the 40% comprises the highest-yield, most frequent pax who always previously and deliberately sat A/C, then they are clearly playing a more dangerous game.

The connecting premium traffic adds another dimension of course. Is a TATL CW passenger JFK-LHR-FCO going to switch to Alitalia (let’s say) LHR-FCO because the Alitalia Business Seat is x” wider for the last 2 hours? I suspect not.

However, does 2-2/Middle-free represent a stronger proposition to US customers faced with a choice of, let’s say, JFK-LHR-FCO, against JFK-FRA-FCO on LH?

I really don’t know the definitive answers to all of these and, presumably, only BA’s yield management teams will have the real insight. I just hope that the quick win for Ground Ops budgets and costs isn’t being wholly lost further up the food chain!

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