Some points on why people going East (from LHR) may change and use the ME3
Many Clients have a Premium Economy travel allowance for these routes, especially in the SME market. Fares can easily be £3k for a last minute trip if only W Class left. If the ME3 are offering a Business Class seat with a connection for £2000-2300 then an easy choice to make and the opportunity for some of some decent sleep (especially if one is a traveler who doesn’t sleep well in Premium). Even if fares are comparable / same – this will tempt people to switch carrier, experience a new product – and BA drops down the list of preferences.
This summer has seen some crazy fares with BA TATL from LHR. I have had clients who had a Premium budget for trips to DEN. It worked out cheaper to bring everyone back First Class or Business Class than on a full W Class (as that was all that was left). Irony was that they were going to have to clear with there client the fact they were coming back Business/First even though it was cheaper. Luckily Common sense prevailed and approved. When this happens it most likely generates goodwill with the customers in questions.
Overall it depends on what people get out of it. BA is solid, reliable and serves more routes from LHR direct (which if London based is attractive). If you can then get the Avios points to work – like MartynSinclair or AOTG with the intra Asia flights in J being superb value then brilliant.
For me however once I start travelling a bit more once bambinos get a bit older – if I’m looking at a J Class experience then I won’t have time to go ex-EU (to be fair not many people have that luxury on Business Travel). For me it will be a combination of price, comfort (I don’t have any points so “upgrades” aren’t relevant) and schedule. I’d happily consider a connection – even if travelling with the kids – downside would be the change – plus side with the massively superior products I’d experience. And this to me is what frustrates me – I want BA to be a world leader again in J Class and not even be drawn to other non UK carriers.
So I guess I’d look at Virgin first, otherwise assuming I’ll go East then I’d look at EY or EK (as LGW is good for me) or CX (as they are starting LGW) or carrier of country I’m visiting (say VN if we decide to go to Vietnam). Or IB if we do South America on the J Class product they have. BA would be a consideration but only for day flights unless fare was superb (whilst still flexible – which the cheap fares usually aren’t whereas almost every other carrier offers some flexibility on all J Class fares – BA cheap ex-UK fares are all nonrefundable and nonchangeable). But I think like many each decision sees the matrix of preferences move with each routing I’m looking at so you end up with 10/20 things to balance x the number of destinations you are thinking of!
Good discussion – nice to see it stay sensible!