A year flying BA short-haulBack to Forum
Anonymous14 Aug 2015
Over the course of the year I have found myself taking an uncharacteristically large number of shorthaul trips on BA. In length they’ve ranged from 45 minutes to 3hours 45 minutes, included a combination of LHR and LGW A320s and A319s, Mixed Fleet, Eurofleet and Gatwick crews, Club Europe and Economy. I was struck by a few things:
The new cabin: having read the various descriptions and negative reactions I was interested to see how I would find it. At first glance it looks very smart. It has a crispness about it, and I even quite liked the blue LED lighting. On first sitting the legroom didn’t seem so bad, although I noticed a significant difference when the seat next to me wasn’t occupied (either in Club Europe or Economy) and it was possible to swing my legs to the side and stretch out. At 5ft 7 I didn’t have a particular issue with the seat pitch. I have to say that one hour in the seat started to show its true colours. On almost all of the flights I noticed that the seat cushion didn’t really provide much support and I was effectively sitting on my tailbone. After a flight from Marrakech, I was really hobbling by the time I got off and schlepped over that ridiculous bridge affair at LGW North Terminal. Also the seats on the LGW A319’s might as well be made of granite – so unyielding!
Catering: There’s a noticeable difference between LHR and LGW, the latter being decidedly mingy, almost to the extent of it being pointless. Literally half a sandwich and always BLT. The breakfast offering is particularly unpleasant. A stone-cold and rock-hard croissant has no business being served anywhere, nor that sickly-sweet yoghurt packed with horrible amounts of stabiliser and thickener. For Economy flights, going to Pret in the terminal is definitely the sensible way to go. A Club Europe chicken salad was, however, truly delicious. It also became clear on more than one occasion that one is not supposed to ask for a second drink when travelling Economy, due to a combination of putting the crew to too much trouble (that’s definitely a LGW issue) and the chances being that they won’t have much left (ditto).
Cabin Crew: This is where I found no consistency at all. It seemed like almost every flight (with one or two exceptions) was a mixed bag. The LGW crews included a much higher percentage of surly/ dead behind the eyes/down-right rude members compared to their LHR colleagues, with genuinely cheerful and polite members being the much appreciated exception. My teenage daughter’s eye-rolling prowess came in for some stiff competition from one LGW purser who clearly had scant regard for her charges. Are bad things happening to them? There wasn’t even any consistency around appearance and grooming. Some looked like they’d got up in the middle of the night and dressed to fix the boiler, others looked like they’d got up in the middle of the night and were off clubbing, while only a few managed to look well-groomed and “normal”. I guess it’s no different if I look around my office on any particular day – some people will have dressed to impress while others not – but we aren’t trying to portray a brand in the same way. Interestingly, the best of the lot was a Mixed Fleet crew – they made a real effort and looked the part too. OK – a few more estuary vowels in the PA, but it was one of only two flight where the whole crew were clearly seeking to offer a high standard of service and seemed to work as a team.
Pilots: Oh dear they really are getting younger! I do wish they wouldn’t stand by the door on the way out – though I have to hand it to the guy who stood their saying “cheerio” having only minutes earlier forgotten about that thing called “flare” and driven us into the ground at speed. I wonder if he heard the yelping?
Punctuality: This was impressive – 100% on time. Everywhere we went, there seemed to be an Easyjet flight leaving around the same time that was delayed.
Price: compared favourably with other options and I don’t mind paying a bit more not to leave Gatwick at 6.50am no matter where you seem to want to go. Having said that, in future I will pay more not to fly from Gatwick – getting from Central London to the North Terminal is no fun at the moment.
But overall despite all the niggles and quirks, when I think about where I’ve been, how much choice I’ve had about where and when I go, the amount I’ve paid, and the overall sense of reliability which I feel about BA no matter what, I actually don’t have anything at all to complain about. (And that doesn’t happen very often!)14 Aug 2015
Agree completely about the utter uselessness of ex-LGW ET catering and have told BA simply not to bother. You’d have thought that they’d monitor the volume of uneaten polystyrene that is returned either unopened or after a single bite.
Okay, so other than emergency exit rows, we’ve only been in 1A/1C over the past year (we’ve the status so we’ve no compunction about using it) so cannot really comment on the legroom issue but we find the new seat to be absolutely fine with better lumbar support than the flabby old predecessor. No idea how they will cope over time and expanding rear ends. We’re also standard height and girth so no major problems with seat pitch but I do understand the complaints from those who are taller than my 5’10”.
Crews: we have repeatedly found that the LGW front end crews are more personable than their LHR counter-parts (sorry people!) but none have come within a million miles of being surly never mind downright rude. We would just appreciate a few more smiles every now and again. That would at least give the impression that crews appreciate your being there. It’s really not that much of an effort!14 Aug 2015
“My teenage daughter’s eye-rolling prowess came in for some stiff competition from one LGW purser who clearly had scant regard for her charges. Are bad things happening to them?”
In short – yes. Annoyingly, despite much searching I can’t find the thread (here or elsewhere) which details the changes. From what I can recall they were originally going to be offered 3 options, but now it’s a take it or leave it option, resulting in quite a large cut in take-home pay for a lot of them.14 Aug 2015
@ mkcol74 – 14/08/2015 17:45 BST
The answer is contained on Flyertalk:
which states that wef 1st November 2015, BA is proposing to force through pay cuts for BA LGW cabin managers and pursers of between 20-28% on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
Funny, what was WW given by way of a pay, perks and pensions increase last year…?14 Aug 2015