17th June 2011 at 22:45 #501358
Anonymous17th June 2011 at 22:45 #501359
For the fifth time in the last couple of months I have been unable to get an appointment at the Elemis Spa in T5.
This seems to be a relatively recent problem, in past years I had no problem at all getting an appointment.
Last night, I arrived early for my 21.50 flight to GRU, and there were no appointments available, and the Spa looked empty,
Anyone else had similar experiences?18th June 2011 at 05:23 #501360
It’s probably a service enhancement.18th June 2011 at 08:39 #501361
I can echo that. The “chairs” can be booked reasonably easily. Ask for a hands on job – no jokes please – and they thumb through the book for several pages and ask if you can come back tomorrow.18th June 2011 at 08:54 #501362
What does “arrived early” mean? Many people arrive for a flight about two-three hours before departure, so that’s the busiest time for booking appointments.
You can’t have a treatment which starts within an hour of your scheduled departure time, so in order to increase you chances of getting an appointment, you really need to be at the spa reception at least three hours prior to flying.
Given that each day there are around 400 people departing T5 in F, and around 2,500 departing with Club World tickets entitling them to a spa treatment, it’s not realistic that everyone will get a treatment on the outbound.
Do remember (if you’re flying to JFK) there is also a spa in JFK departures, and a spa at the LHR T5 Arrivals Lounge. Do ensure you try all available options to ensure you get a treatment at some stage during yourjourney.
I have had a reasonable level of success, and if no appointment is available, I have always been accommodated with the alternative of a session on the new massage chairs (which were installed about two months ago, as far as I recall) which are very relaxing, and much less painful on the toes, as the previous ones were somewhat vice-like.
A spa treatment is not guaranteed, and I would estimate in T5 there’s capacity for about 20% of those flying longhaul in premium cabins to have a therapist treatment pre-flight, and an additional 20% to get a chair-only session; this seems to be about right, given not everyone has the time or inclination to have one.
Remember if your flight departs from a B gate there is a spa there, and the reception in T5A can book that for you. Another option is to ask for a beeper in case anything opens up.
The spa doesn’t seem to be at capacity with therapists whenever I have been (that would sem right, given the downturn in premium demand over the past few years, however the recent uptick in premium flyers might mean that capacity needs to be adjusted now).
I would posit that there might be fewer on duty in the evenings (I rarely depart longhaul in the evenings). So if you’re always on the later flight, maybe that’s a factor in your personal experience? Hopefully the numbers will be increased as part of the customer experience changes which are beginning to take effect post-recession.
However, demand for Elemis/BA to do this will only be evident if people write in with constructive and brief comments which highlight this disappointment. You can do this at:
Next time, my advice would be to turn up 3+ hours pre-flight, be very clear about your six+ previous disappointments, get a beeper for late cancellations and ensure you get some time on the chair at the very least, or explore the T5B spa option if your flight departs from there. If your flying F, it can sometimes help to ask the Special Services people if they can help, but ultimately they cannot magic a therapist out of thin air.
The hand massage is excellent.18th June 2011 at 09:20 #501363
Agree with VK, another one thing you can do is to ask the lounge agent to tell you from which gate your aircraft departs (they know earlier than the screens) , if it is T5B then go that way, the lounges are better/less crowded than those in the main building (of course, this doesn’t apply when flying First, CCR is the best).
If you are flying First and you want to have the ultimate ground experience then you have to dedicate some time, have a breakfast/lunch or dinner and your SPA. You need 3+ hours for those, don’t forget that you can book a cabana in the CCR.
Otherwise if you can’t dedicate that much time, the best option is to book one of the latest flights. For example exJFK I usually book my self on BA114, after that flight there is only one left, I can find space for a spa treatment and I have the time to eat my dinner in the lounge.
Regards18th June 2011 at 09:32 #501364
I take in all the points above. I have to say, however, that I always turn up 3 hours before dep when in F as I want to make the most of the CCR. I may simply have been unlucky but it must seem to an individual turning up time and time again to be told “sorry” that it’s more theory and less substance.18th June 2011 at 10:52 #501365
My current system seems to work just fine.
I generally turn up 4 hours before departure, enjoy a wonderful session in the spa, followed by the most delicious meal, then the therapist or chef, takes me to the airport where I am met at kerbside and taken through security to the lounge. As for a tip, a long loving goodbye kiss to my wife is all she asks.
Best of all, is that bookings are not required.
Hey, when its good, life is great!18th June 2011 at 13:07 #501366
The best chance at JFK! I fly out from JFK every month and always can get my appointment (Spot on back massage). I dont even ask at Heathrow these days.
I get to JFK about two hours before departure, clear security, and straight to Spa to book. I usually ask for the latest they can for my flight so that I can have meal and take shower before the treatment.
If you are flying out of JFK, try! Or if you are departing from Heathrow T5B, you have more chance!20th June 2011 at 09:36 #501367
It is a significant problem across all 3 spas at LHR in T5Aand B and also T3. For me the main problem is that ordinary First customers cannot book in advance and that is frankly ridiculous. (I have heard that access to special services helps with bookings.)
The demand is due to there being just 1 or 2 staff on duty at any time and this combined with it being open to anyone with access to a lounge, results in it quickly becoming booked up.
Add in BA’s focus on Europe and USA, and the volume of transit passengers hanging around for more than 3 hours has grown. With not much else to do, they book up the spa (and why you wouldn’t). I personally do not necessarily want to spend 3 hours in the Concorde Room let alone T5, nice as it may be, as one aspect of being a premium customer is that I don’t have to be there 3 hours before departure. So for me this is further evidence that UK originating customers paying the highest fares get a raw deal from BA.
My last trip did get 2 slots but only in T5B despite being at LHR 3.5 hours prior to departure. Even then the slots were at -45 and -30 to departure and experience entirely spoiled by the calls being made for us by name at -20.
Previously in T3 with 4 hours, no availability, and it has been 2 years now since I have achieved a treatment in T5A.
It is a great idea and when it works, a decent enough experience but nothing like Gate 10 in T4. In that respect BA’s product enhancement team has done a great job in taking a great idea and delivering a mediocre product.
Like so much of BA product, the reality is nothing like the marketing hyperbole.20th June 2011 at 10:34 #501368
There is no guarantee of a treatment.
While the Binman’s experience has been (unsurprisingly) unsatisfactory, many of us have succeeded in getting a good success rate with spa treatments. If my experiences in the air were as bad as his, I’d probably just stay home.
Which other airlines offer spa services exLHR?20th June 2011 at 12:06 #501369
Pity you don’t trransit through BKK where there is always a quick service on the THAI First lounge!!!! They have an army of over 8 to 12 masseurs on duty all the times!
That is the beauty for airlines operating on of a low-cost base area where as in Heathrow it is just the opposit with low staffing level for high demands!20th June 2011 at 12:19 #501370
I merely pointed out the limitations of the service as experienced and my views on why this is so. The problem is clearly much bigger than just my experience.
There is no guarantee of a treatment is not how the service is peddled and there would be greater chance of a treatment if more staff were employed, if First passengers were allowed to book and if access were limited beyond everyone with access to a lounge. It might also help if BA actually showed any interest in premium customers here in the UK.
That no one else offers such a service is no reason either to stifle debate nor for BA to degrade the experience further.
Let’s face it you could be paying £9000 to JFK or £11,000 to LAX and end up with what.
1. Not getting a treatment as it is not guaranteed
2. Be bussed to your departure along with 300 others as a jetty is not guaranteed.
3. Depart from T5C with no lounge and £15 coffee voucher
4. Be seated in the old product with the dirty toilets and stains as there is no guarantee of the new one and even that is far from clean.
5. Get a ropey crew on an off day as a good one cannot be guaranteed.
6. Pretty ropey food that even the crew complain about.
7. An IFE system that is unreliable with content that is dated.
8. Find on arrival your bags did not go with you as they too cannot be guaranteed.
There is little doubt that BA generally offers a good solid all round product but the inconsistency of delivery combined with the ludicrous ex UK fares is a significant issue and I just wish one they would begin to address with more vigour.20th June 2011 at 12:30 #501371
As a premium consumer your have every reason (not necessary rights as it’s a perk!) to expect getting the service, especially as the PR machinery is paddling this service feature.
Either BA is under estimated the popularity of this service or it does not want to spendmore money on upgrading this service to it’s best customers.
Ignore VK with his remarks about no guarantee of getting this service as he is not the ” Official Voice” for BA! Let BA decides!20th June 2011 at 12:31 #501372
You could have all those things go wrong, but it’s highly unlikely to be the case, unless you work in refuse collection.
However, many things are changing since the removal of BASSA’s distracting influence from the equation; an example of this is that YouFirst will be taking advance Spa reservations from next week.
So changes are beginning to happen, and there will be plenty more on the way thanks to the influence of the new BA Customer Experience Director.
It is easy to point to failings with a company which is just emerging from a recession which nearly bankrupted the airline, and at the same time undergoing a massive cabin refresh programme.
It is easy to blame BA for BAA’s incompetence or the structural limitations of the Heathrow site.
It nonethelss good to note that every single one of the 8 points to which Binman refers is being strategically addressed, and should be dealt with by next summer.
No airline is perfect. BA, in the round, is a lot better than most.
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