British Airways – First Class no more

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  • Charles Hogarth

    I would welcome comments from posters about our experience, complaint, and the response to the complaint….

    Dear BA

    I am writing to express my surprise and disappointment at the facilities and service provided by BA during my wife and I’s recent trip to Vancouver. We were travelling First Class from Edinburgh via Heathrow on 11th October 2018.

    Now we are retired and don’t travel on business anymore our travel is confined to leisure trips and by travelling First Class the actual journey becomes part of the holiday.

    Unfortunately, the Vancouver flight departs from Terminal 3 so understanding the connection was not as convenient as departing Terminal 5, and that the luxurious surroundings of the Concorde lounge would not be available to us I did assume that the First Class lounge in Terminal 3 would have been of a First Class standard.

    The lounge should be renamed Terminal 3rd class lounge. The lounge was very down at heel, the food offering was to say the least underwhelming, the lounge itself was dirty, tables were not cleared, in fact we were there for approximately 2 hrs and our table was not cleared during our visit.


    If that wasn’t bad enough towards the end of our visit I noticed that under my chair there was a box of Rentokil rodent poison, I am guessing these boxes should have been tidied away before passengers arrive however, this in itself illustrates the complete lack of care and cleaning in the lounge.


    I suppose we should be thankful there were no dead bodies visible although I didn’t look too hard. This discovery was particularly worrying considering we were seated in the area of the lounge were food was on offer, health and safety obviously an issue?


    I of course wanted to report this but the customer service desk was un- manned, i enquired at reception and was told I would have to go elsewhere in the airport if I wanted to speak to customer services. Obviously, customer service was non existent in this facility so I decided to take the matter up with customer relations on my return.

    To add insult to injury once we boarded our flight we found that my wife’s screen (seat 3A) was inoperable and could not be used. The C.S.D. Was very apologetic and embarrassed at the situation and freely admitted that these should all be checked prior to passengers boarding and could only offer as an excuse that the maintenance crew must have been too busy to check the onboard equipment. This is just not acceptable at any level, let alone BA First Class.

    On our return home I contacted customer relations and was met with professional sympathy but as usual very little interest in anything I was saying.

    With some pushing we were given 10,000 air miles each for the lounge complaint and a further 15,000 air miles for my wife due to the inconvenience of the broken screen.

    I suggested that the level of compensation was inadequate given the seriousness of our complaint and that I had photographs of the lounge featuring the rodent poison and the dirty tables, I offered to send the photographs and was told this wasn’t necessary- “they really don’t care!!”

    But I insisted and asked that when these where received they should reconsider their position, I sent the photographs that were acknowledged and needless to say I have heard no more-“they still don’t care!!”

    I have attached 3 photographs to this letter and hope through this excellent publication BA will take this seriously, properly compensate my wife and me and almost more importantly provide better than 3rd world facilities for their First Class passengers.

    My wife’s comments after our experience is the best concluding thought I can offer.

    “I suppose we are fortunate to at least know what BA First Class used to be like”

    Charles M Hogarth

    This was the reply….

    Dear Mr Hogarth

    Thanks for taking the time to let us know what happened, when you travelled to Vancouver with your wife on 11 October.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in our response.

    As previously advised, we’re so sorry to learn about the issues you faced in the British Airways Galleries First lounge in Terminal 3, as well as on board your flight in First.  We know how important it is to be able to relax before your flight, and I’m disappointed to read your comments, as well as look at the photographs you’ve attached to support your feedback.  I agree that this isn’t what you expect from us, and I’m sorry for the impact this had on your experience.

    Furthermore, we want to make sure your journey with us is as comfortable as possible and we know you can’t relax when there’s a fault of any kind on board.  We know our onboard entertainment is an important part of your experience with us.  It’s disappointing there were problems on the day you travelled and I realise you don’t expect this to happen when you fly with us.  I absolutely agree we’ve let you down and I’m really sorry.

    When there’s a fault of any kind, our cabin crew send a report straight to our Engineering team.  They work hard to fix the issues they find as soon as possible and this means they’re able to carry out any repairs before the next service departs.  However, I realise this doesn’t change how difficult your journey was.

    Although I appreciate your reasons for asking, I’m afraid that we’ve already offered the maximum gesture that we can on this occasion, to both you and your wife.  I know this will be disappointing, as it’s clear that you expected more from us, and I’m sorry.  However, we’re grateful you’ve taken the time to give us your feedback, as it’s only through your comments we’re able to focus on areas where we need to improve so we can offer you the best possible service.

    Thanks again for contacting us.  We greatly value your support as a Gold member of our Executive Club, and I hope we have the opportunity to welcome you and your wife on board again soon.  If you have any separate issues that I can help you with, please feel free to contact me directly by using the blue link below.

    Best regards
    British Airways Customer Relations
    Your case reference is:



    Yup…T3 BA First lounge isn’t called The Dungeon for nothing! Most people in the know avoid this dump in favour of the Cathay First lounge, plus there are the other choices of the Qantas and American First lounges in the vicinity, both better than The Dungeon.

    They have been trying to stop the mice entering the lounge as they neither travel First or hold a Gold card. I have seen the Mouse family several times, Mickey, Minnie and the mouselets, but the desk staff are bored with all our complaints!

    BA Premium travel through T3 is, and always has been, a national disgrace.


    The letter you received is the standard response with the usual platitudes :

    “We’re so sorry, didn’t reach the standard expected, your feedback is important, lessons will be learned, we’re grateful, will focus on these areas, look forward to welcoming you on board soon ……”

    I detest the use of the word ‘issues’ in this context. They’re not ‘issues’, they’re failings, problems, lack of care and incompetence. At least they didn’t say “thank you for reaching out to us” which is a truly vomit inducing piece of terminology.

    I would write back, registered mail to the CEO (useless as he is) at Waterside, along the lines of : “Being sorry doesn’t solve the problem, and the gesture you have made is completely inadequate. The service we received was so poor that I consider it as a downgrading to Business Class and I therefore request a refund of the difference, calculated as follows …… failing which I will be issuing a Letter Before Action prior to initiating court proceedings for this amount.”


    When was The Concorde Room ever “luxurious”???? Five minutes in the CX T3 lounge would make the point rather well.
    BA just don’t care. I expect that my current complaint will be brushed off as well, probably without even the paltry Avios compensation. I think capetonianm’s advice is probably correct but until enough of us do the same it will make little difference. Sad.


    I think capetonianm’s advice is probably correct but until enough of us do the same it will make little difference. Sad.

    That is precisely why I do follow up and escalate these things, and I wish more people would do so. I hate corporate bullying and seeing people trampled upon.
    I may be more fortunate than many in that I have the time and resources to do these things and very often when I win money back for one thing or another I take my our of pocket expenses out and give the balance to charity or to someone in need. It’s a matter of principle.


    Part of my work involves conflict and dispute resolution pre litigation or Ombudsman. I believe the larger the firm, the more they hold the belief they are untouchable. In this instance, amongst other failings, BA or their contractor, places rat poison in an area close to or next to (can not identify the exact position within the lounge) areas of food either being served or consumed. Any smaller firm or restaurant would probably be closed down, temporarily or otherwise, until the rodent problem had been solved.

    I am currently dealing with a FTSE listed company where there is clear written evidence, from the firm and admissions of:

    1. The firm willfully withholding and filtering documents subject to a DSAR that were non exempt.

    2. An office manager of a professional firm providing professional advice to a client, without a valid practising certificate

    3. The firm changing the mailing address of a client to their office address without gaining permission or indeed asking the client & subsequently, mail not being received by the client.

    I wont bore you with points 4 – 10 suffice to say these failings fall within the category of regulatory failings. The firm involved however considers the failings merely as concerns & simply shows no care to the damage they have inflicted on the client.

    Elinor A

    I write in sympathy with your plight in attempting to get noticed by BA in your perfectly legitimate complaint.

    It beggars belief that this should be so.

    First class on some airlines seems to be a continual effort to stay competitive and justify the huge costs of flying in that category.

    Resting on old laurels is a massive understatement. BA in all its forms has lost its way with customer service.

    Sadly they are now just an expensive form of Ryanair and it shocked me last night on a very full, very expensive for me , very profitable flight from T5 to Aberdeen they charged someone in front of me for a cup of tea.

    It says it all.


    Mr. Hogarth should certainly pass his experience on to the Director of Brand and Customer Experience at Waterside.


    Combine capetonianm’s and Martyn’s reply and you know what you should consider doing next…


    I really have no sympathy for people willing to spend money in inferior product without researching or knowing that expectations may not be met.

    There are hundreds of discussion on BA F hard and soft products that indicated it is now a seriously inferior product compared to A list Airlines.

    Why use them especially on a holiday when there shall not be any time constraints to take a direct flight?

    If fare is the consideration then people need to remember peanuts/monkey saying.

    Both cheap and excellent product is not possible.

    On the said route Lufthansa would have been the best choice. Even USA airlines that offer first class would have been better.


    I agree with everything written above.

    Have travelled First Class on BA to Cape Town for the past 5 years and have never been impressed with the BA lounge at either Teeminal 5 or 3.

    Both are rubbish when compared to airlines like CX in HK or SQ in Singapore.

    And regrettably, the quality of service offered on board has also deteriorated in the last few years.

    Unfortunately, there is no competition for direct flights from London and I am sure BA take this into account when deciding the level of service offered.

    How I wish another UK based airline would fly direct to Cape Town.

    Cheers Capewine

    Tom Otley

    Welcome to the form, Capewine


    Eventually one realises, after years of joke service that BA couldn’t give a Minnie’s – solution don’t give them another cent and try elsewhere: e.g. Airfrance – we experienced superb food.. and sensitive service, professionally sincere and this was only business class.

    Last year was the last joke club world flight.. .. and now I feel so much better.

    Yes, Willie Walsh is laughing all the way to….the Irish back stop.. if you feel you are going mad drop BA and live again!


    How I wish another UK based airline would fly direct to Cape Town.

    Welcome Capewine. I love your username!

    Have you thought of trying Thomas Cook Airlines? It’s been suggested to me a few times, as yet I’ve not done it, but I hear their premium service is not bad and the fares are far more attractive than BA F. Of course it’s a summer (ZA) only service.

    For the last few years I have used LX, KL, LH, and OS who have recently resurrected the route. Obviously that entails a transit which for me is a pleasurable part of the trip – I don’t mean a dash through the airport, I mean a break of journey with at least a decent meal, visit to friends, or an overnight.

    Other than that, I’ve used BA ex EU when it’s been dirt cheap, for example around £1000 ex EU in business class. It keeps the wife happy as she likes BA as much as I don’t, so sometimes we travel together, and I do get smug satisfaction from knowing that LON-CPT-LON would have cost me >£2000 whereas EU-LON-CPT-LON-EU can often be less than half of that.

    On the point of stopovers, most fare rules for the lower fare groups don’t allow a stopover, but what many people don’t realise is that it only becomes a ‘stopover’ as opposed to a transfer when it’s >24 hours. An overnight can still be a transit, for example on my next trip I’m arriving in VIE around midday and departing mid morning the next morning to take a daylight flight to CPT. Far more civilised than a night flight on a grubby 27 year old BA 747.


    Far more civilised than a night flight on a grubby 27 year old BA 747.

    I prefer night flights on a “grubby” BA aircraft. Despite all the negatives, at least overnight, for the majority of the flight I am unconscious on the very comfortable (for me) CW window seats, upstairs on the 380.

    Again, for me, BA may have a very inconsistent and dated CW product, but it serves it’s purpose at best, efficiently. I have the added bonus of multiple free European flights (through avios) via an extensive route network from 3 different airports (Gatwick, Heathrow and City) all within 60 minutes from my home.

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