British Airways – First Class no more

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This topic contains 43 replies, has 26 voices, and was last updated by  EUFlyer 17 May 2019
at 14:41
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Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 44 total)

  • capetonianm
    Participant

    Point taken, Martyn, but on the CPT route we only have the ageing 747 fleet, I believe the airport may be ready for the 380 by mid-year. Much as I would like to fly on the 380 and have not yet done so, changing in JNB is no benefit to me.

    Also, unlike many people, I enjoy daylight flights and of course between EU and ZA there is only a minor time difference, unlike FE.


    rferguson
    Participant

    BA and First Class….it’s a topic that often rears its head on here and other forums. Many a customer refers to BA First as ‘the worlds second best business class’. And in many respects – I get that. Personally speaking, a ‘mid J’ 747 and a T3 departure are pretty much as bad as it gets (although I would have made a beeline for the CX F lounge).
    Whilst I won’t for a second pretend that F on the A380 or 787 is anywhere near most competitors it is definitely a step up from the 747/777.

    Most airlines (in the western world anyway, asian carriers to a lesser degree and middle eastern carriers to a FAR lesser degree) offer F as a niche product. And to me that makes sense. There is not going to be demand for a profitable F cabin on all the routes (not even half the routes) a large network airline operates. So most US/european airlines have gotten rid of the product altogether. Airlines like QF/AF/LH/CX/MH have been reducing and reducing the number of aircraft that they operate a First Class cabin on. And not just the number of aircraft but the number of seats on each aircraft – 4 on many AF services, 6 on many CX, 8 on most LH. Rightly so they have gone for an angle of making it something truly special – amazing cabins, caviar, superb fround handling – and charging a price accordingly. BA is a different animal. Apart from the 787-9 which offers 8 F seats (and one of the nicest F cabins in the BA fleet) 70% of their longhaul aircraft have a first class cabin of 14 seats. Yet only a few routes turn a profit in this cabin. BA claims that few people sat in F ever pay the ‘full’ F class fare (and why would they??!!) and that the cabin is primarily occupied by Avios upgrades, 2-4-1 AMEX vouchers, cash upgrades etc. So BA basically dumbs down the product (although I will go against the general opinion here on the T5 CCR – I think it’s a very nice lounge). Also, BA have been offering some crazy cheap upfront fares for First – notably Inverness to Chicago the other week for £1874 return.

    What will be interesting to see is what F will be like going forward. At the last Capital Markets day BA announced their plans to reduce the size of the cabins and the number of aircraft that will have the F cabin. BA will then have an opportunity to make it a niche product and if they offer something truly special they may find that there are people prepared to pay for it. Or, they could continue on the current course. IMHO this would be crazy – with the new CW seats coming it would make paying for F even more useless.

    Many routes will lose F altogether. CPT is tipped to be one of the first destinations to receive the A350 and as this aircraft does not have a First Cabin that route will lose the product although gain a far better J product.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    Suitdude77
    Participant

    Agree that BA shows utter contempt for its customers.

    The sad fact is that its business is strong enough that it can continue to operate with such indifference to standards and quality, so until enough customers walk away and seek alternatives (and there are so many), there is no incentive for BA to improve.

    I would prefer to fly Premium Economy on a quality carrier such as SQ or CX before Business on BA. As for First on BA, it has been described as “the best Business Class in the world”, but I would strongly dispute that.


    rferguson
    Participant

    Agree that BA shows utter contempt for its customers. The sad fact is that its business is strong enough that it can continue to operate with such indifference to standards and quality, so until enough customers walk away and seek alternatives (and there are so many), there is no incentive for BA to improve. I would prefer to fly Premium Economy on a quality carrier such as SQ or CX before Business on BA. As for First on BA, it has been described as “the best Business Class in the world”, but I would strongly dispute that.

    For me personally I would never ever EVER choose a reclining seat over a fully flat bed. To choose CX or SQ prem economy over BA Club for me would be absolutely NO.

    But the point you make is very interesting – ‘until enough customers walk away and seek alternatives (AND THERE ARE SO MANY),…’ Yes, there are so many alternatives. On the overwhelming majority of long haul routes BA operates from LHR there is competition.

    In terms of seats/hard product there will always be leap frogging. 10+ years ago BA had amongst the most innovative impressive product. For years they flew flat beds around while most other carriers lagged behind especially the US ones which were viewed as a joke. Now, BA themselves have become the lagging one. Other airlines are light years ahead of the experience they offer. And BA needs to catch up again.

    Everyone has their preferences and while some are fiercely loyal to a particular airline others jump around carrier to carrier. I was having a chat with a GGL customer the other week who was travelling in Club. He said he was ‘fed up to the back teeth’ with BA a few years ago and took his business to Etihad a carrier he had flown a few times with and offered a ‘far superior experience’ to BA. However after 18 months of flying almost exclusively with EY he deserted them. One of the aspects was the ‘constant cutting of product’ another was that ‘staff are not empowered to resolve anything’ but the main thing he said that turned him off was that he didn’t ‘feel safe’. He went on to say how many things he’d observe in the cabin that concerned him. Crew not securing it properly for take off and landing. Turning a blind eye to people walking around the cabin during taxi. People on their phones for take off again the crew looking on passively. And the one time that really shocked him which was when he went to the front galley to use the lav which was occupied and the stewardess was stood with the door open to the cockpit a good minute chatting and laughing with the pilots. All whist this customer was stood there no more than a metre from the open door. In short, he said ‘i feel safe at BA’.

    Another customer I was chatting with who flies transatlantic almost weekly said he is strategic with his bookings. He tries to book the AA 777-300 on daylight flights as it offers a better experience but prefers BA night flights home.

    Even SQ. A couple years ago my parents flew LHR-SYD via SIN and they couldn’t rave enough about the Cinderella of airlines when they arrived. Until they were due to come home, this time flying BNE – LHR via SIN. After experiencing the amazing A380 product all the way down to Sydney they boarded a 777 in Brisbane which had angle flat seats, a ‘regional product’ – on a 7.5hr flight.

    My neighbour just returned from a trip to LAX and flew AF via CDG. He was particularly excited about flying their A380. Which turned to disappointment when he discovered they still have angle flat beds on the pride of their fleet.

    The grass isn’t always greener. It often is, don’t get me wrong. But what shocks me most as crew (and as a passenger that gets to experience other airlines premium cabins) is not how many customers stick with BA but more so how many will leave to then return. In many cases why people fly with BA is they know what to expect – which admittedly is pretty mediocre. But they know they will get a fully flat bed. For some people that makes no odds and that’s absolutely fine. But others don’t enjoy playing ‘airplane lottery’.


    SimonS1
    Participant

    I believe most people use the Cathay lounge in T3 as the BA facility is such a dump.

    Otherwise there is a reason why bloggers often refer to BA First as the best business class in the sky…..


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    No, BA is not the best. But it is reliable! When you fly mostly for business, reliability is priceless.


    EUFlyer
    Participant

    In many cases why people fly with BA is they know what to expect – which admittedly is pretty mediocre

    It’s sadly a race to the bottom when a premium airline charges premium fares but openly admits it’s mediocre and seems content with that. BA’s response to the OP – which seems to be their usual cut and paste job – suggests that disappointment, while regrettable, is the new norm. A ‘sorry, we’ll try harder next time’ approach without recognizing that what they’re providing is very often far less than what they’re promoting and selling.

    Since when did it become ok for BA to, almost proudly, be The World’s Most Consistently Mediocre Airline?


    rferguson
    Participant

    In many cases why people fly with BA is they know what to expect – which admittedly is pretty mediocre

    It’s sadly a race to the bottom when a premium airline charges premium fares but openly admits it’s mediocre and seems content with that. BA’s response to the OP – which seems to be their usual cut and paste job – suggests that disappointment, while regrettable, is the new norm. A ‘sorry, we’ll try harder next time’ approach without recognizing that what they’re providing is very often far less than what they’re promoting and selling.

    Since when did it become ok for BA to, almost proudly, be The World’s Most Consistently Mediocre Airline?

    In every competitive industry there will be those at the top, those at the bottom and those in the middle in terms of their proposition. I say BA is consistently mediocre (i’m sure BA wouldn’t say that) because IMHO they sit in the middle. And the thing is – they have put themselves there. They haven’t found themselves there. They have chosen to not invest in their premium cabin product I guess (and as you mention) because people are still prepared to pay a premium for it so BA are happy to reap the benefits of their original investment for as long as possible.

    But when we talk about ‘charging a premium’ we are really only talking about direct non stop flights from LHR. And in that sense it’s absolutely no different to any other airline. AF will be cheaper probably to fly from LHR-LAX (via CDG). BA will be cheaper than AF to fly CDG – LAX (via LHR). But in other markets, BA has been pricing pretty aggressively. BKK out of AMS for around £1500 return. Jo’burg for £1200. Even INV – ORD in First a few months ago for £1700. So it isn’t always charging a premium – only where it can.

    And why can it? When we have already established that say a non-stop flight from LHR-HKG is served by CX also or to SIN with SQ and QF or to JFK with VS plus all the US carriers, why can it charge a premium? Partly because some corporate travellers are tied to BA. But also partly (and i’m almost sorry to say this but it is reality) some people actually like flying BA.

    This situation will not go on forever. And BA knows that. Hence we are finally seeing investment in a new product being launched this year.

    But lets be clear – the days of ‘the worlds favourite airline’ are well gone. As much as Freddie Laker’s Skytrain. Back then there was no Qatar. No Etihad. Emirates was a regional airline and Gulf Air dominated the region. Easyjet was in its infancy. Ryanair was operating a completely different model. Who could fly where and how often were typically the result of bi-lateral agreements favouring flag carriers. BA will never ever be in the league of those at the very top again. Even with its new product. It will still have massive Club cabins that make the sense of intimacy difficult to attain. It will still have legacy staff and unions to contend with. It will still operate in a competitive environment and have a tight hold on costs.


    Charles Hogarth
    Participant

    Thanks to all for answering my original post —— I appreciate all the support.

    It is of course a shame that BA didn’t feel it necessary to follow up and do the right thing !!!

    Perhaps I was being naive in thinking they just might care about their customers.

    Still I live in hope !!!!


    esselle
    Participant

    Wholly off topic although there is a tenuous link.

    I’ve been sitting in the T5 First lounge for an hour opposite the main wine service area.

    My straw poll says that 80/85% of pax pour champagne without even looking at what they are drinking.

    Have the gurus at BA decided this is a proxy for how much they can get away with in their quest for “enhancements”?


    Tom Otley
    Keymaster

    Well, if people don’t even look, then they probably can’t taste what they are drinking…

    Unless, this isn’t their first glass, and they looked the first time.

    Or they looked the previous week (regular flyers)…

    If you’re in the T5 First Lounge, I think you’ll agree, it’s a pretty good Champagne…

    Did you see this article

    Jancis Robinson on the best and worst airline wine lists

    While some airlines have cut their wine budgets, there’s good news for jet-setting oenophiles

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    esselle
    Participant

    Canard-Duchene, considered by the French as an “everyday” champagne.

    You may be right, Tom, but I had one glass of Sancerre and when I went back for a second was told it had run out, being replaced by a very ordinary GV.

    I sense most were simply not interested in what it was, beyond “champagne” and therefore good.


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    Well, if people don’t even look, then they probably can’t taste what they are drinking…

    Unless, this isn’t their first glass, and they looked the first time.

    Or they looked the previous week (regular flyers)…

    The wine offering changes constantly in the First lounge. Always worth a look as sometimes, they still serve a good one. But the chances diminish month after month…


    FlyingDoc
    Participant

    Hi all

    Well, after a very quick return to Kuala Lumpur in first, I can say some things seem to have improved, while others remain disappointing….

    Check in very good, and the direct access to the lounges was a very good idea indeed. I had always found the service at the Concorde lounge rather poor, but I must admit the last few times I had been there, it seemed to have improved. This time was even better – both at the dining area and at the terrace (where you would normally sit at your peril, as no staff used to be ever present there), service was attentive and with a smile ! I wouldn’t rate the Concorde room a top 1st class lounge, but the experience has improved, although is well overdue an update, particularly the toilets. I agree wines of variable quality, and the champagne is mediocre for a first class lounge.

    On board service was very good – I was lucky to get a very good crew. I was lucky enough to fly back to LHR with them again, so the service was even better on the way back, no complaints at all. Managed to get quite a lot of sleep on board, and both times the cabin temperature was kept just on the cold side of normal, which I prefer on an overnight flight as you can properly snuggle under the duvet, instead of having to push it to the side ( personal preference I know).

    Catering was, to my surprise, very good on both flights, except for breakfast, which was dreadful. I tend to avoid breakfasts on board, but for some unknown reason I was hungry yet again (after good evening meals on board). On the outbound I opted for the cooked breakfast, where the scrambled eggs seemed not to be that disgusting reconstituted mass we used to be offered anymore (good), but the bacon was like a plank of plywood and the rest truly disgusting and left untouched. On the inbound I decided to stick to the fruit, smoothie etc – was presented with also two pastries on the tray, which had I dropped onto the floor would have either bounced back or gone through the fuselage, pending whether it was the croissant or the cinnamon twirl. Truly revolting…

    Otherwise I opted for the fillet steak outbound, risky I know, but was cooked just prefect and the accompliments were also excellent, and the bass on the way back which was also excellent, along with starters etc. All well presented and very tasty.

    The wines were ok, had a nice Sancerre – champagne ok too, although personally I used to prefer their pink Taittinger when they used to have it.

    Anyhow, all in all a good trip, a comfortable bed and this time good service and good catering except for breakfasts – but still arriving to a crowded LHR and feeling the 1st class experience vanishes the moment you step on the terminal.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    rferguson
    Participant

    I believe most people use the Cathay lounge in T3 as the BA facility is such a dump.

    Otherwise there is a reason why bloggers often refer to BA First as the best business class in the sky…..

    Sorry to piggyback and slightly OT. I had a T3 departure last week and was very much looking forward to visiting the CX F lounge. I have to say I left disappointed. It’s a beautiful facility and wasn’t too busy but service was really poor especially in the dining area. The welcome to the lounge itself was cordial at best. The menu was pretty ‘meh’. We ordered a cold starter and main each. The starters took 45 minutes to arrive. We finished our starters and the empty plates sat there in front of us for a good fifteen minutes. Then the waiter appeared with our mains (we still had our empty starter plates in front of us). He looked confused and said ‘where should I put these’ (the mains) and I suggested he clear the starters first and return with the mains which he did.

    Whenever i’m in a lounge or on a plane or in a hotel and pass a member of staff I always make eye contact and smile. This was not reciprocated by any of the staff in the CX lounge who all looked pained to be there and instantly averted eye contact.

    When we left we popped into the QF lounge which neither of us had visited for a quick look. WOW such a difference. Food was lacking. The lounge dragon although dragon doesn’t seem fair given her really bubbly genuine welcome – explained they only offer a limited buffet outside the QF departures. But EVERY single staff member we passed in that lounge smiled at us and said ‘hi’ or ‘welcome’. Whether it was the reception staff, bar staff, staff re-stocking the buffet or clearing plates.

    Don’t get me wrong – we didn’t even go within 100ft of the BA lounge but I did notice a deterioration in the CX F lounge also. Maybe they’re fed up with catering to BA lounge refugees!

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