British Airways – First Class no moreBack to Forum
Tagged: No Sadly they don’t care.
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.13 Jan 2019
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.13 Jan 2019
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.23 Jan 2019
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’.23 Jan 2019
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…..24 Jan 2019