Comparing SQ with BA in the back of the bus!

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  IanFromHKG 24 Mar 2017
at 05:20

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  • K1ngston

    Hello everyone, I have been rather quite recently for which I apologise. On a recent visit to London I caught up with MartynSinclair for a coffee and he enthused me again to add my thoughts to the forum.

    For the last 18 months I have been travelling extensively with SQ as I am now based in Singapore, whilst an efficient and somewhat officious airline the bottom line is, things work and you get used to the way things are done!

    I am KFEG and will never attain anything else as the company I work for only flies everywhere Economy and whilst they are happy for me to use SQ there is no chance of any premium travel and therefore their PPS Club is an exclusive offering I will not attain ever!

    I have recently flown SIN-LHR on both SQ and BA and there are some stark differences between the two which I can highlight here:

    SQ. Plane A380 reasonably new everything worked and as always the offering was efficient. From Check In at the Premium Counters to tagging of the luggage to ensure that its off the plane first (and actually is)

    Food was typical SQ, 2 choices of main including free drinks and a continual top up of from the drinks trolley. The service was efficient and the crew were attentive and helpful when choices were not available. There was opportunity to go to the galley and get a drink or some biscuits throughout the night and breakfast was hot if not tasty!

    IFE is extensive and if not for the fact I had seen most of the movies there is plenty of choice for all.

    Landing into Term 2 at LHR is effortless, we were quickly through immigration and my cases were waiting for me when I got through and I had a quick getaway.

    Due to scheduling I was travelling back on BA on the 011 check in at Term 5 at the J check ins was easy ( I am BAES) but when I asked the bag to be tagged through, I was informed that this was not a service for Silver Card Holders and even if the tag was placed the baggage would not be in the right bin, strike one against BA.

    The Silver lounge at T5 is ok not a great selection of food but acceptable and I was able to do some work whilst waiting for the flight.

    Boarding was through the C gates so took some time to get to the Brand New 380 on this service and boarding was efficient if not chaotic.

    The flight was full and pushed back on time but being Heathrow there was a 40 min delay until we took off. Once in the air the perfunctory drinks service is nowhere near the same as the SQ offering so Strike 2.

    When the food was offered the choices were Chicken Curry or Vegetable Curry with no other choices, as someone who is not a fan of curry especially in the air this was definitely strike 3 against BA.

    The seats are definitely better on BA and the new IFE system is easy to use albeit the headphone socket was loose and made hearing difficult.

    I was able to sleep on the service and after the most hideous breakfast strike 4 the plane landed on time at Changi and I was able to deplane easily and get through immigration quickly… Now the biggest strike of all for me was the fact that I waited for an hour for my luggage, there is no rhyme or reason with BA, I was standing with someone who had flown J class and they also waited an hour, this is unacceptable and for me just highlights the differences between the 2 services.

    Whilst SQ is fussy and can be officious, you get what you pay for, the best choice of food in class, generally the IFE works and is up to date, and my luggage if I have to check it arrives first and I am away quickly and I compare this to KFES which also has priority tagging…

    The BA service had a newer plane, the staff were efficient and were incredulous to the choice of 2 curries and I heard one person question whether they were actually on Air India as opposed to BA, and the crew laughed and tried their utmost to help.

    There is no snacks during the night and the crew albeit friendly would not offer me something as by this time I was starving… Breakfast was disgusting and looks like something you’d get in a coffee shop and as mentioned the baggage delay was unbelievable

    To me it highlights the differences between two flagship carriers on a premium route, and I am sad to say that BA is falling further and further behind their point to point competition and continue to do so …..


    I hate to try and be contentious, but:

    BA don’t offer priority luggage to Y pax. I’ve had this as a gold. I’m sure some premium cabin folk would argue that too many bags tagged priority kind of negates the service.

    I may be wrong (often am), but isn’t baggage delivery undertaken by airport baggage handlers and not BA, so a delay in the baggage arrival at SIN may not really be entirely the fault of BA? (Shocked it took an hour as SIN has always been as near as perfect on this front when I’ve travelled through).

    Possibly the 2 x curry option was a one off / not the norm.

    I’m not sure many would argue BA are better than SQ, but just trying to offer a bit of balance. As you say though, BA were full in the back of the bus, and while they continue to enjoy this it is hard to see why they would change their ways.


    BA is not customer-centric. They have NO attention to detail, regarding the customer experience, even for premium pax. In contrast SQ do pay attention to the aforementioned. Luggage delivery> Have ALWAYS waited too long for BA bag delivery – not so SQ – fast/efficient/ delivery.
    No doubt BA are just too shabby in too many areas that matter to pax…..and those that that know there is a choice? They vote with their feet.


    Guys, thanks for your response, Alan I was comparing,BA should offer priority tagging for their frequent flyers, there has to be some recognition and that was my point.SQ and Star Alliance do, and so do CX and QR when I fly with them on my silver status, its the fact that BA is so blatant about “not” doing so!

    As for the baggage taking that length of time, is absolutely down to the handlers, but if the baggage was stowed in a container at the back of the plane as opposed to the front then on a full 380 its going to take an hour or so to appear!

    As for the curry on a flight out of the UK this shouldn’t have happened and to “thebigseats”point there is NO attention to detail by BA!

    And what is sad, is that you now expect to have shoddy service which in my case is unacceptable for “the worlds favourite airline”

    And to the final point I think its now fair to say I will be voting with my feet, farewell BA it was once “great”


    I don’t know if it’s standard or not to get priority luggage as a silver member, which I am, but I have always had a priority tag if I check in using the business class checkin (which you can do).

    Also randomly at times my luggage is tagged priorty when I go through standard checkin.

    The trouble is that BA is very popular still, and I see a lot of silver members. It wouldn’t be much priority on some flights – I’d imagine London to Singapore is heavily business related, so in essence everyone becomes priority.

    I flew Singapore Airlines from Jakarta to Singapore last week on their A350. A short flight and they were very good, but I didn’t notice a huge difference with BA on that one.


    Thanks Jonathon, I was tagged priority but the agent said that it wouldnt make a jot of difference as its down to the status of ticket booked, I told him to humour me and put the tag on, and my bag was one of the last to come off …..This does not happen on SQ or for that matter other OneWorld partners..

    As for your flight to Jakarta, it is at the end of the day a flight of 90 mins, so too little time to extract a true comparison, albeit I have not flown short haul with BA for a number of years now as I am based in Asia but I agree the SQ 350 is a great aircraft I have flown it long haul and it was very comfortable …


    I was comparing the service really – frankly whether I’m on a plane for 13 hours or 13 minutes I want a level of polite, efficient service from the crew.

    The BA crew do seem a little worn and tired and overworked/underpaid (or both!) so I definitely see a difference, particularly with Asian airlines and their crew. The Singapore Airlines crew were just incredibly friendly, upbeat and helpful.

    It’s amazing how much a person can forgive or put up with if the crew are great. It makes even a tight short haul economy flight bearable.

    As for priority luggage on BA, I remember reading that for OneWorld emerald customers, priorty luggage isn’t available on BA… I wonder if they just don’t do priority according to status and just look at the class of flight? But then why bother tagging the luggage at all, since the barcodes will do that job.


    I believe BA tag priority bags just for pax in J & F.
    I’ve had the exact same comment made as the OP by a check in agent when flying WTP. ‘We can put a priority tag on, but it is the bar code on the actual luggage label that determines the priority of the bag’. By that I suspect it means bags of J & F pax get put in a separate hold container.
    Of course, as I suspect we’ve all witnessed over the years, regardless of airline, a bag tagged priority does not always come out first, as ultimately the baggage handlers at the destination airport are responsible for the final delivery of the bags.


    As far as I know, the “no priority bag tag if not flying F or J, irrespective of BAEC status” only applies for flights out of LHR (this is what I was told when enquiring at T5 check in – I was flying WTP and am a Gold). Flying TO London the tags are applied and in my experience bags do come out first.


    Your heading K1ngston is very apt – it does feel like the number 13 from Golders Green to Oxford Circus every time I sit in the back. All we need now is a ‘conductor’ to come round shouting ‘tickets please’.

    There is absolutely nothing pleasant about the BA flying experience, queues and more queues and passenger with far too many shopping bags trying to push past in their quest for what is now the holy grail, locker space.

    The dichotomy though is, the load factors remain high – as they are on Ryan – so the ‘bus company’ must believe they are doing something right.

    The only advice regarding inflight catering, especially in the back (but I do this in business as well) is to visit pret or similar in T5 or arrange for a hotel picnic on the return… but don’t rely on BA to keep you fed properly…


    But is there anything pleasant in flying in the back of the bus on any long haul airline?

    I would venture there is very little. Which in a way is the way the product is designed. Economy, after all, does what is says on the tin. It gets you from A to B and little else.

    I think the notion of long haul travel being pleasurable disappeared many moons ago, not just on BA, but on most other airlines:

    Increase in seats on 777 from 9 to 10 (plus going way back Alex highlighted 747’s used to be 9)
    Reduction in quality of meals
    Reduction in seat pitch

    When I think back over the last x years on long haul flights I’ve taken in Y, I see very little between most carriers, with the exception of the Asian carriers in general being a notch above. Comparing BA, to other European & US based carriers in Y, I’m not so sure there is any real difference.


    I believe the no 1 issue with BA is this. Senior Management doesn’t believe in, let alone care about, its product, passengers or its people and so long as customers are prepared to put up with mediocrity more fool them and the gravy train rolls on. In addition as long as shareholders get their due return they could not care less either. I was in the USA over the weekend and read an article about the CEO of an American Pharma company who made this comment. ‘My job is not to find cures or drugs for patients. My job is to look after our shareholders interests first”. Probably not the first CEO to have made a comment like that, I am sure WW thinks similarly, yet it is somewhat depressing that people in supposedly responsible positions seem to view “people” as almost irrelevant.


    Shareholders (including themselves ofcourse) are the directors responsibility although they’re in a service industry and that matters too. Short term its offering a fare compared to the competition.
    Baggage will be sorted by the computer system (if in use) and that means only J&F have priority.
    Comfort (and sleep) in economy is in economy plus. All pax can go that way longhaul, and efficiently in an A380, and maybe a B777x?


    I guess there are few people surprised that BA come out as the loser in a SQ vc BA scenario (in any class). If the example was done two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago I doubt the result would have been much different. Actually it would have perhaps been even more stark as you would likely be comparing a BA flight on an old 747 with an SQ 380.

    I’m not sure how profitable SIN is for BA but having made the ill fated mistake of attempting staff travel there once or twice it is an absolutely choc full route pretty much year round. Obviously a full plane doesn’t mean a profitable plane but BA are not known anymore for maintaining routes that don’t pay.

    The result of this comparison could be replicated on pretty much any route BA flies – BA vs CX, BA vs TG, BA vs EK, even BA vs AA probably. But I guess BA have found the place where it wants to position its economy product – the mediocre level. Perhaps even the lower end of the mediocre level. Until the ‘sweet spot’ of finding the amount people will pay versus what they are prepared to accept for it tips, this kind of scenario will stay the same.

    Jonathon – the crew on the SIN BA011 are the ‘legacy’ crew. They are definitely not overworked or underpaid.


    ASEANTraveller, you are absolutely right, this has happened to be before also, when not in the UK the bags are tagged and appear amongst the premium cabin luggage, why do people have to suffer at the home base?

    As for your analogy Martyn of the bus between Golders Green and Oxford Circus, I remember being more comfortable but that was a few years ago now!

    ferguson, I agree if I did a comparison with all the flights I take here in Asia against the experience of BA both long and short haul, BA would not fair well… and over time SQ have enhanced the Y cabin as they realise that a majority of their passengers who travel in the region do not have the luxury of J travel..

    Again as I stated, and as people have mentioned, if unhappy vote with your feet, I have done so, and will go down to Bronze this August for the first time in 10-12 years, farewell BA it was real…….

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