Did BA’s transition to a buy-on-board service impact its brand image?

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  • Flightlevel

    Amazing such bad service, I regularly fly an Asian LCC and they always have BoB for all pax from front to back and return to front with remaining snacks,followed by other events /trollies even on 1hour flight. A320s too.


    The oracle has spoken.

    British Airways’ chief executive Alex Cruz has defended its decision to end free meals on its short-haul flights and predicted that all airlines would eventually follow its example.

    Speaking at the UK Aviation Club in London on 6 December, Cruz said the IAG-owned carrier’s introduction of a buy-on-board service for economy-class passengers on its domestic and short-haul services at the beginning of the year was “absolutely the right” decision to take.

    He describes the free food and drink services still available on board rivals’ short-haul flights as a “fad” and says he is “absolutely convinced” that the two remaining large European carriers that still offer it will end the practice in the coming months.

    “Every carrier in the world will be offering food to buy in the very short flights as we do,” he predicts.

    After a “difficult start” to buy-on-board amid a “logistics issue”, the Oneworld carrier has now fixed the problems and offers the “food you want when you are flying at a reasonable price” with “significantly higher” choice, Cruz asserts.

    Demand for the product has “completely surprised us”, he adds.

    Speaking more generally, Cruz says that meeting changing customer expectations and responding to digital disruptors is now “occupying a great deal of our time and, by the way, increasingly, our budget”.

    He says consumers are becoming “more and more demanding” as regards services levels and know “more and more about us”, which means BA must react “quickly, accurately, consistently and in line with their expectations” to keep them from turning to competitors.

    BA, he acknowledges, must remain vigilant as apps “inch into our operating models” and the “large online players” make “inroads” through developments in artificial intelligence, machine language and analytics.

    The airline is working hard on its response and will have more to say on the subject in 2018, he adds.


    @Reeferman — thoroughly agree with you. It was not the food element, as probably most of us on this forum can take it or leave it. But a G&T or a glass of wine is a different matter, especially after a day of meetings in Europe or wherever.
    On the subject of Brand Damage – this is once again a resounding yes! a once proud world leading airline, an innovator, a world brand has resorted to fleecing its pax on catering on short haul. Its embarrassing – get rid of the ‘SCUD missile’ (he is too cheap and small to be called a ‘CRUISE’, but then WW obviously approves of him, so BA is doomed to further reductions in service and pride (for British people). On another thread on this forum, just to give an example of what happens, a contributor said he preferred to fly AEGEAN or LH from Greece instead of BA, and even though they were flying B767’s and even on odd occasions B777’s, because of, quite simply, the service on board.
    @Tom Otley —- Finnair have been BOB for quite some years. a fact that used to give me much ammunition in comparing BA with AY (as my wife is Finnish). Sadly that advantage has gone (the SCUD took it away) and I have gone to my room to sulk.
    Lastly, I refer to a recent survey by maybe SKYTRAX, whereby they listed the worlds best airlines in descending order and BA was lower than AEROFLOT and EASYJET. Having flown the former last weekend on an impromptu emergency trip to the aforementioned Finland from DXB. I was extremely disappointed with SU. If they are a 4* star airline with that in flight service (extremely cramped on a B738 for 6hrs, free food, but no alcohol on board), and the unprofessional messy (amateur) handling/transfer of many pax due to the fact we were 4hr delayed arriving at Moscow SVO and missed all of our connection flights ……….. well SKYTRAX do not think much of BA then, if they rate them lower than SU, that is a disaster, and the ‘SCUD’ should really wake up and quickly!.


    @captonianm — He still doesn’t get it does he! The ‘SCUD’ is like a politician, they never make mistakes. Read his words “demand for the product has completely surprised us” – that is politician speak for nobody wants it!
    He describes the notion of free food and drink on board as a ‘fad’ — firstly nobody ever said it was free – the 2-5 pounds it COSTS for the sandwhich and 1 drink – is/was in the air ticket price – idiot! And does he even understand whet the word ‘fad’ means? A ‘Fad’ is a trend, like a particular fashion, that comes iin, everybody wants it and and after a while fades away. Well as far as I am aware there has been food/drink provided on flights since I first took to the air in 1959, so that is a very long ‘FAD’!!!
    If he declares it “absolutely the right decision to take”, how would explain that some years ago he also said that he would NOT ‘Ryanair-ize BA’…. so what did he do then? And we will see if KLM and LH cancel their provision of food/drink on board in the next few months — just to prove that he is merely ‘hoping’ they will.



    Don’t loose sight of the fact that, even though Finnair went BOB some time ago, they still offer coffee, tea, water and juice free. Same with SAS. Nothing is free on BA.


    @esselle —- Thats true esselle – even if their purported to be ‘local’ blueberry juice, actually comes from Estonia (so a little bird told me).


    This YouGov report says it all really. Public perception of the airline (and I guess by the same token the brand) has seen a big decline.



    For me, yes definitely the introduction of BoB substantially reduced the Image of BA. Very much one in the Eye for the higher BAEC members. Nothing left to differentiate from the LCC (Ryanair and Easyjet)

    I also notice the inconsistency between flights into LHR/LGW and those to LCY (operated by BA EXpress) whete food and Beverage is still supplied without cost.

    However, there is another aspect that I find more of an issue.

    It is about Competition.

    The price of the Alcohol on board is excessive and the only way to temper this is for Competition to reduce prices.

    However, I understand that generally airlines absolutely ‘Forbid’ you consuming Personally provided alcohol (which you can buy in the Airport) and hence this provides them with a Kartel situation once the flight takes off. You either buy from them our you don’t consume.

    Nice business if you can get it!


    SwissExPat – I understand that those LCY flights will eventually go BoB.


    I think it has but just a little, that said i do not think it has impacted their loadings at all, in the BOB seats its all about price and/or convenience of routes

    Steve, you may be right, but the RASK and other relevant numbers suggest BA’s margins have been squeezed for a while now and with a high operating cost base, this must be a concern.


    The reputation was declining for many years prior, and in fact was demonstrated by many on here with issues of every nature of their travel with BA.

    Along with the staffing disputes, and crew conditions exposed, disputes with Gate Gourmet,, and the frank denials by the new CEO they would not go BOB, were simple lies. I am sure the status of working for BA has dropped through the floor, and i meet many crew who have moved to other Airlines from them.
    Adjusting seat and cabin space, charging for luggage, seat allocations etc. Packing passengers in, retaining 4 classes, “Club Europe” is a non entity now.
    I find their 1st Class worse than others J, and Business Class behind the times long haul also, as indeed do colleagues who now choose other Airlines.

    What is highly valued on KLM, is that smell of coffee brewed as you board the plane, a tradition kept for many years, and the drinks / bar service, sandwich even for the shortest of flights within Europe. On LCY – Ams this is still offered on their Embraer Jets, BA on the same route give 100mls of water in a bag!
    Many forget that those flying, have spent 2-4 hours getting to that aircraft and have several after the flight, so the simple drink is valued.
    Airlines should either remain Low Cost or not, and as stated on here again, at least the Easyjet model you pay for what you use and need.
    Airlines such as BA, would have been far better to increase their prices, yer remain full cost, and publicise what they give that is not provided by others , and keep a high reputation of the brand.
    KLM’s brand soars as does their capacity and share price these days, 10% up on last year in November on passengers carried, set 40 % more profit than last year. 94% load factors, and their short haul network in Europe, is simply packed on every flight. they have made complete fleet renewals within 10 years also.

    With the ME3 in question and their increasing capacity ceasing, Asian Airlines are also taking more passengers, Qantas re-routing via Asia once more, we see another return to what travellers of all classes prefer. like then, BA took the wrong direction, are nothing special whatsoever, behind the times in what is offered in all classes, and i would never think of them to travel within Europe, let alone Worldwide. They simply have poorer standards and overcharge and regard themselves, compared to other Airlines. Nothing innovative exists in BA from top to bottom in this current day! In terms of Brand, I feel they are as dull and insignificant as their dated aircraft look, and their demoralised crew behave.


    We are currently doing a research on this topic. Would you be willing to fill up our online survey? Thanks a lot!! https://beatrice57.typeform.com/to/BlMb49


    I’ve completed the survey but if you think BA will take the slightest notice I fear you are disillusioned.

    They are arrogant, complacent, high handed, and penny pinching, considering themselves accountable only to their (IAG) shareholders, of which I am one. I would rather be treated better as a passenger than get good dividends.


    Also completed the survey, and agree that not much will change, as long as people reach into their pocket whilst on board BA will happily live by their revised tag line…… ” To fly to serve and sell”


    @captonianm & canucklad — Fully agree with you both and like you captonianm, I am also a shareholder but a very embarrassed one now. by what has become of a once proud innovator of aviation.

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