Is BA really THAT bad?

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 107 total)

  • Rferguson2
    Participant

    ‘A national disgrace’. ‘Standards keep getting lower and lower’. And many more similar terms is what is how BA is often referred to both on this and other forums. 

    Firstly, I want to should this loud and clear – I AM NOT A BA FLAG WAVER. I know the airline has many a fault and has made some incredibly questionable decisions. But how DO they stack up against the competition?

    I was a frequent traveller of BA in Premium cabins and indeed an ex employee. Like many, I got a bit fed up with the many ‘issues’ that seemed to crop up at the airline and so decided to switch my allegiance elsewhere, namely to Lufthansa and their partners Swiss and Austrian. As well as a little dalliance with KLM and a couple sectors in United an AA.

    I will highlight here, I am focusing on BA and their competitors across the atlantic, yes we all know there are many an asian and ME carrier that would put BA (and most western airlines) to shame.

    So, has the grass been greener? No.

    Lufthansa – the most disappointing of all. A woefully outdated product that makes me miss BA’s old ‘ying-yang- product. Constant delays. Have not loaded my check in bag 3 out of 6 flights. Strikes. Mediocre food and onboard service. Not to mention the sh*t hole that FRA is.

    Swiss – feels like the low cost sister of big bro LH. I have never been on a flight with such a low crew complement in business class. Food meh. Seating outdated including some seats in pairs with no direct aisle access.

    Austrian – great food! But again, old aircraft with outdated seating which is far from competitive.

    United – Still flying predominantly 767’s between the UK and US! Like their polaris seat although not as good as Club Suite. Food is terrible. I flew with them two weeks ago and they still offer a one tray service and it is akin to BA World Traveller Plus.

    KLM – Love their staff! But too many of their aircraft still have 2x2x2 seating which is just a no. Food…so-so. Not a fan of the carboard box in euro business.

    American – only one sector but excellent flight! It was the forward/rearward facing J seat, found it very comfortable. Food was decent, Flagship lounge at MIA fantastic and I had one of the best crew members in a long time looking after me.

    BA – flew them for the first time in a while on Friday to Houston. Club Suite aircraft (best across the atlantic that I have tried), flight was delayed about 20 min, onboard staff whilst not OTT were polite, efficient and responsive, I found the food (beef carpaccio starter with a side salad for starter an butter chicken with rice for main) much improved.

    Tonight I will try Air France for the first time in their newest J class product back to CDG which I have heard VERY good things about so maybe tomorrow I will have a ‘new’ favourite across the pond.

    But until then, BA IMHO leaves Lufthansa etc in the dust.


    cybertravller
    Participant

    I found Air France to have a fantastic on-board product, although CDG can be a bit of a maze. Enjoy your AF experience.


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Thanks Cyber. I am looking forward to it. Most of the reviews I have read online have beenb very positive 🙂


    stilllovethejumbo
    Participant

    I defected to Virgin just over a year ago and I can say while the grass may not necessarily be greener – its definitely happier. Yes they have their fair share of tech issues on board – but the people truly make flying them a pleasure. From check-in at T3 to the Clubhouses and the crew are just a delight. I can honestly say I just feel a smile coming on when boarding a virgin flight and I feel at ease by the time I arrive. The dreamliner seats while out of date are great to sleep in on overnight flights. The 350’S and Neo’s provide a great upper class experience – when I look at the whole picture – VS is my preferred hop across the pond – and this after decades of loyalty to BA.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    Rferguson2
    Participant

    @stilllovethejumbo – I am ashamed to say I have never flown Virgin! I always hear great things about their crew though. Which is interesting as even under the new contract at BA Virgin pays their crew less and works them harder. I guess they must make it a nice environment to work in.


    FDOS
    Participant

    yes, compare to the 1990s, BA is really that bad.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Indeed FDOS!

    The 1990’s, those were the years.

    Funny enough I still recall my first ever flight ‘abroad’ from London after making the UK my home. It was a BA 757 from Heathrow to Paris and I purchased the ticket at a special fare of £87. In 1996. Compare that to fares now, almost thirty years later.

    BA and the european flag carriers dominated european short haul flights charging ridiculous fares. Ryanair and Easyjet had a handful of planes and were generally laughed at by the ‘big boys’.

    Bermuda II still existed across the atlantic with the cost arrangement allowing just two UK airlines (BA and VS) and two US airlines (UA and AA) to operate routes between the US and LHR. There was a plethora of airlines operating europe to North America, all now gone. Sabena, Swissair, Northwest, Continental, US Airways, Canadian Pacific. Even the national carriers of countries like Hungary and Czech republic had their their airlines operating wide bodies across the atlantic. It is incredible to think that even Luxair operated 747’s at one point.

    It’s laughable to to think that BA and Qantas absolutely dominated UK – Australia traffic. Emirates was still a small carrier primarily operating regionally from Dubai which had a handful of high rises, Qatar Airways only started operations in the mid 90’s and Etihad wasn’t even heard of.

    Times have definitely changed. No doubt BA still has a stranglehold on LHR but it definitely no longer enjoys the lack of competition and ability to charge ridiculous fares that it once did.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MarkivJ
    Participant

    It’s really just a case of confirmation bias that makes BA’s mistakes louder than other airlines, and the worst offenders are usually the British.

    I won’t say BA is amazing, or awful. I’ll say they’re no better or worse than AF, KL, LH, AA, VS, etc. etc. BUT because it’s BA, all they have to do is serve you tea a bit colder or miss that salt sachet in your Y class tray, and heaven forbid they suddenly become the worst airline EVER.


    AndrewinHK
    Participant

    I agree with Markivj, I think you often find deeply entrenched legacy opinions for some airlines, that despite many positive changes, new seats/lounges/priority screening etc, minor things can vex.

    8 users thanked author for this post.

    FDOS
    Participant

    From personal experience, I have found AF (long haul J) to be superior to BA in most respects, but especially in providing properly cleaned aircraft and better F&B, e.g. for a specific data point, two alternative Cognacs and an Armagnac, v none in BA J.

    By all means, fly BA if you find it to your tastes, but please do not pretend it is ‘the same’ as AF on long haul – short haul, there is less differentiation, I agree.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Kevin
    Participant

    I will be avoiding BA for a while. Hadn’t flow with them since the mid 2000s but had very positive memories. Flew from Chicago to London in Club and back in First this autumn. The on-board service was about as good as I remembered. The old Club seat on the A380 was one of the worst I have been in lately – narrow, low and no storage. The First experience was not good. I had injured my leg on the trip and needed assistance getting to the gate as there was an issue with the train to the far gates. Went back to the Concorde Room and their response was ‘there is nothing we can do for you – go to the general assistance area’. I made it to the gate but injured my leg even more. There were a lot more issues with the return but the lack of assistance was inexcusable in First.

    I read that the new president is working on customer experience so maybe I will give BA another shot in a few years.

    BA is generally the cheapest way for me to get to Europe in Club or First and now I see why. I’ll spend the extra money and fly someone else.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    AlanOrton1
    Participant

    Are they really that bad, well I suspect it depends on what you are looking for in an airline.

    I’m with MarkivJ and AndrewinHK. I think they are perfectly acceptable in general and for my specific business travel needs, I’m pretty happy and have no major gripes.

    Are they as good as they were back in the 90’s? In some respects no they’re not, but in others I think they possibly are. (First Wing, some of the lounges etc).

    I spent years not being a particular fan of BA, having started off with BMI, UA and then VS.
    Having moved to BA / OW 8-10 years ago, I can’t see myself moving as the sheer number of non stop flights from my local airport (LHR) is unsurpassed.

    I’m fairly time limited and they get me from A to B with ease.
    Personally I have no desire to spend extra time travelling / back tracking to the US via a different European hub.
    Travelling east, of course, is another matter.

    If I thought they were really that bad, I would switch, but all things considered, they’d have to deteriorate significantly (route reductions, major cancellations, shocking on board offering).

    BA seem to be in a position where they may not set the world alight but I doubt they’ll get significantly worse. They appear to have found their place in the market. They’re making significant profits, there is investment (albeit slowly) in their product. It’s not all bad!

    Great topic and always enjoyable to read posters thoughts on the much discussed airline in question.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    stilllovethejumbo
    Participant

    @Rferguson2

    I think its more about the work culture – people allowed to be as they are and express themselves, managers are proactive and positive and most of all empowered.
    A real example – on my recent BA flight from LHR-JFK in First wifi wasn’t working – I was told to contact Customer Affairs but IFM and I would receive compensation – I am still waiting.
    On my VS flight same route, I had a wobbly footrest. It was rectified as best as possible in the air and the FSM literally sent a note to add 10k flying club miles to my account and it was done within 72 hours.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Rferguson2
    Participant

    FDOS you make a good point and having just flown AF on their A350 I would agree that they are probably the best airline across the atlantic right now.

    Saying that, some of the things that are important to you – the availability of cognac for example – is of zero importance to me (along with any form of alcohol). So I guess we all have differing priorities in what makes a ‘superior’ airline travel experience. Personally, I rate airlines that have espresso based coffee’s and fresh juices higher than those that don’t. Food quality is also important to me as is staff service. For others it may be the champagne, frequent flyer program and some people would rather take a subpar product just to get from A to B non stop.

    I think consistency is also key for many and this is where BA is often letting itself down. The travel experience can rate anywhere from excellent to dismal although I guess this is the same for many western carriers.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    Harbord1
    Participant

    It is all to do with the culture at Virgin. When hiring Virgin are looking for people with a positive and happy demeanour. Then when new crew members join they see and feel the upbeat and can-do attitude of their longer-serving colleagues and mostly adopt similar behaviours. This makes for happy passengers which in turn makes a day’s work more of a pleasure for the crew. It is not perfect on every flight – but generally speaking the VAA crews are excellent.

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