New Club World & First Changes

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This topic contains 58 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  Panda01 20 Mar 2019
at 14:42
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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 59 total)

  • Speedbird1994
    Participant

    Dear all,

    Yesterday I had the pleasure to chat to someone at BA who is working on the new First product at Heathrow, and we also spoke about the new Club World coming later in the year. Much I suspect will be familiar to forum members, but it was an interesting conversation nonetheless. Here’s what emerged:

    – As widely acknowledged already, the A350-1000s will be in a 3 class configuration, but from what was said yesterday, this seems to have been a fairly late change, with the planes originally planned to be 4 class, and only changing to 3 class under Cruz’s tenure.
    – They will begin flying on familiarisation flights to Madrid, before entering the longhual schedule on an undisclosed route. The route will be announced in March, along with hopefully the new Club World product, so not too long to wait now.
    – Originally, BA was planning a revised form of its current ying/yang configuration in New Club World (codenamed Vector), possibly hence the plethora of patents that appeared a few years back. Cruz apparently felt these weren’t radical enough, hence a whole new product is coming to the A350s, but BA apparently hasn’t had chance to design a bespoke product from scratch, hence New Club World will be an off-the-shelf product, modified with a ‘BA touch’.
    – Apparently, the New Club seat will be ‘very similar’ to BA’s current First Class product, whether this means a reverse-herringbone 1-2-1 configuration such as Cathay Pacific’s or Finnair’s, was not disclosed.
    – White Company bedding will continue as will the new meal services.
    – Apparently, the man responsible for introducing the new business class to SAS has also recently joined BA. I flew with SAS in Business to Tokyo back in August, and it was a pretty faultless experience, so if he can bring some of this magic to BA there will be exciting times ahead.

    In First:
    – Cabins on the 777s will be reduced to 8 seats, and all new deliveries will have no more than 8 seats in F to maintain a more intimate feel.
    – New bedding, crockery and catering will launch in May, with an emphasis on small, ‘grassroots’ luxury British brands. I can’t remember what the brands were, unfortunately and I hadn’t heard of any of them. A big change will be the introduction of full size glassware, and more premium ingredients from local butchers, etc. I asked about the introduction of a caviar service such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France offer, apparently this has been considered, but isn’t coming as BA didn’t want to fit in with the crowd (read into that what you will!), but instead caviar will be worked into the canapés and appetisers in some way.
    – The new First service has already been trialled on the San Jose route, whether the new service will roll out fully in May or only on selected routes, I alas don’t know.
    – The ground product at Heathrow is also being looked at, with BA actually ‘benchmarking’ against Lufthansa and Air France, so hopefully there will be some positive improvements here.

    Anyway, probably much of this isn’t particularly new information, but hopefully some of it is, and hopefully gestures towards positive improvements ahead!


    StephenLondon
    Participant

    Thanks so much for the info…I do hope the person you spoke with at BA gave you the go-ahead to post all the info on a forum. As you say, much of what you outline has been posted on various forums for a while, and some have trialled the new service in First, which looks good and hopefully will raise the differential between Club and ‘Club Plus’ as many are calling First these days.

    The sentiment I draw out of the information you have shared is that BA seem to be not on a mission to deliver world-class products with outstanding service, but are heading towards (and seem content with) a premium product that is very much ‘middling’. I do find this sad for a company that has been innovative and revolutionary in the past. This all seems to be very much a bag of plain crisps, Tesco own brand perhaps, rather than anything gourmet, new, exciting and creative. Did you get the feeling from your contact that any WOW factor would be added? Or, as is the current offering, will BA continue to deliver something that is merely good enough?


    capetonianm
    Participant

    I await with baited breath. We are heading for CPT in a few weeks and because BA C class is the cheapest – by a huge margin – of any of the EU carriers, in fact even cheaper than ME3 which I won’t use anyway, we may go BA.

    I normally fly LX or KL, they are double BA, so I suppose I’ll have to grit my teeth and accept the lower standard. It will certainly make me appreciate Swiss next time I fly them.


    Speedbird1994
    Participant

    From the conversation I had, this is definitely the sense I got, that the new catering/crockery/bedding will definitely elevate the First Class premium experience, and although I think ‘middling’ is perhaps a little harsh, the focus seems definitely to be on refining the details, adding little luxuries, and just improving the all round quality, rather than aiming for a full-on wow factor. The fact BA are partnering with small, luxury brands really brings this home I think, focusing on intimate, high-quality over the big-name bling factor. Whether that’s the right move or not, time will tell once it is rolled out. But I do like the way they are bucking the trend by avoiding the big-name brands, and going instead for something a little more innovative and personal to the airline.


    SGJNI1961
    Participant

    If only BA could have been bothered to get much right to date.

    Went AMS-CPT for Christmas. Flight down acceptable, was able to sleep after a very dull meal but was at least able to have a drink of my choice. CX lounge in T3, J and F, embarrasses BA but I’m sure they don’t care.

    On the return, it was worse. Pre take off Champagne barely wet the glass. After take off we found out why. There was no champagne. Or Gin. Or food for a long period of time, the Upper Deck galley stoves not working and the bar hadn’t been refreshed in CPT. Company policy. Food eventually came from downstairs. I complained and asked to speak to the CSM. She was too busy and sent the “section leader”!. Her explanation for the lack of service ended up being’”its the fault of the crew on the way down, they allowed the passengers to drink too much”!!!???? I explained I paid for the same ticket and service which I wasn’t getting. I asked for Avios as compensation thinking that would be and end of it but no, BA have emailed to say they are looking into the matter. Can’t wait.

    Crew welcomed 3 of the 20 pax on the Upper Deck although it transpired all of us but 2 were Gold. I also never got a straight answer as to whether the whole aircraft was short of provisions or only “our” galley. It seemed that nothing could come from downstairs except as some sort of special favour and we should feel luck and gratefull as they found 2 gins for us. Once. The whole experience was a shambles.

    Perhaps this is why BA charges less than all the others, they provide so much less?


    capetonianm
    Participant

    “the focus seems definitely to be on refining the details” = rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I couldn’t care less what type of soap or bogroll they have in the toilets, or if they serve Fever Tree or Schweppes Gin. I want a clean aircraft, not one that has bins so grubby I don’t want to put my case in them, a seat/bed that looks clean and new and fresh, and that works properly, not frayed, dirty, and tatty, and a meal that looks appetising. I could go on but I won’t bother, it’s all been said before.


    rferguson
    Participant

    If only BA could have been bothered to get much right to date.

    Went AMS-CPT for Christmas. Flight down acceptable, was able to sleep after a very dull meal but was at least able to have a drink of my choice. CX lounge in T3, J and F, embarrasses BA but I’m sure they don’t care.

    On the return, it was worse. Pre take off Champagne barely wet the glass. After take off we found out why. There was no champagne. Or Gin. Or food for a long period of time, the Upper Deck galley stoves not working and the bar hadn’t been refreshed in CPT. Company policy. Food eventually came from downstairs. I complained and asked to speak to the CSM. She was too busy and sent the “section leader”!. Her explanation for the lack of service ended up being’”its the fault of the crew on the way down, they allowed the passengers to drink too much”!!!???? I explained I paid for the same ticket and service which I wasn’t getting. I asked for Avios as compensation thinking that would be and end of it but no, BA have emailed to say they are looking into the matter. Can’t wait.

    Crew welcomed 3 of the 20 pax on the Upper Deck although it transpired all of us but 2 were Gold. I also never got a straight answer as to whether the whole aircraft was short of provisions or only “our” galley. It seemed that nothing could come from downstairs except as some sort of special favour and we should feel luck and gratefull as they found 2 gins for us. Once. The whole experience was a shambles.

    Perhaps this is why BA charges less than all the others, they provide so much less?

    I can say honestly that in 17 years of flying longhaul at BA I can count on one hand the amount of time we have run out of champagne in J. There are a lot of things that make BA J exceptionally mediocre – most obviously the seat. But running out of champagne (or other drinks) is typically not one of them. I notice from reviews that I read online that these events seem to happen more and more on Mixed Fleet operated flights.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Inquisitive
    Participant

    Each on his own preference. Although I do not travel BA much these days, I used to travel BA a lot a few years ago long haul (before the present ceo time). Any my experience with both food and drinks was quite good (in J).
    But if BA offers much lower fare now compared to others, and people prefer that lower fare over other airlines, shall not they also adjust the expectations?
    I travel economy for my vacation trips. I follow these routine: if lounge offering are not good, at airport get a good burger from a good restaurant and get a good pint of beer. That is good for upto 8 hours flight. Any additional drinks in the flight is icing on the cake. At some good airlines SQ/Qatar/Jet Airways the economy food is also good, so I take that if I feel hungry.
    Basically if I paid cheap fare, I adjust my expectations and don’t complain on food and drinks.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Most of my BA J class travel is overnight longhaul (Asia). I manage to sleep sufficiently well in the current seat. I find the new bedding fiddly, tend to just throw the duvet over me without ‘making up the bed’. The pillow is a great improvement though. Food did improve on rollout but now find it mediocre at best.

    Dislike facing backwards (window seat) but I guess one needs to compromise. As for stepping over people legs at night, another compromise, I apologize profusely when I step over them, but there is absolutely nothing you can do if you need to get out of your seat.

    Having ‘facetime’ with a stranger is uncomfortable, but I tend to put the screens up as soon as possible.

    My main wish for any new J class, would crew / cleaners / maintenance ensure the seat areas are clean, fresh and the ‘toys’ all work. But in any decent airline, that would all be pretty standard in any cabin & all seats face forward.

    Very strangely, I sleep much better in the J seat over the current F seat (and no, I will not turn the occasional upgrade down 🙂 )

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    StephenLondon
    Participant

    At least someone is looking at ADDING things into the BA F product, not taking away (or ‘enhancing’) like they have over the past few years.

    But using small suppliers? Boutique?

    BA are not a boutique brand, they are (were) a big brand, and many customers expect that to be met with quality, known suppliers. I understand quite a few suppliers have turned BA down as they don’t want to be associated with a brand that has slipped back to ‘middling’ status (and I use that word again as that is what I feel BA are aiming for…’good enough’ but not great).

    Sadly, if BA feel they have to offer lower fares, then they will lose/have lost the higher margin customer to competitors like LH, SQ, CX and the ME4 as their premium offerings including quality and known suppliers. For the Asian and ME markets, big brands are king, not boutique ones.


    Flyboy18
    Participant

    And yet you say in your earlier post you are considering BA for a forthcoming flight….clearly you are cost driven and then happy to sit there and pick the service and product to pieces…surely that makes for a very unhappy flight for yourself!

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    capetonianm
    Participant

    I have just booked our next couple of trips to ZA on OS and LX. Instead of paying €1430 for a very poor BA C product on tatty aircraft, or €1200 for W, I’ve booked daylight flights both ways between EU and CPT, premium economy on OS and with the Economy Max seats on LX, with 24 hour stopovers in VIE and ZRH, and saved €1000 for a product and service which suits me better than BA. We won’t need the flatbeds as they are daylight flights which I enjoy, and the money we saved will be far better spent on decent hotel and meals in ZRH and VIE.

    If it’s cheap enough I’ll use BA, and accept its faults, but if there’s an alternative, why should I compromise?


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Perhaps this is why BA charges less than all the others, they provide so much less?

    For point to point, BA do not charge less, in fact they are quite expensive, hence why I use ex-Europe. This is no different to using an ex-UK ticket if I wanted to accumulate Star points with one of the European carriers.

    Interestingly, my last couple of longhaul’s on BA, the upper deck on the 380 were not full and I had no seat companion.


    nevereconomy
    Participant

    IF LH and AF are the benchmark for their new FIRST, they have a VERY long way to go ! 8 seats instead of 14 is not going to do it..though it will be an improvement – wonder how many FA for the 8?


    esselle
    Participant

    Hmmmm

    787 is 8 seats, two crew, one loo.

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