Should I give up on BA?

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This topic contains 81 replies, has 24 voices, and was last updated by  edi-traveller 30 Jun 2011
at 20:10

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  • Anonymous


    Hi all,
    this is my first post after a year or so of lurking. I’m not entirely sure this’ll be of interest, as most of the travellers on here seem to be in CW & F, but I need to grind my axe somewhere…

    I typically fly 6-8 times per year London to various US locations, and 10-20 times per year into Europe. About half the European sectors are on my own money, to be with my family (I commute), and the rest of it is company money.

    My company (like many others, according to my entirely anecdotal survey of talking to the people next to me) has an economy-only policy for Europe, and a maximum of WT+ for US flights. Despite that, I’ve been Gold Exec Club for 2 years, and Silver for 4 years before that. (You’ll recognise me if you see me – bad back, bad knees, looking very tired…) My home address is European, in case you wondered.

    I’m in a quandary, for 2 reasons.

    Reason 1 is long-term – no MFU for TA bookings on BA. I complained bitterly about this a couple of years ago, and received a 2-class upgrade next flight (thanks!) But that’s no substitute for being able to upgrade to CW for a night flight back to LHR.

    My company now has Virgin Atlantic and AA as preferred fliers too – and I know I’d rack up status quickly on either. I flew VA 4 times last year, and on flight 4, already upgraded to Upper. They allow MFU on TA.

    Is there any chance, do you think, of MFU being allowed for TA bookings on BA?

    Reason 2 is more recent, and I’m probably a little bitter still. Flying yesterday EWR-LHR overnight in WT+ (no invol upgrade, sadly), there was only one drinks service. No seconds, not even with dinner. Not a biggy, ‘cos I didn’t want a headache, but I wouldn’t have minded the choice. It didn’t used to be like that, even late last year. Then the food, which was pretty bad – worst in years: “chicken makhani”, which was actually brown paste, white rice, and pale brown paste. Hmm. Never mind – it was a 767, so at least it had EOD. After a refreshing 2h sleep, I woke for breakfast.

    I watched the “special meal” passengers get the familiar snack box, with roll, yoghurt and fruit juice. Then the normals were served: a Lemon and Orange Muffin, with tea or coffee. Nothing else, not even juice. WT+ is a premium cabin, even if the premium is small, and I was miffed. (Flying on VA just over a year ago, I got a hot McMuffin-style roll, with a smoothie, and juice. It was nice, and filling enough).

    Enough is enough: BA isn’t so much nickel and diming, as doing just the minimum necessary not to be a LoCo, at least in WT+. It has changed almost beyond recognition in the last 6 years in service and generosity terms.

    So here’s my quandary. On the basis that invol upgrades seem to have ceased, that I’ll never be able to do MFU on TA bookings, and that the only major reasons to have Gold/Silver are nice lounge space, and preferential check-in at my stressful, chaotic European home airport (I don’t want to identify myself, but it’s in Italy), should I bother flying even once more with BA?

    One more thing: at my Euro home airport, the staff rarely respect the preferential check-in system anyway, and the lounge was abolished nearly 4 years ago. In compensation, you do get a voucher for €12 you can spend in 1 shop, instead.

    Should I drop BA? Any comments/advice appreciated (except, perhaps, “shut up and suck it down”…)


    I think it’s acknowledged by many people that BA must improve their WT+ product. Although they have the new seats, they need to offer a better selection of drinks/food and more attentive service. No doubt.

    Fortunately for me on all my BA long-haul flights, there were mutiple drinks services and often someone passed through the aisle with a water and orange juice tray.

    Don’t drop BA. Keep flying the flag!


    Ditch ’em!
    The entire BA service is just getting worse. No BA lounge in Paris CDG; No food on a 2.5 hour flight to Venice (a biscuit is not real food); CW food is often just meat sitting in a gravy in an attempt to keep it moist; Screens smaller than my iPhone in FIRST on flights to and from DXB (I went and sat in a CW seat to watch a film). VintageKrug will defend all of these points but then we all assume he works for BA anyway, so he (or she) is always fun to read.
    InfiniteFlyer, there are so many other better airlines out there, give them your money.


    I have been through a similar debate. Although I tend to travel mainly CE, CW or F the BA service is variable and the older 777s are inferior to many competitors products. However, I have travelled long haul in the last 12 months in business class on AF, EY, EK, SA, LH and LX and without exception variability also exists (e.g. try an EK 330 in business class DXB – DUR for 8 hrs 30 mins just about WT+ compared to the 380 or LX on an older 340 or AF on any service). The conclusion I came to was on balance with T5, the lounges, the crew and the overall service, BA was still comparably a good bet provided you can access the reasonably priced tickets through sales or early purchases. LX is a very close second for me.



    Can totally understand where you are coming from. From an insider POV I see on a regular basis that customers get peeved about many of the issues you mention.

    Firstly, the service standard was not followed on your EWR flight. You should have been offered a drink before your meal, then wine with the meal. This applies both in WT+ and WT.

    Keith Williams just announced our new five year business plan last week. On paper it looks good for the customer and for those of us serving you. It basically follows the notion that BA is back in a healthy financial position and is ready to invest in its product again after years of cash conserving, cost cutting and reducing capacity.

    Two of the issues you raise are part of the investment program. An ‘enhancement of the executive club proposition’ and improvements in the WT+ catering.

    While no specific details are given on the executive club proposition front I can give details of the WT+ catering changes which will come into effect very soon:
    – The hot entree dish will be changed from the current WT one to a CW dish served on crockery,
    – Proper cutlery and linen napkins.
    – A printed menu.

    Also 18 777-200’s will be retro fitted with the new WT+ seats currently found on the new 777-300’s. And seven of the longhaul 767’s will receive a complete cabin refurbishment with a 777 style interior. New sidewalls, 777 style overhead lockers, new carpets, toilets and the seats in all classes will be re-upholstered.

    While hardly industry leading, at least these changes are a step in the right direction and an acknowledgement that the current WT+ product just is not good enough.

    Its a shame the changes dont go further; choice of wines, pre departure drinks etc. But one of the constraints we have is the crew numbers on board. For comparisons sake, take Qantas Premium Economy Vs BA WT+. QF offer pre departure drinks, improved meals etc. They have a cabin of under 35 seats and two cabin crew dedicated to that cabin. At BA, on say the ‘mid J’ 747 (the one with WT+ in between CW and First), we have 36 seats and one crew member.

    Doors2Manual there will also be enhancements in CW catering. The £ amount spent per CW meal will be increased to improve quality. Better quality wines (and three each of red and white) will also be loaded. A new ‘customised sundae’ desert service is also being currently trialled on the LHR-JFK route and will be rolled out across the network if successful.

    And the iPhone sized IFE screens you refer to in FIRST have now been replaced with IPads. Though I agree, too little too late for some. In fact those 777’s that did have the old GMIS IFE system with tiny screens and tapes running on a loop and which now offer iPads in FIRST are being comletely gutted and having new seats in ALL four classes as well as being fitted with the Thales system which is on the new 777-300.


    Why just 18 777-200s? What about the others? Are they just upgrading the LHR fleet? What about plans for LGW North Terminal and fleet?


    BGI, only the 18 GMIS 777-200 will have the new Thales IFE fitted, as well as the newer WT and WT+ seats that you will find on the -300ER. The remaining 777 and 744 will keep the old style seats for both WT and WT+ and will not be retro fitted with the superb Thales IFE system.

    Of course the BA A380 and 787 will all feature the new hard product, including ( rumor has it ) a new Club seat. However even after these new jets begin joining the fleet in 2013 Q1, BA will have a substantial number of aircraft with the old, much maligned AVOD system, and rather tired WT and WT+ seats, 55 744 and 21 777’s in fact.


    Well thanks all so far – the various news items about WT+ service upgrades are encouraging.
    I hadn’t even mentioned the cosmetics of the cabin – but old, worn out, bent and broken come to mind. (On the outbound sector, I had to balance the tray table on my knees because the supporting lug on the next seat arm had been smashed off. I reported it, but I’m guessing it had been reported before).

    Heck, on an overnight MIA-LHR in January, the cabin hadn’t been cleaned, no WT+ toilet working, and only one of the downstairs CW ones. I wrote a complaint, and it only took until May before I received my reply.

    No opinion/comment/news about the MFU on travel agent bookings though.

    Does that mean it’s writ in tablets of stone?

    I do want to stay with BA, because I have nice memories, and there are so many good people in the cabin crews.

    If I could spend my miles upgrading my work trips occasionally, it wouldn’t really be a contest. It’s all very well to focus on the wine choices (and a valid focus too: the white wine – just 1 choice – on BA188 was like Archer’s Peach Schnapps; totally horrible!) but those are peripheral to me. I actually need a bit of comfort and space. Everything else, apart from safety, comes second.

    I suspect that applies to a number of other middle-aged and older passengers too.

    Oops. I appear to be suffering from flat-bed envy!


    Oh, and does anyone know if invol upgrades have really been reduced a lot, or is that just my own little piece of paranoid fantasy?


    Now I’m happy, two of the 777s destined for upgrades are based at LGW which means BGI and BDA will be getting the new WT and WTP!! G-VIIA and G-VIIB normally rotate as BA2155/BA2154! Yaaay!


    Its always good to look around, I fly Longhaul to asia every month, QR is my airline of choice however every trip I always check all the prices and if there is an airline cheaper in business class (very rare) and I know is reasonably ok i give them a go.

    never stay loyal to a line just for the points or status.



    I agree. Always look for best value (whatever that means to you.)


    I’d also say try other options. I was a slavish follower of SIA for many years but now enjoy the variety that looking around brings along with the recognition that SIA are not as special as they would have you believe and certainly nor are BA.


    It’s always good to try out other carriers. Partly to diversify the mileage portfolio and for novelty of a different product and service routine, which can easily become just that: routine.

    As for BA, whilst I don’t think it is near to the aviation powerhous it could or should be due to the failure of previous management to address the major structural problems, but now this has been done (albeit ten years too late) I am cautiously optimistic about its future.

    The hard and soft product investment is encouraging and Frank van def Post seems to have a clear mandate (and budget!) to invest here.

    Some things I am looking out for:

    – Possible acquisition of bmi from Lufthansa or at least a good number of surplus slots
    – More new long haul routes (both east and westbound) at LGW and LHR due to (in the case of LHR) the 787s entering service and (for transatlantic services) codesharing with AA making more new routes viable
    – Major reinvigoration of the brand due to a return of brand based marketing and 2012 Olympics sponsorship

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