The future of Premium Cabins on BABack to Forum
Anonymous20 Aug 2011
BA led the way with the ‘lie flat’ Club seat & First Class used to be a good experience.
Middle Easter & Asian carriers now provide, IMO better products. BA may retain a better product across the atlantic, but then American carriers are not particularly good.
I would suggest that in the interests of profitability all round, perhaps BA should ditch First Class & invest in a Club Class product that surpasses all of the competition & can be consistent on all routes. Personally I prefer the ‘herringbone’ pattern of Business Class on the likes of ANZ & the new alternate seating on Swiss to the crowded 8 abreast seating on BA.
I recently flew Cathay Pacific First which is leaps ahead of BA. The new CX Business Class product, as I may have mentioned on an earlier post is also superb. If Cathay could operate round the world routes, they would have my business for sure.20 Aug 2011
I can’t see them dropping first class. It’s hard to contemplate an A380 without First. But no question they need to up the game on club world. The last update was an evolution, but the next one needs to be a step change. They achieved it when the introduced the first lie flat bed in first in mid 90s and again in 2000 / 2001 in club, so don’t be surprised if they do it again with the next gen club world. I’m a big BA fan, but they need to do something.20 Aug 2011
I am also a BA fan. As you say, they led the way with the first lie flat bed.
In business, to keep ahead, one needs constant improvement & sadly, as a BA shareholder I don’t see they’ve stayed ahead.
I see no reason why an A380 can’t operate without a First Class. I’d be happy with a Business Class product that can offer space, a comfy seat / bed & consistent tasty catering.
BA’s new First Class is more up to date but still not leader in it’s class, & I find the food disappointing. Dishes are similar to Club quality but served separately.20 Aug 2011
I don’t think BA will drop First class. There is still a market for it on many routes. Although there are better/bigger products on other carriers, the benefit of some aspects of their First class products (private cabins etc) is questionable.
The existence of First class is also an important differentiator for competing against Virgin Atlantic. A gold cardholder flying Upper Class on Virgin gets very little in terms of extra benefits whereas a gold cardholder flying Club World on BA has access to First class check in, lounges, as well as the chance of an upgrade to First, whether through miles or an operational upgrade, as well as full miles redemption opportunities.20 Aug 2011
http://www.newclubworld.com is among the market leaders on the majority of BA’s routes.most particularly on its North American core market.
Being direct from London is a big selling point, and the timings and frequencies are normally very good, as is the transit experience at T5 for those from elsewhere in the network.
The lounge offering across the network is without parallel (in terms of the breadth of the network, the services offered therein, especially at outstations) and this is a key selling point.
It’s a very strong hard product which needs to up its game in terms of on board service (being addressed through crew training and service changes) and on board catering (similarly being addressed), especially so as other airlines introduce flat beds in their business cabin, over a decade after BA took the decision to do so.
New http://www.ba.com/first is widely available across the fleet and should be fully rolled out by mid2012.
I think it’s a very competitive product, especially of like me you don’t want to hemmed in a walled up “suite”. Here service and F&B are also being addressed. I can’t see F being removed altogether, but I can see more new premium leisure routes being opened without F, or with F not being offered on all daily frequencies.
The larger F capacity also means it is more likely you’ll be bale to get a seat if booking last minute, and also increases room for those seeking BA Miles redemptions. Others may perceive this as a downside.
BA is currently in a “peak age” fleet phase; new aircraft are being delivered all the time, albeit slowly (which is good as it eases out the peaks and troughs of old aircraft vs. new) and these new aircraft will further enhance the on board experience.21 Aug 2011
BA, and all airlines, have a challenge knowing exactly what to provide in terms of cabin choice. It takes a long time and a lot of money to equip a fleet, yet customer preferences can change very quickly. The result is unless they adopt the budget airline approach of having their fleets all the same, the next best option is to have enough different configurations to be able to switch planes between routes, which is far easier than reconfiguring them.
The result is that BA and some others have some planes with 1 class, some with 2, some with 3 and some with all 4. Which must be a nightmare to manage. I don’t know any other type of transport which has four classes of travel except cruise liners – which are more hotels than transport.
Mind you, even then the airlines can find they have problems, as on some routes, the loading in the various classes differs hugely on the outward and return legs. The classic here is trans-Atlantic routes, where premium economy is perfectly acceptable on the way to the US but notably less comfortable than a flat bed on the way back.
I work for a company with twin centres in the US and UK, and we buy a large number of flights between the two each year. For reasons of economy, we are now asked to fly WTP westbound (ie day flights to USA), while still being allowed CW eastbound (ie overnight flights to UK). BA have noticed this and our special route deals have been adjusted so that the mark-up for upgrading from WTP to CW when flying UK-US has been very sharply reduced. And you can see BA’s point – those CW seats have to get to the US for us to be able to take them coming back to UK!
Nothing is simple if you run an airline …21 Aug 2011
The usual ‘promote BA’ blurb from VK, & this time with two spelling mistakes.
You are right that ‘nothing is simple if you run an airline’. Then again, running any business is not simple.
Irrespective of whether BA should consolidate First Class & Club World, there are enough comments on this forum encouraging BA to acquire new aircraft, upgrade the seat / bed & catering facilities.
Disappointing to read in today’s press, whether it is true or not, that the only BA service to Australia will be via Singapore to Sydney. Down to 1 Australian city where BA used to serve 5 Australian cities in the 80s.21 Aug 2011
The debate about whether BA longhaul should go 3 class instead of 4, could easily go the other way and discuss whether there should be a 5th class (perhaps upstairs on the 747) the good old limited service and quiet snooze zone!
I think First is marketed merely for prestige purposes. Most (NOT ALL) First passengers are PROBABLY, but not definitely, upgrades, mileage or staff.
NCW is excellent and with a few enhancements could be combined with First to produce perhaps a Concorde Class, which should provide enough snob value and elitism for those in need of a fix.
After all, the top lounges are no longer First, but Concorde.
Just a thought!!21 Aug 2011
Through the JSA with Qantas BA continues to serve most Australian destinations, just not using its own metal.
Until BA gets the higher capacity A380 in 2013, it makes sense to use the Qantas Aircraft to maximise returns and efficiencies on the route.
It is entirely erroneous to suggest “most” F passengers are upgrades, mileage or staff.
Very few staff have F privileges. While it is often possible to get up to 8 F seats available for redemption in any one cabin, BA is able to leverage the F cabin such that it can be sold, unlike the model followed by many US airlines.
BA is acquiring a new fleet (the first batch of which arrived last year).
BA is installing a completely new F cabin.
BA introduced a completely new Club World product less than four years ago.
BA has completely new lounges at its LHR base, and continues to refresh its existing portfolio to Galleries standard.
Service issues are being addressed, the first stage of which was the painful process of getting BASSA out of the loop, which has succeeded.
Food and Beverage is already improved on the round (viz. new First lounge dining menu) and the Height Cuisine programme will deliver a sea change in on board dining once implemented; the wine cellar will take time to change as lead times are very long, but we’re already seeing changes for the better on that front, and it was never as bad as many would make out on here.21 Aug 2011
It is true that BA operated services are to be reduced to one daily service via SIN.
However, BA does via its joint operation with Qantas offer one stop services to four Australian cities via Singapore, as well as two stop services to many more cities via codeshares from Sydney.
Services to Australia from London are very expensive to crew and, from a utilisation perspective, are a poor use of aircraft.
Some of the cities previously served by BA/BOAC were 2+ stop services and the economics of these just don’t add up, not least when competing against the carriers in the Middle East.21 Aug 2011
“It is entirely erroneous to suggest “most” F passengers are upgrades, mileage or staff”.
From a factual point of view, neither of us are in a position to support either statement.
Shame really as I think most people would be suprised by the % split.
I hasten to add that I do not have access to the information. Its all based on the number of staff and upgrades who are travelling in First as well as NCW.
I included it in the discussion, not about the “upgrades”, but about premium classes in general and is there need from the revenue paying passengers perspective.
Is there a need for First, I agree from a prestige basis, yes, but I also believe that NCW far exceeds Virgin Upper that the differentiator Hippocampus speaks off is aleady clear to see.
So perhaps a revamped combined First / NCW would be a way forward.
Again, just a thought.21 Aug 2011
BA Source yesterday
Early 747-400s not to undergo new First refit.
It is rumoured that eight early Boeing 747-436 aircraft will not have new First cabins fitted.
Plausibility rating 7/10. – The oldest 747 currently flying, G-BNLE has new First fitted. However the recent visits to Cardiff-Wales of G-BNLI and G-BNLJ which did not include having new First fitted lends credence to the story.22 Aug 2011