To BA or not to BA……?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  dutchyankee 15 Dec 2009
at 08:57
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  • Anonymous

    Binman62
    Participant

    Given the media reports over the weekend and across the internet this morning on the mood of BA cabin crew, would anyone actually book with BA over the festive period?

    Those on restricted and non flexible tickets will surely have already committed to flights and will have no option but to hope for the best. Are they worried?

    Cabin Crew and their unions must know that they have only one shot at this, as post Christmas and New Year when load factors will plummet, BA would probably welcome a shut down to preserve some cash if not their reputation.

    I my self have family of 4 booked in F to SYD mid December back Jan 3rd and already looking at my options as I cannot afford to be disrupted on the way home ( beyond normal opertaional disruption).

    Thoughts welcome


    JonathanCohen09
    Participant

    Hi Binman,

    I share your concerns, not for me but for two of my children who are due to travel to the US over the festive period. They are travelling in C class on flexible tickets. Given they have to be back in time to start their new terms I cannot risk them having a problem due to industrial action.

    My travel agent is looking into options for me at the moment but I intend to hold seats on another carrier until we see what the BA crew decide to do.

    I am not sure what type of F class tickets you hold but would suggest that you protect your position by having something else on hold.

    You could fly with SQ or EK and if you choose the right flights could experience their A380 which from the feedback in this forum is excellent on both carriers. You could also switch to Quantas if you are keen to stick with a Oneworld carrier?

    Finally, I would not wait too long as, I am sure you are aware, all the flights to Aus in all classes get pretty full at that time of year.

    I hope that is of use and look forward to hearing what you decide to do. I will post what I do as soon as I know.

    PS Before anyone jumps on me for saying that I am flying BA when in previous posts I have said I would not, my kids are lucky enough to be flying with the son of a Prem card holder an so there are no charges for seat selection.


    Hess963
    Participant

    Hi everyone !!

    As far as from my recent comments regarding the matters of BA crews in general, it was obvious that such development will arise one day. It has happened in 1997 onced- with the 3 day strike. And it could happen this december 09 as well.

    It is really time that the whole Walsh team in Waterside consider to take the actions and decisions wisely otherwise there will be some unexpected problems during the festive seasons.
    We are talking about human beings here with every right to fight for their existence and it is only good to see and hear from time to time that
    fighting for one’s rights and aspiration for a better life or to sustain one’s hard achieved standard of living– is a honest fight and should be heared and taken seriously.

    I on my side definitely support the BA crews on this issue. I know that everyone who is affected of a possible strike is not happy or in rage right now–but be sensitive enough for the crews–as in life there are some circumstances where pax are affected from strikes like flying with AF or AZ. As far as why during the festive seasons–well Mr. Walsh can still obviate the worst–if he wants it sincerly.


    NTarrant
    Participant

    I am sorry Hess but you sound as though you are a union representative for BA crew! I have simpathy with the crew that their conditions are being eroded, but do you really think that strike is in the best interest for the airline or indeed the staff?

    It has been well discussed in other threads that BA crew had gold plated conditions which are costing the airline money in times of recession. What is interesting is that in another thread we hear that BMI is loosing £200 million, half of what BA is loosing and with a quarter of the network. Do you think that there will not be some drastic cuts there?

    The simple facts are that any passenger carrying modes biggest costs are staffing and fuel, it is just economics that the staffing levels have to change to relect the revenue. How can the airline be competative against profit making Ryanair et al without changes? There has to be some give and take.


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    Once again I would suggest you look very keenly at the Unions when examining all this.

    I read in the paper this weekend that a Cabin Service Director (CSD) on a legacy contract can earn around £70,000 (with bonuses) a year for under 900 hours work. That includes standard additional bonus payments like £1,000 for a round trip on a “high workload flight”.

    Now it is quite right that (for health reasons) the number of hours in the sky is limited. Sure it is hard work while you are dealing with passengers. But there is significant downtime, often in very pleasant (union negotiated) city centre four star plus hotels.

    Just muse on the fact that represents an hourly wage of £77. Not bad money, really.

    BA is asking for quite rational changes in working practices, the like of which we in the private sector have had to accommodate over the past year.

    I appreciate the oft repeated example of the junior crew member on £11,000 a year, but this is the exception, not the rule and is in fact not actually what the strike is about.

    The actual pay scales, refernced in the article I quote below, and especially when you take into account all the other additional payments, are significantly more than any other UK based airline. This is fact. See below for further information:

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article6466748.ece

    Couple those higher wages with some highly restrictive working practices, and it is clear that it is time for a change.

    Now I am not appraised of *all* the facts here. And I have a great deal of sympathy for the BA staffmembers, some of whom I have come to know well in my travels.

    But whatever the detail of the dispute is, it is oversimplification to suggest WIllie should cave in and rescind these changes to working practices (I think there are 13 specific changes being discussed – would be interesting if anyone can find a list of what they are).

    As far as I have read these are things like stopping subsidised food at the Airports (to what extent does your firm subsidise your work canteen – if you even have one?), reducing holidays from 34 to 32 (I don’t know many firms which have such generous vacation packages), removing a crewmember on some flights (by asking the CSD to muck in when necessary) – these are wholly manageable changes which are not about squeezing the pips out of the lowest paid workers.

    Caving in to the union would cripple the airline with a permanently significantly higher cost base than counterparts, and is not sustainable.

    I also think it’s important to make the distinction between the Union and the crew themselves.

    The Union has a self-interested motivation to perpetuate itself and its officers; it is not motivated by any sense of working together with the airline to deliver profitability or sympathy with passengers, however it might portray itself.

    A strike, if called, would seriously impact the earnings of its worst paid members at a difficult time of year; damaging the incomes of the most vulnerable to protect the legacy T&Cs of some of the best paid UK crew around.

    If the union succeeds in resisting change, then BA will not be able to compete.

    While a victory for the Union may sound an attractive prospect, it would be Phyrric.

    Some terms and conditions may be temporarily safeguarded for those crewmembers on generous legacy T&Cs, such union intransigence would necessitate a marked increase in the numbers of crew needing to be made redundant.

    Ultimately, this could lead to a bankruptcy for the airline and the establishment of a NewCo to run BA – and that would actually be a very neat solution for management. The pension liabilities would be ring fenced into the legacy business and new terms & conditions would be offered to staff.

    They would not be anything like as generous as those new T&Cs and working practices currently being offered in this revised package.

    I appreciate it may seem like the Union is protecting “the little guy” but that is far from the truth, and while I am sure we would all like to see crew continuing to enjoy the best pay package and T&Cs possible, that is just not reality in the current especially competitive global airline marketplace.

    All these ruminations are probably best left to sites like http://www.pprune.org where crew can air their gripes ad nauseam.

    I will continue to support both BA and the people who work there by flying the airline. However, the threat of industrial action will make many reconsider, remote though I believe the actuality of that action is. That is damaging to BA, the Unions and its members.

    WW has an opportunity to take action and make necessary changes at BA, and good luck to him.


    Hess963
    Participant

    Hi everyone !!

    First to Nigel–I am not a BA union representative–but if it sounds so-it is okay for me- as these are my opinions towards it. It is absolutely obvious that there will be changes–but is it that hard to get a proper compromise which both parties can really live and built on it.?
    It should be a consensus which both management and employees are winners ! There are and will be some give and take–if they agree on both sensible grounds and actions.

    To VK–some of your arguments are right and I even understand them. But as you have known by now–every one has its own opinion and view of the aspects discussed here and both sides are legitimate to be talked about.

    But how come that eventhough you argue very objectively–you give your readers the feeling you do have some oversights in Waterside politics which no normal BA frequent flyer will ever have or at least you have very tight information channels to some BA insiders—
    ( 13 specific changes ??, reducing 34 days to 32, ….)

    One aspect did catch my attention- do you mean cutting the BA employees privilege of having subsidised food in LHR? If so–why do you begrudge them of not having it ?

    As I have said before, if though you have objectively good arguments–the real sound of your comment is more reducing costs –how insensitive they be for the side of the employees —and no strikes as it would lead to a negative performance of BA’s share values.

    Hess


    JonathanCohen09
    Participant

    Hello everyone,

    this is a very difficult but serious issue for the airline both from the point of view of the cabin crew and the management and therefore by definition the airline as a whole.

    I would like to suggest that unions and management alike take a leaf out of the book of, I think it is Nissan,(I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong), where the management and union sat down together and came up with a plan where everyone, workers and mangement alike, agreed to take a pay cut and periodically, depending on demand, work a shorter week.

    In doing this, the union secured an agreement whereby there would be no compulsory redundancies thereby safeguarding jobs and continued production. The agreement also ensured that Nissan would commit to the production of new models in the UK instead of abroad.

    It would be very nice if BA’s mangement and Unions could get together and come to some similar type of arrangement where there was compromise on BOTH sides for the benefit of all.

    Hopefully sense will prevail and BA’s long term future will be assured.


    fclassflyer
    Participant

    I am with BA management on this issue.

    Like most legacy carriers BA staff have an exaggerated sense of their value, carried over from the days when they were a state enterprise. The same exists at other carrier such as AI, MH etc and in the end we passengers pay for these excessive packages in the form of poor value for money.

    Compare how much we pay for a BA First product vis a vis EK / EY / IT / 9W and then contrast the cabin fittings and food (I will not say service as I feel BA First crews offer a good and professional service but nothing superior to justify their salaries) on BA First when compared to these other airlines. It is quickly apparent that money has been diverted from the passenger experience to pay for inflated wages and pensions.

    BA crew are not being asked to work for a pittance, all they are being asked to do is to take a reality check and come down to reasonable working conditions and packages.

    In the long run passengers are voting with their vote and were it not for the US-UK monopoly, BA would have found itself in much more trouble, much quicker as passengers like myself will always select carriers offering the best value to the paying passenger and not the fattest pay packet to the cabin crew.


    continentalclub
    Participant

    Hess963 – you seem concerned that VintageKrug may have access to information regarding the proposals made by BA that are not in the public domain.

    Helpfully or unhelpfully, the detail of the proposals has been discussed so widely that the web is awash with comment and, in fact, there are not just 13 proposals but up to 32.

    There are challenging times ahead, but clarity of thought, acceptance of reality and honesty of intent will be vital if British Airways cabin crew and managers can ultimately reach sustainable understanding.

    For my part, whilst I am maintaining a close eye on developments, I am not yet amending any travel plans, nor am I modifying my plans for future bookings. To do so seems to me likely to ensure that cabin crew will suffer (by adding to the depression of loads yet further), which ever side of the political argument one happens to espouse.


    JordanD
    Participant

    I’m definitely with the BA Management on this one; businesses need to evolve and change to suit the environment in which they exist. As Darwin put it, it is survival of the fittest; if BA’s union members fail to let the airline implement it changes, it will not be a “fit” airline and will not survive.

    If Cabin Crew don’t like the new T&Cs, they should try getting their current “package” elsewhere – I’m sure there are many who would love to be BA Cabin Crew, and would do it for the rates of the new T&Cs.

    To go back to the original poster, I’m booked on tickets LHR-BOM-LHR over the Christmas period. The tickets are BA Miles, so limited change, limited refundable. I’m travelling separately from my parents, who are also on similar tickets but on a different day … however in the event of any trouble, I expect my parents (travelling together) to have a better time of it than I as my mother is a Gold Card holder (if that counts for anything).

    Worst come to worse, it’s Christmas in the UK with family here, rather than family there. You’ve got to be philosophical about these things.


    FaroFlyer
    Participant

    Like many of those posting, on this occasion I am with BA management. For the airline to survive there must be change. Bankruptcy would, in the long term, make this better for travellers but an immediate disaster for employees and shareholders alike. It would make little difference to the union leaders who have a self interest.

    On a personal note, I always find that the best service, in F or J, occurs when the CSD does take an active part in the service. There is a noticeable improvement, and most seem to enjoy the professional interaction with passengers and crew alike. It is the clear difference between having the A, B or C team on board.

    I do think that BA management are undecided about whether the airline is full service, or low cost, and they need to make a clear decision and provide the appropriate level of service. To me it is clear that it is no use trying to be a low fare airline unless you have the right cost base.


    JordanD
    Participant

    As a sub-point, today’s BBC News reports a ballot result on 14th December. Assuming UK law is followed and notice is given, this means a strike no earlier than 21st December.

    For long haul international travellers, I’m going to guess a lot of people will have travelled by then, so the problem may well be for people trying to get home post-Christmas. For domestic & European travellers, it’s not looking nearly as good.


    Account_Deleted
    Participant

    Account deleted


    oldchinahand
    Participant

    geohoveuk is rather missing the point which as I see it is the need for BA cabin crew union to accept the inevitable or kill the airline. There are very extreme views in this thread few of which offer a workable solution, The BA cabin crew have been feather bedded for many years enjoying the sort of terms and conditions that were fazed out up to fifteen years ago by most first level successful airlines. They should grab with both hands the revised conditions by BA management which are still far better than Virgin and most other European airlines.
    BAs service standards are not that good when compared other ‘one world’ carriers and do not warrant the now over generous T and Cs that are now just not possible for BA management to continue to offer.
    The unions stance is frankly ridiculous in the prevailing environment and if it refuses the very reasonable conditions offered the will critically wound BA and as has happened with most other disputes of this nature will ultimately find them selves presiding over thousands of their members with out jobs as the airline will cease to exist in anything like its present form.
    As I recall many years ago CX hand a similar situation with their cabin crew. They fired the lot and rehired 98% of them the next day on the new conditions…not so simple to do these days unfortunately!

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