Where BA First class has gone?

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  IanMcIntosh 30 Mar 2017
at 11:49
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  • pdwtrip
    Participant

    First Class – First World problems – like another member of this forum we have sold our business end of last year and going forward are able to plan long-haul trips to be in F.
    Over around 10 months we have 12 sectors booked in F – 4 x BA, 4 x Etihad and 4 x Emirates – a mixture of business and leisure trips.
    We just completed BA to MIA – and compared to Etihad and Emirates, and indeed to BA out of T5 earlier this year – it was a pared back/cut down experience.
    BA fly MIA from T3 – so there is a first class lounge shared with Gold, sit down dining with a very small menu (basically apart from the burger it was the buffet served on a plate), slow service (about half full) and if you want a drink – well it was easier to get it yourself, thin paper napkins and no sense of a premium experience.
    Champagnes – choice of one mediocre brand in white and rose – unimpressive.
    Boarding fine – shown to seat, seat (747) the usual – comfortable and spacious.
    Crew were professional and a credit to BA.
    Food – well as another member commented – it was pretty much what you would have got in CW a few years ago. Amuse bouche gone, also the Bistro Selection gone was no longer on offer on either leg.
    Ran out of desert choice (only 5 passengers in F!)
    The afternoon tea before landing was definitely CW standard.
    Entertainment was the old system, controller was intermittent and limited choice compared to the refurbished 747 or 380 (confused as I thought all the 747s have been upgraded).
    Wine/Champagne/desert wine- excellent choice.
    Return on A380 F – AA Lounge MIA OK – no first class (being rebuilt) – but for a US Club lounge we have had worse (LAS).
    On board spacious feel compared to 747 and comfortable seat as before – good 5 hours sleep.
    Served the same excellent champagne as on outward trip; a Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle. After one glass – sorry sir we have run out – they didn’t load enough on the way out!
    Substitute was not good so switched to a wine – but for F with only 6 passengers and only 3 drinking champagne – that is not acceptable.
    Service and food were well handled – served quickly as it should on an overnight flight.
    Limited menu as before.
    Entertainment obviously far better as the new system installed.
    Used the AA arrivals lounge T3 – first time in the new lounge – smart and good selection of food.
    One strange anomaly is that there is nowhere to park your luggage trolley in the lounge – you have to unload and dump the trolley outside. Where everyone else has left theirs – many blocking the emergency exit in the corridor – strange plan.
    So we are using BA with low expectations flying west – there is little competition in F on certain routes. Flying east it will be Etihad, Emirates or Cathay – now I would rate them at 2 divisions above BA overall, and on one trip next year we are paying more to fly Etihad than BA because the Apartment is such a good experience.
    Sure BA must have a plan but this looks to me as a managed move down market even though I feel emotionally that I would like to fly BA – but for this kind of money they cannot be recommended. Disappointing.


    JohnHarper
    Participant

    I see BA are up to their usual tricks of buy a ‘Club World’ ticket (a class of its own and not really business class) and get a free upgrade to their First Class offering (a bit like business class on other airlines). In the light of comments above might I suggest the new and accurate marketing line for BA to save them the cost of coming up with it themselves:

    British Airways First Class – so poor we have to give it away.


    esselle
    Participant

    I’m doing a quick spin over to Dubai beginning of next week with my wife for a few days winter sunshine. Burning AVIOS as F reward tickets to DXB are easy to find (have got a gazillion and wish you could sell them on ebay). Not looking forward to the outbound particularly (772), but mildly looking forward to the inbound as it will be on the newish 789, which friends tell me is actually rather nice. Let’s see how things go. The hotel though, our regular spot, is always outstanding, so that bit I am definitely looking forward to.


    JohnHarper
    Participant

    I’m doing a quick spin over to Dubai beginning of next week with my wife for a few days winter sunshine. Burning AVIOS as F reward tickets to DXB are easy to find (have got a gazillion and wish you could sell them on ebay). Not looking forward to the outbound particularly (772), but mildly looking forward to the inbound as it will be on the newish 789, which friends tell me is actually rather nice. Let’s see how things go. The hotel though, our regular spot, is always outstanding, so that bit I am definitely looking forward to.

    You could always aim to sleep both ways and dream that you were ‘Upgrading to Emirates!’ 😉


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    John, are you talking about that Emirates that flows passengers on lorries, packed with too many passengers?


    pdwtrip
    Participant

    Lots of new threads about BA continuing to slide down the quality threshold.
    Since my post in October we have been fortunate to complete 4 sectors for business in First with Emirates and a further 4 with Etihad. In terms of customer experience both airlines fulfilled the brief of making it special. Etihad have the edge with the Apartment cabin, the chef and attention to detail – as your car delivers you to T4 there is someone there to take the bags from the boot and deliver to check in – a relief for those of us with sore L3 in their backs.

    Emirates also have their strengths.

    We have just booked a further 4 sectors with Etihad in First and are about to book 4 more with Emirates for another business trip. Yes I am very fortunate as I travel with my wife at this stage of being semi retired.

    The reason I write this is that 3/4 years ago we ONLY would have travelled BA – we are now happy to pay a little extra sometimes for the amazing quality of service we have had from Etihad and Emirates. So BA have lost revenue of 2 passengers on 8 First sectors in a year – 16 First flights. But then they have saved money by cutting back of the operating costs of First.
    Is it good business?
    Do they really want to offer First?
    I do not believe they take First seriously – I wonder if they have to offer it to retain certain corporate contracts?


    seasonedtraveller
    Participant

    I have just returned from KUL with BA in 1st on both sectors on the 787(9) and managed to use the upgrade voucher both ways, which is a novelty.

    An average business class product pretending to be First.

    I know it, you know it & the crew know it.

    The food was bloody awful in both directions, seriously.

    Recent Business class long haul with SAS and Qatar outshone BA’s First by a long way.

    Friday I head out to PVG again & have chosen SAS over BA, it’s just a nicer all round experience for a similar price.


    thebigseats
    Participant

    I have 4 F sectors coming up in the second half of the year. One using Avios using a 2-4-1. Decent value. One a cash ticket (yikes!!) – but that was purchased at less than business class on anyone else I consider half decent. BA F was £1595 r/t for LHR-AUH-LHR on the precise dates I needed. A comfy way to travel – Just. About says it all really.


    Gold-2K
    Participant

    I like the first cabin on the A380 and the 787/9 (despite the very narrow aisles on the latter) but reality I travel in first as I’m really turned off by the 17 year old club class seat. On a recent BKK trip where there is no First I was reminded just how short of space you are in club world. I had a window seat. They gent next to me was “a person of size” and every time he moved and banged against the seat partition I thought we’d hit bad turbulance. Add to that the tiny screen and impersonal service and that’s why I travel in First. It’s pretty awful for BA when the main reason people travel First is because CW sucks so much.

    But the penny pinching in First has not gone un-noticed. Amuse bouche disappeared (though to be fair it typically wouldn’t have “amused” my pet labroadors “bouche”), no hot towels on the last 3 trips (or lukewarm threadbare rags to be more accurate), no more tasting menu on the A380, and on my most recent trip from LAX, the pre take off drink was the club class champagne served in a tiny glass off a blue plastic tray. Clearly wasn’t a vintage champagne which I challenged and was told “we haven’t opened the good stuff yet” …….. classy!!!!

    Menu was the standard Steak or Sea Bass. Regular First travellers will know the fish is nearly always Sea Bass. I’m guessing Messrs Walsh and Cruz have shares in the largest Sea bass farm in Europe ?.

    On a recent trip I ordered a pasta which came with a side of roasted veg. It was presented to me with the comment “this is a weird combination, hope it tastes better than it looks”. And this was from a legacy crew member who I assume was experienced. In case you are wondering, it did taste fine but must have cost around £1.50 so hardly fine a la carte dining in the “restaurant in the sky”.

    The last stroke of cost-cutting genius are the chocolates offered with coffee. I don’t have the biggest hands in the world but these eye catching hand made chocs are absolutely impossible to actually get out of the box. I’m convinced Alex Cruz has personally glued each one to the bottom of the box so you can’t get them out so they only need to refresh the box once every 3 months. Michael O’Leary would be proud of such cost saving creativity.

    Overall feeeling is the almost contempt the BA management have for their premium passengers.

    The only positive is the First seat is comfortable and while maybe not the biggest, it usually gives me a good nights sleep so I don’t have to lie awake wondering why Mr Cruz attributes so little value to my continued (and now seemingly misplaced) loyalty.


    IanMcIntosh
    Participant

    Recent First Class flight we were on from Barbados was shockingly terrible. Unbelievable poor service, other passenger with broken seat, IFE not working (“it shouldn’t do that – we don’t have an engineer on board, so we can’t fix it until we Gatwick” – you don’t say), and they didn’t know how to set a table! See picture: that’s the side plate with cutlery around it from when the table was first “laid”. No greeting, just name pointed to on on piece of paper with question – “is that you?” Cabin was full, another couple’s daughter was in Club. They are asked would it be OK if their daughter dined with them in First? Answer was, absolutely not! Crew only let her dine in First if one of the couple forewent a meal, so the husband had some cheese and a packet of crisps!

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