Bmi dropped its business class cabin on most short-haul routes back in 2005 (see online news May 26, 2005), but kept the offering on key short-haul routes from London Heathrow to Belfast City, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow. However from January 27 the short-haul business class cabin will be dropped altogether, and replaced with a one-cabin economy and flexible economy offering.
The new flexible economy offering (fare codes C, D, J and Y) includes fully flexible tickets, access to executive lounges, and free food and drink in-flight (hot breakfast Panini, fresh muffin and a hot drink before 0930, and “a range of complimentary food and drinks” throughout the rest of the day).
Bmi also points out that the new flexible economy fare will guarantee passengers a seat at the front of the plane (albeit without a curtain separating economy and flexible economy passengers), and will attract a lower rate of APD than the previous business class option.
Lufthansa-owned Bmi says it is has made the decision “to meet changes in our customers needs”.
“With many corporate customers currently no longer being able to afford to fly in business class, this new product will mean customers can receive preferential treatment at an affordable price.”
Note though, that that current automatic free food and drink benefit for Gold, Silver and Blue Plus Diamond Club members (no matter what class of travel) is to be dropped, so all passengers travelling in standard economy will have to pay for F&B from now on.
In addition the Blue Plus membership tier is to be phased out altogether, although existing members will retain their status until the end of the membership year. Bmi says that this means members will only have to earn 16,000 status miles to move from Blue to Silver rather than 3,000 from Blue to Blue Plus and a further 16,000 from Blue Plus to Silver.
Note also that reward flights on flexible economy fares will be charged the same number of miles as the current business class (although the lower rate of APD will be charged) and will be booked into I class.
The carrier says that it has “no plans to make similar changes on any of our other services”, adding that “Our business class service continues to be very popular with customers on our longer routes.”
Businesstraveller.com readers have already posted their disappointment with the move on our forum, with one poster calling it “very sad news”, and another saying that “enthusiasm in [Bmi’s] frequent flyer programme will suffer hugely”.
Bmi has also today announced new flights from Heathrow to Vienna, in co-operation with Austrian Airlines (see online news January 18).
For more information visit flybmi.com.
Report by Mark Caswell