The Sunday Times: “Turbulence in first class as BA cuts back perks”

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A LoyaltyLobby reader forwarded me a link to an article on the the Sunday Times (British newspaper) about the current state of British Airways first class product (very lacking).

The Sunday Times Turbulence in first class as BA cuts back perks

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that flies the airline (British Airways). Their first class is perfectly fine business class product but first it is not.

You can access the Sunday Times article here of which below is an excerpt:

A tasty amuse-bouche with the first drink, fresh flowers in the lavatories, a generously sized washbag and a pair of slippers — all free. These were the little touches that first-class customers with British Airways had come to expect.

Insiders at the airline, however, claim that BA is now cutting back on some of its first-class and business-class perks as it races to cut costs.

One cabin crew employee, who has been with the airline for 12 years, said staff are “embarrassed by the state of the product. The only thing not being cut . . . is the prices.”

Customers have also been complaining. Alan Smith, a BA shareholder and frequent flyer, claimed the management was turning the company “into Ryanair”.

Conclusion

As I am a British Airways Gold Guest List member that gets three upgrade vouchers per membership year to use, I have flown first class with the airline quite few times (all upgraded from business). Cannot see why I would ever pay or even use miles for this product on routes that are competitive.

It is perfectly fine for someone that merely wants to sleep. If you are looking for a true first class experience, you should look elsewhere.

It wasn’t mentioned on the piece above, but the airline now stocks the bars on all long-haul services (except one flight to Singapore that is likely the one that continues to Sydney) ex-London. You may find out that your favorite adult beverage is not available on the flight back to London if the previous flight’s passengers were “thirsty”. Can you get any cheaper than this?

British Airways knows that it has a lock on London’s Heathrow and can degrade the services for those that aim for the direct service with most of the cities. There are plenty of non-stop and connecting services on far superior airlines on flights going to Asia. Americas not so.

Also, the current Club World (BA’s business class product) was revolutionary when it was unveiled long time ago. It is not up to the bar with most products today, however. Can you really call business class a cabin that has 2-4-2 seating?

Again, I have found the Club World entirely fine for sleeping, but you can forget trying to eat when and what you want and I cannot say how much I hate that window going up and down between the seats…. I usually eat before the flight + bring my own snacks and tell the CSD/FA not to disturb me unless I press the flight attendant call button.

This cost cutting may enable the airline to keep increasing profits in the short-term, but it is not the correct long-term solution.

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