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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  • Phil

    Such a shame BA, last week scl-lhr in F was told at check in that insufficient number of meals were being loaded in F, at boarding same story, I asked why, the reply was since cabin was not fully booked yesterday they took of half of the meals ordered… onboard only 2 choices available or Business class meals, next day lhr-hkg in F, on board orders were taken with the specific remark: we’ll have to check if enough your option is still available.

  • Jamo

    This hits the nail on the head. The service in first has slipped away and we wouldn’t pay for it, but we do use miles and jokers on it. The service that is left, starts at the aircraft gate and stops the minute the seatbelt sign is off. There’s the overcrowded Concorde room in T5 with the never changing food menu, in T3 the first class lounge which is uninspiring. When the seatbelt sign goes off you have to fight your way past the other passengers who get off first. Occasionally the crew hold them but very often they don’t. We can only hope they get someone at the helm that understands luxury instead of these hatchet men.

    It’s obviously very nice if you compare it to economy but not competitive compared to other airlines’ first product. BA can be as oblivious as they like, but so many people have commented to me about this, some strangers onboard in the cabin even.

  • BatSheva

    BA First is the same story as the waning of Great Britain. Flying started [just] when Britain had the Empire and those who were in charge understood the difference between First and Economy. Just as the Empire has disappeared so has BA First. Even ten years ago it really was a great product. Today, like Britain, it is a mere shadow of its past, the “Great” has disappeared. The Middle East and Far Eastern airlines are not afraid to acknowledge that some people have superior rights, not by dint of their personal qualities but simply because they have paid to be elevated into First. That is why you will never ever get off the plane anything other than First if you have paid to be First in, say, Emirates or Cathay..

  • kitsura

    SQ absolutely destroyed their website, degraded their PPS and recently devalued their Krisflyer miles. But it has to be working long term for them since I have yet to see a firesale of tickets from them and I haven’t flown SQ on personal trips for more than 5yrs now.

  • Boobaholic

    The Gulf airlines business class is often better than BA’s first.

  • Brightslumber

    Flew 3 weeks ago, in first class from Sydney to London.

    For the entire 23h 40m route, I had a dirty seat that would not move unless pulled out by two attendants. The faulty seat was confirmed by BA and they have apologised.

    My compensation? An offer from BA of a 100£ voucher off my next flight….

    Full story here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1828031-broken-first-seat-10.html

    I am appalled.

    • That is one ridiculous compensation. Perhaps you can initiate MCOL in the UK?