The Times: British Airways Won’t Overcome It’s Deficiencies Just By Getting New Staff Uniforms

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British Airways, the airline that many love to hate, found itself being the subject of a Times article yesterday where the paper outlines that the carrier has it’s priorities wrong.

British Airways has previously announced that they’ll outfit their crew with new designer uniforms while there are still many issued that would need urgent investment are being neglected.

It’s hard to say who comes up with the strategy that BA follows at the moment (if there in fact is any long term strategy) but it certainly doesn’t put the customer experience first which is ultimately the bread and butter for the company.

You can access The Times article here and get an impression of what the airline is up to this time.

British Airways announced last week that its crew are getting natty new uniforms, designed by the Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng. BA’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, described the move as “a visual representation of investment in our people”. I like a wardrobe update as much as the next person, but are shiny new blazers really what BA’s passengers want most right now? And was this the right time to announce the makeover?

Last week was a busy one for BA. The airline is still trying to clear up the mess caused by its failure to spot that hackers spent a large part of August harvesting the personal data and credit card details of 380,000 of its customers [we wrote about this here]. …

Also last week, BA announced that it was closing its Hong Kong crew hub next month [see my article about this development here], with the loss of 85 jobs. “We appreciate this news will be upsetting for our colleagues in Hong Kong,” BA said. Those employees won’t get to wear the new Boateng blazers. …

BA’s response? To try to distract us with fashion. Well, I won’t wear it. In January, Cruz said: “This year, I think, is the year we sort ourselves out.” There are three months left. …

This is what I — and I suspect many others — would like to see it do:

Invest in IT to fend off cyberattacks and prevent your central computer from crashing.

■ Bring back free soft drinks, tea and coffee — and gin and tonics — on short-haul flights. You can still charge for the M&S food and wine, if you must.

■ Hire enough cabin crew to serve food and drinks on short-haul flights, and make sure you always load enough grub.

■ Put back the lavatory you’ve removed from some short-haul jets to squeeze in more seats. One loo for the entire economy cabin is not enough.

■ Hire more cleaners. Your planes are sometimes [most of the time] filthy.

■ Accelerate the delivery of the quieter, more environmentally friendly Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s you’ve ordered, and phase out the 747s fast.

■ Train your staff to act like hoteliers, not “computer says no” airline employees.

■ Install wi-fi, power and USB sockets in every seat in every class.

■ The new lounges in Boston and San Francisco are a big improvement. Please upgrade all the others to the same standard.

■ Make the new Club World seats bigger and all forward-facing, replacing the current back-to-front pairs.

■ Above all, remember BA is not Ryanair. It is a premium brand and must remain premium in every cabin.

There are a bunch of things missing in this list. It would especially be something innovative if someone could teach BA employees and management to use common sense.

What is British Airways response to this criticism?

“We continue to take tough decisions to ensure we remain competitive.” As part of a £4.5bn, five-year investment programme, the airline is rolling out “industry-leading” wi-fi, launching new routes, upgrading its lounges and improving catering. “We know there is more to do and our customers will continue to see improvements in the years ahead.”

Their usual rubbish. A five year investment program will see Wifi on British Airways aircraft by 2023. About 15 years after the first airlines such s Lufthansa introduced FlyNet back in the day. Pathetic performance for a European flag carrier and a total embarrassment to even outline this as something special.

BA should use the money to get rid of their filthy, old 777 and 747 aircraft and finally introduce a new Club World seat. The catering is a total disgrace as well even though I reserve judgment for now as to what will happen to it once it swaps to Do&Co in the near future. However no matter which caterer is responsible, they can only work with a budget allocated to them by the airline where the old saying “Pay peanuts, get monkeys!” comes into play.

Conclusion

British Airways seems to have fallen back into a typical snob attitude, acting as if it’s a privilege for customers to fly on the carrier and their employees are akin to royalty. I don’t like it when staff acts like the company is there for their personal amusement and welfare rather than serving the paying customer.

I remember Lufthansa had a similar problem in the late 1990’s / early 2000s until a new set of CEO’s came in and drastically cleaned house including cutting back on staff benefits such as being able to book First Class and upgrade friends to First at the gate or on board.

It’s not normal for an airline to get this much flak on a constant basis as does British Airways over the last couple of years. It’s really sad what has become of the once very nice carrier.

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