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Why fly premium on BA?

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PhileasFogg - 11/12/2012 21:34 BST

I travel over 100 times per year, have been Exec Club Gold for at least 10 years and I am also Gold Member of some Star Alliance Carriers. BA used to be my favourite airline and now I´m wondering why maintain my loyalty.

The Good
- Lounges in LHR are some of the best in the world
- First Class is still fantastic (but not the best value for money)
- Air staff, with some exceptions, are top class

The Bad
- Flat bed is one of the most confortables but Club World feels cramped with 8 seats across offering zero sense of exclusivity, noisy cabin and there are not enough toillets for that many seats (there´s always a queue)
- Food is getting worse. A cold sandwish as second meal on a Club long haul flight is not acceptable on a premium airline.
- IFE average vs top airlines
- It´s impossible to get a reward seat on premium cabins. It´s easier to get a premium seat on AA booked in BA site than a BA seat - Is this normal?
- Customer service with permanent queue unless you call UK number and BA requires you to fax any missing miles credit request. No emails with scanned documents accepted - you have to find a fax machine!

Maybe I´m getting mor demanding but after flying long haul Qatar and Cathay several times in a row with flawless service, I don´t miss BA anymore! Am I alone?

Edski777 - 11/12/2012 23:03 BST

No, you are actually part of a growing number of people agreeing with you. Take nationalism and hype away and in reality BA is not what it used to be. There are better options at lower tariffs.

I avoid BA and LHR as much as possible, made easy by excellent connections from the regions to AMS and am a satisfied traveller. Call me an opportunist, but service, price and convenience still counts for me.

jayjay007 - 11/12/2012 23:07 BST

i completely agree w you!
the good is more and more scarce
the bad is getting worse,
for a much less important matter i quit flying my country's airline many years ago -i was a top pax,flying in and out every other week end

i moved to ba with whom i only fly business class -being it business or pleasure

AVIOS should be named AVOIDS!-how can anyone in his/her good mind compliment a revenue passenger with so difficult seats to find in long haul

and even now -by xmas -we,gold members benefit from a "no blackout dates" -it's crap in november i tried to find seats for near xmas -zero!!!

stevescoots - 12/12/2012 01:16 BST

unfortunatly i have to agree with PF's comments. having just flown QR again, retained my gold status for next year and booked another flight in march with them on points without any problems.

Penanglover - 12/12/2012 02:01 BST

NO, you are not alone it is true, BA is BA anymore since they are together with IB, try FinnAir business only transfer 1 hour at Helsinki

AllOverTheGaff - 12/12/2012 09:18 BST

Afraid I'm in the same boat (plane) as you Mr Fogg, unless I absolutely HAVE to I shall avoid BA. Which is in the main thanks to their charmless staff, but also conditional on Heathrow being their hub and imo one of the most inefficient airports in the known universe.

There are far superior airlines out there who fly into airports who welcome you as their customer, alas BA and Heathrow make me feel like I am in the way of their operation.

Sad really.

MartynSinclair - 12/12/2012 09:51 BST

First and Economy products have had a coat of paint - time for New New Club World is long overdue..

DerekChilvers - 12/12/2012 15:23 BST

All sad but true. I have been BA Gold since the first year of Executive Club. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a beat-up Old First cabin of a 747 at LHR around 2200, with one of the reading lights out as per usual, when the captain pleasantly announced that the flight (to BKK) would be delayed because "as I expect you know there is important paperwork that we have to complete before every flight, and one of the pages is missing" (I'm not making this up!). The flight departed one hour late, with the usual thanks for everybody's wonderful patience -- as if we had any choice.

I decided to switch to Thai for the return flight -- the first time I have strayed from BA long haul in recent years. What a difference. I was connecting to the TG flight to LHR from a TG flight SGN-BKK which parked at a remote stand. Although there was no rush to make my connection, I was put in a private car at the foot of the stairs and personally escorted via the car and then on an electric cart through transfer security (taken to the front of the queue) and thence to the gorgeous TG First lounge. 15 minutes before the departure to LHR, I was personally escorted to the gate and whisked onto the plane and into my seat, bypassing all other passengers. During final approach, the cabin service director and the steward in charge of the First cabin came to my seat and thanked me profusely for flying Thai.

Departing LHR for BOS the next morning, there was a 20-minute delay because " the airconditioning hoses which are attached to the aircraft while it is parked started blowing around after they were detached, on account of the high wind, and the tug operator is waiting for help to arrive (union rule, tug drivers don't secure a/c hoses?)". I checked in my iPhone and found that the wind was blowing at 21 mph -- hardly hurricane force. Everybody's wonderful patience was once again appreciated.

BA and LHR both need to understand that premium customers do have choices -- although, alas, not on LHR-BOS where the only convenient alternative is AA which of course is the worst of all (and no First Class between BOS and LHR to boot).

ZKSmith - 12/12/2012 18:31 BST

DerekChilvers - I find Virgin Atlantic quite a convenient alternative for LHR - BOS, in fact the only route I use VS on. Their new Upper Class on the A330s is a vast improvement of old, and Virgin's premium economy, while not world leading is certainly an improvement on BA's WT+.

Regarding British Airways, it really is time for some improvement. Club World seats are too narrow, too short, and I like having a window seat that doesn't look backwards at the flashing wing lights for the entire flight.

I stopped flying with them on long haul flights many years ago, and haven't missed them. For excellent business class service give me Cathay, Singapore, Swiss, or Air New Zealand's and Virgin Atlantic's new products any day. And travelling to the USA cheaply, US Airways are often a good option - although their FAs, food, and IFE isn't up to that of BA, never mind the best airlines, you can't argue with fares that are often £500 or even £1000 cheaper with a better business class seat.

Henryp1 - 12/12/2012 20:41 BST

For me it's personal preference and has been for many years. Fortunately I don't fly club unless there is no 1st cabin, but for my routes that rarely occurs.

I do find the ground services and London lounges to be fine, it's the overseas lounges which can be challenging. The use of a bus to the aircraft is not acceptable. However once on board that all fades away and I do relax into a pleasant cabin. Strangely it always feels a relief on the return trip to London, as the crew will be able to understand all I say without hesitation.

I do fly other carriers and do like Emirates even though the 1st cabin is so very different to BA. It's generally good but I do at times find language comprehension very frustrating. At least on BA I do not feel as though there are any pretentious smiles.

To be honest I am happy not to have senior crew coming to me to welcome me, just polite conversation and service. As always it's each to their own.

Henry P

TimFitzgeraldTC - 12/12/2012 20:56 BST

They have consistency in product on longhaul business class which a few other major airlines struggle with so that is a good thing. However it is debatable whether that product is any good which is down to personal preference (I think like posts above there are many better products often much cheaper - or the same price and much better - thinking SQ). For me I just wish they would realise that they are not a World Class airline anymore. The strange thing is I don't think it would take much to change that - but they have missed a trick with the 787 and A380 aircraft.

CityRiskBoy - 12/12/2012 21:53 BST

Well I have just flown in Club from LHR a few days ago....a longhaul flight and it was one of the worst business flights I have taken....when I weigh up the onboard service, food, IFE etc against what I paid and what BA present their club to just wasnt worth it....why do some of these airlines struggle to stay consistant!!....I couldnt give a monkeys if the crew are jetlagged and tired...this is their job, they pick it, they know what they have to do so just get on with it....they need to spare a thought for us who actually pay the big bucks for the seat and extra service......put the boot on the other foot and see how they would react if the role was reversed and they had paid full fare!

FormerlyDoS - 13/12/2012 07:18 BST


Actually, you are wrong about consistency of product in Club World, as there are three different products and the niche CWLCY, too.

But as I have said on another thread, as all varieties are flat beds and good products, the variation is not a problem and all offer a good sleep, which is what most serious travellers want.

My idea of unacceptable variation is EK, where the 332 and 343 offer a far inferior experience to the 77W or the 388.

K1ngston - 13/12/2012 07:43 BST

I agree with most comments here, there is no sense of pride to fly the flag anymore, I gave them up years ago when unfortunately the world economy was so bad that we had to forsake J travel and head to the right when boarding flights.

Most of you have complained on this thread about Business or First just imagine what it is like travelling with the great unwashed in the back, it is horrendous, seats are uncomfortable, IFE is the worst by far in the air and the food is really bad..

Then compare with SQ, EK, or TG and you will see a world of difference, its like they recognise that people do have to travel in the back of the plane.

Maybe BA staff should take some time to fly with SQ to see how they look after their economy passengers, and how they also look after their gold passengers. I am Gold on SQ and EK travelling in Y so the number of sectors I have flown are significant and this is recognised.

I would love to get my Gold Card back with BA but they have a hell of a lot of work to do to convince me that they are worthy of my loyalty.

Gold-2K - 13/12/2012 08:13 BST

I live in a vague hope that BA have a massive surprise up their sleeve and will come out with a new CW for the A380. They surprised us all in 2000 when the first gen flat bed appeared. Alas it looks like we doomed and will have to make do with wobbly partitions, bouncy tray tables, IFE either too dark or too bright and small glary screens. A waste of an opportunity to raise their game again for sure.

I too have travelled a few times on Qatar Airways recently. The business seat on the A330 is awful, angled lie flat, not very wide and rubbish to sleep on. There is no sense of privacy. The 777 seat however is very good and the new 787 cabin looks exceptional. However the service is flawless. The T4 lounge is magnificent, in fact service if anything is a bit over the top. But it's touches like Qatar having top quality face cloths / hot towels instead of the 6 inch squared threadbare rags that BA use, or Qatar airways having larger bathrooms on board so you can get changed comfortably instead of BAs "bog standard" cubicles that even normal proportioned people have to go in to backwards ....... Even in first. And of course the staff. As said many times before, BA staff at their best really can be the best in the world, but be unlucky enough to get a couple of young flight attendants who have had a bit too much of the "old Lambrini" the night before and you need to prepare yourself to be completely underwhelmed.

15+ years of Gold and now Gold Guest List, yet I am finding myself flying more and more with other airlines, in some cases because they are no worse, and others because they are much better and now I fly BA CW only when i have to when (1) there is no first availability (2) there are no convenient non stop alternatives.

But whenever I do fly in CW, even when I get my preferred window seat on the top deck of a 747 and had a reasonable amount of sleep, I am left with the feeling that the whole experience could have and should have been a whole lot better.

..... An empty feeling like getting a pair of slippers for Christmas when I had been promised a new iPad !!!!!

TimFitzgeraldTC - 13/12/2012 09:17 BST

Formerly DoS

Yes you are right in that there are product variances in CW and they do vary a bit between certain aircraft - but like you say they are all flatbed which is the consistency bit I allude too. And I agree EK have a good Business product but also a terrible product on the planes you mention - so in total agreement. As you say at least you know for 99.9% sure on BA that in CW you get a flat seat and this can't be said for many other airlines (though that is steadily changing).

Like SimonP says airlines have to look after those down the back as well (almost always me these days when I do get to fly at the moment). They forget that these peple might be the people flying in the front in future (remain ever hopeful!!) but even if not there is no excuse for poor service in any cabin.

fclassflyer - 13/12/2012 09:38 BST

I can't speak for others but let me tell you why I fly BA:

1. Most convenient schedule to most of my work destinations. This allows me to leave late on a Sunday or early Monday to get to where I want to be. Sure I could fly EK/QR and enjoy the inflight experience more, however those extra hours with my family mean a lot more to me.

2. GGL - Twice a year I get 5 F Class tickets to any destination if I book reasonably in advance. No hassle and the GGL team are efficient at this and in combining Amex vouchers / Gold upgrades to reduce the number of Avios required.

This is a considerable saving and I've never been able to get such perks and availability on EK whom I also use on certain routes where BA does not fly directly or at inconvenient times.

3. BA shareholder discount. Can be used worldwide and if you are smart enough to buy your return tickets outside of the UK for regular visits then the savings are substantial, you dont pay rip-off UK prices and sometimes you can do add on legs at virtually no additional cost.

I dont pretend to like NF (never do NCW), absolutely hate OF. Do not think that BA's staff merit any particular praise. In the last 12 flights in F in 2012, I met a sum total of 3 members of crew who deserved any accolades and I duly filled out the customer survey form which was acknowledged.

The food is poor and I hardly ever eat on a BA flight (prefering either to eat in the lounge/ my hotel or at home).

The Concorde room is nothing special.

In a perfect world, where all prcies, perks were equal, I would choose EK 777/A380 every time. However, its not a perfect world, we all make calculated decisions.

I use BA because it works for me, saves me money and not because I like it.

FormerlyDoS - 13/12/2012 09:43 BST

"Most convenient schedule to most of my work destinations"

This is my key driver. I get to go on lots of different carriers, as I often start from somewhere away from home.

I am flying Saudi in a couple of hours. Direct flight, saves an overnight stay.

Pedlars - 13/12/2012 10:25 BST

First off I dislike posting criticism of airlines (or indeed anyone) without first raising the explicit concerns with the provider first. I have, in the past mentioned to BA that some things have gone wrong, in the hope that something might come of it - yikes, what makes me think any multi-national would listen to a customer!

Anyway, I choose a year or two ago to move away from BA (service and routing issues, service decline has been mentioned here, but as I rarely fly to North America I see little reason to remain with BA). I now travel Thai (mainly) and Singapore and yes there are still niggles, but wow, much better service and at a better price. I find that flying FIRST on Thai is about the same price as Club World and there is nothing that can compare. On Thai you also have "free upgrade for every three intercontinental flights" - well that's how it seems to work - great for making the money last longer.

As a regualr business traveller I mentioned my issues (service and price) with BA and their response was "we've had fewer complaints about service" - I read this as: there are still service issues, but so long as fewer people are raising them then this is OK? I guess those who have raised issues have moved elsewhere!

On the issue of price, BA's response was that they were competitive becuase they regularly have "sales offers". Come on BA, I can't wait for you decide to do a price drop to fix my travel plans. Many of us rely on "published standard fares" and sadly means that everytime I compare prices, Thai beats BA hands down.

So, in summary, where service and price align, BA you're history. Sorry

- 13/12/2012 10:57 BST

A recent return flight to San Francisco in Business on two of BA's most ancient 747-436's finally cured me of my BA addiction. I have tried, I do mean tried to fly the flag, to hope, believe in the fact they may get better. Except they won't. I recently discovered that even when they have full compliments of A380 and 787, there is no intention to stop using the dilapidated 747's on the twice a day SFO route because ownership of the slots at both airports is of more value. 787 will not be large enough and if they used a 380 they would only need one a day.

The 747's are so old in some cases (one recent example just had its 24th birthday and looked like it was at the end of days), it feels like we are having the michael extracted by the irritating Mr Walsh.

Solution came after a regional flight on Lufthansa. For the price of just 2 hours travelling, a regional flight from BHX to Frankfurt, nip across to the A380 direct to SFO. £233 cheaper than BA direct from LHR. Another route we tried was BHX-Frankfurt-Washington on the new 747-8i which is a total revelation. Boeing should have tried harder to sell more of these amazing aircraft.

Lufthansa may have many critics, as does BA but its iPad interconnectivity, magazines, service, food and comfort on the new aircraft are outstanding and makes BA look like the Ryan Air of Long Haul.

Tomorrow we are trying another new routing - BHX-Frankfurt on a new ERJ 170, Washington on the 747-8i and then Virgin America to SFO as I need a night in washington for business. I am looking forward to it as opposed to dreading being cooped up in that bag of old bones I suspect I would have to use on BA.

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