Bits: 7,200 Avios with any Dyson product, random thoughts on BA cabin crew

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British Airways BA 787

A few thoughts on BA cabin crew

We flew back from Dubai in First Class on a BA 777 yesterday.  I won’t be reviewing that flight although I will be covering the new Dubai lounge and Concorde Room bar later in the week.

I don’t normally write about cabin crew when I review flights, because it is easy to get a disproportionately good or bad one.  You can review a seat based on one flight but I don’t believe that you can fairly critique cabin crew on the same basis.

What I did realise yesterday, however, is that the Britishness of the BA crew is a key part of the appeal of the airline.  I have done a lot of flying on Qatar, Etihad, Turkish and Emirates over the past year and the multinational crews have generally been very good – although you are never 100% confident that you will receive what you request!

However, yesterday my 4-year old and I had a woman called Georgia looking after us.  She was mid-20’s, Home Counties accent but with the additional ‘yeah’ and ‘gonna’s of her generation, and genuinely good at her job.  There was a marked difference between her and the average Middle Eastern airline cabin crew member – mainly because she was able to be herself.

I would never choose an airline primarily on the basis of its crew, but I did realise yesterday that BA and Virgin do still have the ability to gain a competitive advantage if they recruit the right people and train them well.

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  1. Waribai says:

    100% agree about the staff especially on long-haul routes. We fly LHR-HND a couple of times a year on either BA or JAL and the difference is like night and day. The seat (in C and F) and the food on JAL is just so much better but conversely the ability of the BA staff to put you at ease and make the journey more fun especially with the family is hugely appreciated. Even my wife who is Japanese agrees!

  2. mr bridge says:

    I agree about the crew, when you board a BA return long haul flight to uk, you suddenly feel your back to normality! Nice pot of tea in FIRST

    • Glad it’s not just me who feels that’s kind of nice after a long trip…

    • Lady London says:

      If it’s been a hard trip I sometimes feel a sense of relief when I see the BA tail fin and know I will be at home as soon as I get on the aircraft.

  3. Well, if you get a British cabin crew member on EK/QR, then you will have a similar sort of experience

    • Waribai says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily agree. Sure they will reflect their national persona to an extent but they often take on the values of the airline they are working for. So there is only so much they can do that would be similar to BA.

  4. Godfrey says:

    Re your BA cabin crew comment the only other thing they need to do, apart from recruit and train well, is be able to sack the poor ones, of which there are far too many.

    • richard says:

      Here Here!!

    • you probably can’t sack the oldsters who just turn up for cabin crew duty aged 50-60, useless grumpy old frats they might be but try proving that to a tribunal…

      If I were in charge I would divert them to sweeping up rubbish duty around the terminal or something similar – no reduction in pay so how could they argue?

      • Genghis says:

        Don’t duties normally need to be comparable in nature?

      • Lady London says:

        @harry do you really think being 50-60 is what causes this? I am sure you don’t mean it but it does smack a bit of ageism. Surely someone 25 can be h*cked off with their job too?

        • I think 30 years flight duty serving some really horrible people (probably one or more on every flight) would wear down anybody

          plus cabin crew was always going to be a young person’s game – except under the old contract BA paid them far too much for them want to withdraw gracefully as they aged

          I don’t actually blame them for hanging on, grumpy as they are – they wouldn’t find better conditions elsewhere

  5. Barry cutters says:

    In my opinion American and American Airlines in general are by far the worst. last week I did the Dreamliner from Shanghai to lax and back , I have also used the 773 on the lax and nyc to Lhr routes. And the planes are great, the main cabin extra has plenty of legroom in economy and the business class is decent. How’re in both classes it is truly the cabin crew that let it down.

    • Your experience of AA is markedly different from my own. Their 777-300 service has been superb and I have recently insisted that BA re route me onto this service rather than endure cramp world and surely crew.
      BA can have great crew but even a great crew cannot save you from awful food, dire IFE and BA third rate service in most aspects of flying. They have only recently started pre ordering meals and only ex LHR and only on limited routes. They will have WIFI on 90% of services by 2019 and their technical reliability is poor.
      I am in the US currently and flew here First on BA which was fine but nothing special and frankly QR and CX J are both better. Not once for example was my name used nor was my gold card status mentioned. I never saw the chief crew member.
      AA have better J seats and so long as the food is edible and there are some first run movies then I don’t really care about much else. I want privacy and comfort and to feel a bit special……CX and QR do this every time but BA haven’t done that in any class for a very long time.

    • RIccati says:

      Since we are on the topic of crew, especially AA crew, I have stories to tell! Night horror stories.

      When I boarded AA’s services on LHR-JFK Business and transcon JFK-LAX Business and First (paid fares ex-DUB) I said, wow, AA seem to got it right. The seats are nice, food is tasty and snacks and desserts are abundant…

      But then I tried other destinations and discovered how unpolished AA crews can turn out…

      Once I made a bed, returned to the seat after changing and… found the off-duty stewardess sleeping in the bed I made!!!!!!!!!

      On other occasion, I for the both kinds of red they offered in Business and was immediately told off, “What, are you doing wine tasting, it’s not the first class”. It turned out that service was personally derived to me by the purser (CSM).

      The crew typically refuse the request for a spare blanket even as there are plenty around in empty seats (in Business). The spare seats in front of the cabin, where it is quieter and it makes sense to spread across the cabin if the flight not full — are ‘reserved for pilots’ and then you find the crew themselves sleeping in those business class seats, a standard practice on American Airlines.

      Economy class crew efficient but unengaged, they can be sitting at the back of the cabin, also in spare passenger seats with bottles of water and plastic glasses next to them so that they don’t have to get up if you come asking for water…

      • RIccati says:

        Have also saw on AA:

        — A bulldog or similar ‘fighting breed’ travelling without any muzzle whatsoever.

        — Passengers seated in First (one in front on Business cabin) without a boarding pass for the seat.

  6. Genghis says:

    Completely OT – We booked HBO BA IST-LHR tickets on eDreams and paid extra for luggage yet when we came to the desk yesterday there was no evidence on the system of paying for additional luggage (even though booking confirmation clearly said this had been paid for). I refused to pay again, argued my case and they eventually agreed to take them “for free”. Has anybody had a comparable experience with eDreams (or similar)? I can feel a complaint (or two) coming on…

    • no experience of edreams

      but on my BA route we are pretty much always offered extra free checked in luggage

      it clearly is an option for them – on heavily booked flights at least

      I guess it’s because we travel at peak times (school hols) and they’d rather we check in more luggage rather than stick it up on the shelf when a flight is full

    • Olivula says:

      Just Google Edreams BA baggage and join a long list of travellers with problems that go unresolved.

  7. Well i disegree with your comments. Im a young generation of frequent travelers and i always avoid BA, why? Seats, entertainment is always better on Gulf airlines, and the most important- I don’t feel comfortable being served by pensioners – the average age of BA cabin crew is always above 50, with a false smile attached to their faces and yellow teeth (all very British)

    • Not sure I’ve ever experienced an average age over 50 but it will depend on whether or not your Heathrow based crew is the legacy Worldwide / Euro fleets which are being wound down and who are on relatively generous terms. As all new crew join Mixed Fleet so it is inevitable that the average age of the legacy fleet crew is increasing.

    • harsh but true enough on my European RFS route to our place in the sun.

      8 flights out/ back with BA a year, 8 planes full of Artolo’s crew of ‘pensioners’ lol

      eye candy they are not

      • List of things which matter in cabin crew
        1) Reliable in an emergency
        2) Friendly and efficient in service
        3) Neat and tidy in dress

        Things which are so irrelevant I can’t believe it’s even raised in 2016
        1) Eye candy

        • I think you’ll find Richard Branson & Nicky Lauda rather disagreed with you (they were right lol).

          They should all be at a similar state of readiness for emergencies, so no point raising it. Though younger crew will tend to be quicker.

          Eye candy just means young (as well as easy on the eye lol) & younger staff tend to be more willing/ friendlier.

          I must say, I am quite fed up of the many BA trolley dollies pushing 60, they are generally unsmiling, grumpy and fussy, regardless of their lost facial charm.

          Whereas I reckon the ‘gay stewards’ of the same vintage are usually friendly enough.

        • At last. Common sense. Here here! +1

    • Lol a pension at 50? Chance’ll be a fine thing. It’s up over 65 for most now and still climbing so be ready for people to be working longer (yourself included) 😀

    • czechoslovakia says:

      You never flew bmibaby i take it? Being barked “Rubbish!” at, whilst having a nearly full bin liner shoved under my nose (crappy night flight, so i had dozed off) by a t-shirt wearing old fight attendant who was as wide as she was tall, makes BA look like heaven. But then i paid 1p for that flight, and still consider it fair value.
      Still consider BA crew to be the most family friendly, but that`s way down the priority list.

  8. Whilst compared to Virgin I think some BA crew can be a wee bit stuffy and proper, overall I’m impressed.

    Had a few issues in CW to Tampa last year, male Spainish BA crew member dealt with complaint in an excellent manner, sincere and excellent response.

    I tried to tip another BA crew (English by birth) on a domestic flight for the caring exceptional service she gave to an elderly lady, she refused (understandably) so I told her I’d make a charity donation instead.

    Come to think of it, I’m also hard pressed to think of poor crew service in Virgin Upper Class, respectful but extremely friendly, mind you that’s UC with only 14 seats, so high proportion of staff to pax.

    • Nick Burch says:

      If you have great service and are a gold card holder, you can give them your Golden Ticket. Otherwise, anyone can (and should!) send great BA staff members a “well done” through

      • Have just checked and both /welldone and /thankyou work, taking you to the same form. Finally we’ve found a bit of BA IT that works! :)

  9. I think that we can only judge the quality of a crew in times of an emergency! You can train a monkey to bring you a snack, but can you train him to do the right thing in an emergency? If the one with the yellow teeth does CPR correct on my grandfather whilst having a heart attack mid flight ARTOLO! Its all good! Eye candy is one thing, safety another………..

    • +13

    • Hi Thomas, you are right when it comes to safety, but safety is not everything – otherwise i would stop flying, driving, etc. When im flying i want to enjoy the whole expierience, i want to feel a young, friendly and positive atmosphere. Something memorable. Thats it – times are changing gentleman!

      • I don’t care about the age of a member of crew, or their gender or nationality. It is appalling in this day and age that any of those characteristics can even be mentioned when discussing “preference”. Can the individual do the job for which they are paid and can they be pleasant while they go about it safely is all we should care about. And yes if we are lucky enough we all get older….

  10. Don’t worry! I can guarantee you’re not missed!

  11. shajacsha says:

    You probably had a good experience because you probably always travel first or business class. Have you ever tried cattle ( economy) class which most of us can afford? BA cabin crew are the worst and emirates are the best. BA cabin crew are rude and unfriendly and almost shout at passengers on indian route

    • barry cutters says:

      Seriously untrue, over the years iv flown on probably 15-20 longhaul airlines in all classes. BA are by no means the worst cabin crew, they are streets ahead of the American crews generally and much better than the likes Lufthansa klm Air France

    • shajacsha says:

      Coming to think of it, I was a biased based on couple of experiences. I was promptly reminded of the good natured BA crews we had most of the time. As always, bad things hide good things. So, I am changing my opinion and apologise for the incorrect and biased comment.

  12. flibbly says:

    This has been discussed to death on FlyerTalk over the years, but what always strikes me is that if you read between the lines of the poster, you nearly always see a correlation between their attitude and the treatment they (say they) receive – not only on BA but on all airlines, and indeed in all hotels etc.

    A pleasant and friendly disposition tends to attract the same in return. Treat staff as your servants or worse and you’ll get the service you deserve.

  13. We’ve not been on any of the ME3 carriers in years but last year we had AA and BA transatlantic flights and the BA CC were miles ahead of AA, sadly that was the only plus for BA!

  14. Good to hear re the BA crew. I must say I’ve been generally lucky with the crews I’ve had in CW over the years. I found domestic QF crew excellent but international F were hit and miss (granted only on the basis of 2 flights, but one good and the other pretty useless!)

    For especially good crew I fill out the form at :)

  15. We’ve just returned from a trip (one way in First, one way in Club) where I have to say the crews were some of the best we’ve had with BA. Mixed Fleet both ways; It is really nice to see that the relative enthusiasm of the younger crew members combining with increasing experience to provide a service which for us at least really works well.

    Shame the same can’t be said for our pre-flight customer service experience, but that’s another story…

  16. I’ve not really flown any mixed fleet routes to my knowledge, but the crew are usually pretty good on my main routes – Sometimes you feel you have to ‘draw out’ the service a bit from the crew. They seem to like my main European route as it gives them a 24 hr stopover in the sunshine!

    ‘Britishness’ of BA is perhaps more appealing to non-Brits e.g. Afternoon Tea!

  17. I also find this to be true about BA pilots. They are always very relaxed and give you a lot of information on what is going on (if there’s a short delay for example). I believe this makes you feel more at ease and safer.

    I have flown quite a few Asian carriers where the pilot does not even introduce him/herself.

  18. I’m sitting in the Crowne Plaza at SIN waiting for my QR flight back tonight. I do understand what you mean; my QR is back to FRA then BA back to LHR.

    The flight out from FRA caused me real problems as they had swapped the QR 787 for a 777 with the old configuration (we all had window seats with a child !!). The Chinese cabin crew could not really understand why I was annoyed and wanted my daughter to be sitting at least next to my wife, until I threatened to get off an make a hoohaa about it all. A Filipino crew member sorted it all out very well. To say I wasn’t happy about the change was an understatement.

    BA crew can however be over familiar in the business cabin at be very loud at discussing personal issues between the passenger, I had this on a flight to YYC.

  19. Tim Millea says:

    In terms of the customer experience of flying, and being aware that the airport experience can be very stressful these days, the cabin crew have a huge importance. My least favourite airline, Thomas Cook, have a standard announcement saying that due to the shortness of today’s flight there will be only one drinks service – on flights of over four hours to Greece and Turkey. They then draw the curtains and spend the rest of the flight gossiping banalities at the tops of their voices. Upon entering the aircraft their bodies are there to greet but they are usually too engrossed in conversation even to make eye contact. All the BA cabin crew I have encountered are just the opposite – customer-focussed and well-trained in customer service, even in casttle class.

  20. Sussex Bantam says:

    I have to say I couldn’t agree more. Getting on a long haul BA flight to be greeted by BA cabin crew and pilot is always a lovely experience. Travelling is always fun – but going home is nice too !

  21. Kinkell says:

    Well, Artolo, as a ‘yellow toothed’ frequent-ish travelling ‘pensioner’ ( 50?.. You are obviously still at the acne stage! and have a long way to go) I have experienced wonderful BA crew of all ages: professional, well presented and all exuding a sense of calm. Our recent trip to South America in F was extremely pleasant , made so by wonderful cabin crew,., but equally, no complaints about recent LHR-EDI staff. I fact, ground staff were so good, I need to go to the ‘BA/welldone’site. I LIKE travelling BA ( long haul on redemptions) as it gives me a feeling of security, safety and home coming. Sounds naff, but you just don’t get that with other carriers.

    • Me too! Don’t care if it is naff. I feel exactly the same – the journey home can be made much easier by feeling as if you are back home already!

  22. Scallder says:

    Having flown BA First and Club in the past 6 months as well as AA business (albeit an overnight flight from LIM-DFW), the BA staff were lovely and the AA cabin crew were so rude. I believe that a lot of the US carriers (legacy ones at least) due to union agreements, only have longer serving staff members serving the premium cabins. We had 1 male and one female flight attendant in business who were probably both 40+ but it always seemed that asking for a drink (let alone anything else) was of a great imposition to them.

    However flying BA was a sheer delight – the First flight (one and only time) was ex-LHR as part of our honeymoon and the cabin crew (happened to be older attendants in the first cabin) were fantastic. Have no status with any OW airline, and was referred to by name. Then on a recent return CW trip to Vancouver the staff were great. On the ex-LHR leg asked for a Baileys over ice after dinner and kindly requested another one about 30 mins later. As my wife and I were both watching films for most of the flight, almost like clockwork every 30 mins or so the flight attendant would bring us over a new Baileys and pace it on our tray tables without asking – it was positively delightful!

    • I have to say the BA cabin crew are streets ahead of the American Airlines crews!

      Having flown
      “First” (HNL – LAX-LHR)
      Main Cabin Extra (LHR-LAX) (LAX-LHR)

      “First” staff were terrible on the internal flight, they were gossipping, poor service and didn’t seem that bothered. On the LAX-LHR leg they were very good, but not as attentive or engaging as BA staff.
      Main Cabin Extra on the way to LAX the staff were rude, and anything seemed too much trouble, they never gave out landing cards in MCE which meant we were the last to clear immigration.
      On the way back from LAX Main Cabin Extra staff were good, although pushed for time they struck up conversation and kept us supplied with drinks/snacks as required.

      BA staff – I think I’ve only had one bad experience in the last 10 years and I fly about once a month on average. On the whole they are polite, courteous, respectful and go that little bit further than most cabin crew I have come across.

      Incidentally the worst experience was with Qata from DOH to SLL where the attendants were downright rude!

    • RIccati says:

      See my horror stories above.

      Yes, what Scallder and Danksy describe is common about AA crews who mind me, are much well off with their houses and pensions than those Cathay or Singaporean girls!!

  23. I’m literally on the train home after my flight back from New York, and the BA cabin crew were lovely on all four flights.

    • Hope you had a great trip Kathy!

      • It was fab! I’m definitely going back to see Copenhagen properly – and will take people with me next time! I had a great time in NY – saw 5 plays/shows in 3 days, got into Ellen’s Stardust Diner for breakfast Sunday morning, and did the Morgan library and museum and the Museum of the City of New York. Plus a lovely stroll in Central Park Sunday morning while the sun was (briefly) out.

  24. Scottnothing says:

    Completely agree that flying with cabin crew who are able to “be themselves” makes a marked difference to the in-flight experience. I’ve just returned from OSL-LHR-HGK-SYD-SIN-LHR-OSL and was fortunate to experience excellent crew throughout. Some highlights:

    – The crew on the LHR-OSL positioning flight was the same as our OSL-LHR. They playfully mocked us for being cheapskates (which I loved) and offered tips on things to do on our 24 hour layover.

    – I was bumped from 10A to 1A on the flight from SYD-SIN and had a tight connection between BA16 and BA12 (40 mins) in SIN. The First cabin crew taunted me for having chosen to switch planes (777 to A380) in Singapore whilst at the same time they worked to ensure logistics were in place so that we made the tight connection (including by sending reports to my partner in 10B regarding my state of intoxication). The interaction and attentiveness from the crew and their manager made for a very enjoyable flight (*hic).

    It is experiences like the above that first won my loyalty to BA. The shiny new Gold card that arrived today for the first time will probably help!

  25. Raffles, surprised you’ve not mentioned the free 1st class upgrade on BA…

  26. A bit off topic…I flew from JFK to LHR in CW on BA metal (but ticket issued by AA).
    Do I get avios based on the BA flight or AA flight? The avios calculator implies a substantial difference: 12,103 vs 7,767 avios (for golds, one way). Same tier points.

    • earn as per an AA flight

    • I flew AA J back to LHR on a BA booked ticket and got the lower avios sum – I presumed because of the lighter cabin bonus. I never thought any further about it at the time. On the outbound BA flight I got the higher sum. So to answer your question I presumed you got paid out on whichever airline you actually flew (metal).

      • hmm….so which one is it? Raffles? anyone else can chime in?

        • You earn based on the flight number (ie whether it is vowed under the BA or AA code) It doesn’t matter who issued the ticket or which metal you’re on (unlike on Star Alliance). This is particularly important on long flights in the US as using the AA flight number on two class flights will book into F and earn lots more TP than the same flight on the BA flight number which will book into business.

          • thanks, alan. this now makes sense.
            Given the intercontinental agreement between BA and AA I am surprised there is so much difference in avios between an AA flight number and BA flight number on the same plane (metal)! Quite ridiculous!

            • Sorry ‘vowed’ should of course have been ‘booked’ :)
              Yes, it can be a bit of a difference although, the TP earning can also be far more lucrative with AA than BA code!

          • I agree it does make sense – I’m at a bit of a loss as to what happened to me. Although if my foggy memory serves – I did have an AA flight number although the flight was a BA codeshare. How does this happen when booking both flights on BA? I’d like to avoid that in the future.

            • By default BA would book you onto BA flight numbers but they can definitely book AA ones too (as I say handy for TP purposes). I suppose their search may occasionally through up AA numbers too, I’m not sure.

  27. Chris Jones says:

    I think the BA crew really make a different when flying with children.

    Unfortunate my 3 year old now complains to crew if his traveling coach. Asking for his BA bag and juice!!

  28. One thing that annoys me about BA is that flaming “flying start” advert that kicks in and usually means you miss the end if the film you were watching. The day they get rid of that advert I might actually make a donation to the charity.

    • Sussex bantam says:

      +1 to that …

      • My fav bit is when you have your own ear buds in watching said film and they put the volume to 5000% when this or an announcement comes on. Great way to end a flight – burst ear drum

  29. Amtexfly says:

    The closest I’ve come to rude cabin crew was on an AA flight from LAX-LHR when I didn’t understand what was meant when told that beer and wine was free but we would have to pay for ‘cocktails’, he spoke to me like an idiot because I was trying to determine if he meant spirits or spirits with a mixer. I guess he was having a bad day or something because be gave me a couple of bottles of bourbon later in the flight.