Does HFP have an ‘anti-BA’ bias?!

I received a private message via Flyertalk yesterday from a British Airways employee who said, to paraphrase, that he was fed up with the anti-BA bias that he felt runs through the site.

(In my experience most BA employees are not hugely enamoured by everything done by their employer, so I wouldn’t want to dismiss his complaint on that basis.  In some ways, I am tempted to take it more seriously!)

What pushed him over the edge was this line in my review of the Eurostar lounge at St Pancras yesterday:

“There is also no shortage of reading material, which always wins brownie points with me, [and] which makes the weak British Airways Galleries selection look pitiful.”

Ironically, I received this message whilst sitting in a two hour meeting with a senior IAG employee who at no time expressed any issues with my content!

My response was this:

I need to use a common frame of reference for comparison purposes in reviews.  The logical comparison point is with British Airways because that is an airline that most HFP readers fly.  If I had compared the Eurostar magazine selection to the typical Singapore Airlines lounge magazine selection, it wouldn’t have meant much to 95% of the readers.

(I could, I admit, have pointed out that the breakfast on offer in the Eurostar lounge is far worse than the breakfast offered by British Airways – and I didn’t.  Magazines in lounges are a personal bug-bear of mine, however, as long-term readers will know.)

British Airways A350

It makes no sense for me to run down British Airways.   Avios, and the fact that you can use Avios to redeem for aspirational flying experiences, is a key driver of this site.  If I was permanently criticising BA it would not be great for business!

I don’t think there is a single frequent flyer in the country who genuinely believes that British Airways is offering the market leading product compared to Qatar, Etihad, Emirates etc.  Even American Airlines, unbelievably (given its history), is now offering a business class product on most London flights which beats the BA seat on most criteria.  I would lose all of my credibility if my writing implied that BA could do no wrong.

I have 13 BA flights in my diary between now and mid-September …..

It is also true, to be honest, that criticism is easier to write, and more interesting to read, than praise.  However, for the record, here are a few things I honestly believe even though the general opinion out there is often the opposite:

Heathrow Terminal 5 is a fantastic facility

British Airways afternoon tea in Club Europe is OK and I’m not sure what would be a better option

The British Airways lounges at Heathrow are generally very good and are worth spending time in

The Club World cabin – irrespective of how you find the seats – on the new 787 aircraft is a very classy piece of work

The Avios booking system at is, in terms of ease of use and the number of partner airlines which can  be booked with it, almost best in class

Reward Flight Saver – and the BA short haul reward pricing structure in general – is a good idea and puts other frequent flyer programmes short haul pricing to shame

The guaranteed ‘4 + 2’ reward availability for Avios seats on BA is a genuine improvement (although 4 + 4 would be even better)

The British Airways Premium Plus American Express ‘2 for 1’ voucher is the most attractive credit card reward in the UK

I obviously need to have a lie down now after such a rare burst of BA enthusiasm :-)

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  1. There used to be a time when BA was indeed my preferred airline, that is no longer the case, in my book they are getting worse by the day, they are mimicking the likes of ryanair and easyjet when it comes to services offered and when it comes to prices they are far worse. I lost count how many times I tried to book a flight with BA and the difference to other airlines was so grand that I lost interest and moved on.
    Another issue with most airlines these days is the extortionate charges when you try to pay with a credit card, BA currently charges £10 for making a credit card payment, seriously? they claim is admin costs, no payment provider charges that much for a credit card transaction, in reality it costs pennies, and they want us to believe they are not using it as just another cash cow, what next? charge for oxygen in the cabin?
    BA is far less attractive that it once was, I have lost the love for them a very long time ago, and that is no other reason but they own fault.

    • I’m not going to debate with you over BA, but I would share my knowledge on credit card fees.
      1. Each business have specific deals with banks who provide the facility to the business to use a credit card so it is not easy to compare large companies.
      2. Debit card fees are set fees. i.e. each transaction is let say 10p, 20p, 50p, etc. each different debit card will be different fee i.e. visa debit, mc debit, visa business debit, foreign issues debit, etc. The only common will be that it’s a set fee.
      3. Credit card fees are always % of the transaction value. Ie Visa Credit card will be 2% MC credit card will be 2.1% Amex will be 3.4%. (these are just examples in reality they can be anything but usually around 2-3% Amex can be higher but nowadays you can make a deal with them as well)

      So based on this you can see that BA will prefer a debit card over a credit card as it would cost more. (and that is why a small local store on a 5 pounds transaction would prefer a credit card then a debit card and that is why they sometime set a minimum spend.) If you think that customers should be always charged by the actual cost I think it would be a nightmare as you wold never buy anything on credit card and you would never use AMEX 241 vouchers. A typical long haul business seat will cost let say 2000 pounds will have a 40 pounds credit card fee if we use a 2% example.

      I think what we have at the moment to pay 5-10 pounds for a credit card transaction fee and nothing to pay for a debit card is much better than paying actual costs.

  2. It’s far more the pro-QR bias that concerns me.

    • If you can find someone who has flown the A380, A350 or B787 in Business and didn’t like it, I will reconsider. The fact that you can get it for £800 to Asia is laughable, especially as you get BA Silver afterwards. What’s not to like? (Apart from the 20 meter high giant teddy bear at Hamad …..!)