BA’s novel plan to beat the 2-week strike – borrow nine planes from Qatar!

Back in 2015, I reviewed the Qatar Airways ‘regional First Class’ service.

Qatar Airways First Class on short-haul uses 2 x 2 fixed seating, rather like the Virgin America First Class seat I flew in 2014:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Leg room was more than acceptable – remember that I am 6’2′:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Why am I mentioning this today?

Because this aircraft – possibly this exact aircraft – is coming to a British Airways Club Europe service near you!

British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew have announced a two week strike from 1st to 16th July.  For clarity, this will only impact flights from London Heathrow.  Gatwick and City are unaffected.

During previous strikes BA has pulled together a random mix of crewed charter aircraft to provide cover.  However, at the moment, Qatar Airways has a lot of short-haul aircraft sitting around doing nothing following the ban on flying into Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other regional centres.

British Airways has agreed, subject to CAA approval, to lease nine of these Airbus short-haul aircraft for the duration of the strike and up to six weeks afterwards.  Qatar Airways will be providing the crew, which is a little surprising as I would have doubted they have enough short-haul (as opposed to long-haul) crew who can legally work in the UK.

Food and drink will be provided by British Airways.

It is not all good news.  These aircraft only have 12 First Class seats.  This means that a lot of passengers will be downgraded from Club Europe to Euro Traveller at peak periods.

Ironically, this is a potentially risky move for BA because once Club Europe passengers have seen what Qatar Airways offers its passengers for the 45 minute hop to Dubai, they may start questioning why BA offers them its current Club Europe seat for flights of up to 5 hours …..!

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Comments

  1. dwadda says:

    This won’t make me popular: The biggest impact of having these planes on BA routes that will wow all passengers that have not flown QR is the crew. QR crew are the most customer focused of any airline. They’re attentive, friendly, go out of their way to be helpful, immaculately presented and they are always smiling. BA crew are “primarily there for your safety”, union-speak for don’t engage with us. How I wish they would stop making that announcement at the beginning of every BA flight. That’s not to say that BA crew aren’t also fantastic at times. They have been at times but it is not part of the BA culture (anymore). QR crew remind me of staying at a Ritz Carlton, BA crew remind me of staff at a good but formulaic hotel.

    Yes, QR crew are from developing nations. So what, they’re people too.

    • Pangolin says:

      Good to hear. I just booked a flight on QR to HAN/BKK in the winter season. Never flown with them before.

      • Pangolin, hope you are flying in their J cabin. If so, you are in for a treat. Their DOHA J lounge is amazing, but the service and food on board is fantastic. Will spoil you for having to fly BA J ever again! Which aircraft are you flying on?
        My Dub flt in July is affected, will be interesting to see what we are flown from.

    • All UK airlines tend to say that, and it’s true. You hope you never need it but the most important thing they could ever do is get you out alive in 90 seconds. Legally in the U.K. you can be cabin crew with no training in service, but aren’t allowed to do anything on board without CAA-approved safety training.

      QR crew may well be fantastic and customer-friendly, but they’re also robots and completely unwilling/unable to think/act out of the box. Yes it might be ‘The Ritz’, but it’s so impersonal and unfriendly, and I’d take a chat with a WW old-timer any day.

  2. I’m flying CE from LHR to Larnaca in early July, this is going to be interesting!

    • Don’t get too excited just in case you end up on what you paid for or a leased in Lithuanian bird!

  3. OT : Anyone know how long virgin miles take to IHG, Operatot said it was 30 days but I need them to upgrade to ambassador by the 7th July.
    I thought there was a page specifically set up with transfer times but I can’t seem to find it 🙁

    • Genghis says:

      When I did it last year about a week. Need IHGs to upgrade to AMB? You spending the 32k IHGs instead of $200 or do you mean to get to 75k IHGs to get Spire?

      • I did it last month and it took a week.

      • Thanks Genghis, to pay for AMB. Staying at the Park Lane IC in a couple of weeks, somehow I’m still spire,elite from the ihg barclaycard a couple of years ago.

  4. Fox999 says:

    O/T – We are a family of four, I have BA status, whilst useful when travelling alone, when travelling as a family it gains me little. Next year we have a few trips planned and it would be great if we could make use of the status benefits as a family and take some cheap WT flights into europe and possibly US. The only way I can see I can get them is to get my wife elevated to silver. She is a good way towards it. Now, I have a family holiday booked through BA Holidays later this year booked on WT tickets. If I was to get my wife’s ticket changed to CE, that would get her to silver. I did investigate this with BA some time ago, and it appeared they would only do it if we all upgraded. I don’t want that. I just want my wife in CE whilst I look after the kids in WT. If i book her a separate CE ticket now for the same flights, and she does not fly on the BA Holidays WT ticket booked, will it cause me any problems with the BA Holidays booking? Any other approaches I could take?
    I know I should probably talk to BA again, However, I don’t always find them that helpful and I could do with your thoughts to help me get it right first.

    • the real harry1 says:

      shouldn’t cause any problems except to your wallet

      your wife not flying on the BA Holidays ticket won’t invalidate the other 3 tickets or the hotel (incl for her)

      where are you going/ what is the cost of the CE ticket for your wife?

      how many tier points does she need?

    • IanMacK says:

      Fox999
      Might be cheaper that she does a TP run to get to silver – I’m sure all on here will chip in with suggestions as to best options.

      • Yes, looked into that, the problem is time, she simply hasn’t got it. Also, not keen on travelling alone and I shouldn’t need the tier points, hence it will cost two tickets. Hence , I am thinking of boosting earnings from planned travel. I can get the additional tier points for just over 2 pounds a point, that’s not too bad.

        • Genghis says:

          Question is though – will you as a family (or she individually) get £300 of benefit from your wife hitting silver? Depends how often travel, TP collection year end etc… At £20 / lounge visit at top end that’s 15 lounge visits…

  5. We are going to Malta, she needs 150 to get Silver. We are planning a few trips next year, probably cash bookings, I have now got used to the lounge and priority when on business, I would like it for us as a family. Whilst I can get it through booking CE flights it gets very expensive for 4. And, the best part of CE is the priority and lounges, the seat and meal are not too valuable, hence, two of us with Silver get that for the four of us. It will cost me around 300 this year, but means I am happy to go WT on a number of trips next year. I might send her CE on some as she will need to maintain silver for the following year. That works quite well, she gets the peace from the kids for a bit, whilst we take up a row of three together.
    It would be nice to see an article on here on how to make the best of family travel. Most status benefits, redemptions, 241 etc are most beneficial to couples. I have baggage!

    • Best is Can she spare a weekend or a two day space to do a CE Tallinn TP run on 4 sectors via ? HEL l think..been mentioned here a lot. 160 TPs. Then she’s silver before you go on hols??
      Any of you bright sparks on here confirm that routing for me? Lovely planning….

      • The cheap Tallinn deal is no longer available unfortunately.

      • the real harry1 says:

        I guess Fox99 could easily argue that just lounge benefits x4 on a trip = x8 (there & back) = 8x £20 = £160 a trip.

        And he’s planning several trips.

        So not too difficult to justify the (say) £300 for his wife’s extra CE fare for her to achieve Silver.

        Fox99 & family travel: fwiw I long ago concluded that getting 241s for European travel is largely a waste of effort/ money. Whereas redemptions save us a couple of £thousand every year (3 kids, so 5 of us travelling in Europe maybe 40 trips these days – used to be 50 before I got told not allowed to go for autumn half term ! 🙂 )

        • Fox999 says:

          Thanks all for the thoughts, spoke to BA Holidays again yesterday and got some real help. Got her an offer of upgrade for 210 pounds, that will gain her 140 tier points. So am going for that. 210 pounds ensure all four of us get priority check in, security, lounge access and boarding next year. I believe it to be worth it. Now looking for some more bargain breaks on BA holidays!
          As I write this am about to depart for Heathrow. Only thing that makes leaving at this unreasonable time OK is that once there, will be straight through and into lounge for bacon sandwiches! so yes, worth it.

  6. Serena Wilson says:

    Would anyone have an opinion on the security of Qatar as a BA partner over the next, say 6-12 months given the changing politics in the region?

    I want to book a Qatar run to collect points in early 2018 but wonder how/whether the airline or the reciprocal status sharing arrangements could be affected.

    • As Qatar is the biggest shareholder in IAG I doubt you have anything to worry about! Even if Qatar left oneworld (which they won’t) they would almost certainly keep a one to one BA relationship.