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New British Airways developments unveiled at the Gold Guest List lunch

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One of the participants at the Gold Guest List lunch in London last week, held for British Airways most valued customers, sent me over a summary of the speech that was given.  It has some interesting insights which are generally positive.

(Note that this lunch was not held under Chatham House rules.  Items discussed at these lunches usually find their way onto various internet forums so I am happy to repeat them.  If you saw my article on Saturday you will see that I did not publish a certain detail because it was not part of the main presentation but only mentioned separately to a smaller group.)

The good news:

A private check-in lane with DIRECT access to Galleries First is to be built at Heathrow for Gold, oneworld Emerald and First Class passengers.  More details in my article on Saturday.

Long-haul business class is to see catering spend increased by £20 million per year.  Given the shocking state of Club World catering at the moment – my last BA main course is pictured below – this is well overdue.  I would say that BA needs to funnel some of this money into crockery and presentation.  It is difficult to feel much love for a meal served like the one below.

British Airways Club World main course

Wi-Fi is coming to short-haul with Intelsat working on a package.  Long-haul is not on the agenda due to cost and implementation issues.  To be fair, it does seem tricky to retrofit Wi-Fi and you usually only see it on new aircraft.

There is an intention to improve cleanliness onboard.  No idea how!

The lounges at Heathrow are to be fully refurbished.  No timescale was given.

There be a substantial increase in policing what is taken onboard by ‘hand baggage only’ customers.  BA accepts that the current hand baggage and priority boarding system on short-haul is not fit for purpose, partly due to increased levels of cabin baggage.  Gold and Gold Guest List members may be allowed to board first so they can take the overhead space.

The bad news:

The new Club World washbags (‘pathetic’ was the description used by my source) are to stay.   That said, many airlines including Emirates have done away with amenity kits entirely on day flights.

BA admits that the feedback from customers about legroom with the new short-haul seating has been disastrous.  There are no plans to remove a row of seats to improve business class legroom, however.

The decision to scrap free domestic Reward Flight Saver redemptions was decided on financial grounds despite knowing it would alienate many customers and will not be reversed.

The decision to stop free seat allocation on Hand Baggage Only fares was decided on the same financial grounds.  BA has received substantial negative feedback – not surprising when you can spend well over £500 on a Hand Baggage Only fully-flexible ticket and still find that you cannot choose a seat whatever your status – but no change is planned.

There are plans to introduce an ‘even fewer frills’ economy ticket which will probably exclude lounge access and all other benefits such as Priority Boarding.  I am actually OK with this concept but it needs to kept out of the GDS systems which corporate customers use – otherwise business travellers who are obliged to book the cheapest fare will be forced to use it.  Have these fares on ba.com by all means but do not force them on business travellers who have no alternative.  Avios points would probably remain, oddly, because it would mean another change to the scheme.

That is about it.  If you want to take part in these lunches yourself, you only need to earn 5,000 tier points in a single membership year and you will (possibly) be invited along!


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (84)

  • David Barnes says:

    Mark (despite giving an unwitting impression of working for BA management . . . ) seems to hit the nail on the head with his comments. Time (and the share price, eventually, which remains resilient to date) will tell, I suppose.

    • Mark says:

      If you’re referring to my response to TrollBasher, no I don’t work for BA management…

      I don’t even work in the aviation industry. 🙂

  • pjh says:

    Any news about upgrades to the T3 lounges – with PHX, DEN, YVR, MIA, CPT etc etc moving by Oct 15 all selling F, will the Elemis Spa reopen or any rumour of a CCR or F Lounge upgrade?