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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 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!

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Comments (84)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Andy says:

    Anything mentioned about LH fuel surcharge plans?

  • Andy says:

    I have seen better looking ready meals the that CW meal.

  • Frankie McPolin says:

    At least the eye patch and ear plugs are back in the wash bags and the silly cheap razors have been removed.

  • gumshoe says:

    I seem to recall BA being very proud of itself a couple of years back when it trumpeted the introduction of CW meals in WT+.

    It was all too predictable that what it really meant was it was introducing WT+ meals in CW, maybe with a sprig of parsley on top.

    VS Upper Class meals – while by no means amazing – are at least plated up on board so the presentation is usually half decent.

  • Tim Millea says:

    I am alienated. I cannot see any reason, afer the 28th April changes, ever to fly BA again. There must be many others in a similar position. I will fly Iberia long haul until Iberia Plus gets reduced to rubble too.

    In the meantime it is Avios spend, spend, spend. Goodbye and good riddance to BA. At their present rate of decline, I cannot see a viable business soon. They have boxed themselves into London then steadily reduced standards. These are the actions of a liquidator.

    It has been a long fall since the days of BEA… Needlesly so.

  • zark says:

    Reading all of this, I just recalled some acronyms for airlines.
    So BA really does stand for Bloody Awful ?
    Remember others like SABENA – Such A Bloody Experience Never Again
    They no longer exist……..
    LUFTHANSA, I remember, but too polite to print.
    Anybody recall any others?

    • Mike says:

      Borat Airways – plane fly real nice.

    • mikeact says:

      Air Fungus.

    • TrollBasher says:

      Aer Lingus – Arousing Erotic Randy Ladies In Nice Green Uniform Suits

      BOAC – Better On A Camel, or after a certain Profumo scandal, Bend Over Again Christine

      PIA – Please Inform Allah

      Qantas, the clean version – Quick And Nasty Transportation Australian Style

      LOT – Luggage Over There

      ANA – Another Nippy Airline

  • Nick says:

    Lots of people complaining about CE on here. I had my first taste of the new CE cabin last weekend, on a flight back from Geneva. Utterly underwhelming. The ‘plane was filled by a school skiing trip, and as one of the girls walked past my seat (which was exactly the same as hers) she turned and said to her friend “I cannot understand why anybody would pay to fly first class, it’s exactly the same as economy”. She’s absolutely correct in many respects, and that was exactly the impression I got – if it were not for the curtain, I would have had absolutely no way of telling where CE ended and ET started. The crappy food and miserable service from the purser just emphasised this. The BA lounge at Geneva was no better than the Priority Pass lounge – in fact, it had less choice for food and drink. So are there any benefits to flying CE?

    Well, that ET cabin was full of excited kids coming back from a school trip. They were doing nothing wrong, but to be sat in amongst them would have been pretty uncomfortable had the flight been longer. I was pleased to be at the front, in the relative tranquility of the CE cabin. I was also an hour late to the airport thanks to the utterly ridiculous system for returning a hire car to the French sector at Geneva. If I was in ET I could well have missed my flight, but the CE ticket meant we could speed through the lengthy security queues. The CE ticket for one leg also meant we could put second cases full of our ski gear in the hold on both legs.

    Basically, the generic benefits of flying in business are still valuable, but BA’s actual product is pitiful.

    • Mark says:

      Of course if you have OneWorld sapphire status or above there is even less reason to fly CE since you get most of the benefits you articulated (being at the front aside) anyway.

      In fact if you book early and have status travelling in ET is arguably better since the exit row seats which have the most legroom are almost always in ET.

  • New BA Developments - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] I hope I am allowed to link to the site – if you wish to read the full article it can be found here […]

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