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Does HfP have an ‘anti-BA’ bias?

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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:

British Airways A350

“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.)

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 ba.com 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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Comments (178)

  • Rod says:

    Can you comment on the BA Club Europe Brunch service

  • Ralph says:

    Sorry bit pathetic and poor show to publicly criticise anyone for having a moan. Justfied or not.

    A new low in my opinion.

    Sure feel free to disagree with him but don’t broadcast the fact.

    He sent you a private message – the clue is in the description of the communication.

    • Susan says:

      The question was raised – Rob is now asking for the HfPs readers views – if we all pile in and say the (unnamed and unidentified -there are lots of BA employees who post on FT) person had a good point then he might alter his approach.

      I, personally, don’tfind the reviews biased either way. Avios is the currency most of us use so BA is a good reference point and there is frequent discussionabout whether say a Qatar 1 stop beats a BA direct becasue the BA product is adequate but not at or near the top of the class.

      I do disagree with Rob’s view that RFS is great – if Rob has any bias it’s the BA-shared London Airways attitude:-)

      • Alan says:

        Hehe +1 on the London Airways front!

        • James67 says:

          Come on Alan, be fair, they have loads of flights from the regions too … to London!

    • Ian H says:

      Not as if Rob named him. Stop being so precious.

    • Mike says:

      Perhaps you should ask Rob for a refund of your annual HFP subscription fee.

  • Lux says:

    Rob – the very existence of HFP is pro-BA, as you’re pro-Avios! The criticisms made of the changes in BA’s product are fair, and the summary of changes you produce are helpful for those of us who no longer have time to trawl through Flyertalk.

    Carry on.

  • John says:

    If anything the anti-BA bias comes from commenters with people “cancelling their 241” etc etc

    I think it’s a fair question to ask the readers if they agree with this accusation. Rob isn’t revealing who sent it.

  • MSM says:

    Sheesh, calm it with the BA love 😉

  • Greenpen says:

    I think the coverage on HFP is great and focuses on issues with an unbiased and factual approach*. The articles cut away the ranting that goes on especially on FT when the pros and cons of BA are debated.

    (*With the possible exception of Turkish Airlines’s IST lounge that is!)

  • Nick says:

    IMHO, there are no issues at all with any anti-BA bias on the site. The way I see it personally, is that BA is currently just another part of the current race to the bottom in terms of product and service. They are, in many respects, just like Marks & Spencer. They don’t really know where they should be in the market, and still believe that they can charge a premium for a product and service which is available elsewhere cheaper and often better. Unfortunately, other airlines have largely taken much of the quality sector of the market away from BA, leaving them floundering somewhere in the middle, needing to continually pick off little bits of the product to cut costs further. A lot of these things are very important to regular flyers and just push one to try the alternatives, which, if better, will just lose another customer. HFP has, IMHO, just highlighted many of these issues, without anti-BA bias. 🙂

    • Martin says:

      I totally agree with Nick. BA are effectively cutting or attempting to cut back on everything. Eg slippers in First (now need to request) meals in club Europe – one course salads – champagne down graded after years. As for the 787 Club World cabin – it looks ok but there are too many seats and its claustrophobic (like all club world cabins) – service on BA Club World is so variable – experienced and friendly to new and unsure staff. Oh yes and they charge the same or more than most airlines, why do we use them – simply because of Avios, convenience and Am Ex!!

      Martin

  • Bruce turner says:

    I find HFP comments very fair.

    As a BA gold and shareholder I think that the recent addition to cost cutting is pathetic – particularly around food.

    BA is becoming less and less stylish, the food is becoming frankly, crap, and the crew are more hit and miss now than 2 years ago.

    I don’t tho I you are biased raffles, BA is becoming an over-priced, low end product.

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