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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 BA A350 in flight

“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 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 (177)

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

  • MadMike says:

    I find the BA experience very poor and certainly don’t think HFP telling it as it is is in any way biased against BA. In the past few years we have flown Club/First to Australia, North and South America and Far East and to be honest if it wasn’t for the Amex 241 we would actively avoid BA. We also buy long haul Club, alway non-BA when paying (Turkish, Qantas, Emirates, etc) and almost always comment on how much better the cabins, lounges, food etc are.

    Having said that obviously BA has a convenience factor flying to most destinations from the UK rather than going via another airline’s hub, I just wish the product was better.

  • Troll Basher says:

    Thank God you didn’t mention the bloody hats…

  • Swanhunter says:

    I’d say you are pretty balanced about BA (if a bit too much of an EK fan boy!).

  • Nick says:

    I have to admit, I do get a bit tired of people moaning about cw (on FT- I think hfp is a bit fairer).

    No, it is not best in class and yes, I would rather fly pretty much any airline that has 1-2-1 setup. But that doesn’t mean cw is bad- rather, I think it is more the case that QR and others are exceptional. The cw seat is more comfortable for sleeping in than the others I’ve tried, and the service is normally very good. They pour me wine whilst i watch a film and then get some sleep- it all seems pretty comfortable to me. The major weakness is the catering really. However, I still think cw is a very comfortable way to fly and that doesn’t change just because some airlines do it better.

  • Zild says:

    It seems like you are getting stung twice here Raffles.

    First, as you say, by using BA as a yardstick – and they are absolutely the best yardstick given your audience. It is not your fault if the other sevices you judge against BA happen to be better!

    Second, you report on many of the service changes that BA undertakes. Again, it is not your fault if these sevices are generally changing for the worse due to BA’s relentless cost-cutting.

    However to suggest you are anti-BA is absolutely ludicrous given the amount of business you bring them, relentlessly promoting their rewards program and new services (far more than those of other airlines, I would say) and directly influencing so many of your readers to fly BA more often. Ludicrous!

  • DM says:

    I also find you have a pro-BA bias (which is definately fine as the MO of this site and most readers heavily use BA).

    However I really disagree with these two points you make:

    **I find the booking system incredibly frustrating. Most airlines let you see a week or month’s worth of availability at a time. BA only shows one day, and worse it shows for the surrounding days “Check Availability” even if there is nothing available.

    **While the guarantee is great, it seems to fall short when booking long-haul less than 6 months in the future.

    • Genghis says:

      Have you tried using the ‘Reward Flight Finder’? Very easy to use and shows availability for the whole month in which you might want to travel.

    • mark2 says:

      re last point: if 4+2 are made available 11 months before flight date it would be surprising if they had not been taken after four months. Are you suggesting that every time they are booked another 4+2 should be made available?

  • Doug M says:

    I believe the ME3 are all state funded to some extent. I like BA, but I’m typically a WT or WT+ flyer, and my other airline experience has been largely Easyjet, Eurowings, United, Delta and American. The cheap Euro carriers are fine, they take you from A to B for a modest price typically, the 3 American carriers have all been poor for me. Rude disinterested staff, and in the case of AA, a proper stitch-up on their part over rerouting at their request, only to find a further segment cancelled, and a supervisor saying I don’t believe you. I have flown JetBlue a couple of times and was very impressed, good price for a nice seat and Direct TV. Few years back was sat on the tarmac at Reagan National watching a news report of a shotting at the Naval Yards opposite the airport, pilot announced a delay but wasn’t sure why at that point, obviously he didn’t have the news channel on.The limited CE flying I’ve done on BA has always been pleasant, but I’d never personally pay that sort of money for an empty seat next to me. As a last comment, would the ME3 be as good and reasonably priced if they’ve driven legacy airlines out of business?

  • CV3V says:

    Senior staff at BA have been reading HfP for years, occasionally they actually find the writing to be quite entertaining, a previous comment about getting ‘tangled in economy’ was quoted to me once as raising much amusement!

    • Rob says:

      They do. And you’d be shocked by how many email addresses are in the database!

      However, for clarity, I have ZERO formal relationship with BA. I do not even get press releases, except via a back door. I do not have a phone number or name for anyone in the press office (although the press office has my mobile number somehow!). I do not get invited to BA events. I do not get invited on press trips.

      Whilst I know a lot of BA people it is, in the main via Flyertalk meet-ups or from emails via readers.

      • Peter Taysum says:

        Silly BA, I’d have thought giving it to you should be their strategy…?

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

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