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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)

  • 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 @avios.com 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…?

  • Danksy says:

    I have to say BA have slipped when compared to others therefore it is their own undoing. The staff member was probably crabby since they are reliant on BA making a decent contribution to top the pension scheme deficit.

  • kingy says:

    Quoting raffles “Heathrow Terminal 5 is a fantastic facility” Its ok but lacks provision for the economy traveller.
    The restaurants are truly over rated and expensive. Time they let in KFC or a Burger chain.
    Boots meal deal is the best food value for those on a budget…
    I’m flying BA on Sunday MAN to SEA via T5 but back to Manchester on AA via PHL.
    Eco all the way but i do have Silver status so i will spoil myself with the slop in the T5 lounge pre flight 😉

    • Rob says:

      I think that lowers the tone HAL wants! There is a ludicrously huge Starbucks opening next to Vuitton I saw this week.

      I want HAL to cater for the male traveller! Harrods has lost most of its menswear. Paul Smith has shrunk and put in a lot of womenswear. Vuitton has NO menswear at all. Botega Venetta has one corner. The new Hugo Boss is the only consolation.

    • Lady London says:

      Pret a Manger in T5 isn’t bad especially given they are at one of the most busy locations. Not too expensive and staff are always slick cheerful and helpful. Seating is not bad either given how crowded it gets.

      Corporate bigwigs who fly lots commercially and aren’t even impressed by the Concorde Room tell me Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food is the best place in the Terminal to get breakfast. They sometimes have reasonable menu bundle options for later in the day too.

      I don’t mind Pret Coffee when I’m in an airport. Sorry I don’t call Starbucks ‘coffee’ at all.

      And I’m always pleased to find any lounge run by Plaza Premium and will pay for lounges even though I’m reluctant to pay for extra services generally unless they’re great value… and the Plaza Premiums generally are.

      • harry says:

        ISTR Plaza Premium T5 opens this year, anybody know when?

        Accessible by Priority Pass I think.

        • Rob says:

          No news. There is a Plaza Premium press party in the T4 lounge today to celebrate its 1st birthday but I couldn’t face a 4th visit to Heathrow within 6 days – would have been good for gossip on this though.

  • Haz says:

    theres no point in fawning on BA. HFP has no obligation in promoting or advertising BA. All the comments about BA are accurate in my opinion

  • Rachel says:

    It was your honesty with BA and other airlines that made me look into the Qatar deals you posted and ended up booking one. The fact you don’t endlessly praise any airline and point out the flaws as you see it makes your blog worth reading! I’ve only flown BA CE, not CW but it was entirely underwhelming and now I just fly Economy with them as I find if I book a seat at the back it’s often likely you get no one sitting next to you anyway and flight attendants are friendly and helpful.

    To me personally the value of BA is Heathrow (closer to where I live) and the fact that when you get on the plane it’s usual to hear a chipper pilot with a nice reassuring middle/upper middle class accent. Especially when getting on the plane somewhere entirely awful, it’s a welcome sound!

  • George says:

    It is clear to me that the individual complaining saw only that one article. Over the last couple of years since I started to read HfP I have found it to be largely complimentary about BA.
    The comments you made about the reading selection were entirely justifiable, the selection in BA lounges is often rather poor. I’d sooner head off to WHSimths, Hudson News or any other magazine outlet depending on my location.

    The main thing is this site has enabled me to travel in ways that normally wouldn’t have been possible. It also has resulted in an increased spend with BA along with other carriers and long may that continue.

  • BIG TED says:

    Having just retired as an Air Traffic Controller with NATS ( after nearly 46 years ), my wife and I have spent the last year travelling. We have managed to achieve SILVER status with BA and have travelled Business class with Qatar , BA , Royal Thai and Icelandair. ALL of your comments re lounges and seating within the BA world are, in my opinion, 100% accurate. The seating in the Qatar 787 compared with the old BA 777 is night and day. I know it is a new aircraft but it does not stop refurbishment. The BA lounge in LGW is pathetic. I know it is only for a few months but it is not worthy of a comment. Very bad planning on BAs part
    As far as lounges is concerned, my favourite is Reykyavik with Icelandair Business Class.The variety of food and especially wine was absolutely superb.
    And to comment on the level of service when you compare BA with Qatar would be a total disaster….as far as BA would be concerned.
    HFP……….keep up the good work.

  • David says:

    Rob,
    You can’t keep all the people happy. Keep up your honest good reporting about BA and others. As many have said, most of your readers have experienced BA in all its glory, so we can and do give honest feedback. If people don’t like it, tough but it is the truth.
    I do fly BA (gold) when I can and my current Amex 241 is sitting waiting to be used but I am finding less and less to do with it particularly with ex-EU deals with QR etc.
    Time will tell if all the cost cutting and ‘improvements’ are going to hurt BA.

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