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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)

  • Richard says:

    HFP’s experience with BA is close to my own so don’t sense bias, simply observation. I regularly fly LHR-HKG (and further) either in Business or First, a poor product/service experience from BA drove my business to discover Cathay Pacific although I do like the BA A380 in first. The Cathay product is much better, the beds in Business are longer and more comfortable and the crew are very attentive & polite in contrast to the BA crew with sensible connection times. They treat Gold cardholders nicely. The CX lounges whether in HongKong or elsewhere are fab, clean with good food and facilities in contrast to the somewhat shabby efforts that BA have (or share). I feel that BA are trying to trade on a halo that was created in the past and now have an apparent status that is not justified, with many travellers like me, becoming disappointed when met with the reality. There is abundant evidence of badly thought out cost savings and pricing is not competitive. Flights within EU are buses and not special at all. FYI, I have held an ExecCard in either Silver or Gold since loyalty cards started in the 80’s so have seen the swing of the BA product from extremely poor to good and back again. I hope that BA sharpen themselves up again but currently not my favourite airline sadly.

  • Graham says:

    As a long time reader of HFP, I find the accusation of HFP having an ‘anti BA bias’ laughable.

    IMHO, Rob writes excellent articles on BA which on the whole are balanced, considered and fair (based on what I also experience on BA).

    The articles highlight any changes to the product offering (is he supposed to ignore these?!) and also encourage healthy debate on this very site, enabling us readers to make informed decisions.

    Keep up the good work!

  • whiskerxx says:

    It seems to me that the BA employee has misinterpreted your comments, and failed to understand what really lies behind them.
    I doubt that they can read HFP on a daily basis, or else they would recognise that when it comes to magazine racks you have more than a touch of OCD.
    A more helpful response from then would be to send a PM suggesting cognitive behavioural therapy or some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors! 🙂

  • Dave says:

    I think its worth noticing that most of it appears as constructive criticism, I would imagine BA take a lot of this on board, whether they act on it or not.
    Nothing you have written has swayed me from booking BA but its always been helpful to know prior to flying or when considering routes for personal use.

    I would rather read a 80/20 split of criticism to praise

  • Concerto says:

    It’s just one person, probably just venting alone. It’s amazing how just one person can create such a polemic! I would just ignore it.

  • Travelbear38 says:

    I find the BA forum on flyertalk does not allow you to say anything bad about the world’s favourite. A number of the more frequent posters attack anyone who dares to point out the crappy food,stuck up staff and tatty jumbos.
    Still go out of my way to fly BA but when I get a choice between them and Etihad I always go with the latter.

  • dicksbits says:

    I recently flew to and from PEK in CW. A Gold Upgrade reward flight, my partner and I tried out the middle ‘couple’ seats on the 744. I had ‘priced’ the flights and they were coming in around £4k rtn each. With old style IFE (and a limited range of choice) and food which seemed like ‘stodge’ with little finesse, the only thing that stood out was the service (which was very good). The cabin was full of new BA flight attendants returning to PEK, who spent the majority of the outbound flight giggling and standing around each other’s seat at the back of the cabin. It crossed my mind that if I’d paid cash for these seats I wouldn’t be a fully satisfied customer. Whatever people say about provision at the airport and perks, it’s the onboard ‘experience’ that counts. BA are behind and overpriced in my view.

    • Bob says:

      A bit tough to focus on cabin crew chatting – this happened on a recent J flight on Emirates …and the last flight we took in Virgin UC, a member of cabin crew made up be empty bed opposite me and then laid down in her uniform and slept the whole flight from Chicago, remaking the bed before landing 🙂

      • Keith Priestnal says:

        Unbelievable, or is it?
        I have just returned from Barbados UC on Virgin. On the outbound day flight the cabin supervisor made up 3 beds for cabin crew who alternated the use throughout the flight.
        disgraceful.

        • TimS says:

          Why disgraceful?

          If there are available UC seats, why shouldn’t the crew use them rather than the usual crew rest area?

          • Bob says:

            It’s probably irrational, just as it might irrationally irk some people to pay for a top restaurant and have staff eat the exact same meal at the next table for free. It’s not about minding them having it so much as feeling on the butt end of a joke for paying a lot of money for the same experience when exclusivity was a key selling point.

        • TimS says:

          Incidentally, when I flew AA J earlier this year, 1A was occupied for most of the LHR-JFK sector by the relief pilot.

      • TimS says:

        Are you sure she was supposed to be active CC on that leg and not just dead-heading back?

        • Bob says:

          I don’t know but she was in uniform and slept for several hours of the flight. I assumed she was hung over – I actually didn’t care much and was saying for BA crew to be chatting was an even smaller deal by comparison. 🙂

  • Deenesh says:

    I have never flown Business. My collecting for the last few years is towards being able to take myself and my partner in Business (or even First) at some point in the near future. So as someone who flies purely Economy for my trips I feel that BA aren’t really any worse than any other airline in Y. I have flown VS, QR, AA, UA, RJ and BA longhaul and can honestly say in Y that American were the worst. The staff were disinterested and service was surley. But I may have caught them on a bad day. Even QR in their brand new 787 service from EDI when travelling to SIN in 2014 wasn’t anything to write home about. I can honestly say in Y on BA I’ve had some of the best food in the air in all my years of travelling on trips to EWR and YYZ in recent years.
    Now I can’t comment on premium cabins and it is clear that BA have fallen way behind many airlines, not just the Gulf carriers. Employees of a company will always be disappointed when reading bad things about their company. I work for a small airline and we leave much to be desired sometimes in both service for customers and how staff are treated but it still irks me when we are constantly slated on social media.

    • marly says:

      Agreed,
      When I fly economy, I always fly BA because the staff are amazing and they give drinks and snacks throughout the flight, all you need to do I go at the back of the plane and ask and they never have any issue with it. Unlike Delta, on a 11h flight to LA wouldn’t feed us for more than 5h and then give a soggy sandwich before landing. Never ever!
      Of course, entertainment is still something from the 80’s, but the A380, if lucky to fly on, does the job!

      • Dave R says:

        I would also agree with this. BA economy is great IME compared to many other airlines. We flew to LAS for our honeymoon with Delta and were treated like cattle. I spent the whole flight in a fully reclined (broken) seat. There were plently of seats available in other cabins but according to Delta I “wasnt upgradable”. We flew that route with BA the next time and it was luxury by comparison. Now I always lean towards BA whether in economy, Business or First as I know what to expect and, if there are any issues, the BA crew are usually sympathetic and helpful which is a credit to them considering the way they are often treated by their employer.

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