BA’s novel plan to beat the 2-week strike – borrow nine planes from Qatar!

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Back in 2015, I reviewed the Qatar Airways ‘regional First Class’ service.

Qatar Airways First Class on short-haul uses 2 x 2 fixed seating, rather like the Virgin America First Class seat I flew in 2014:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Leg room was more than acceptable – remember that I am 6’2′:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Why am I mentioning this today?

Because this aircraft – possibly this exact aircraft – is coming to a British Airways Club Europe service near you!

British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew have announced a two week strike from 1st to 16th July.  For clarity, this will only impact flights from London Heathrow.  Gatwick and City are unaffected.

During previous strikes BA has pulled together a random mix of crewed charter aircraft to provide cover.  However, at the moment, Qatar Airways has a lot of short-haul aircraft sitting around doing nothing following the ban on flying into Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other regional centres.

British Airways has agreed, subject to CAA approval, to lease nine of these Airbus short-haul aircraft for the duration of the strike and up to six weeks afterwards.  Qatar Airways will be providing the crew, which is a little surprising as I would have doubted they have enough short-haul (as opposed to long-haul) crew who can legally work in the UK.

Food and drink will be provided by British Airways.

It is not all good news.  These aircraft only have 12 First Class seats.  This means that a lot of passengers will be downgraded from Club Europe to Euro Traveller at peak periods.

Ironically, this is a potentially risky move for BA because once Club Europe passengers have seen what Qatar Airways offers its passengers for the 45 minute hop to Dubai, they may start questioning why BA offers them its current Club Europe seat for flights of up to 5 hours …..!

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  1. RIcatti says:

    I think Business Class passengers and frequent flyers are well-aware.

  2. Those seats are mostly retired, now fitted with lie flat 2-2 seats.

    • Not correct. There are plenty of the non-lie flat variations that operate(d) the intra-Gulf sectors.

      QR also has 8 all-Y configured A320s which were supposed to fly for their nixed Saudi operation Al Maha. Leasing these would allow BA to maintain the current flexi Club Europe configuration that they need, albeit with no cabin divider.

      • The lie-flat ones are still needed by Qatar – they are used out of Pisa, Sofia etc to Doha. The ones being borrowed are the ones that go to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah etc usually.

  3. All QR crews (apart from the A380) are cross-fleeted and are not divided into short haul and long haul.

    • Cabin Crew yes, pilots no (All airbus types operated as seperate fleets except 320 TRIs fly 330s as well as 320s)

  4. Until Qatar Airways is allowed to operate intra-europe flights, this is not a risky move. It is about local competition, and not what some middle eastern airline may offer between DXB and DOH (when they flew it). No BA competitor (other than perhaps TK on the mid-haul sectors) provides this sort of business class on intra-europe flights

    • AndyR says:

      Exactly. It is a different market so until the competition offer a better seat BA won’t.

      It’s not even approved. Is this really worthy of a whole page of news?

      • the real harry1 says:

        certainly piqued my interest as we have a decent chance of ending up on one of these on the flight out @ start of school hols

  5. JamesB says:

    A very stupid move by BA IMO, the most likely outcome will be to escalate and widen the dispute with their own employees witn further negative consequencies for their customers, their brand and their bottom line. .

    • Barry cutters says:

      Much better option than cancelling flights

      • BlueThroughCrimp says:

        An even better and cheaper option would be to settle with the staff…

        • RIcatti says:

          Given the management as of today, the staff are not in the strong position.

        • Callum says:

          No, giving into demands from staff isn’t necessarily “cheaper”. Give in now and they can just do it again next year with the knowledge that the company will cave in to prevent disruption.

  6. Fox999 says:

    O/T – BA codeshare with Loganair. Some months ago there was an article on here re the ending of the franchise agreement between Flybe and Loganair. It was noted that there was a codeshare agreement between BA and Loganair. I use that regularly and appreciate the Tier points/Avios I get from it. However, I am unable to book it beyond 01 Sep 17. Does anybody know what’s happening?

    • Brian W says:

      I believe Loganair are going it alone from the divorce date and that Flybe are going to operate some of the routes, now in a franchise with Eastern Airways, in direct competition with Loganair. Not sure if tier points and Avios will still be awarded on the new Flybe / Eastern routes but I imagine there is a chance they will be.

    • Fox999 says:

      It’s clear that Loganair are breaking from Flybe, I thought the codeshare arrangement was a BA/Loganair arrangement. I am unclear how this fits in with the Loganair/Flybe break up.

      • Brian W says:

        Good point, I’m not sure if BA/Loganair will continue to operate in the way they have done. You should still be able to collect Avios on the Flybe routes though, if they post correctly!

    • Volker says:

      A few weeks ago, Loganair published this statement (which hasn’t been updated yet):
      “Interline and codeshare bookings can currently be made until August 31st via our codeshare partners or your travel agent.
      We know that for all our customers this service is vital for travel convenience and confidence in connecting journeys.
      Therefore the timely recommencement of this service for travel from September 1st is recognised as a significant priority for us.
      Here at Loganair we are working hard to assist our codeshare and interline partners to ensure they can reinstate this service for our customers as soon as possible.
      We would like to thank all our customers intending to make interline and codeshare bookings from September 1st for their patience.”

    • Genghis says:

      Bookings can be made for travel post 1 Sep directly on the loganair website. I booked some Barra flights for early Oct

      • Brighton Belle says:

        The baggage carousel at Barra is unlikely to breakdown 🙂 Minimalist technology…. a rack.

        Be sure to wear stout shoes lest you step off the plane steps into an inch of seawater.

      • Fox999 says:

        OK, thanks all, my corporate TA does not seem to recognise you can book Loganair direct. I really want BA through tickets to the Hebrides from london via Glasgow that gain tier points on both. A BA ticketed LHR return to the Hebrides currently gives four sectors of Tier points. I will hang on to see what develops, fall back to book Loganair direct.

  7. Mario says:

    A couple of points on this:

    – QR has (or at least had) a number of aircraft that are in all Y configuration. I don’t know how many but I’ve been on one and downgraded from F to Y when they swapped the aircraft
    – If BA goes ahead with borrowing QR planes who’s to tell that BA wouldn’t just continue to sell as many CE seats as they do today and then occupy the F seats pictured above with the remaining CE passengers seating behind them with a blocked middle?

  8. the real harry1 says:

    Go on – some flier pls put me out my misery. You’re not really saying that QR only has 12 seats in first, none in business & the rest in economy?

    Otherwise why won’t the BA business seats already booked (usually about 32 people on my regular flight depending on where they put the curtain) all fit into QR first & business?

    • Yes, that’s precisely what’s being said, although as someone else has I think pointed out, what’s the real difference between BA CE and QR Y with a blocked middle seat and CE service? I think it’s basically zero.

      • the real harry1 says:

        oh right – then I’m surprised that if QR first is effectively also business, that it’s only 12 seats

        looks like QR economy seats offer more room than BA, so they should be happy enough – but I guess you’d naturally be a bit fed up not to win a seat in QR first http://www.airlinequality.com/info/seat-pitch-guide/

  9. Unusually I have 6 club Europe bookings in Jul and August all of which are connected to long haul flights ex EU none of which are BA.

    I suspect there won’t be any downgrades. BA will simply leave the middle seat free on some economy rows and operate without a curtain. Golds will get the comfy seats and the rest the usual cramped crap offer.

  10. Our family are due to fly BA MAN to LHR (CE) to YVR (WT+) on July 1st, so I am waiting to see whether our flights are affected. Really not happy at the possibility of being mucked about.

    • the real harry1 says:

      no point getting unhappy about something that probably may not happen

  11. O/T: Is it possible to pay car tax without getting charged £2.50 credit card fees? Also, I have two to pay so if i do pay by credit card, is it £2.50 per car or can I combine and pay in one go. Total is £380 to pay but ideally want to put it on credit card and not pay be direct debit/ cheque/ debit card.

    • the real harry1 says:

      pretty sure answer is no (or yes if you use debit card); can’t get round £2.50 each car

    • Genghis says:

      Tesco debit card to earn a modest amount of avios? 380/8 = 47.5 -> 47 x 2.4 = 114 avios

    • Have to pay separately I’m afraid (it’s not setup for you to add multiple registration fees to a basket then checkout); I tried all the cards I had but all recognised as credit and thus liable for fee. Your best bet is Tesco debit card for a small number of Clubcard points (at least better than nothing!).

  12. AFAIK Some A319 in Iberia have 2×2 seating in Business class, called Business Club. They mainly fly medium haul destinations in the Middle East and Africa – however, they do also fly some domestic and european flights.

  13. OT – if I book a ba holiday can I use avios to upgrade?

    • roberto says:

      Yes possibly , however most Ba Holiday flights book into a fare class thats non upgradeable. Most likley no…

  14. Slightly off topic but the BA 241, does it need to be used before end date or booked before end date and utilised after end date?


    Outbound travel must take place before the expiry date on the Companion Voucher however inbound travel can take place after the expiry date of the Companion Voucher.

    is that a change?

    • Genghis says:

      No. It must be booked and outbound flown before expiry

    • IanMacK says:

      I have very recently booked our family (3) summer vacation BA flights – 241 and Gold upgrades to F etc
      The BA rep on GGL helpline told me that upgrades etc could be extended by 6 months past their expiry date – I had a Gold upgrade for 2 which had expired and he said that he would reinstate that and use it for 2 of us and then redeem 1 other single Gold upgrade.
      Wonder if same policy applies for 241 ??

      I was not even aware of the 6-month expiry / reinstatement policy – anybody else had similar experience ??

      • No, they’re strict re 241 AFAIK, however the 6/12 extension for GUV2 is well-recognised, some (mainly GGL) gave even had 12/12. I managed 9/12 due to a glitch in it being triggered too early by mistaken TP credit that was subsequently reversed.

        • Andi Hawes says:

          Thank you for this information. Can i hold 2 vouchers at same time should i gain another while i still have the old?

        • No you can hold multiple vouchers fine (I’ve currently got 241 and GUF2 in BAEC and Lloyds voucher in Avios.com) – higher TP levels accrue GUF1 and certainly no issue holding them (or further GUF2 if your year resets and you quickly hit the 2500 threshold).

  15. dwadda says:

    This won’t make me popular: The biggest impact of having these planes on BA routes that will wow all passengers that have not flown QR is the crew. QR crew are the most customer focused of any airline. They’re attentive, friendly, go out of their way to be helpful, immaculately presented and they are always smiling. BA crew are “primarily there for your safety”, union-speak for don’t engage with us. How I wish they would stop making that announcement at the beginning of every BA flight. That’s not to say that BA crew aren’t also fantastic at times. They have been at times but it is not part of the BA culture (anymore). QR crew remind me of staying at a Ritz Carlton, BA crew remind me of staff at a good but formulaic hotel.

    Yes, QR crew are from developing nations. So what, they’re people too.

    • Pangolin says:

      Good to hear. I just booked a flight on QR to HAN/BKK in the winter season. Never flown with them before.

      • Polly says:

        Pangolin, hope you are flying in their J cabin. If so, you are in for a treat. Their DOHA J lounge is amazing, but the service and food on board is fantastic. Will spoil you for having to fly BA J ever again! Which aircraft are you flying on?
        My Dub flt in July is affected, will be interesting to see what we are flown from.

    • All UK airlines tend to say that, and it’s true. You hope you never need it but the most important thing they could ever do is get you out alive in 90 seconds. Legally in the U.K. you can be cabin crew with no training in service, but aren’t allowed to do anything on board without CAA-approved safety training.

      QR crew may well be fantastic and customer-friendly, but they’re also robots and completely unwilling/unable to think/act out of the box. Yes it might be ‘The Ritz’, but it’s so impersonal and unfriendly, and I’d take a chat with a WW old-timer any day.

  16. I’m flying CE from LHR to Larnaca in early July, this is going to be interesting!

    • Don’t get too excited just in case you end up on what you paid for or a leased in Lithuanian bird!

  17. OT : Anyone know how long virgin miles take to IHG, Operatot said it was 30 days but I need them to upgrade to ambassador by the 7th July.
    I thought there was a page specifically set up with transfer times but I can’t seem to find it 🙁

    • Genghis says:

      When I did it last year about a week. Need IHGs to upgrade to AMB? You spending the 32k IHGs instead of $200 or do you mean to get to 75k IHGs to get Spire?

      • I did it last month and it took a week.

      • Thanks Genghis, to pay for AMB. Staying at the Park Lane IC in a couple of weeks, somehow I’m still spire,elite from the ihg barclaycard a couple of years ago.

  18. Fox999 says:

    O/T – We are a family of four, I have BA status, whilst useful when travelling alone, when travelling as a family it gains me little. Next year we have a few trips planned and it would be great if we could make use of the status benefits as a family and take some cheap WT flights into europe and possibly US. The only way I can see I can get them is to get my wife elevated to silver. She is a good way towards it. Now, I have a family holiday booked through BA Holidays later this year booked on WT tickets. If I was to get my wife’s ticket changed to CE, that would get her to silver. I did investigate this with BA some time ago, and it appeared they would only do it if we all upgraded. I don’t want that. I just want my wife in CE whilst I look after the kids in WT. If i book her a separate CE ticket now for the same flights, and she does not fly on the BA Holidays WT ticket booked, will it cause me any problems with the BA Holidays booking? Any other approaches I could take?
    I know I should probably talk to BA again, However, I don’t always find them that helpful and I could do with your thoughts to help me get it right first.

    • the real harry1 says:

      shouldn’t cause any problems except to your wallet

      your wife not flying on the BA Holidays ticket won’t invalidate the other 3 tickets or the hotel (incl for her)

      where are you going/ what is the cost of the CE ticket for your wife?

      how many tier points does she need?

    • IanMacK says:

      Might be cheaper that she does a TP run to get to silver – I’m sure all on here will chip in with suggestions as to best options.

      • Fox99 says:

        Yes, looked into that, the problem is time, she simply hasn’t got it. Also, not keen on travelling alone and I shouldn’t need the tier points, hence it will cost two tickets. Hence , I am thinking of boosting earnings from planned travel. I can get the additional tier points for just over 2 pounds a point, that’s not too bad.

        • Genghis says:

          Question is though – will you as a family (or she individually) get £300 of benefit from your wife hitting silver? Depends how often travel, TP collection year end etc… At £20 / lounge visit at top end that’s 15 lounge visits…

  19. Fox99 says:

    We are going to Malta, she needs 150 to get Silver. We are planning a few trips next year, probably cash bookings, I have now got used to the lounge and priority when on business, I would like it for us as a family. Whilst I can get it through booking CE flights it gets very expensive for 4. And, the best part of CE is the priority and lounges, the seat and meal are not too valuable, hence, two of us with Silver get that for the four of us. It will cost me around 300 this year, but means I am happy to go WT on a number of trips next year. I might send her CE on some as she will need to maintain silver for the following year. That works quite well, she gets the peace from the kids for a bit, whilst we take up a row of three together.
    It would be nice to see an article on here on how to make the best of family travel. Most status benefits, redemptions, 241 etc are most beneficial to couples. I have baggage!

    • Polly says:

      Best is Can she spare a weekend or a two day space to do a CE Tallinn TP run on 4 sectors via ? HEL l think..been mentioned here a lot. 160 TPs. Then she’s silver before you go on hols??
      Any of you bright sparks on here confirm that routing for me? Lovely planning….

      • The cheap Tallinn deal is no longer available unfortunately.

      • the real harry1 says:

        I guess Fox99 could easily argue that just lounge benefits x4 on a trip = x8 (there & back) = 8x £20 = £160 a trip.

        And he’s planning several trips.

        So not too difficult to justify the (say) £300 for his wife’s extra CE fare for her to achieve Silver.

        Fox99 & family travel: fwiw I long ago concluded that getting 241s for European travel is largely a waste of effort/ money. Whereas redemptions save us a couple of £thousand every year (3 kids, so 5 of us travelling in Europe maybe 40 trips these days – used to be 50 before I got told not allowed to go for autumn half term ! 🙂 )

        • Fox999 says:

          Thanks all for the thoughts, spoke to BA Holidays again yesterday and got some real help. Got her an offer of upgrade for 210 pounds, that will gain her 140 tier points. So am going for that. 210 pounds ensure all four of us get priority check in, security, lounge access and boarding next year. I believe it to be worth it. Now looking for some more bargain breaks on BA holidays!
          As I write this am about to depart for Heathrow. Only thing that makes leaving at this unreasonable time OK is that once there, will be straight through and into lounge for bacon sandwiches! so yes, worth it.

  20. Serena Wilson says:

    Would anyone have an opinion on the security of Qatar as a BA partner over the next, say 6-12 months given the changing politics in the region?

    I want to book a Qatar run to collect points in early 2018 but wonder how/whether the airline or the reciprocal status sharing arrangements could be affected.

    • As Qatar is the biggest shareholder in IAG I doubt you have anything to worry about! Even if Qatar left oneworld (which they won’t) they would almost certainly keep a one to one BA relationship.

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