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

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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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Comments (69)

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

  • Paul says:

    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.

  • Sian says:

    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

  • s879 says:

    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

    • Alan says:

      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!).

  • marc says:

    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.

  • Emma says:

    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…

  • Andi says:

    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 ??

      • Alan says:

        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?

          • Alan says:

            No you can hold multiple vouchers fine (I’ve currently got 241 and GUF2 in BAEC and Lloyds voucher in – 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).

  • 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.

    • Nick says:

      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.

  • CWK says:

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

    • Mike says:

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

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