Highly critical YouGov report shows collapsing BA customer perceptions

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One thing that was missing from the ‘Investor Day’ presentation given to the City recently was the ‘net promoter score’ for British Airways.  It is an accepted statistical method of showing how well regarded a company is by its customers and is also a number which IAG is known to focus on closely.

Luckily, polling firm YouGov published its own report last month on the collapsing public perception of British Airways.  For some reason this slipped through the PR gap when it was published but I have now got hold of a copy.

You can read the full document here (PDF).

Take a look at this chart (click to enlarge):

This chart is a net score of whether consumers believe a brand offers value for money.  It is important to note:

“By ‘value for money’ we do not mean cheap or expensive, but that the brand offers customers a lot in return for the price paid.”

“Looking at value for money, the decline started earliest among those who fly with British Airways. The drop among BA customers’ perception in this area started in autumn 2016, shortly after the introduction of inflight food and drink charges for short-haul flights. But the general public’s view began to change notably in May 2017, at the time of the brand’s much-publicised IT problems.”

Here is another chart showing changes in perceived ‘value’ and ‘quality’ over the last year.  Again, click to enlarge:

Again, you can see that BA registers sharp falls on both counts.  None of the airlines covered by the survey comes out smelling of roses, but then again we are only talking about a one year period.

However, the chart above is based on ALL flyers questioned.  Look at what happens when you only include the data from people who have flown British Airways in the past year:


The report is not all doom and gloom:

Despite the fall in perception among several key groups, it should be remembered that British Airways is still the highest rated airline in the UK according to many metrics, and, despite falls in views of the carrier’s quality and value for money, the vast majority (87%) who flew with BA in the last 12 months were satisfied with their experience.

You can download the full PDF document here if you want to take a closer look.  Note that you need to provide your personal details first.

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  1. Interesting article. I am flying long haul today, departing from a regional airport in CE and then connecting in Heathrow to fly business. My only other flight this year was on KLM over to Amsterdam and I have to admit to being impressed; their service was akin to what BA used to be a few years ago. Today I will be able to compare the journey to my last long haul on BA and judge for myself whether the standards are slipping as badly as I perceive from hfp readers, media reports and other travel sites.

  2. Ouch! At most large companies this would be extremely troubling and minds would be sharply focused…

  3. Interesting to see what quadrant Ryanair are in. Is that just improved relative to BA, or are they actually objectively seen as less bad than they used to be?

    • They are objectively seen as better.

      But let me give some caution around the figures. I am on the yougov panel and have answered this sort of question for loads of brands. I answer the airline ones based purely on perception which for me is largely informed by here, flyertalk and the media – plus the occasional flight and weight of experience. So for example Monarch in my mind started with a low score because they were terrible twice 20 years ago. I have a soft spot for Delta because of the way they treated me as an unaccompanied child on multiple occasions (plus recent crews have been lovely to my kids).

      My point is that this isn’t scientific and the small moves in the middle of the graph are going to be noise. So if Ryanair are better it’s because people have read nice things about them in the papers, etc. A move the size of BA’s however is as Rob says significant. And proceeded by a very gentle ongoing decline over many years which in hindsight was a canary for them.

    • I guess it suggests, that ryanair continuously deliver about the same level of service (not better or worse, I believe this is going to change slightly after recent new and very incovenient hold luggage policy), meanwhile BA product in general gradually deteriorate (and cutting legroom on short haul aircraft possibly make it even worse).

      • Ryanair has been consistently appalling with unfair extra ripoff charges at every turn since they started. And their check in agents are the most rude and nasty part of their setup of all. But they start at such a low base they can only get worse if they stop offering some cheap fares on some dates, which they do still frequently do, unlike Easyjet who pretend to offer cheap fares but actually almost never do.

        Re BA short haul the difference was clearl the free meal and drink, the hold bag and the better legroom than Easyjet and Ryanair. When all of those go completely (as yet a free hold bag has not been removed for Avios redemptions but I am sure it is coming, when the contract is renegotiated, with the excuse that they have been able to lower the Avios required for each destination for hand luggage only customers) then the only point in travelling with BA will be that only it offers flights out of Heathrow or London City. But if travelling from Gatwick there seems to be no advantage to travelling with BA at all now.

        Certainly when I finally make a trip to Australia and NZ I have no ambition at all to travel with BA both due to the absurdly uncompetitive fares to these destinations (especially in Economy) and due to the far worse service levels than the likes of Emirates, Ethiad or Qatar etc.

    • Jonathan says:

      I think the quadrant charts could be misleading. I don’t think it’s saying that Ryanair is objectively better than BA. I think the correct interpretation is that Ryanair’s score has improved slightly whereas BA’s has gone down, also that Emirates has stayed the same.

      For example (my made up numbers), if last year Emirates scored 99%, Ryanair scored 45% and BA scored 89% then the new scores this year would be 99%, ~47% and 77% respectively. In this example, BA would still be objectively better than Ryanair – still BA falling more than its competitors should hopefully be a wake up call.

      It’s a shame that the report didn’t include any absolute scores as I think that would have been helpful.

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        Your interpretation is correct. The quadrant chart doesn’t say “who is perceived to be best” it says “who has changed most”.

        So all the other carriers have had virtually no change in their customer perceptions (except United – which is probably to do with passengers getting dragged forcibly off their planes)

        BA on the other hand have a massive reduction in both perceived value and perceived quality. Different organisations give different weight to these type of surveys but I know in several brand focussed companies I have worked for this would be a crisis of monumental proportions. My guess is that BA doesn’t truly see itself as a brand focussed company.

  4. Let me guess… expectations vs reality = customers perception/satisfaction

  5. “””The drop among BA customers’ perception in this area started in autumn 2016, shortly after the introduction of inflight food and drink charges for short-haul flights. But the general public’s view began to change notably in May 2017, at the time of the brand’s much-publicised IT problem.””””

    The report surprises me in that people only changed their view a year ago.

    I haven’t paid to fly BA premium long haul since 2014 chusing QR and CX going East and AA going west. ( I appreciate BA gets some of this money due to their entirely legal commercial agreements on revenue sharing)

    What I resent is BAs dominance and my lack of real choice. I live close to LHR and at least 90 mins from LTN STN LGW. So if I wish to benefit from a FFP I must fly BA shorthaul and Oneworld long haul. The latter is not a chore but I really now dread shortfall on BA. I try to avoid Club Europe which is beyond poor while the absence of service of any kind, backed by the constant unannounced seats changes in Euro traveler, makes it hard work. ( first world problem I know)
    Outside of Europe shorthaul flying is so much better demonstrating that is is possible.

    I don’t therefore see things change much for BA and in any event the apparent public perception is not reflected in the share price which is the only measure Cruz and co really care about

    • I don’t live anywhere near LHR and even further from LGW, so BA have no advantage over any other airline flying from London for me. My opinion of BA went down when they switched from Airmiles to Avios and hasn’t improved much since. Having taken an EasyJet short haul flight from LGW this year, I wouldn’t feel any particular urge to go back to BA for flights in Europe, other than to use up my stash of Avios on RFS.

  6. Richard says:

    Being a premium price without a premium service has to catch up with you eventually.

    • Offering a consistently appalling service, especially re cheating customers over hand luggage weight limits etc and demanding cash payments for overweight luggage to prevent card chargebacks, still so far does not seem to have caught up with Ryanair.

      But I suppose the point is that they targeted a new group of low income customers with minimal expectations, other than low nominal headline price (with a billion and one hidden extras), so that is presumably how they continue to get away with still getting repeat business from this customer group.

      Also they still fly to quite a few places that nobody else flies to and this is the other reason that some customers still put up with them in spite of everything else.

  7. LostAntipod says:

    Not sure i would quote Uber but my first AirBnB experience went south and the recovery actions they immediately took really impressed me. I could have had nowhere to stay in another country instead i ended up in a better apartment at the same price, and some money back. Imagine if BA irrops was like that.

  8. I suspect the results are very skewed by infrequent flyers with little experience of flying multiple airlines. Were the survey repeated with only responses from people who fly 20+ sectors per year on 5+ carriers then I suspect results would look a whole lot worse even than this for BA.

  9. Craig Strickland says:

    OT: Finally managed to put a spreadsheet together with my Avios earned for the year, average cost .6p and average redemption value 2.7p which I’m pretty pleased with, Between Mrs S and myself we’ve collected 297k but spent 378k so I’m going to have to work harder next year! Two CW returns this year, Tokyo and St Lucia, two planned for next year, Mumbai and and open jaw KL/Singapore with a CE return to Naples thrown into the mix.

    • What did you normalise your redemption values on; revenue price at time of booking of redemption flight taken, a notional sum you would have been prepared to pay for the flight, the cheapest available acceptable revenue flight on any carrier for your itinerary at the time of booking, or something else?

      • Craig Strickland says:

        Revenue price at time of booking minus the taxes paid for the redemption. I also ran a comparison against premium economy fares at the time of booking to give a balance, the latter had me losing 0.1p per Avio. It was quite a complicated process, i.e. how much do you value an Amex Reward point at or should I include the full £450 for the Amex Platinum because of the additional benefits gained?

        • Genghis says:

          It’s all a mind exercise anyway to give yourself a big pat on the back. I think I’d probably come out at a c.0.2-0.3p cost (which for me should be an easy number to calculate). So as long as I feel like I’m making a profit and getting around 1p from those avios, I’m happy.

        • Inevitably lots of questions but you have to draw lines someplace, platinum fees for example yield more than just avios so only a fraction should be attributed. Rob reports once or twice a year on values he achieves but I think his spreadsheet are based on notional prices he is prepared to pay. While this is undoubtedly very relevant to him, it is a little less meaningful to others. Would love to know how Robs values changed if he were to normalise on something more objective. It might be a good HFP project at some point to develop a common spreadsheet we could all use and then get a very in-depth view of costs and values. Interesting your cost was 0.6p, that’s the most I’m prepared to pay per avios.

          • The only ‘objective’ answer is using the price you are prepared to pay.

            Anything based on how you notionally value Club World – if you would never pay for it yourself – is subjective. Similarly, how you value a £250 five-star hotel room if you would never pay more than £100 and always stay in a 3-star is also subjective.

            You can only honestly say you are getting an actual ‘value’ for your points is if you are getting something you would otherwise pay for, for free.

            This is where valuations get more complex. 20,000 Amex points from a Gold will get you £100 to spend in Sainsburys via Nectar. That is ‘real’ value, unless you argue that you buy all your food in Aldi and Sainsburys is overpriced. If you use those 20,000 Amex points for a £200 Radisson hotel night via Club Carlson, is that a better deal if you have a rule that you never pay more than £75 for a hotel? Your call ….

        • ‘Avio’ ????

  10. Uh oh, first Virgin, now BA, anyone else due to fly on a 787 in the next few weeks..?

    • OT @TripRep: Did you get to Bali or did you go to KL? Did AirAsiaX work out ok?

      • Bypassing Bali, coming back from Oz straight to KL for a night, then hopefully a BA 787 to UK.

        Flying the outbound to Oz tomorrow, on a 241, checked in worked fine, so now optimistically looking forward to the best of BA on both CE & CW legs. Grateful not flying on Sunday middle & southern Englandshire expecting a dumping of snarrw.

    • BA cancellations are mainly Doha, to free up a 777 to cover for a 787. Which is a pretty good result when you get moved to Qatar’s Qsuite!

    • Interesting, i have a flight to Narita in 2 weeks time, when booked it was a 787 which compensated for the extra long journey from Narita to city centre (when compared to Narita), however a few months ago it was swapped onto a 777 (and still without any notice that they had moved my seat, thanks to Myflights app for spotting). I then fly back from KL on the 787, i dont mind if they pull that flight and put me onto a QR flight instead!

    • Im on a 787 metal on a virgin plane to HKG in Jan… :S

      Back to LHR on a trust 777 BA plane lol.

  11. Just off a nice BA Domestic CE experience into LHR, good attentive crew, late afternoon food in Galleries South a bit “Meh”, soup & limp sarnies, but fingers crossed for the upcoming CW leg…. 🙂

    • And now off the CW leg, waiting here in Singapore for the next flight….

      Upper Deck off A380 still as quiet as I remember, really helpful crew, food okay. Overall happy with the experience, well apart from the naff no interlining baggage for One World flights, etc.

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