British Airways performs badly in annual Which? airline survey …. and why I am not quoted in it

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Which? magazine published its annual airline (economy class) satisfaction survey on Saturday, and it did not make great reading for British Airways.

On short haul ….

Based on feedback from over 11,000 Which? readers, BA’s short-haul performance could hardly have been worse.  The airline slumped to ‘third from bottom’ on short haul with a customer score of just 52% compared to 67% last year.  It only managed to outperform Ryanair and BA’s sister airline Vueling who tied for last place.

BA was given two stars out of five for food and drink, seat comfort and value for money.

The top 10 rated short-haul airlines were:

  1. Aurigny Air Services
  2. Jet2
  3. Norwegian
  4. Aer Lingus
  5. SWISS
  6. Air Malta
  7. Lufthansa
  8. KLM
  9. SAS
  10. Eurowings

Aurigny, if you don’t know it, operates a small fleet to and between the Channel Islands and was an Avios partner until last year.

To be honest, I have not flown a single short-haul segment this year on anyone other than British Airways.  Whilst the fall is certainly dramatic, you can never be sure how much is driven by external ‘noise’, eg the IT collapse, and how much is from real experience – albeit Which? readers were only asked to vote on airlines they had flown in the last year.

Worryingly, this is before the upcoming second-wave of changes to cabin layouts, including removing one toilet from economy, placing the remaining one against the back wall of the galley and replacing the seats with new ultra-slim ones.

And on long-haul ….

The British Airways long-haul performance was little better.

Customer satisfaction dropped from 60% to 50%, with BA also falling to ‘third from bottom’.  It ranked below TUI and Thomas Cook, although it did still beat United Airlines (a shocking 39%) and American Airlines (46%).

Singapore Airlines was the clear long-haul winner with a score of 80%.  It was followed by Emirates, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific.

And on Avios …..

The magazine also talks about the devaluation of Avios.  Now, I have to declare an interest here as Which? approached me to contribute to this and I refused.

Well, not quite refused.  However, Which? wanted to show the number of flights required to get a free flight to New York over the last 30 years (1988 to today) – and they have discussed this in the published article.   This is what I told them:

“[I don’t think that this is the right way to go.]  Let me put this into context a bit:

* there have been various changes over the years in terms of how you earn miles from BA flights, most recently in 2015.  This severely cut the miles earned on discount economy tickets, increased them sharply on flexible tickets and made proportional changes to everything in between.  Even if we had the data, you would need to be VERY specific, eg ‘how many fully flexible business class flights are needed?’

* it ignores the ‘taxes and surcharges’ which used to be very low but now add £500+ to a BA or Virgin business class return redemption

Those are the downsides. Here are the upside changes:

* there has been a MASSIVE increase in product quality since 1988.   This seat is what you got for a BA business class seat back in 1988.  Today you get a fully flat bed.  If you redeem on Qatar Airways (a BA partner) you can now get a PRIVATE SUITE – see here.  What you get versus 1988 is not comparable.

* earning miles is now FAR easier.  The oneworld alliance was formed in 1999, allowing you to collect Avios / BA Miles on 13 different airlines, not just one.  From that point you have also been able to spend on 13 different airlines, most of which are better than BA (Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Qatar etc).

* the ability to earn miles via credit card sign ups and the like has never been as generous as it is today.   ANYONE with a decent credit score and a partner can earn 100,000 Avios for almost free within 7-8 months.  It has never been so easy to hoover up points via credit card sign-up bonuses.  [I gave a full breakdown of how this would be done.]

* BA now guarantees two Club World seats and four Economy seats for Avios on every BA flight, and usually far more than that. This guarantee was not there before 2015.

* the introduction of the ‘2 for 1’ voucher with the British Airways American Express card about 12 years ago effectively HALVED the cost of redemptions overnight for people who got the credit card and earned the voucher”

That has probably cost me a few new readers from the Which? audience but I’m not prepared to kick a man when he’s down …..

BA did issue a statement in response to the report:

“British Airways is a premium airline committed to customer choice.

We offer customers the biggest network from London’s most central airports, a loyalty programme with huge benefits and the best punctuality record of the three big short-haul operators from the capital. We also give our growing numbers of customers a wide choice of fares and services.”

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  1. I would take an alternative look at this, yes BA have let us down as customers, from the grubby old planes, to the poor J (and F) seat, to the service from some of the crew, to dispatch reliability, to continual cost cutting to the bone etc etc.

    However, BA/IAG has been a great performer relative to others in it’s sector for shareholders – should that be more important than how we as customers are treated?

    I have voted with my wallet and now very rarely purchase a revenue ticket with BA and now only use them for long haul 241 redemptions. EasyJet and yes RyanAir now offer more value for money to me vs BA for flights to Europe.

    • the real harry1 says:

      retired BA staff & deferred retirees come top of my list in terms of how BA should act – I feel the company owes them such a lot in terms of pensions earned & committed to that yes, customers are less important (as are shareholders)

      pretty sure the law sees it that way, as well

  2. “BA was given two stars out of five for food and drink, seat comfort and value for money.”……………. Just what will it take for BA to get rid of Cruz ?

  3. O/T, just noticed if anyone is a Spanish resident, the new Iberia Visa card comes with 15k sign-up bonus, earns 1 avios per €2, and gives Silver status (equivalent to BA Bronze).

  4. OT. What’s the wisdom of self referring to Nectar from a Plat, bagging 18k MR then just cancelling the Nectar without putting any spending through it?

    Also, what about referring friends/relatives who similarly don’t put any/little spend through the card before spending?

    Is that likely to be flagged up somewhere in Amex’s systems? Or should I just steer well clear?

    • I had a look at the T&C’s when self referring was first mentioned on here and although it doesn’t say you can’t refer yourself it clearly means referring others. They could easily pull the ‘against the spirit of the offer’ card and it’s too valuable a resource for me to lose. Each to their own though. Personally I’d like that clarified as I’d like to apply and use some of the other cards but have to wait six months aka back to a non amex credit card.

  5. I think the giveaway there is the fact that the planes would not have needed deicing by late afternoon. If ice built up earlier it would need clearing but if the India plane arrived after the worse of the weather it may have been fine.

  6. Another example of BA and its somewhat poor IT. For the last 24 hours at least I am unable to transfer Avios points from BA to Avios. If I lose the flight I shall not be happy.
    This is a regular occurrence. Ideas anyone?

    • Yes, something in your account details doesn’t match. Make sure your addresses (email and postal) add up correctly in both systems.

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