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CONFIRMED: Here are the passenger improvements coming to British Airways

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Yesterday, we exclusively revealed some of the changes coming to British Airways in the coming weeks and months.

This morning, British Airways sent us the official press release with confirmation of what is happening. We thought it was worth covering again as it goes into more detail about what is happening.

Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said:

“We’re committed to ensuring we deliver a premium proposition for our customers throughout their journey with us and when we do so, we need to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of it.

Here are the passenger improvements coming to British Airways

We want to create an even better British Airways and know that we need to keep making changes to the customer experience with things like alternative menus, reducing plastics and introducing new technology to get us to where we want to be. In addition to these improvements, we are also moving ahead at speed with some of the larger initiatives that we promised to our customers, such as the roll out of our award-winning business class seat, Club Suite.”

Here are the key changes:

New check-in zones for World Traveller Plus (premium economy)

One of the biggest changes is announced is the roll out of dedicated check in desks for passengers travelling in premium economy. This has long been a key differentiator between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, so it is good to see BA ‘level up’ its World Traveller Plus experience.

British Airways rolled out World Traveller Plus improvements in 2019 including new bedding and amenity kits, so the cabin itself is looking quite smart these days.

You can read our review of World Traveller Plus on a BA A380 here plus a comparison between premium economy on both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

BA plant burger

Introducing a plant menu (including burger) in lounges

To cater to the increasing numbers of vegi, flexi and vegan customers, British Airways is introducing a new plant based menu across lounges. British Airways says this will “improve choice”, although that is only true if the new items are supplementary to the carnivorous options rather than replacing them.

The new menus will roll out at Heathrow before being offered in US lounges. It’s not clear if other lounges in the network, such as those in Europe and Asia, will also get the plant menu.

It is not clear whether the menu is already available or when it is being launched.

A plant-based burger will be one of the new options and is now available. Virgin Atlantic has had the Beyond Burger, which I rate very highly, at its Clubhouses for some time, so it will be interesting to see how BA compares. Perhaps I will do a plant burger taste-test competition next time I am in Heathrow T3 ….

Here are the passenger improvements coming to British Airways

More meal choices in Club Europe (and long haul changes on the way)

It’s taken almost two years, but British Airways is finally re-introducing what it calls a “premium pre-Covid meal service” on its short haul business class flights.

Since March 2020 the airline has had a limited menu that reduced the selection of meal choices on Club Europe flights. It is now reinstating a proper service which will include new menus and more variety, beginning in March.

The reinstation of full service on long haul flights will have to take a little longer. British Airways is currently facing a cabin crew crunch as high levels still remain absent due to Omicron and the airline is struggling to recruit as quickly as it is adds back capacity.

This means that Club World service will remain a one (rather than three) tray service for quite a while longer. It is disappointing that BA hasn’t been able to improve this sooner – many other airlines returned to proper pre-pandemic service last year, including Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways.

Nevertheless, BA is working on improving long haul catering and says it has “exciting changes afoot”. They will need to fit on one tray though ….

Here are the passenger improvements coming to British Airways

Water stations, less plastic and other bits and bobs

British Airways is making changes to improve its sustainability, including the roll out of more water stations in lounges and the removal of plastic bottles at Heathrow.

I am in favour of increased water stations. In general, the UK is very poor at offering drinking stations in public areas (the US does a much better job of this) so it is good to see BA take the lead on this.

The removal of plastic bottles is less impactful. British Airways has stocked glass water bottles in its lounges for some time. Glass bottles produce more emissions during transport due to their increased weight, of course, so I am not entirely certain how much better it really is. The really sustainable option is just to drink the perfectly adequate tap water ….

Of course, BA also now hands out small plastic water bottles to every single economy passenger on short haul flights. Add in the bottle of water to passengers on long-haul flights and you’re looking at 45 million plastic bottles per year. Taking a few thousand out of the lounges isn’t going to change much.

Other changes include:

  • A new bag tracing system which will allow you to track your bag’s journey through the airport and (ideally!) onto your flight.
  • New signage throughout the airport
  • The ability to make more changes to bookings online, without having to call
  • A new document checking process in time for the Summer
  • The Skyflyers program for children will be relaunched

Conclusion

It is good to see British Airways finally re-investing in the customer experience. It has been a depressing two years at Head for Points when we have had to report so much bad news in the industry – it’s good to be writing about positive changes again.

That said, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that anything here is either revolutionary or more than the minimum required to stop the airline sliding further behind. There is no word of, for example, a comprehensive overhaul of the lounges at Heathrow.

It is also time that the catering returns to pre-pandemic service patterns. British Airways is caught between a rock and a hard place given its staff shortages, but it brought the staff shortages on itself, and other airlines don’t seem to be in a similar position.

These changes are a good start, however, and I hope I get to write more positive news items in the coming weeks.


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British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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Comments (143)

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

  • Chris Green says:

    I am not that bothered about any of the above BUT they need to have a system were somebody actually answers the phone and it doesn’t take hours or even days of phoning to talk to someone if you have a problem or for that matter buy a ticket NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

  • Calz says:

    Improvements needed
    BA cancelled my flight and offered earlier one as alternative. As flying down from Edinburgh needed to now arrive night before to make new flight. Spoke to exec gold line and as BA cancelled, the agent said I could stay at hotel near Heathrow and claim as expenses and asked if acceptable. I agreed.
    Contact BA after returning and put in a claim for expenses. Email 4 days later telling me the agent gave me incorrect information and my only options were to cancel for refund or accept change to flight and pay for hotel out of own pocket so won’t pay expenses. agent shouldnt have given me that info and no expenses will be covered. That’s poor and misleading. Have to now take this further as that’s not acceptable. Have asked them to reconsider. If they don’t, what is my next option? Thinking formal complaint and then ombudsman?

    • meta says:

      You were given wrong information. Flight has been cancelled. Start a MCOL claim against BA. Send a letter before claim to BA’s legal department. Read up on UK261/EU261 rights on the forum here.

    • TimM says:

      I had exactly the same experience. Change of flight time requiring an overnight at Heathrow, told to claim afterwards, claim subsequently refused. Thankfully I had a record of the first ‘customer service’ agent telling me to claim and so was, eventually, refunded. The next time I will just arrive and tell them to find me a hotel & transport.

  • Lady London says:

    This sort of rotten (and illegal) treatment by BA is a lot of why Sean Doyle standing up and promising poorer service than we had before and how long it’s going to take British Airways even to do that is just not impressing us.

    Since they are now not honouring what they said personally I would go back to travelling on the original day and consider telling BA (1) to connect me on another airline as close as ooss to original time f they cancelled their own flight (you have that right UK261 / EU261) or (if you can arrive later) if they refuse that (illegally, but they will refuse bur make the point by asking) then remind them you will be claiming all meals (£25pp no alcohol is fine at Heathrow) plus any overnight required at Heathrow Hotel etc as per duty of care EU261 / UK261. Doubtless all that will cost them more than the offer they made and are now trying to withdraw

    You didnt have to accept travelling earlier and you only were willing to accept the inconvenience based on hotel promised. But if they insist on withdrawing it then BA will sadly end up paying more.

    @meta I’ve got a nasty feeling EU261 doesn’t actually refer to a duty for the airline to pay for hotel if the passenger chooses an earlier flight. I think it just refers to that duty if the flight ends up being later. In this case the airline had offered though which is fair but threaten them politely with the above if they insist on reneging and follow @meta advice to get it.

    • Lady London says:

      …so if they won’t pay for night before hotel, under your EU261 / UK261 rights they will end up paying for 1 or more of : another airline’s flight, later hotel night instead of earlier, plus 1-3 full meals during waiting time. Likely to cost them more than just 1 earlier hotel night.

      • meta says:

        Just re-read OPs post, but I think you might be right @LadyLondon, he didn’t arrive later, but rather earlier. However, also it already happened and things are now limited in what OP can do.

        If UK was still in the EU, then the recent rulling on duty of care and cancellation for flights brought forward (treated as cancellation and full assitance under article 8&9 should be offered) would have applied.

        You could also put it the other way round, if the OP chose to travel the day after and not the day earlier then BA would be responsible for extra duty of care plus delay compensation. The OP therefore limited the damage caused by BA by flying a day earlier.

        I think the UK judges can still consult the new ECJ ruling on EU261 should they wish, so I’d put in a claim. BA might not want to test it in the UK. So a nicely written letter before action to the legal department mentioning briefly the new ruling could likely result in them agreeing to cover expenses without you having to fork out MCOL fee.

        Failing that, I’d try and claim on S75 via credit card that you paid the ticket with. You can argue that their cancellation and bringing flight forward has caused you financial damage purely under consumer rights and as they are jointly liable, you are asking them to pay up as BA refuses.

    • TimM says:

      BA’s line was that they had given me more than two weeks notice, offered an earlier connecting flight (not later) and I could take a partial refund, only for the leg that had changed!

      • meta says:

        There is no such thing legally. Duty of care applies regardless when the cancellation/changr occured.

  • gordon chalker says:

    Maybe the the staffing levels have already been increased at BA. As I had a positive test for covid 2 days ago and had to cancel a 2-4-1 voucher for a CW flight to Las on 09/02/22 Submitted online and received a future travel voucher within an hour (it said within 7 days) with a future expiration date of 30/09/23. Happy as original 2-4-1 voucher was expiring in June this year. Thanks rob burgess for you email and help with this. Much appreciated.

  • Stuart Andrews says:

    The sad reality is that BA plays casually with its cancellation policy, and seems to think nothing of advertising flights and then cancelling just outside of the 14 day compensatory period. Alternatives seem rarely suitable for business traveller or commuter, but by the time of cancellation, the cost of other carriers has increased, . This has happened all four times I’ve booked on the LHR-BRU route (Sunday). I’ve now permanently switched my loyalty to Brussels airlines and Eurostar

    • Lady London says:

      @Stuart Andrews even if they cancel before the 14day window this just avoids compo it does not avoid duty of care. Duty of care means they have to provide or pay your chosen replacement flight regardless of any increase for flight cost in the market. Can be your choice of next available flight on any airline or your choice of any later date. No cost to you. You get to choose they don’t. That’s the law.

      You have 6 years to claim but best to do so as soon as you realise you can.

  • Mary Rogers says:

    In my experience mobility assistance at terminal 5 Heathrow is absolutely appalling. Booking a wheelchair in advance is obviously necessary, but availabilty is minimal. Also last time I had to use the “service” was told by the woman “assisting” me that she could not take me to aircraft door, as she had sunburn on her legs and it was against health and safety rules. So was left at top of tunnel to virtually crawl down tunnel with hand luggage. If they offer the service, which they do, then they should appreciate people who need this service should be looked after properly. They have after all paid for their ticket, the same as everyone else. I have put in a written complaint everytime and never had the courtesy of a reply or comment. Am having to travel again soon and will be requesting the service as walking very difficult. Not looking forward to the experience. My departure airport, Larnaca, give absolute superb mobility assisstance. Can’t fault it.

  • Marco Biagini says:

    This is just another publicity stunt, and I believe it when I see it. Their call-centers are useless, as many have stated. Their service in Business and First is appalling, especially on the A380; some FA’s barely have pubic hairs; I know it’s some form of mixed old and brand new crew members, but the implementation is awful. Then there is Heathrow; while I realize that BA has probably not much to say on how the airport is run, it’s every time a nightmare. While flying BA with several stops and transferring, barley any problems at any other Airport; Heathrow is at level 100, and they will confiscate items that were no issue at any other Airport. Then everything flying through LHR is more expensive than any different route you can take. At this point, good customer service is a thing of the past and we just have to deal with idiots and incompetent managers that are clueless about how Airline Ops work. Unfortunately, I have so many Avois points that I booked a Trip to Switzerland and South Africa for later this year.

  • John says:

    BA8488 from AGP to LCY. Diverted to Gatwick despite planes before and after getting to LCY fine. 1 hour to disembark, let alone clear immigration/baggage claim, and no real advice of how to claim transport costs home. Not enough meals for Club Europe during the flight, either. Asked for crisps instead, and told they had 1 bag (which had Coca Cola spilled all over it).
    Guess they can add “arriving at intended destination” as a future service improvement…

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