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.
“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.
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 ….
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 ….
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
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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)