You wouldn’t think that an airline choosing to adjust which newspapers they offer to passengers would be a big point of drama, though one paper being pulled from an airline is now making headlines.
British Airways quietly made the decision to stop offering the Financial Times to passengers at gates, in lounges, and onboard flights. That seems odd, though you might assume that this may have come down to a cost dispute, or something.
It sure seems like there’s more to the story, though, because the Financial Times has just published the following:
DEAR FT READERS AND FREQUENT FLYERS
British Airways has decided to stop providing the Financial Times to passengers on flights, in lounges, and at gates worldwide. We recommend you pick up a copy on special offer at WHSmith Travel outlets or, as an FT subscriber, download the e-paper at FT.com or refresh the FT app before boarding.
We regret the inconvenience caused to our regular readers by BA’s abrupt decision to end its long-standing partnership with the FT. Of course, the world’s favourite business newspaper is widely available on a range of other leading airlines.
Ouch to that last sentence.
Virgin Atlantic even Tweeted this story, with the caption “Dear readers of the @FinancialTimes, it’s not too late to change your airline.”
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) April 17, 2019
It sure sounds to me like there’s some bad blood here, and this wasn’t just the case of an airline mixing up their reading materials.
So, what caused British Airways to drop the Financial Times? According to Press Gazette:
An FT source said BA had “dropped the FT because they don’t like our coverage of them”, adding: “It’s nothing to do with cost – it’s a reaction to the journalism. Plain and simple.
“There was a piece written about data security at a German call centre a few weeks back that seems to have been the trigger.”
British Airways insists that’s not the case, though:
“We regularly review what is on offer. We offer a wide range of titles to give our customers plenty of digital and print options for news, business and leisure reading material.”
Now, would it be reasonable for an airline to drop a publication that they feel covers them unfairly? I mean, it’s certainly within their rights legally, though I also feel like the approach of censoring media that you don’t like won’t end well in the long run.
What do you guys think — did British Airways drop the FT over negative coverage, or was it truly just part of an unrelated “review” of their selection?
(Tip of the hat to @CB21TQ)