How British Airways Increased Capacity Of Planes Overnight

How British Airways Increased Capacity Of Planes Overnight

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British Airways has been dealing with some significant disruptions, and it seems that the airline had to decide between delivering on their promises and getting as many people home as possible, and they decided on the latter.

Did they make the right decision?

British Airways has had huge disruptions

British Airways has had significant operational challenges the past few days, originating from a couple of unrelated issues:

  • The airline has been dealing with the aftermath of Storm Dennis
  • On Sunday there were huge IT issues at Heathrow (which weren’t British Airways specific), causing many flights to be canceled or significantly delayed

British Airways’ short haul business class

As anyone who has flown business class within Europe can probably attest to, it’s not much to get excited about. Business class simply consists of economy seats with blocked middle seats, and free food and drinks.

It’s certainly not competitive to what you’ll find in other parts of the world, though having an empty seat in the middle does make a difference.

Blocked middle seat in British Airways Club Europe

British Airways is unblocking middle seats in business class

To help transport as many people as possible today, British Airways is unblocking the middle seats in business class on their intra-Europe flights. Per a message that they’re sending to customers who are impacted:

Following technical issues at London Heathrow and the aftermath of storm Dennis, we’re experiencing longer queues at the airport and a large number of delays and cancellations. To help our customers reach their destination, we’ve made the difficult decision to remove the middle seat divide on your Club Europe flight today. Thank you for your understanding.

British Airways Club Europe catering

Did British Airways do the right thing?

I’m writing about this because I find it to be an interesting situation, rather than because the implications are huge, since this seems to be a one-off decision on their part.

Did British Airways do the right thing? When booking Club Europe, British Airways promises a free middle seat:

We keep the middle seat free so you can always enjoy a guaranteed window or aisle seat and more personal space for working and relaxing.

I totally get the desire to get as few people stranded as possible, though should that be prioritized over delivering on their promises?

Personally I think this may have been the outcome that maximized the greatest good for the greatest number of people, so in general I support what British Airways did here.

British Airways A320

Where I really have an issue

Where I take issue with this situation is that British Airways isn’t offering any sort of proactive compensation for this. Technically people aren’t being downgraded, in the sense that their boarding pass still says “Club Europe.”

But people aren’t getting what they paid for. It’s outrageous to me that British Airways is asking people for their “understanding,” rather than compensating them for this situation.

At a minimum, British Airways should be proactively offering the choice of bonus Avios, a discount voucher towards a future flight, or a refund of the fare difference between business class and economy.

While the situation that caused this isn’t British Airways’ fault, dealing with bad weather and tech problems is part of running an airline. No doubt British Airways is saving money as a result of their “creative” solution (compared to flying larger planes, operating additional frequencies, etc.), but they’re not passing that on to consumers.

Where do you stand on this — is unblocking business class seats the right thing to do in this situation? If so, should they be offering proactive compensation?

Conversations (78)
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  1. Johannes Bols Guest

    The customer bears the full brunt of the problem. The airline in a round about way tells you to just deal with it.

    Is there anything in the fine print anywhere that says BA can do this without offering compensation? If not, I'd pursue it. You've flown them enough to know what to do. I think I've mentioned on this site that I sent a registered letter to Willie Walsh in 2008, and I...

    The customer bears the full brunt of the problem. The airline in a round about way tells you to just deal with it.

    Is there anything in the fine print anywhere that says BA can do this without offering compensation? If not, I'd pursue it. You've flown them enough to know what to do. I think I've mentioned on this site that I sent a registered letter to Willie Walsh in 2008, and I got results.

    Of course I sympathize with passengers wanting to get home. That's the responsibility of the airline.

    Also, since I flew Club Europe in 2009, I've noticed the seats look like they're 75% finished, with those arm rests that look like vinyl covered rulers. And the middle seat used to fold downward and create a new armrest for the seats on either side, increasing the width of the seat.

    Although I'll never fly economy again, at least I'm braced for my next Club Europe 'enhanced' (cough) experience.

  2. 1987 Member

    @Jack. Agreed. Total joke of an airline.

  3. UpperDeckJohnny Guest

    They couldn't wait.............. i'm not holding my breath for B to be free again.

    After all on many of their planes E is sold, so there's only 2 seats with A and C

    And to many who have made the comment. Yes if they really wanted to move people, they could put on sino-redundant 777's.

    Oh of course, doing that would give passengers a taste of what biz should be, so they'd be in...

    They couldn't wait.............. i'm not holding my breath for B to be free again.

    After all on many of their planes E is sold, so there's only 2 seats with A and C

    And to many who have made the comment. Yes if they really wanted to move people, they could put on sino-redundant 777's.

    Oh of course, doing that would give passengers a taste of what biz should be, so they'd be in trouble on returning to the squidge configuration.

    Waterside wins again!

    Can anyone explain to me how this dreadful air show is still flying? Where do they get their money from? I flew the horrendous ying yang 10- years ago and that, with a cardboard steak, too put me off for life. Never again.

  4. UWS_T Member

    This is just another step down for the continuing decline of BA's Club Europe.

  5. ChrisC Guest

    @ Michael.

    This is not the first time BA has done this so the precedent has already been set.

    Last time was last year as a consequence of the pilot strike in September.

    The IT issues at the weekend were caused by issues with LHR IT not BAs yet BA (and other airlines) had to suffer the consequences.

    And as Riku says European Business class is a different proposition to that offered in North...

    @ Michael.

    This is not the first time BA has done this so the precedent has already been set.

    Last time was last year as a consequence of the pilot strike in September.

    The IT issues at the weekend were caused by issues with LHR IT not BAs yet BA (and other airlines) had to suffer the consequences.

    And as Riku says European Business class is a different proposition to that offered in North America and it allows airlines to be flexible in their service.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that if US airlines had the same seating set up they would do exactly the same as BA did ths weekend if they needed to.

  6. Matt Fortini Guest

    There's a special place in hell reserved for the surprising amount of morons who comment on a story like this without reading what Ben wrote.

    >bUt thIS iS wHAt bUSiNesS clASs iS liKe iN EUroPe

    No, Helen, this story is about how BA *removed* the free middle seat. Not about how in Europe, the s/h business class hard product is just economy with a free middle seat. WE KNOW. It's not what the story is about, jeez.

  7. Pierre Gold

    @ Michael

    This is exactly what I said earlier above. Then Iberia, Aer Lingus ?

  8. JRH Guest

    Wow, some of you have a lot of nerve... and I really want to see all of your halos.

    I’m apparently not allowed to even use my recline in economy these days without it becoming a news story... but I’m supposed to smile and nod in “understanding” when I’ve paid for a product — with money or points — and don’t receive a core benefit?

    Sorry, I’d want to be compensated, in some way,...

    Wow, some of you have a lot of nerve... and I really want to see all of your halos.

    I’m apparently not allowed to even use my recline in economy these days without it becoming a news story... but I’m supposed to smile and nod in “understanding” when I’ve paid for a product — with money or points — and don’t receive a core benefit?

    Sorry, I’d want to be compensated, in some way, for that inconvenience. And I’m not heartless for it. Anyone who says otherwise is more than welcome to personally help me out the next time I’m in a jam. I’ll wait for the offers...

  9. Berent Guest

    Simple, that they don't deliver is reasonable, but they should be nice and proactive in compensating those who did not get what they paid for. Give everybody 5k-15k miles and 99% is happily cooperative in giving up their extra space.

  10. Michael Guest

    Interesting discussion with many views.

    Now imagine what is happening at Waterside (BA HQ) in the coming days/weeks. There will be meetings and PowerPoint presentations from operations, marketing, and especially the number crunchers analyzing the effect of this decision on their business. Make no mistake ... this is a precedent.

    There are multiple situations where this policy can be used. BA is known to be prone to IT disasters of their own making....

    Interesting discussion with many views.

    Now imagine what is happening at Waterside (BA HQ) in the coming days/weeks. There will be meetings and PowerPoint presentations from operations, marketing, and especially the number crunchers analyzing the effect of this decision on their business. Make no mistake ... this is a precedent.

    There are multiple situations where this policy can be used. BA is known to be prone to IT disasters of their own making. On top of those, there are industrial disputes, and weather related issues. BA will see this as an opportunity to adopt this 'one-off' as ongoing policy. You can see why they didn't pro-actively offer compensation, as that too becomes a precedent.

    Will we see this policy applying to a flight affected by an earlier flight cancelled because of a crew shortage? Or for over-booking? The cost benefits to the airline are clear, but at what cost to the brand? Do they gain goodwill from those that it helped?

    Similar to the debate on this blog, they will be weighing the pros and cons. The door is now open. Let's see if they shut it, or they open it wider.

  11. Riku Guest

    There should be an article on European business class seating to explain it to our cousins in North America. Almost all airlines in Europe have the same seats all the way through the plane and the curtain moves to divide business and economy. This allows the airline to adjust the number of business class seats. Most people travelling business class in Europe are doing so as part of a long haul connection and the number...

    There should be an article on European business class seating to explain it to our cousins in North America. Almost all airlines in Europe have the same seats all the way through the plane and the curtain moves to divide business and economy. This allows the airline to adjust the number of business class seats. Most people travelling business class in Europe are doing so as part of a long haul connection and the number of them will vary based on the route and departure time. I have seen a Finnair A320 fly to London with 14 rows of business class seats and back to Finland with no business class and 100% economy seating. Having different styles of seats like in the USA would take away this flexibility. Airlines in Europe don't hand out upgrades like in the USA or just fill empty business class seats with upgrades. It's a totally different business model.

  12. Nikolaus Guest

    The important question is, if there is any risk, BA will implement this treatment as their policy. They should communicate it clearly. That would be a useful advice for Business Class customers, who pay a lot more money exactly for the extra space on board. So, they can opt for the competition. Eurostar's Business Premier has comfortable single seats and a nice premium product without a hell called Heathrow.

  13. Matt Fortini Guest

    I think this is completely unacceptable. I don't fly Club Europe for the food (and I don't get why people care so much about food in an airplane in the first place). I don't buy it for the mediocre lounges I could get with my frequent flyer status anyway.

    I don't buy CE to get off the flight a minute earlier.

    The sole reason I buy Club Europe is to maintain a sense of...

    I think this is completely unacceptable. I don't fly Club Europe for the food (and I don't get why people care so much about food in an airplane in the first place). I don't buy it for the mediocre lounges I could get with my frequent flyer status anyway.

    I don't buy CE to get off the flight a minute earlier.

    The sole reason I buy Club Europe is to maintain a sense of human dignity by not being sat in the lap of someone else. I have broad shoulders and I have to sit with my arms crossed so as to not invade my seat neighbor's space when in economy. They, on the other hand, sometimes spill into me from their waist, but that's a different story - we're all different, and not many people sit comfortably in a 17" seat.

    BA is avoiding EU261 claims by falsely marketing a free middle seat, and relevant consumer agencies should fine them enough to deter them from pulling the same tricks another time.

  14. Francisco Guest

    Lufthansa did the same to me a couple of times, a few years ago. Always the same story: a cancelled early morning flight to FRA resulting in an overbooked mid morning flight to FRA. LH decided for no empty middle seat in C, in order to let everyone fly to FRA. I was a paid C pax. Flight attendants, immediately after boarding, handed to me a voucher (500-600 EUR) which I was able to cash...

    Lufthansa did the same to me a couple of times, a few years ago. Always the same story: a cancelled early morning flight to FRA resulting in an overbooked mid morning flight to FRA. LH decided for no empty middle seat in C, in order to let everyone fly to FRA. I was a paid C pax. Flight attendants, immediately after boarding, handed to me a voucher (500-600 EUR) which I was able to cash in at Customer service desk in FRA, while on my way to my connecting flight to EWR. It did not take longer than 10 minutes to cash the voucher in. I remember I was impressed, it was a good compensation for a 90min flight in "C minus" and it paid for some of my travel expenses.

    BA is a different legacy airline. Unfortunately I moved all my business to BA and I can feel the difference, in terms of customer service.

  15. No Name Guest

    @Henry

    Yes people do buy Club Europe.

    Aside from the extra services, the key reason is Tier Points.

    Each segment in CE earns 40 TP. A R/T flight YYY-LON-ZZZ will earn you 160 TP, or 10% of TP's need to earn top Oneworld status.

    On some forums lists of good TP runs is even a thing.

  16. Julian Guest

    Is it established as fact that BA isn't or hasn't done anything in regards to compensation etc.?

  17. Henry Guest

    Does anyone actually *buy* seats in this class? Every time i have flown business class within Europe it has been the case that I purchased a long haul ticket in business class that included this flight. I can't imagine spending money on such a service...

  18. George Guest

    They should've given people the option of:
    - a full downgrade to Economy: you lose all the extras (food, bags, lounge access, extra earn, etc.), but you can claim compensation under EU261
    - the first option, but adding those extras back in as ALTERNATIVE COMPENSATION. Not sure if/how the meal would work, since you can't buy a Business Class meal in Economy; but the extra miles can be manually awarded, checked bags can...

    They should've given people the option of:
    - a full downgrade to Economy: you lose all the extras (food, bags, lounge access, extra earn, etc.), but you can claim compensation under EU261
    - the first option, but adding those extras back in as ALTERNATIVE COMPENSATION. Not sure if/how the meal would work, since you can't buy a Business Class meal in Economy; but the extra miles can be manually awarded, checked bags can be added to reservations, BA lounge day passes can be issued, and partner lounge day passes can be purchased.

    Just issue extra bonus miles to push people to the second option.

    Or maybe BA doesn't care that they have to pay out compensation for this?

  19. Commenting Commenter Member

    They should put/borrow an A380s to help.

  20. Robert Guest

    I was in the middle of this mess yesterday. So in bad weather in the UK 4.5 hours is no longer enough time to guarantee to be able to make a connection from a BA domestic flight that goes to Terminal 5 to connect to an International flight out of Terminal 2. Separate tickets so BA will not check none Oneworld bags through.
    Because the first flight was a short haul flight and there...

    I was in the middle of this mess yesterday. So in bad weather in the UK 4.5 hours is no longer enough time to guarantee to be able to make a connection from a BA domestic flight that goes to Terminal 5 to connect to an International flight out of Terminal 2. Separate tickets so BA will not check none Oneworld bags through.
    Because the first flight was a short haul flight and there was bad weather I think there is little I can do in terms of seeking EU compensation. The Heathrow Airport "IT problems" only exacerbated the bad weather delays. i.e. BA & Heathrow not being able to tell us which carousel our bags would come out on for an extended period. Most of the information boards were not working so finding out which gate your next flight was leaving from was damn near impossible. I had to leave on a far later flight and I had to pay the change fee and fare difference.

    Whomsoever owns IT @ Heathrow should be fired. How can anyone run a major international airport with unreliable IT without adequate backups / backup systems?
    Schipol will be my new connection point when heading to or from anywhere in the UK that is not London. i.e. no one can rely to connect in Heathrow in a timely manner - even if you leave an extended window.

  21. iamhere Gold

    Most EU airlines for short haul flights have the same set up for business class. Check Air France or KLM for example for such equivalent flights and you'll find the same.

  22. Phillip Gold

    BA did the same during the pilot strike in September. It’s not “one off” but more of their standard incident response! As for EC261 - they won’t pay if they can blame it on weather, or anyone else as they Class it as being “beyond their control”! Although you should never accept their initial response trying to fob you off a claim!

  23. Mohammed Guest

    Too many biatches on this thread. Nobody is protesting the opening of the middle seat or delaying “your mother” (off your high horse pls) from getting home. Simply that business passengers Should be compensated for not receiving the product they paid for.

  24. TheAirlineTimes Guest

    “Gentlemen, we have a buratta with olive tapenade and smoked chicken or beef hot pot”

    *looks at middle seat passenger*

    “Sorry sweetheart, not for you. *looks up to Euro Traveller* “DIANE! Can you pass me down a M&S menu”

    Talk about awkward.

  25. Lz2 New Member

    I pay extra for Club Europe precisely so I don't have to sit next to someone for two hours who may get me sick.

    Why pay hundreds of extra pounds for a ticket if there is no difference from economy?

  26. Experienced Traveller Gold

    I am British but have intentionally not flown British Airways for 11 or 12 years . There are so many other options .

  27. Robert J Fahr Member

    Precedent set of course this will happen again. A compensation policy must be put in place to compensate those who paid for Club Europe. Always perplexed why European carriers do not install real first class seats.

  28. ChadMC Guest

    Bad situation. Run extra sections I say. If that is not possible and they truly had no choice but to do this, as you suggest, re-price the ticket as lowest economy and issue a refund of that difference. "Understanding" only goes so far...

  29. Crosscourt Guest

    It is a difficult situation but absolutely there needs to be compensation for those with Club seats.

    BTW a few days ago in your post about Cathay closing some lounges at HKIA, you suggested using the qantas lounge but questioned if the lounge would stay open because qf had suspended their flights to HKG, making it sound like qantas had stopped the service due to the virus. QF is not suspending their flights, they reduced...

    It is a difficult situation but absolutely there needs to be compensation for those with Club seats.

    BTW a few days ago in your post about Cathay closing some lounges at HKIA, you suggested using the qantas lounge but questioned if the lounge would stay open because qf had suspended their flights to HKG, making it sound like qantas had stopped the service due to the virus. QF is not suspending their flights, they reduced some capacity but they are still very much flying there. The comment was misleading.

  30. Gary Hal Hohenstein Guest

    Lucky wouldn't be so cavelier if he was the one in the business class sharing the middle seat now!!! As has been mentioned, business passengers should only be charged economy fares with a cash refund, no Avios miles or other nonsense, in this situation.

  31. Pierre Gold

    One unmentioned bad thing here is the example it sets: If no compensation of any kind is obtainable, how long before they resort to it again in far less trying circumstances ? It will eventually become something doable at the whim of an airport station manager whenever they are stuck with a few passengers for whatever reason. I know, you know and everybody knows this will happen if it goes uncompensated .

    The solution was...

    One unmentioned bad thing here is the example it sets: If no compensation of any kind is obtainable, how long before they resort to it again in far less trying circumstances ? It will eventually become something doable at the whim of an airport station manager whenever they are stuck with a few passengers for whatever reason. I know, you know and everybody knows this will happen if it goes uncompensated .

    The solution was to make the plane all economy and to either refund the price difference or at least apply what is the rule as per EC261. Had I been a passenger I would have claimed this or blocked payment with my credit card company. BA has no leg to stand on.

    I do hope by the way that the provisions of EC261 will remain in force in and after 2022. Switzerland and a couple of Scandinavian countries are not members of the EU and the rule still applies.

  32. TravelinWilly Diamond

    “Passengers still get free food and drinks as well as the improved service in general.”

    Nothing is free.

    The passengers paid for food and drinks as part of the ticket price.

  33. Regina Guest

    I am having troubles finding a word to use in this article. I think that saying intraeurope business class is nothing more than a blocked middle seat, free food and drinks is *ignorant*.
    I guess you are one of those that sees a half empty glass rather than half full.
    Business class in Europe flights have all the amenities and perks that on the USA expect for the larger seat. Customers are entitle...

    I am having troubles finding a word to use in this article. I think that saying intraeurope business class is nothing more than a blocked middle seat, free food and drinks is *ignorant*.
    I guess you are one of those that sees a half empty glass rather than half full.
    Business class in Europe flights have all the amenities and perks that on the USA expect for the larger seat. Customers are entitle to free luggage, club access, priority security, and priority boarding and priority baggage handling.
    Europe is a small continent and flights are short. Airlines increase or decrease business class seats based on demand.
    That being said. I agree that british airways should compensate passengers with flight vouchers.

  34. Noah Bowie Guest

    In the grand scheme of things the middle seat being unblocked doesn't make a huge amount of difference. Passengers still get free food and drinks as well as the improved service in general. British Airways have also provided several reasons for this decision as it was a perfect storm (haha) of events that resulted in massive disruptions for them. So passengers have had to lose a bit of space but it does deal with the...

    In the grand scheme of things the middle seat being unblocked doesn't make a huge amount of difference. Passengers still get free food and drinks as well as the improved service in general. British Airways have also provided several reasons for this decision as it was a perfect storm (haha) of events that resulted in massive disruptions for them. So passengers have had to lose a bit of space but it does deal with the back log much faster than normal. And if it's between standing in a line for 9 hours or a bit less space, I know what I'd prefer

  35. Javier Guest

    I agree with the Concept and at the same time all premium paying customers should be compensated as they are certainly not getting what they paid for. Step up BA!

  36. Ziggy Guest

    There were 2 decisions made by BA.

    First, I feel they did the right thing by adding passengers to get people where they needed to go. A good decision in my view.

    Second, they had to decide what to do for the people who paid extra for extra room and an empty seat next to them so they could spread out and do work, or just relax. The decision not to offer some form of...

    There were 2 decisions made by BA.

    First, I feel they did the right thing by adding passengers to get people where they needed to go. A good decision in my view.

    Second, they had to decide what to do for the people who paid extra for extra room and an empty seat next to them so they could spread out and do work, or just relax. The decision not to offer some form of compensation for a downgrade is clearly the wrong decision in my view. I typically fly in front, and while I would be happy to accommodate extra passengers under these circumstances, I would also be angry that the airline felt it is fair to overcharge me for what has now become the same as an economy seat. Bad decision and unfair in my view.

  37. Callum Guest

    Icarus - Those people aren't selfish, you're just stupid... The ONLY major benefit for the vast majority of people is the empty middle seat. If it was a trivial part of business class, why on Earth would so many airline just leave 2 seats empty in each row? Use your brain...

  38. Norman New Member

    BA shareholders are the only focus of this airline. They treat their customers(passengers) and staff(cabin crew) atrciously whenever posible.

  39. Michael Member

    Lucky,

    I was booked LHR to HAM in club Sunday morning. I spent 13 hours in the airport after flying in from the US, then left via a 4 hour series of lines to exit the terminal, clear immigration and taxi to a hotel. My rebooking whenever I left? Tuesday. I am AA EXP so I was already delayed as an Emerald on one world by over a day, and would take any class...

    Lucky,

    I was booked LHR to HAM in club Sunday morning. I spent 13 hours in the airport after flying in from the US, then left via a 4 hour series of lines to exit the terminal, clear immigration and taxi to a hotel. My rebooking whenever I left? Tuesday. I am AA EXP so I was already delayed as an Emerald on one world by over a day, and would take any class of service to stop missing work. Especially for an hour flight.

    Now, when I got a 1 E boarding pass today after some begging, I was relieved. They made a good call, and I suffered the middle between two upset travelers. The FA apologized and offered spot compensation. They argued and got something. I didn’t bother to take off my headphones, I paid $9k for this itinerary and the 1 hour leg in a middle I could care less about. And catering, well I don’t eat airline food as a matter of personal preference (one long HKGtoLAX in the lav is a great learning experience) so no impact to them there.

    They did the right thing, and frankly they can give a voucher or not, I won’t care that I sat in a middle having paid a ransom for it. I got to where I was going 25 hours late and $200 poorer with zero compensation.

  40. Steve Member

    The airline says passengers are guarantee a window or aisle seat and more personal space. Presumably some of that additional space is because the middle seat is open. So both passengers in the middle seat and those seated by the window and aisle aren't getting what they were promised and paid for.

    Since BA specifically agreed to keep the the middle seat open filing it is a breach of contract.

    That said I think...

    The airline says passengers are guarantee a window or aisle seat and more personal space. Presumably some of that additional space is because the middle seat is open. So both passengers in the middle seat and those seated by the window and aisle aren't getting what they were promised and paid for.

    Since BA specifically agreed to keep the the middle seat open filing it is a breach of contract.

    That said I think BA is being stupid by not including in their notification the option for the passenger to get a full refund, rebook to a different day after they discontinue doing this or compensation to settle the matter. But the issue is, what, if anything, is the passenger entitled to and the answer is is the reasonable value assigned to the breach.

  41. Drew Guest

    *above post written in absolute sarcasm* - get people home!

  42. Drew Guest

    Disgusting on BAs part..as a BA GLL I would be absolutely livid. Sticking a Y class in pax in a CE middle seat is vile. I’d rather just take easyJet

  43. David Guest

    I flew on an affected flight, ba454 from lhr-agp today. I had a text message explaining the situation. But to be honest, given the circumstances, it didn't worry me. The flight was late, no mention of the technical issues affecting Heathrow, but the pilot addressed us from the front of the plane, apologised for the delay and the cabin crew were excellent in looking after us. Sure, it wasn't what Club Europe is supposed to...

    I flew on an affected flight, ba454 from lhr-agp today. I had a text message explaining the situation. But to be honest, given the circumstances, it didn't worry me. The flight was late, no mention of the technical issues affecting Heathrow, but the pilot addressed us from the front of the plane, apologised for the delay and the cabin crew were excellent in looking after us. Sure, it wasn't what Club Europe is supposed to be, but kudos to the crew for dealing with it

  44. RF Diamond

    BA needs to pay downgrade compensation.

  45. ChrisC Guest

    No one from economy was put in the middle seats. BA consolidated the CE cabin to free up seats to allow more passengers to get to their destination.

    Was this ideal then no but sometimes needs must and BA don't do this on a regular basis

    To those complaining the Y passengers this allowed to fly could have been your mother, neighbour or office colleague who just wanted to get home. Would you deny them...

    No one from economy was put in the middle seats. BA consolidated the CE cabin to free up seats to allow more passengers to get to their destination.

    Was this ideal then no but sometimes needs must and BA don't do this on a regular basis

    To those complaining the Y passengers this allowed to fly could have been your mother, neighbour or office colleague who just wanted to get home. Would you deny them that in exceptional circumstances.

    And no it wasn't possible to just swap in a larger plane from a china route that has ended. That;s not how it works. Pilots need training on landing at indvidual airports and some airports can't handle large planes.

  46. JBM Guest

    Put another way, it is in BA’s best interest as an airline that wants to continue attracting travelers that it offer some form of compensation to the original business class passengers. If I were one of those travelers, I would understand this situation (in fact, Brits are known for their collective teamwork and stiff upper lips), but I would also think twice about booking a business class flight versus an economy flight with BA next...

    Put another way, it is in BA’s best interest as an airline that wants to continue attracting travelers that it offer some form of compensation to the original business class passengers. If I were one of those travelers, I would understand this situation (in fact, Brits are known for their collective teamwork and stiff upper lips), but I would also think twice about booking a business class flight versus an economy flight with BA next time knowing that it could be downgraded anyways.

  47. JDS Guest

    @ Gene

    I know a few people who say TAP stands for “Take Another Provider.”

  48. David Guest

    Thanks to the European Union, this is a easy call. 75% downgrade compensation applies in the ticket. Easy.

  49. Jamie Guest

    BA's message solves this for us. Thanks for understanding? They assume everyone is cool with a decision and a downgrade of the paid business class customers' experience.

    When was the last time BA showed understanding when a customer had an unfortunate series of events that messed up a ticket? Right. Pay up BA.

  50. David Diamond

    @Mike No it isn’t. BA selling more seats on a flight isn’t the issue, but if BA sells more seats and pockets the profit, how is the customer greedy because they want compensation for a product not delivered? Weird logic you have there.

  51. HChris Guest

    @JMM, that was the first thing that also came to my mind and you should be entitled to it. However, I know BA will fight this probably partially blaming the weather being out of the airlines control (and ignoring the IT issues they had) and then arguing that passengers only lost the "blocked middle seat benefit" but still received the other business class benefits such as priority check-in and boarding, extra luggage, lounge access and...

    @JMM, that was the first thing that also came to my mind and you should be entitled to it. However, I know BA will fight this probably partially blaming the weather being out of the airlines control (and ignoring the IT issues they had) and then arguing that passengers only lost the "blocked middle seat benefit" but still received the other business class benefits such as priority check-in and boarding, extra luggage, lounge access and better meal service... I'm not saying that I am agreeing with them, but I can see them arguing that way.

  52. Bob Guest

    I've no dog in this fight. But:

    Good on BA for this one. Get the maximum number of stranded passengers to their destination as quickly as possible. Good customer service recovery.

  53. James New Member

    I understand why BA did this, but they should offer some sort of compensation - either Avios or a portion of the difference between the Club Europe and Economy fare (not the full difference, because I assume that BA are still providing the Business class meal, lounge access etc).
    Having flown BA short haul, both economy and business, the main difference in my view is the extra space in business given by keeping the middle seat empty.

  54. Gene Diamond

    @ James White -- Last time I flew TAP this was standard for intra-European business class. Needless to say, I haven't flown them again.

  55. Mike Guest

    This is very much a “them and us” situation.

    Those who have been reacommodated after up to 2 days delay will be eternally grateful to BA for getting them on their way.

    Those not affected by the delay will selfishly begrudge their precious space being invaded by those delayed Club Europe passengers and will cry “COMPENSATION!.”

  56. Gene Diamond

    @ Ben -- Plain and simple, this is a downgrade to economy. I would insist upon a refund of the fare difference, and if not received, I would dispute the entire credit card charge. This is total b.s. by BA. They have quite the nerve to even try and pass this off on people. I really, really hate intra-European business class. It is generally uncomfortable, even with the middle seat blocked, with the exception of Swiss' A220.

  57. Vic New Member

    BA hasn’t cared about customer comfort or service for quite some time. This is just more of the same. They should merge with Greyhound.

  58. Raj Guest

    This exact scenario is why they didn't REMOVE or otherwise alter the middle seat... so they could offer it for sale at some point in a pinch. Not a surprise, right? Agree that compensation is the correct move, though, and that this is not an outrage scenario.

  59. LM Guest

    If they go this route, they must compensate passengers, period.

  60. Ernest Alleva Member

    they need to fully compensate people.

  61. James White Guest

    I’ve heard of TAP doing similar during IRROPS. Guess it’s an easy way to shift more people at once.

    I had an issue with BA previously where there wasn’t any catering available in Club Europe. 6000 Avios was in my account before I’d even arrived home from the airport, so they really should be compensating here too. In both instances, a fundamental selling point of Club Europe wasn’t offered.

  62. Icarus Guest

    Yes they did the right thing. And there are always the selfish people who have no concern about others As m sure 95% of customers will understand. The other 5% will be demanding refunds and compensation
    @JMM it’s not a downgrade as they still received all the other benefits - meal , baggage ,miles , lounge access ,

  63. JL100 Guest

    it is now a coach seat, so you could get the rebate between the business class fare and coach.

  64. Alex Guest

    I was affected by this as I was waitlisted on a flight and made it to my destination due to this decision. Kudos BA, well handled. I think it is not a big deal, EU business sucks anyway, and for example on LCY flights it was always pretty much the same as economy ( no free seat). You still get the miles and the bubbles.

  65. Chucky New Member

    This is a head scratcher. And how do you value the compensation when BA can claim they’ve still offered lounge access, airport priority etc. and a meal onboard. (I assume they just squished all biz passengers up in the first few rows). They’ve just not provided on one part of their Club Europe promise. How much is that worth when you complain?

    My bigger fear is that they’ll get away with it and we’ll...

    This is a head scratcher. And how do you value the compensation when BA can claim they’ve still offered lounge access, airport priority etc. and a meal onboard. (I assume they just squished all biz passengers up in the first few rows). They’ve just not provided on one part of their Club Europe promise. How much is that worth when you complain?

    My bigger fear is that they’ll get away with it and we’ll continue to see them do this on future delays.

    It all tastes like weak tea.

  66. Frederik Guest

    In the BA 767 club Europe cabin, I should say although US style in comfort and appearance, they were still in layout 2-3-2, but the middle seat in the centre was completely blocked from becoming a seat and had a large shared armrest console instead.

    I really liked the 767 layout even in economy you were far more likely to have an aisle or window seat, and taking away the advances in First and business...

    In the BA 767 club Europe cabin, I should say although US style in comfort and appearance, they were still in layout 2-3-2, but the middle seat in the centre was completely blocked from becoming a seat and had a large shared armrest console instead.

    I really liked the 767 layout even in economy you were far more likely to have an aisle or window seat, and taking away the advances in First and business cabins with suites, aircraft comfort as a whole is going backwards with 3-3or3-4-3 and ultra slimline seats.

  67. AndrewP Guest

    I think they definitely did the right thing but if I had paid Club Europe I would expect some compensation.

    My bet on what they have done here is crunched the business class into fewer rows and released more rows to economy.

    Got to say BA is my favourite short haul carrier in Europe

  68. Stuart Diamond

    Are you certain they are not offering compensation when the passenger checks in?

  69. Frederik Guest

    Although dated, BAs business product was very comfortable on the recently retired 767 short haul. With thick and supportive US First style leather seats.

    They have not replaced the 757 and especially 767 short haul domestic and European fleet, maybe some new a330 800s at a good price would be a good solution. For longer trans European flights to Athens or Istanbul, it seemed more comfortable in a wide body.

  70. Mike Member

    Good on communication; near fraud for not proactively at least advising of compensation options. Tons of people won't care too much and won't bother with it, but at least offering a form to fill out for a refund of fare difference request or some other compensation would allow those pissed some relief and those who don't care won't cost the airline unnecessarily. Instead "here is this excrement sandwich we made you, please enjoy, it goes well with tea"

  71. The nice Paul Diamond

    They have a few wide bodies waiting around doing nothing, as a result of the suspension of services to mainland China. Why aren’t they deploying those on the worst-affected routes?

    Of course, that would increase their costs so I can see why they wouldn’t want to. Much easier to downgrade the customer experience.

  72. David Diamond

    This is not ok. BA should be compensating business passengers proactively.

  73. Steve Guest

    I agree with you. They ought to offer some form of compensation. After all, they have consolidated many short haul flights this weekend and that will have saved the airline money. Even if many costs are fixed, they will have at least saved the fuel costs. Classic BA attitude to customers. Classic BA ability to upset customers too and not use this as an opportunity to make them happy.

    I did fly BA Club...

    I agree with you. They ought to offer some form of compensation. After all, they have consolidated many short haul flights this weekend and that will have saved the airline money. Even if many costs are fixed, they will have at least saved the fuel costs. Classic BA attitude to customers. Classic BA ability to upset customers too and not use this as an opportunity to make them happy.

    I did fly BA Club World to Johannesburg this weekend. I rarely fly BA long haul (choose other airlines instead whenever possible) and had forgotten how out of date the product really is. For this trip I did need to fly with them though, given the connection I was making.

    The gentleman facing me was Italian and obviously had not flown this product before. He and his friends found the whole ying yang layout where you face someone and the cabin crew raise a screen to be very entertaining but not in a positive way that means they want to fly BA again. Pretty clear they have no intention of doing so. In fact, the whole set up shocked them. I was in the aisle seat and the way the cabin attendant had to keep leaning over me was very irritating.

    Despite the much vaunted improvements to the soft product, the food and other features were still nothing special either. The cabin crew totally disappeared after the dinner service and there was zero evidence of any “raid the larder” snacks either. Other than captive slots at Heathrow and a frequent flyer programme that encourages loyalty, it is hard to see why anyone would ever choose this airline actively.

  74. NK3 Guest

    So I am guessing the person in the middle seat is an economy flyer?

    It would be very awkward to be considered an economy passenger, sitting between two business class passengers getting meals, drinks, etc.

    Agree they should be proactively offer compensation to the business class passengers, but I am not surprised that has not happened.

  75. Ricky Lewis Guest

    Also BA will avoid having to pay EU261 claims on any of the passengers that would have been delayed

  76. Mike Guest

    So they put a 777 on the route as substitution, but you get put in a D/E cosy seat, all be it a lie flat CW seat. Does the same criteria you’re applying still have credence ?
    BA can’t be right for everyone in this very extreme circumstance. People have missed connections, cruises. The priority must always be to get everyone to where they should be ASAP.
    As such, I applaud BA for their efforts and there pro activity in advising passengers in advance.

  77. CHP Member

    I agree 100%. I understand there have to be operational changes at times, and this might be one of them. That said, as someone who has flown Club Europe many times, I'd certainly want to be compensated for this. The empty middle seat and extra space is what you pay for and it does make a big difference. If BA can't deliver this then they need to make up for it. I think the options you listed are reasonable choices.

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Johannes Bols Guest

The customer bears the full brunt of the problem. The airline in a round about way tells you to just deal with it. Is there anything in the fine print anywhere that says BA can do this without offering compensation? If not, I'd pursue it. You've flown them enough to know what to do. I think I've mentioned on this site that I sent a registered letter to Willie Walsh in 2008, and I got results. Of course I sympathize with passengers wanting to get home. That's the responsibility of the airline. Also, since I flew Club Europe in 2009, I've noticed the seats look like they're 75% finished, with those arm rests that look like vinyl covered rulers. And the middle seat used to fold downward and create a new armrest for the seats on either side, increasing the width of the seat. Although I'll never fly economy again, at least I'm braced for my next Club Europe 'enhanced' (cough) experience.

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1987 Member

@Jack. Agreed. Total joke of an airline.

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UpperDeckJohnny Guest

They couldn't wait.............. i'm not holding my breath for B to be free again. After all on many of their planes E is sold, so there's only 2 seats with A and C And to many who have made the comment. Yes if they really wanted to move people, they could put on sino-redundant 777's. Oh of course, doing that would give passengers a taste of what biz should be, so they'd be in trouble on returning to the squidge configuration. Waterside wins again! Can anyone explain to me how this dreadful air show is still flying? Where do they get their money from? I flew the horrendous ying yang 10- years ago and that, with a cardboard steak, too put me off for life. Never again.

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