British Airways Reveals Enhancements: Big Deal?

British Airways Reveals Enhancements: Big Deal?

33

Last week British Airways’ CEO promised the airline would take a premium focus as it emerges from the pandemic. Today the airline has announced a variety of (fairly minor) enhancements for customers. Let’s go over the details.

British Airways’ upcoming service improvements

British Airways has today revealed a range of improvements both on the ground and in the air, as part of “its commitment to create a more premium experience for customers.” So, what’s changing?

  • British Airways is introducing plant-based menus across its lounges, including a burger; expect this to initially be available at London Heathrow lounges, and then to expand to lounges in the United States
  • British Airways is removing single-use plastic bottles from London Heathrow lounges and replacing them with glass bottles and water stations
  • British Airways lounge staff will get “training in sustainability” (while that’s lovely, I’m not sure how that qualifies as a customer enhancement?)
  • British Airways will restore something more akin to the pre-pandemic dining experience in Club Europe (regional business class), including “new delicious menus with more options”
  • British Airways will introduce a dedicated check-in facility for World Traveller Plus (premium economy) customers
  • British Airways will reimagine its Skyflyers program for children
  • British Airways will introduce a new baggage tracing system, allowing customers to track their bags via their smartphone throughout the journey

British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, Tom Stevens, describes this as follows:

“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.”

British Airways is introducing a vegan burger in lounges

My take on these British Airways improvements

Last week I shared my thoughts on the promise of British Airways becoming more premium. Today we’re actually seeing some concrete details, so here’s my take on that:

  • These are all positive changes, but realistically speaking they’re mostly fairly minor; improved business class catering and separate check-in for premium economy is great, while vegan food and toys for kids are admittedly a bit more niche
  • I think British Airways is just about as good as it needs to be, given that the airline dominates Heathrow; British Airways’ biggest asset is its Heathrow slots
  • British Airways’ biggest problem is service, as individually there are some great employees, but the company doesn’t have a culture of good service; that’s mostly management’s fault for screwing employees over time and time again, and unfortunately there’s simply a night-and-day difference between service at British Airways and Virgin Atlantic

So these are all nice improvements, and I’m a fan of them. Realistically the best thing British Airways can do is keep rolling out its new Club Suites business class product. Beyond that, the only material thing British Airways can do to improve is to completely change its service culture, and that’s an investment that I don’t think management is willing to make.

British Airways’ Club Suites business class

Bottom line

British Airways has revealed some positive changes that will be made in the coming months, from improved short haul catering, to a baggage tracking feature, to vegan food in lounges. These are all nice improvements, combined with the carrier continuing to roll out its new business class.

That being said, if British Airways actually wants to up its game, changing the service culture is the only way to do so. Sadly I just don’t see that happening. And that’s probably fine, because British Airways dominates Heathrow.

What do you make of these British Airways service improvements?

Conversations (33)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Howard Griffiths Guest

    Flew Club World LHR-LAX last week and it does not match up to Virgin. As for vegan options, the Brits are like drunks on vegan food right now, to the point that it's become annoying. WTF is "plant-based tuna"‽

  2. ROBERT B ROSE Guest

    Introducing a veggie burger at a time when customer service is hemoraging is like giving a man with a severed leg a lolly pop to suck on while he dies. Focus, keep the main thing the main thing.

  3. JerSteph Guest

    None of these upgrades will convince me to fly BA.

  4. Bruno Fonseca Guest

    I mean it's something from an airline who's literally a bus in the sky, and fares are rediculous when you add in all the taxes. Trying to get a mile redemption or upgrade is almost the price of a ticket on other airlines when you factor the taxes as well. So yeah, I guess it's progress...

  5. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    Ain't nothing "premium" about charging paid-J longhaul customers HUNDREDS of USD/GBP just to pick seats.

  6. Alexf1 Member

    BA will never have the service culture of the Asian airlines for 2 reasons:

    1. Service in Asia involves a degree of subservience which the British, Europeans and Americans don't share.
    2. BA staff thrive on 'being themselves' which 70% of the time means they're interesting and engaging with customers and 30% of the time rude, moody and don't want to be there.

    The above will never change and BA know this. So do most other western carriers.

  7. Judith Foulkes Guest

    BA needs to actually ask their customers what they would like to see changed, then they would get a better idea of what to do. I’ve recently written to Sean Doyle CEO but customer relations would not forward the letter of complaint to him stating they were authorized to deal with it on his behalf. I told them he should read it and see exactly what his seat paying customers were dealing with.

  8. Mark R. Guest

    Flew BA Club Suites on A350 LHR / DXB last month. Food onboard was good as was the service. I’m not a fan of plant based foods, just my opinion. Can’t help but think it might be a cost savings and marketing benefit.

  9. jk Guest

    My response is a quite thorough 'meh'. Entirely agreed BA's most urgent need is upgrading its antiquated Club World cabins with the 2-3-2 arrangement. I do still love The Concorde Room, but since I fly business more often than first, would much prefer a focus on cabin upgrades.

  10. DENIS A BEKAERT Guest

    I find it absurd that BA charges for Business Class seat reservations. We are already paying a large premium for an upgrade from Economy. Simply a money grubbing low class policy .

    1. jk Guest

      Agreed, and that's on top of the already outrageous landing fees required at LHR.

  11. Kolawole Guest

    British Airway needs to improve on their service between Heathrow and Lagos. The reputation on how the service on this route is being delivered according to passengers needs improvement.

  12. Thrawn Guest

    I don't get why you are always mentioning the bad service culture at ba.
    At every single flight in c, no matter long or short haul, we had a great service experience.

    The differences between flights have been much bigger at qatar.

  13. Vinod Guest

    BA lounges have offered an impossible burger since the Galleries / First / Concorde lounges re-opened.

    Also, I do not agree that BA have a reputation for below average service. We fly BA long haul frequently, and always have a great experience.

    This website seems to thrive on hyperbola.

  14. Jerry Diamond

    I like how your picture that mentions a vegan burger has cheese on it. Perhaps it's vegan cheese.

  15. BookLvr Gold

    I'm kind of surprised that BA is just introducing plant-based options in its lounges, as the UK has fairly high percentages of vegetarians and vegans.

    I feel like Virgin Atlantic realized the importance of this market segment years ago.

  16. David Hawkins Guest

    I mostly travel to Greece and I always use Aegean. I only use BA if there is no alternative. Cabin Attendants on Aegean don't look like Barbie Dolls and don't sneer at you if you are not wearing a suit. In business class the food and drink are superb. In Aegean I feel welcome, relaxed and safe. But BA makes me feel on edge. BA business class LCY - TXL on a very hot day....

    I mostly travel to Greece and I always use Aegean. I only use BA if there is no alternative. Cabin Attendants on Aegean don't look like Barbie Dolls and don't sneer at you if you are not wearing a suit. In business class the food and drink are superb. In Aegean I feel welcome, relaxed and safe. But BA makes me feel on edge. BA business class LCY - TXL on a very hot day. We are delayed for nearly and hour. The attendant hides away and doesn't even think of offering us water when the pilot has told us we won't take off for 30 minutes.

  17. Sham Malik Guest

    Why an Indian passport holder cannot board BA flight from New Delhi to New York

    1. Phoenix Guest

      Because there is no flight from New Delhi to New York!

  18. Greg Guest

    I concur with Rob. It’s high time BA realises its cuts to the long haul Club World catering have crippled the experience in the name of COVID safety theatre.

    They must restore pre pandemic catering straight away. There is no compromising on this point.

    1. Icarus Guest

      The cuts are mainly to do with the fact there is very little revenue. Asia is more or less closed for business. It’s a difficult situation for the industry.
      If you consider retail, there’s a designer outlet in Italy where around 50% of customers were from China. Those customers had to fly. Many in premium cabins. Now there are almost no flights to/from China. A huge knock on affect

    2. Samo Guest

      The solution to limited revenue is rarely to force even the remaining customers to choose another airline.

  19. Rob Guest

    I see no mention of upping their long haul J meal service. A single tray service with measly portions is simply unacceptable for a day time long haul J flight, especially when the second meal service consists of either a piece of toast with cheese on it or 2 tea “sandwiches” the size of my index finger. Fact is BA has probably the worst long haul J catering amongtst their JV partners, which is saying...

    I see no mention of upping their long haul J meal service. A single tray service with measly portions is simply unacceptable for a day time long haul J flight, especially when the second meal service consists of either a piece of toast with cheese on it or 2 tea “sandwiches” the size of my index finger. Fact is BA has probably the worst long haul J catering amongtst their JV partners, which is saying something since that means AA and IB are doing laps around BA in regards to long haul J catering. On the other hand, I’ve had pretty great and friendly crew on all my BA post-COVID flights in J, while AA crew members have been…well…AA crew members, lol. Point is, this is a good start, but you can’t be a premium airline when you’re unable to provide the premium soft product to your premium customers!

    1. LS Guest

      AA has done laps around BA in J for many years now since they rolled out industry standard J class seats that are 1-2-1. Coupled with actually decent food and serviceable wine / alcohol, the AA J product has actually been pretty good across the Atlantic for a long time.

      BA pre pandemic was doing the right things - Do&Co, club suites. For their sake hope they don’t leverage covid to undo some of the good changes they were making.

  20. Ray Guest

    How naïve of me to even hope they were going to install proper business class seats on their A320 family

    1. Clayton Guest

      @Ray all EU carriers offer the same 2 abreast or middle seat blocked matching Y seat ( bar sometimes some nicer trim).

      It's how SH J works and always have. It's not BA alone that throw everybody on a, sometimes, cosmetically 'enhanced' seat and either give them a shared table ( BA apart from the 21neos most the time) or 2x2

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      That's not completely true. Turkish offer a regional J that's more akin to N.American "First," and they're a European carrier (take that up with ICAO, not me, if you pointlessly disagree).

      As did BA itself, for a long while, considering the seats on BMed.

  21. Ilan Guest

    Ben, have you written a post about BA restoring god in short haul eco?

  22. lovetofly380 Guest

    How about an enhanced club world dining experience? and the abysmal state of First dining? and pushing LHR to reopen its arrivals fast track for those of who can't use the e-gates? Spending 2 hours at LHR immigration twice a month is simply ridiculous

    1. Clayton Guest

      Again not BA's fault. That's down to the predominantly work shy Border Farce, at a stretch the LHR itself. Also take the 2hours. Yes it sucks and isn't acceptable but I've waited 4,5,6 more times than I care to remember.

      For the sake of clarity: I'm not fanboying the airline here. I have many issues with them at times but it's also unfair to go blaming them for things totally outside their control.

    2. Brodie Guest

      You have come to their defense twice so far in this thread. You are most certainly a fan boy. BA is $hit.

    3. Phoenix Guest

      Clayton is right though. Only knock any company for what is under their control. Poor catering, customer service, measly portions and sub standard lounges are all fair criticism. Border force and HAL are a law unto themselves and seem hell bent on making passengers miserable but that is the same no matter who you choose at LHR. If I have a lousy experience at passport control in Dubai it's not the responsibility of Emirates for my dissatisfaction.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

ConcordeBoy Diamond

Ain't nothing "premium" about charging paid-J longhaul customers HUNDREDS of USD/GBP just to pick seats.

1
DENIS A BEKAERT Guest

I find it absurd that BA charges for Business Class seat reservations. We are already paying a large premium for an upgrade from Economy. Simply a money grubbing low class policy .

1
Jerry Diamond

I like how your picture that mentions a vegan burger has cheese on it. Perhaps it's vegan cheese.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT