Another week, another cut back at British Airways (BA).
What started with charging a premium for emergency exit and bulkhead rows to charging for seat assignments in the first place, even on long haul flights, the “service enhancements” (read: cuts) have since expanded to the airline’s catering budget.
First was the cutting of the second ‘light meal’ service on east bound trans-Atlantic services – so basically breakfast. What used to be a hot meal service was then cut to a cold continental breakfast, which has since been cut to a ‘refreshment’ which basically means a beverage service of pre-packed (not for the sugar faint) juices and some unhealthy vacuum sealed snack such as peanuts (first thing in the morning!?).
Now it goes to the next level.
Effective January 2017, British Airways will be eliminating all mid-flight snacks from the World Traveler (their economy) and World Traveler Plus (premium economy) cabins and cutting down further on their ‘Club Kitchen’ offering – the airline’s little mini snack bar they offer their Club World (business class) passengers. First Class remains untouched (what’s new).
Keep in mind this is also hot off the heels of the complete elimination of snacks on band 1,2,3 flights within Europe (basically flights between 45 minutes – 2.5 hours) and all service on United Kingdom domestic services (though these flights rarely average more than one hour). Want some food? Pay up! Unless your headed to Athens or Istanbul that is (band 4 flights still have catering).
The changes haven’t been restricted to Economy either – British Airways has also quietly done away with offering a choice of appetizers in Club World and also stripped back on Club Europe catering, now only offering hot meals on band 3 and 4 flights (basically anywhere east of Rome and not beyond Istanbul which then turns into long haul).
We try not to be drama queens here at Change Your Altitude. We realize that you get what you pay for, and if the very diligent folks at British Airways have deemed it unnecessary and ill advised to keep stock of cheap snacks onboard even for long haul flights, then we believe them. We doubt the $2 mini can of Pringles or the $4 tub of vanilla Haagen Dazs would change most consumers’ minds on whether to book with BA or not.
But what is worrying, and what should concern oneworld and BA elites is the continued trend we are seeing at British Airways.
We’ve just outlined the raft of cuts to the airline’s soft product – now pair that with the fact that the new short haul Airbus fleet feature THIRTY INCH pitch even in Club Europe (which goes against the grain of all Euro carriers who offer at least a bit more pitch in the first 10 or so rows of their shorthaul aircraft even if still offering a glorified Economy seat). Also take into account that British Airways announced that new 777 deliveries will feature 10 abreast in Economy (though we should say will remain 8 abreast in World Traveler Plus) and that luggage allowances will also be reduced, we’re starting to see a race here and it isn’t going anywhere but down.
It makes sense. The newly installed CEO, Alex Cruz, came from fellow International Airline Group (IAG) airline Vueling, a low low cost carrier based out of Spain. It also made sense because both are subsidiaries of IAG, but the changes we’re seeing also make sense because this is what you get when you install a budget airline’s CEO at a full service carrier.
It’s a bit baffling that BA seem to find the need to do these trifling cuts to their service and their brand identity and erode decade upon decade of brand building and name recognition. It’s all the more confusing considering British Airways is based out of the most high yielding home town in the world, London Heathrow.
Time will tell if this new route that the airline is taking is the right one – we’re not sure, and we’re definitely in no hurry to get on a BA flight in the near future.
Given the choice as a oneworld flier, would you sooner hop on an AA or BA flight for your ventures across the Pond? Seems like there isn’t much different between the two anymore!