What do the British Airways service changes mean for you?
There have been a lot of announcements over the last couple of weeks, with various changes to the service structure at British Airways (which they often refer to as ‘enhancements’). What does that mean to you though, and how will that effect you choice when deciding which carrier to fly with on a City Break, Summer Holiday or somewhere which might be on the other side of the globe.
European and Domestic (UK) Economy – Euro Traveller
We have known for a number of weeks that a ‘buy on board’ food service is to start in January, with the catering coming from M&S. While many have seen this as a downgrade, it is better than the free biscuit (however nice that biscuit was), or a packet of crisps and finally you will be able to have a choice.
As a process which British Airways calls ‘densification’, the number of seats on a standard A320 (the mainstay of the British Airways short haul fleet) will be increased from 171 to 180 seats. 180 seats is the current standard configuration of an A320 at EasyJet or Wizzair, although don’t be too alarmed at the moment. EasyJet for example is in the process of moving to 186 seats in the A320, and British Airways is going to be doing this by moving the rear toilets to the back bulkhead (taking room from the galley), and therefore room to add extra seats.
Although little has been said about leisure routes from Gatwick, twice weekly seasonal leisure destinations are to be launched at Heathrow to augment the reduction in flying to business destinations in quieter periods, i.e. height of the summer. This is a boon for anyone wishing to fly from Heathrow, with new additions already documented to Murcia, Brindisi, Nantes, Zante, Montpellier – in addition to the routes already served including Palma, Menorca, Kos, Palermo and Chania.
European and Domestic (UK) Business – Club Europe
Club class will return to the domestic market next year, and more information is due in the coming weeks about this. Apart from that little more is known about the future of Club Europe, particularly in reference to the changes which are being made in the economy portion of the cabin.
Gatwick Based Long Haul Fleet – 777’s
An announcement was made this week the entire long haul fleet at Gatwick is to be upgraded from 2018, with a new configuration inside their existing 777’s. This isn’t exactly great news though, with an increase overall of 52 seats compared to the current layout. The airline will be one of the last major carriers to convert to a 10 abreast layout on the 777 in economy, from the current 9 decreasing comfort levels.
A big plus for those looking to upgrade is the doubling of the number of ‘World Traveller Plus’ seats from 24 to 48. This Premium Economy cabin has been referred by the airline as being ‘extremely profitable from Gatwick’, and the decrease in comfort in economy/World Traveller is going to encourage more to upgrade. It does mean that Club World will be reduced slightly from 40 to 32 seats, in what is a leisure dominated marketplace.
All the changes have been made to compete effectively with the likes of Norwegian and Thomson, who have been encroaching on their market at Gatwick.
World Traveller Plus
Although there is a slow roll out of the new World Traveller Plus seat, now available on the 787’s, A380’s and some 747’s and 777’s, there are improvements to be made in this very popular category. Meals will be improved to be of ‘business class standard’, with more options to be available to pre-reserve online before flying.
Club World (Business)
The airline has committed £400m to improving Club World, although those expecting a new seat and layout will be disappointed with no announcement imminent on that. Instead there will be an increased focus on the meal service, with quality improving. This will reduce the number of options available onboard from four to three, although once again other options will be available online before travel, and the choice of champagne reduced to one choice. The onboard Club Kitchen, which is filled with snacks will now be filled from the short haul M&S menu to increase continuity and wastage.
Sleep will also be a key factor for the airline, changing the service to fit getting the most amount of sleep possible for the passengers. Mattress covers will be retained to make sure the sleep experience is as good as it can be.
The lounge experience will also be improved with a new wing at Heathrow, and the new lounge at the South Terminal (the new home for British Airways at Gatwick from late January), as well as changes at key outposts such as New York and Boston.
So there is a lot to take in, not all great for our national carrier. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email – Ashley@traveltimeworld.co.uk