For instance they’re planning to mash together all the different Avios programs into one. They haven’t told us what that will look like, but British Airways makes it look like the independent and more valuable ones moving to the less valuable shared program. We’ll have to wait and see.
They’re planning significant seat densification (more uncomfortable seats squeezed into planes). While they squeeze coach, already British Airways arguably has the worst lie flat business class seat in the industry at 8-abreast on their Boeing 777s.
And their intra-European business class has less legroom at 30 inches of pitch than the median domestic US airline coach seat.
They’re reportedly testing mandatory self-checkin at Heathrow’s terminal 3 (with a charge to see an agent).
And British Airways had basic economy fares before they were cool in the US, with hand baggage only fares that require even elites to pay for checked bags. There’s been talk about taking away lounge access and priority boarding from elites on these fares as well. There have, of course, been catering cuts as well.
According to the head of IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, he stands by the slide:
“Willie Walsh has always been unapologetic about the airline industry’s inability to make proper returns and this time he wasn’t going to be outdone by the colourful language of one of his rival airline CEOs.”
Airlines are businesses. Some take a short-term view towards maximizing profits, before this IAG slide perhaps best summed up by NWA’s “Gangsta Gangsta” (and best explained by Jay in Chasing Amy).
Others take a longer view, looking to drive increasingly more comfort and value to their customers in order to create a brand affinity and derive a revenue premium. (United seems to suggest brand no longer matters and so was comfortable making itself in part more like Spirit Airlines with fares that do not permit carry-ons.)
British Airways seems to fall into the former camp — not because they put this slide in a presentation, but because they don’t regret it.