British Airways cuts have effectively destroyed its brand. What was once viewed as a quality international carrier is largely to be avoided when possible. If you aren’t based at London Heathrow the only reason to fly BA would be price.
Last March we learned that they planned to offer less legroom than Ryanair on intra-Europe flights. So it makes sense to give Ryanair a revenue premium to avoid flying BA.
British Airways business class is already a laggard.
And intra-Europe business class already started with less legroom than the median US domestic coach seat at 30 inches of pitch (it’s what American’s new densified 737 MAX offers).
- Airbus A320s will keep their current first 12 rows of coach, that’s where you want to sit. A321st will keep their first fourteen rows. They’ll get both USB and standard power outlets.
- The rest of these planes will get uncomfortable slimline seats with 29 inch pitch. They will not recline (or as Spirit Airlines says, ‘they’re pre-reclined’). There will be USB ports but not standard power. Seriously, retrofitting cabins and not adding power.
- There won’t be enough galley space left to store meal trays for Club Europe, so longer flights will limit the number of intra-European business seats they’ll sell.
- They’re eliminating drop down video monitors from new planes being delivered (less weight, less fuel burn, crew will do manual safety demonstrations).
- Elimination of trash and water from the back of plane to save space, flight attendants are going to love this:
This means that all waste will be carried through Club Europe for disposal at the front, and all requests for free tap water will require a trip to the Club Europe galley.
- There may not even be coat storage for business class, “The Club Europe wardrobe will remain but will also be used for general storage and may not be available for coats”
Here’s the new British Airways business plan:
In January I wrote The Dumb, Stupid, Dull-Witted Way British Airways Has Moved to Buy on Board Food and Drink and concluded,
Charging for water — and especially charging premium passengers connecting domestically for water — seems like a mistake.
And reducing product differentiation between BA and its lower cost competitors seems like a mistake.
Given their higher cost structure, they need to earn a revenue premium. Competing at the low cost game with airlines whose costs are lower seems like a game they’re destined to lose.
And it means that they offer lower service levels than competing European legacy airlines on non-stop routes between London and the rest of Europe.
All These People Will Be Expected to Share One Seat on Their Upcoming Flight to Milan
Offering less legroom than Ryanair might be something they can get away with selling tickets to Heathrow-based travelers, although it makes KLM the preferred carrier London Heathrow – Amsterdam, Lufthansa the preferred carrier London Heathrow – Frankfurt, etc.
Heathrow is already a miserable place to connect for intra-European travel in no small measure because the UK isn’t a Schengen country. They won’t win much connecting traffic this way.
And while they can reduce costs, remember the CEO of British Airways used to run low cost carrier Vueling, they won’t get their costs down to the levels of Ryanair and easyJet. They need to earn more revenue than those airlines do and offering less legroom than the cheapest discounters won’t get them there.