Wet leasing, the practice of switching planes to a smaller carrier for certain flights, is becoming more and more common in the air travel industry – and business and first class passengers may face consequences they aren’t expecting when they arrive to find a different plane.
Claire Wrathall, a writer for The Telegraph, recently opted to take a British Airways flight business class – also known as Club Europe – to Sicily. But although she paid for the higher tier of service, Wrathall felt as though she was the victim of a sort of bait-and-switch, thanks to an air travel industry tactic called wet leasing. British Airways has recently adopted this tactic, which means bringing in planes and crews from other airlines to operate some flights due to a lack of enough aircraft to man every flight itself.
Wrathall still got her business class seat, but the experience was subpar. The stand-in plane and crew were from Titan Airways, a local charter airline to the Gatwick airport Wrathall flew out of. The plane itself was the same British Airways would have used, an A320, but the interior was lacking.
“Titan’s shabby fit-out feels much cheaper and more cramped, and seats do not recline,” she wrote for The Telegraph. “Sit in row one, and the precarious tray table that clips into one seat arm isn’t big enough to support a standard-sized laptop. On the port side, there’s no screen between you and the door, so you face the crew’s jump seats directly.”
She also noted that the bathrooms weren’t separated by cabin and the amenities were of lower quality than British Airways would have provided.
Future passengers at Gatwick may face this same bait-and-switch, as British Airways recently acquired a large amount of slots at the airport and doesn’t have sufficient aircraft.