Impressions of BA from a Qatar Platinum

Old May 17, 15, 6:43 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: London
Programs: LH Senator, bmi, VS Flying Club Silver, BA Exec Club, Amex Centurion
Posts: 37
Impressions of BA from a Qatar Platinum

These days I hardly ever fly BA- certainly wouldn't fly them out of choice having migrated to LX/LH and latterly QR.

This week I found myself unexpectedly flying AUH-LHR in CW. I hadn't flown BA for about 18 months and being a regular follower of the BA forum, and all of the plusses and minuses of BA, I was curious to compare the experience to my many recent flights on QR.

The BA flight leaves at 01.45. It's a 777-200 that originates in Muscat. I had a window seat booked to give me a modicum of privacy in the 777 dorm, and to avoid the aisle traffic.

I was almost the last passenger to board. Unlike on Qatar, there was no real welcome on board. No eye contact from crew who were directing everyone down one aisle regardless of where they were sitting. On QR as a Plat I am welcomed back and always acknowledged by the lead crew member at some point during the flight. I wasn't really expecting this on this flight as it was a relatively short night flight. Having said that, as an Emerald I also receive some form of welcome on airlines such as CX, AA and even Dragonair.

I was offered a welcome drink by the crew who would be looking after my side of the plane. She seemed pleasant enough and offered to come back for my jacket.
The BA crew just seemed to lack polish. I hate to say this, but they appeared unkempt and just plain slovenly. As a Brit, I asked myself whether Brits can do service, or whether customer facing roles are seen as demeaning? A hangover from the class system?

Apart from a drink after takeoff, I didn't sample any of the service as I wanted to sleep for the whole flight, which I did. When I woke up shortly before landing I was rather ignored, in contrast to QR where the crew are more pro-active in offering coffee or juice to passengers who are waking but miss breakfast.

We landed at C gates. A bit of a schlep but immigration was smooth and my bag was one of the first out.

As I was heading straight to a meeting, I also decided to sample the Arrivals Lounge in T5.

Once again I experienced the typical BA attitude whereby paying passengers are an inconvenience to staff. This lounge dragon had urgent browsing to do on the internet. Perhaps there was an eBay auction ending imminently, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

I was asked for my boarding pass which I duly handed over. Without even making eye contact, the attendant asked me for the larger portion. I told her that the larger portion was removed on boarding in Abu Dhabi. She frowned and muttered that the larger portion was easier to scan. I apologised for inconveniencing her and moved on.

It's a nice enough lounge. The showers were looking rather ropey, however.
Discoloured seals, noisy plumbing, not a lot of space, and looking rather down at heel, which is how I would probably sum up the whole BA experience.

I then decided to have some breakfast. Not being a regular BA flier I went to sit in the Concorde Breakfast Room. I was then asked (rather rudely) if I had an invitation. I had no idea what the attendant was talking about until she told me that it was for First passengers only. I asked if being oneworld Emerald helped. She didn't know so I went to the desk to ask. It didn't help and I was rebuffed.

Fair enough, but why not put a sign up to save customers any embarrassment? It did not leave a good impression with me, especially when the room was empty at the time. QR offers a sit down breakfast to all J and F passengers in Doha.

Poor BA. I really believe that they don't understand how mediocre they are, and how far they are falling behind. The flight was fine- nothing bad happened, but I see a lack of standards and care at every turn. In an increasingly competitive environment and as a London resident, I just cannot think of any reason to fly BA when competitors offer a far better experience from check in through to arrivals lounges.

What is even more worrying for BA is that now QR are part of oneworld I am seeing increasing numbers of BA Golds on QR flights. Does BA even care?
Based upon this flight, I don't think that QR need be too worried about the competition.
Cambrian is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 7:52 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Ambivalent
Programs: *A
Posts: 62
Sums up my overall experiences with them too. Except I've got some much worse anecdotes. I had a period of several years where I didn't fly with them and have recently had to take them. I hoped things would have improved but alas.

Nothing will change however - as long as they have all that corporate revenue and monopoly on routes they can do what they want.
Tennet1979 is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 8:14 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: E
Programs: MSC (Miles Slut Club); Cunard- Diamond 300+; Princess- Elite 200+; RCCL- D Plus; QF LTG; CA P
Posts: 4,452
I would not be surprised to see the current BA situation last until 2020 when new blood in management realise BA is far behind majority of the rivals. I would jump ship completely if either EK or QR is to introduce premier economy like LH/SQ/..etc. did. (I said that when CX introduced PE but I did not jump ship because of the ultra cheap fare BA is dumping in Madrid market last two years so I knew I would eat my own words again soon or later). Nevertheless, I think in long haul products wise, BA is slipping into the mediocre category now. When even IB and AA have better long haul product than BA you know there is something not quite right (even AY does have better product now). I think pre 2013 BA has the leading product but now BA is behind almost every oneworld member airlines (AA [select], IB [select], CX, JL, QF, QR, AY, JJ[new products] and LA [select]...) in terms of LH business class and First class.
chongcao is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 8:15 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: England
Programs: BA Lifetime Gold, UA Premier Platinum
Posts: 334
Originally Posted by Tennet1979 View Post
Nothing will change however - as long as they have all that corporate revenue and monopoly on routes they can do what they want.
I'm afraid you're right. BA have such a strong market position at LHR that they can continue to offer poor service without losing much revenue. Unless and until something goes badly wrong, attracting political pressure and leading to a competition inquiry, nothing will change.
BasilBush is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 8:38 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 12,097
FYI, I had to look it up. QR platinum is oneworld emerald.
hillrider is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 9:18 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: North of the Highland line
Programs: BA Gold IHG Ambassador Spire Shangri La Diamond
Posts: 567
I have just jumped ship for my flights out to PEK/PVG - I totally agree with the OP, the onboard product from QR is now far superior.
Having just come home QR J this weekend, I fly to the USA on BA F next weekend- comparisons will be interesting
thegreatmrsj is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 9:48 am
  #7  
Moderator: Qatar Airways
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: LHR/NCE/DOH
Programs: BAEC GfL & GGL, QR Insider, SQ Gold, Mucci des Chevaliers des Bons Mots et Qui Savent Moucher
Posts: 7,714
Originally Posted by thegreatmrsj View Post
I have just jumped ship for my flights out to PEK/PVG - I totally agree with the OP, the onboard product from QR is now far superior.
Having just come home QR J this weekend, I fly to the USA on BA F next weekend- comparisons will be interesting
I'm one of the QR praisers on the BA forum. I've been flying QR for about 18 months, and I see more and more BAEC members on-board.

More worryingly for BA, I see them on flights from CDG. To give one example - I flew from LHR-CDG a couple of months back. 7 of those on the BA flight, followed onto the QR flight to DOH. None were DOH locals, all were either in F or J, and all were connecting onward from DOH (we all caught up in the on-board bar!).

I still fly BA when going West from LHR, because the choice is slightly more limited, but heading East, I have switched all but one of my flights to QR. I am fortunate in that 80% of my travel is in F (or J when F is not available).

In March I flew IAD-LHR-DOH-BKK with a 2 day stopover in London. BA F in comparison to QR F is simply embarrassing! I would argue that BA F is better than QR J, but that is probably just a personal choice.
msm2000uk is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:18 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Somerset/Dorset/Wiltshire borders, England [home].
Programs: BAEC Gold [>20k Lifetime TPs] | Hilton Honors Lifetime Diamond [as is Mrs PtF] | Various Others
Posts: 6,154
Originally Posted by Cambrian View Post

What is even more worrying for BA is that now QR are part of oneworld I am seeing increasing numbers of BA Golds on QR flights. Does BA even care?
Based upon this flight, I don't think that QR need be too worried about the competition.
I'm one of those BAEC Golds you refer to on QR flights.

My regular journey is LHR-CAI and vice-versa. I flew QR J LHR-DOH-CAI on 17 April and BA J LHR-CAI on 4 May. Here's my experience (QR first / BA second):

1. Check-in: QR - priority check-in formalities completed in two minutes / BA - Club World check-in queued for six or seven minutes, and then got directed to a World Traveller check-in desk. Winner - QR.

2. Luggage allowance: QR - 3 x 20kgs (60kgs) / BA - 4 x 32 kg (128kgs). Winner - BA.

3. Lounge: QR - LHR T4 lounge (brilliant) with huge food and wine selection / BA - LHR T1 lounge (abysmal, it should be demolished - oh wait, it's about to be) with two soups and a few sandwiches. Winner - QR.

4. Boarding: QR priority boarding via separate door / BA - what's priority boarding? Constantly bashed in my CW aisle seat by the carry-on bags of WT+/WT passengers walking by as everyone boarded at door 1L. Winner - QR.

5. Aircraft: QR - A380 (seat 11A, with window and direct aisle access - spacious) / BA - B767 (seat 1E, rearward-facing aisle seat - extremely narrow with limited shoulder space). Winner - QR.

6. Cabin crew: QR - the usual multi-national, charming, smiling, nothing-is-too-much-trouble, ladies / BA - a fifty-something CSD (Jane J), who was absolutely brilliant; energetic, engaging and a wonderful personality!! Winner - surprisingly, on this one occasion, BA.

7. Food: Winner - QR.

8. Alcohol: Winner - QR (and did I mention the A380 F/J upper-deck bar)?

9. In-flight entertainment: no contest! Winner - QR.

10. Door-to-door (i.e. LHR-CAI timing): Winner - BA, by many hours.

11. Cost of ticket: Winner - QR, by many hundreds of GBP (approx 60% of the cost of BA).

These days I'm only flying the minimum number of BA sectors required to re-qualify for BAEC Gold.

I read with incredulity those who report QR cabin crew are just going through the motions: it's a two-way relationship - smile, exchange pleasantries, crack a joke, and the QR ladies are wonderful.

I've been more than willing to sing the praises of BA in the past - but they're nowhere near as good as they were even two or three years ago. Sad, really.
Phil the Flyer is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:26 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Programs: BA Blue, IC Spire Ambassador
Posts: 4,542
I am by no means a BA apologist and think standards of actual cabin service have slipped since the early 2000s.

However, I am not a QR fan - it's horses for courses but my overall experience of QR is that their crew are very robotic - yes you do always get a "welcome back Mr Morgan" and the CSD comes to say hello to FFs but it lacks any meaning to me when you hear the same script being used for each passenger. I don't like the lounge in Doha - you call BA CW a dormitory on the 777 well the Al Mourjan lounge at Doha is a warehouse. It's huge; lots of dates and water around but I find BA's Galleries lounge to be more comfortable. QR also has a much more variable product in J - you never know what you are going to get; they have multiple equipment changes. Yes their 787 and A350 products are great but their A330 and A340 isn't great. Their 777 is a good product but I prefer BA's backwards seating - in a window seat i can put the divider up and be in a bubble without knowing anybody else is there, whereas in QR J I am acutely aware of lying next to somebody else!

I also don't support QR because I don't agree with the human rights record of the region - having had a stint working in Doha I can tell you that QR crew have a curfew for their crew accommodation (and when on a trip), they have security guards who monitor movements, they are not allowed to get pregnant, marry without permission, and so on - do you really want to support a company or a regime that harbours that approach? I don't.

I have more time for Emirates. Yes, their cabin crew are held to high standards but I don't think the company rules their life in the same way that QR does - in fact there are clubs in Dubai where virtually everybody is EK crew and if they show their ID they get discounted drinks! EK also has a far more consistent product; Dubai airport actually works properly, and EK crew are generally less robotic.

I actually like what BA offers in CW - I'm not being funny but do you really want to engage in conversation about your frequent flier status at 2AM on a redeye flight? QR will happily turn the cabin lights on 2 hours before landing in the middle of the night to serve a hot breakfast - it's a totally different approach and philosophy to service. The best BA crew on sleeper services will often leave the cabin lights dimmed from "cabin crew seats for takeoff" to about 75 mins before landing - they can offer cookies etc using reading lights to the few that want any service at all.

I do hear what you're saying about general attitude of some people - i.e. BA ground staff at Heathrow can be a mixed bunch - some are excellent and some less so (I wrote a TR a few weeks ago about somebody who refused to believe they flew from T5 to Porto!) On the other hand, I've always found QR ground staff, in spite of any failings in terms of service (IE they have a tendency to follow you around in case they can fetch anything which makes me want to leave the lounge as I feel overwhelmed!) do genuinely put the customer first. On the whole though I'd say that ground service at Heathrow has been much better over the last couple of years, and I have also found that I've had far fewer 'bad' crew - but less 'stand out' crews as well. Then again, it's hard to be stand out when you are trying to do more with less.
IAMORGAN is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:34 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: BQH
Programs: BAEC GGL, Taylor Street Baristas
Posts: 130
Originally Posted by IAMORGAN View Post
I also don't support QR because I don't agree with the human rights record of the region - having had a stint working in Doha I can tell you that QR crew have a curfew for their crew accommodation (and when on a trip), they have security guards who monitor movements, they are not allowed to get pregnant, marry without permission, and so on - do you really want to support a company or a regime that harbours that approach? I don't.
Did you see out your contract?
DirkGently is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:36 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,580
Originally Posted by msm2000uk View Post
I flew from LHR-CDG a couple of months back. 7 of those on the BA flight, followed onto the QR flight to DOH. None were DOH locals, all were either in F or J, and all were connecting onward from DOH (we all caught up in the on-board bar!).
What's the motivation for flying LHR-CDG-DOH?
FlyingScientist is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:43 am
  #12  
Moderator: Qatar Airways
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: LHR/NCE/DOH
Programs: BAEC GfL & GGL, QR Insider, SQ Gold, Mucci des Chevaliers des Bons Mots et Qui Savent Moucher
Posts: 7,714
Originally Posted by FlyingScientist View Post
What's the motivation for flying LHR-CDG-DOH?
The fare in F was circa 2,300 from CDG, versus 3,800 from LHR. As I was flying for business, I fancied being able to make a 1,500 saving for the Client.

CDG is routinely cheaper than LHR - in the same way that ex-EU flights with BA are cheaper.
msm2000uk is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:48 am
  #13  
TPJ
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Programs: TK*G (E+), AA OWE (EXP), IHG Plat
Posts: 6,563
While I agree that QR is a significantly better airline than BA, please remember that grass is not ALWAYS greener - new DOH airport was delayed for a few years (I am not sue if it is QR fault though, but wait in Qatar everything is sort of owned by the Ruler, right?), the lounge situation just after opening was one big disaster and I am not even sure I like Al Mourjan (much prefer TK IST lounge that IMHO is world's best).
TPJ is offline  
Old May 17, 15, 10:51 am
  #14  
Moderator, Iberia Airlines, Airport Lounges, and Ambassador, British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Programs: BA Lifetime Gold; Flying Blue Life Platinum; LH Sen.; Hilton Diamond; Kemal Kebabs Prized Customer
Posts: 42,250
Originally Posted by msm2000uk View Post

CDG is routinely cheaper than LHR - in the same way that ex-EU flights with BA are cheaper.
You've got to watch that one going forward. Qatar are redeploying their A380s such that the CDG services will often be run by A330s and potentially other aircraft, with differing seat combinations, not all of them are good. Also by reducing capacity so much, the fares may creep up a bit.

I'm not a fan of Qatar, they aren't bad overall, but the staff are under the cosh and it shows.
corporate-wage-slave is online now  
Old May 17, 15, 10:53 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Programs: Regarded as total and utter snob amongst the BAEC community.
Posts: 938
Originally Posted by Cambrian View Post

What is even more worrying for BA is that now QR are part of oneworld I am seeing increasing numbers of BA Golds on QR flights. Does BA even care?
Based upon this flight, I don't think that QR need be too worried about the competition.

QR now owns 10% of IAG, so it will be interesting to see if QR pushes for changes within BA and Iberia to bring them in align with what they offer. Perhaps complaints about BA's premium class offerings should be directed to Al-Baker?
icegirl is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: