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Buy on board: Experiences and reactions from BA's shorthaul economy service

Buy on board: Experiences and reactions from BA's shorthaul economy service

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Old Aug 6, 19, 11:50 pm   -   Wikipost
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This thread focuses on experiences and reactions for the implementation of buy on board for shorthaul, mainly led by impressions taken from flying on board British Airways' shorthaul services.

An information thread exists for your questions, particularly if they are on factual matters, here:
Buy on board: Information guide for BA shorthaul economy services

If you have an opinion about the concept of Buy on Board, the right thread is:
Buy on board: Implemented on BA short haul - opinions on the concept

Photos of current BoB menu (September 2018) post #125 in information thread
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Old Aug 9, 19, 7:54 am
  #2371  
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
There is indeed circumstantial evidence that NPS took a tumble after BoB was introduced, there is also some even more circumstantial evidence that they have recovered at least some of that in the last year, but we are never going to get the full evidence either way on this - I think there are far too many moving parts to the BA story. What we do know if that if this had been a disaster (a) it would have been reversed and (b) the bottom line would have been affected, and we have no evidence of that. As it happens BA's flights generally run pretty full then and now, with CE now often stretching a long way down the aisle.

On the other hand if it had been a rip-roaring success then they would have added the third cabin crew member to BACF services, and introduced it there. This simply hasn't happened.
I very much agree with your summary, and particularly about the "moving parts". Whilst BoB probably contributed to perceptual negativity, the significant improvements to CW and F soft products and soon the new CW cabins will undoubtedly generate positivity at pretty much the same times, so without the granular information that IAG will certainly not share with us (think of it, though, how cool would it be if FTers were graced with a unique insight into data others don't access on what fellow customers do and do not appreciate!!!) it's really impossible to be sure.

To your list of what did not happen, I would also add that in my view, if this had been an overwhelming success, chances are that BA's main competitors such as LH and AF would have emulated them and gone BoB in short haul Y which has not happened (arguably, the opposite as AF offering has improved). For instance, I dislike both HBO and 10 across in Y, but those nasty measures piloted by a few rogue airlines years ago have quickly become the norm across Europe, suggesting that airlines "spy" on each other's measures and when they feel that the savings largely outweigh the reputational costs, they are more than happy to sacrifice passengers' comfort.

There was similarly more than a hint from the BA leadership at the time BoB was introduced that this was the direction the industry was taking, and that other European majors would quickly follow suit. At this time, they have not and that is a marked contrast with HBO and 10 across.

My only other nuance is that in terms of bottom line, I still maintain my point that it is a different business to keep cabins full in strong economic conjuncture than in more fragile ones and that as a result, the acid test of any potential impact of any negative on the bottom line is yet to come.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 10:23 am
  #2372  
 
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
On the other hand if it had been a rip-roaring success then they would have added the third cabin crew member to BACF services, and introduced it there. This simply hasn't happened.
... and densified the Embraers in tandem! I'll stop giving Cruz ideas...
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Old Aug 10, 19, 11:00 am
  #2373  
 
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Originally Posted by Prospero View Post
Yes, the days of short haul hospitality are over. It’s the norm now for oneworld European services (BA, IB, and AY) but at least Finnair offers Emeralds a free drink from the menu and tea/coffee/juice for all
Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I’m surprised people are still surprised, but continuous indignation simply means that those who thought ‘oh well, that’s the way the industry is going, whiners will get used to it’ were wrong and failed to appreciate that for many of us, BoB affects the very identity of an airline and the entire onboard experience and notably interaction with cabin crew who are the ‘face of the airline’.

There are many things I continue disapproving in this world well after I have accepted that they are here to stay, because nothing has changed about their causes, consequences, or what they say about the person or company that enacts them. Whilst BoB is a very minor example, it nonetheless squarely fits into that description and I suspect the same is true of many other frequent ET passengers.

Just like BoB, the indignation is here to stay.
Originally Posted by Misco60 View Post
It really is time that the public moved on and stopped expecting free food and drink on short-haul economy class flights. They wouldn't expect it on a 2-hour bus or train journey, so why on a plane? It's decades since flying was glamorous or special.

Passengers might be won over if BA made more of an effort to load enough food and drink so that everyone who wanted to buy something was able to do so rather than running out at row 11.
Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Because most European legacy airlines offer it. Why would you stop expecting something you usually get?

It's like saying that you should stop expecting vegetables with your mains in restaurants because when you go to a supermarket, Tesco and Waitrose don't (usually) throw in free sprouts or cauliflower when you buy a steak. Sure, Italian restaurants have gone that way and give you a fish or meat without any side which you can buy separately if you want, but most other countries still have restaurants which automatically include sides and there is not particular reason people should stop expecting that as a result.

[Was anyone missing those restaurant metaphors yet?! }
Originally Posted by CeeGee View Post
The vast majority of the UK travelling public have no idea that forums such as this exist and get their information(right or wrong dependant on where they get it)from the press or news.
Take Mr and Mrs Average with two children,for the last ten years, once a year they have taken package holidays where all they have had to do is roll up at a travel agent,pick where they want to go,pay money and everything else is taken care of,no research is needed.
They now decide to have a bit of "luxury" away from a package holiday and fly independently,they have read all the sensations about Ryanair and the like but generally think that they will pay extra and travel with a "proper" airline.
They are not used to "researching" their holidays,they have only heard good things about the "proper" airlines.So they book their flights,this is when the shock kicks in,no free food and booze,paying for seat selection.This is not what they paid for(They think).
Please FT posters,have a bit of sympathy for Mr and Mrs Average,they dont have the knowledge or experience you have,yes it is one heck of a shock to find an airline you have only heard good of in the past,and now paid extra to travel with,has become not much better than the cheap package holiday flights they are used to.
Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I very much agree with your summary, and particularly about the "moving parts". Whilst BoB probably contributed to perceptual negativity, the significant improvements to CW and F soft products and soon the new CW cabins will undoubtedly generate positivity at pretty much the same times, so without the granular information that IAG will certainly not share with us (think of it, though, how cool would it be if FTers were graced with a unique insight into data others don't access on what fellow customers do and do not appreciate!!!) it's really impossible to be sure.

To your list of what did not happen, I would also add that in my view, if this had been an overwhelming success, chances are that BA's main competitors such as LH and AF would have emulated them and gone BoB in short haul Y which has not happened (arguably, the opposite as AF offering has improved). For instance, I dislike both HBO and 10 across in Y, but those nasty measures piloted by a few rogue airlines years ago have quickly become the norm across Europe, suggesting that airlines "spy" on each other's measures and when they feel that the savings largely outweigh the reputational costs, they are more than happy to sacrifice passengers' comfort.

There was similarly more than a hint from the BA leadership at the time BoB was introduced that this was the direction the industry was taking, and that other European majors would quickly follow suit. At this time, they have not and that is a marked contrast with HBO and 10 across.
......
The above recent points of view I believe are highlighted by this recent Which? survey of airline food and the outcome of BA being ranked 4th from the bottom with 58%:

Many BA flyers are still reeling that the airline no longer offers complimentary refreshments on some routes. One customer went as far as to describe the food choice as ‘abysmally poor’ and 'akin to offerings at some British motorway stations, but more expensive’. Others blamed cost cutting for a drop in quality, describing the meals as ‘fatty and unhealthy’ - while several passengers with special dietary requirements told us they weren’t well catered for.
My comments and thoughts:
  • I'm disappointed how Which just says food isn't free on "some routes". I think this is confusing for the average traveller (ie,anyone who doesn't read this or any other FF forum!). They should have said it isn't offered on European flights - let's not confuse things with LCY offering for now please! They really need to differentiate long haul from short haul ops for those airlines that offer them like AA and QF, although the later does still offer free food on it's domestic flights and reasonably tasty at that. AA is introducing it on the longer domestics I believe. The "average traveller" just doesn't get it until they have travelled. I'm sure some still expect BA to serve roast meals from a carving trolley in the aisle.
  • The survey seems to be about long haul flights, but mentioning no complimentary catering seems to me that the researchers are mixing their long haul and short haul results (for a sensational headline?).
  • The price is a factor and there was a recent "Save money" type tv show recently that highlighted M&S vs BA food prices. I can't remember the exact prices, but they bought a sandwich, crisps and chocolate for about £3 in a high street. At M&S's shop at Gatwick they paid about £4.50 and on board the BA flight the same items cost around £6 something, iirc - happy to be corrected. Some aviation person explained that it costs more as it had to clear security, be loaded into the bars etc etc. So the choice is yours if you want to grab a sandwich on the high street to save money if you have time and don't mind it being out of a chilled environment for several hours before eating it.
  • The comment about food being fatty and unhealthy doesn't specify if it's BoB or the standard long haul Y menu. BoB is fairly restrictive in how fresh it can be and I've found most items quite stodgy with little in the way of fresh veg on the sandwiches. Same on easyjet. Long haul I'm a bit surprised. Looking at the pics on Airlinemeals.net the meals seem what I'd term as balanced in terms of protein, starch and veg (let's not get embroiled in a conversation about taste here!).
I really think BA has got itself in a pickle over this as it's reputation is getting more of a battering. Given that they've unbundled everything else now, why not re introduce meals as a paid for option like the charter airlines do? Ideally they'd still have BoB for those that want it, although that probably means more of admin and logistic headache for them.

You'll never please everyone. Not til everyone that remembers free food Intra-Europe stop flying!
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Old Aug 11, 19, 8:35 am
  #2374  
 
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Standing in the Group 1 queue at LCA just now and out comes the Captain.

He made an announcement that there was “very little food” for sale in Economy and suggested that those who wanted to have something to eat on the way to London might want to buy in the airport before boarding.

I don’t know if this is a common experience, the strange use of “this time” in his announcement made me think it wasn’t the first time he was saying this, but given the length of time BOB has been going, surely BA has had enough times to sort out bringing enough sandwiches for the return journey on its longest short haul flights where the demand will be highest?

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Old Aug 11, 19, 8:50 am
  #2375  
 
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BA462 LHR-MAD on new and full A321NEO last night. Three crew members in Economy, one singleton at the front and a duo at the back started the service as soon as they could which given the gate delay co-incided with a lot of people wanting to use the bathrooms. Hence a whole load of dirty looks and "please return to your seat until the service is completed." The passive aggresiveness of the two cabin crew at the back was something to behold. "No I won't let you past". "Please return to your seat!" Ended up with a queue of 5-6 people for the mini loos in the tail which no one else was allowed to join.
It took an age to do the service, much longer than the comparable easyJet and the M&S selection is over priced tat frankly when all I wanted was a reasonable sized cuppa coffee and warm roll, not a bucket of caffeine and the most complex sandwich known to God.

Added to the fact that the rear seats in the *SAME CABIN* are clearly inferior to those down the front and a different colour with no recline, it's clear they're now intentionally making life hard so you pony up more money to just get what was once a basic economy offering by paying even more to sit nearer the front. This is now some distance from what is "Brand BA". You can tell the cabin crew hate it, the M%S farce is such a complicated faff.

Seriosly, just bring back free tea and coffee and chuck me some pretzels.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 9:34 am
  #2376  
 
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
My only other nuance is that in terms of bottom line, I still maintain my point that it is a different business to keep cabins full in strong economic conjuncture than in more fragile ones and that as a result, the acid test of any potential impact of any negative on the bottom line is yet to come.
You've mentioned this a few times, and I am wondering - do you mean that when the times are bad and people can't afford/don't need to fly, a cookie and a cup of cheap wine would convince them to take a trip? I just don't understand how you think AF, for example, will do better than BA in a downturn when business is bad and people are not flying... If free food and drinks were such a big deal, people would be choosing other airlines over BA in good times as well.

On a side note, it still puzzles me that some people are still making an issue out of something unrelated to air travel not being included into the price of the ticket.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 11:34 am
  #2377  
 
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Unexpected experience of BOB on a delayed an EDI-LHR run this Friday. I ordered a G&T and the payment machine started playing up so I got the G&T for free and was offered a second and also some pretzels.

I declined the second and the pretzels as I was happy with 1 G&T as the service took a while to get to my row (29 on A320NEO due to being rebooked) and I didn’t think I would have had time to drink both G&Ts anyway.

What was interesting is that the crew member mentioned something about being able to write off the purchase due to the delay and asked if I was sure I didn’t want 2. I declined again and the crew member thanked me and moved on.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 12:51 pm
  #2378  
 
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Both the Larnaca and Madrid experiences described above are not a surprise and are not one-offs. The issue will probably be storage and capacity - the NEOs are not intended to be about comfort or space but are about seat capacity and profit. When it comes to storage availability, the advertised superior catering offering (aka Percy Pigs, cheese sandwiches, mini Jaffa cakes,etc) are not a priority and BA is happy for the pilots and crews to have to deal with the fallout.

It would be good to hear BA crews’ perspective on this and why BA’s BoB is still so inconsistent compared to airlines it is competing against. How do EasyJet and Ryanair offer BoB hot meals, sandwiches as well as snacks when BA struggles to load sandwiches?



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Old Aug 11, 19, 12:57 pm
  #2379  
 
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This will partly be due to the fact that Ryanair and easyJet do not have to worry about Club Europe catering taking up a lot of the galley space at the front of the aircraft - and if Club loads are particularly high, which they are on MAD and LCA, amongst others - the rear galley too.

Take out Club Europe and voila - much more space for Marks and Sparks food and beverage - oh, and ALL crew dedicated to delivering the BoB service, not just 50%.

Mind you, the above is only part of the problem.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 4:33 pm
  #2380  
 
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
You've mentioned this a few times, and I am wondering - do you mean that when the times are bad and people can't afford/don't need to fly, a cookie and a cup of cheap wine would convince them to take a trip? I just don't understand how you think AF, for example, will do better than BA in a downturn when business is bad and people are not flying... If free food and drinks were such a big deal, people would be choosing other airlines over BA in good times as well.

On a side note, it still puzzles me that some people are still making an issue out of something unrelated to air travel not being included into the price of the ticket.
I'd say it's very much related to air travel. Namely the service you receive whilst travelling by air. You might have a point that the issue being made is somewhat disproportionate in the overall scheme of things, but I don't agree that it's unrelated to air travel.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 5:45 pm
  #2381  
 
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Originally Posted by Bar Operator View Post
This will partly be due to the fact that Ryanair and easyJet do not have to worry about Club Europe catering taking up a lot of the galley space at the front of the aircraft - and if Club loads are particularly high, which they are on MAD and LCA, amongst others - the rear galley too.

Take out Club Europe and voila - much more space for Marks and Sparks food and beverage - oh, and ALL crew dedicated to delivering the BoB service, not just 50%.

Mind you, the above is only part of the problem.
Thank you for the insight. I have long questioned the legacy goes LCC without mapping all needs their traveller have. The A321NEO is a nice plane. But large CE cabin and the rear mini lavatory arrangement definitely cause catering storage issues. In the US it works as the Business cabin is restricted by numbers, and most travellers does 1.5 hours sector and transit to another 1.5 hour sector, thus less needs for onboard catering. For BA where its business model has higher concentration on short sector to long haul transit and virtually minimum short haul to short haul hub spoke model, I hope the management get things right. Bluntly copy American carriers are not the way to go considering the route network.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 10:03 pm
  #2382  
 
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Originally Posted by scottishpoet View Post
On AY everyone is offered tea coffee water or bluberry juice for free
I love that blueberry juice. On longhaul flights they offer a divinely blueberry liquor.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 5:20 pm
  #2383  
 
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
If free food and drinks were such a big deal, people would be choosing other airlines over BA in good times as well.
The problem with BA is that paid food is awful as well and inferior to Ryanair's onboard offering.

There must be at least something to lure people to fly BA. Right now, the food is worse than on FR, the new seats are also worse than on FR. BA is neither safer, nor cheaper, nor more comfortable than FR.

Legacy carriers seem to be living off the reputation they built in the decades past, but sooner or later it will wear off.
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