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Why is BA dragging their heels on the J product?

Why is BA dragging their heels on the J product?

Old Jul 5, 17, 4:40 am
  #1  
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Why is BA dragging their heels on the J product?

BA used to set the bar for J and F class products. They were the first with lay flat seat for example. BA's J and F products were always known for their understated ellegance and sophistication. Nothing too in your face like the gawdy M.E. airlines with their oodles of vacuum chromed plastic fake gold embelishments and ultra glossy "wood" everywhere. But now, when looking at what other airlines offer, the BA J product is looking tired. It has not been updated for close to 15 years. Even brand new planes are being delivered with the old product. The 747 I flew last year, the seat was in terrible condition. The head and lumbar support did not inflate, the screen refused to stay in the open position. I had to engineer a way to jam it open by using items from the amenity kit. Not easy when you consider it is designed not to be jammed or to pinch fingers in any way. I'd have been rather annoyed at paying the J fare for it (it was paid for by someone else, long story).

So, is this just a matter of BA unwilling to invest, or do they genuinely not realise how old in the tooth their products are?
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Old Jul 5, 17, 4:52 am
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I thought the current CW seat came to life in 2006 onwards ? And F from 2010?
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:03 am
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I think the answer to the OP's question is pretty simple : for as long as people (or their employers) are happy to spend good money on an outdated product, there is no urgent incentive on the part of a cost-driven BA to be innovative in the way they once were.

But for those who (like myself) generally feel underwhelmed by BA's current long-haul offering, there are, fortunately, superior alternatives out there - and often at more favourable prices.

My sympathy is with anyone who is forced to spend a lot of time on BA but without the freedom of choice.
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:12 am
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Originally Posted by subject2load View Post
But for those who (like myself) generally feel underwhelmed by BA's current long-haul offering, there are, fortunately, superior alternatives out there - and often at more favourable prices.
Agreed. I booked BA this year purely to get the upper deck cabin experience on the 747 off my "To Do" list.
Next year, it'll be AA. Their J product looks so much better. I'll be flying it home from DFW this year so will be able to make a direct comparison.
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:27 am
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I love the AA 77W seat - especially in the front small cabin. Had a very good sleep recently back from LAX. Yes the meal service seems to be too long (although BA J to Dubai recently was the pits) and there is not as much "lights out" but eye masks and ear plugs resolve this.
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:28 am
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Interestingly I raised this with a few of the BA Execs last night at the F&M GGL session.

Around 4 years ago I was invited to a review of 3 potential new seat designs for club world (after signing many NDAs). The best seat was a sofa concept and I believe patents were filed and its been discussed a few times on this forum. I was asking the BA execs now that BA's J class product lags far behind the market- not just ME3 and Asian carriers, but even the American carriers, what happened to the concepts that were being tested 4 years ago? The answer seems to be that they couldn't make the preferred design work, and now they are far behind in their project to roll out a new seat.

One positive is that BA realise that despite bumper profits and financial performance, their very frequent flyers are starting to vote with their feet and the feedback is now consistent and regular. Alex Cruz acknowledged that how quickly they can implement the (positive) changes are critical... I have my doubts that they can win back loyalty from their customers who now fly on better price point and superior product with AA, Delta, United, Virgin, Qatar, Cathay, Singapore etc...
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:31 am
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Originally Posted by mikeyfly View Post
I love the AA 77W seat - especially in the front small cabin. Had a very good sleep recently back from LAX. Yes the meal service seems to be too long (although BA J to Dubai recently was the pits) and there is not as much "lights out" but eye masks and ear plugs resolve this.
I've got myself Seat 3A on their 77W. Looking forward to it!
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:34 am
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I had 3J - fantastic !

Interesting insight OnslowSW7 it seems playing catch up is always going to be a struggle, but still not having it finalised will lead to what - 3/4 years before it's on all aircraft. That's quite a poor show. Almost the kind of sloppy process / hurdles you'd expect from BT / local government ! I am sure this could be expedited with the relevant taskforce, supplier & steamlined process
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:39 am
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Originally Posted by Bmused55 View Post
BA used to set the bar for J and F class products. They were the first with lay flat seat for example. BA's J and F products were always known for their understated ellegance and sophistication. Nothing too in your face like the gawdy M.E. airlines with their oodles of vacuum chromed plastic fake gold embelishments and ultra glossy "wood" everywhere. But now, when looking at what other airlines offer, the BA J product is looking tired. It has not been updated for close to 15 years. Even brand new planes are being delivered with the old product. The 747 I flew last year, the seat was in terrible condition. The head and lumbar support did not inflate, the screen refused to stay in the open position. I had to engineer a way to jam it open by using items from the amenity kit. Not easy when you consider it is designed not to be jammed or to pinch fingers in any way. I'd have been rather annoyed at paying the J fare for it (it was paid for by someone else, long story).

So, is this just a matter of BA unwilling to invest, or do they genuinely not realise how old in the tooth their products are?
Quite simply put "because they can"

as already stated if people are willing to pay for it then why rush? As well a lot of people still really like CW even though there are other business class products out there. week in week out people fly CW for the first time and if you are only used to Economy or Premium Economy you would be pretty darn pleased with yourself sitting in a CW seat/environment

2019 brings a New Club World and I am feeling quite positive about it! we are over half way through 2017 already so it will be here before we know it and I think whatever they reveal should be a good product! I am sure people will continue to moan but I think for the great majority who set foot on a plane and don't even know about Flyertalk will be more than happy
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:49 am
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Originally Posted by Padmeister View Post
2019 brings a New Club World and I am feeling quite positive about it! we are over half way through 2017 already so it will be here before we know it and I think whatever they reveal should be a good product!
Well the prospect of 2/3 aircraft by the end of 2019 is not that exciting, and if the new all aisle access is this - there will, quite rightly, be much disappointment

New Club World (Genuinely something new)
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Old Jul 5, 17, 5:54 am
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Originally Posted by Padmeister View Post

........................................

week in week out people fly CW for the first time and if you are only used to Economy or Premium Economy you would be pretty darn pleased with yourself sitting in a CW seat/environment

....................................
Must say, I do like the notion that the CW product should be geared not to constant evolution & progress, in line with superior premium cabins already offered by the competition - but merely to impressing those who have never previously travelled business class.

Let them eat cake, I say
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Old Jul 5, 17, 6:02 am
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Originally Posted by subject2load View Post
Must say, I do like the notion that the CW product should be geared not to constant evolution & progress, in line with superior premium cabins already offered by the competition - but merely to impressing those who have never previously travelled business class.

Let them eat cake, I say
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Old Jul 5, 17, 6:07 am
  #13  
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BA probably wants its "competitors" to also accept not ratcheting up by too much the "costly" "competition" for premium cabin customers.

Dragging your heels on upgrades is a way to try to signal to the "competition" that investing in product upgrades to become more profitable isn't as necessary as it used to be, so let's have a joint approach of sorts to not continue the upgrade way and instead boost our profit margins at the expense of consumers.

Also, BA's got so much market power by its domination of LHR that it can hold back on major product investments. BA is sub-par in so many ways, and LHR is a mess in so many ways, and yet BA has been ok with being sub-par in so many ways even as the LHR transit experience is as bad as it is.

Last edited by GUWonder; Jul 5, 17 at 6:19 am
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Old Jul 5, 17, 6:07 am
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Isn't this partly a case of the cost of upgrades meaning this investment goes in long-term 'cycles' - BA set the standard, others caught up and surpassed BA, but now BA is coming back with a new business product that has the potential to raise the bar again on established European / North American carriers? The only fly in the ointment is the ME carriers, who seem to have much shorter cycles for upgrading their hard premium product as they have not been constrained by some of the same commercial realities than affect other airlines (albeit the tide is turning and this now seems to be changing).

I also think that BA's historic brand, London's geographic advantages and its dominance of Heathrow airport contributes towards it being slower to react than some of its competitors - i.e. its strong relative position can lead to a fair bit of complacency as it knows that even with a tired product, it will still be able to sell seats and fill premium cabins. I think this is evidenced by the fact that BA has undergone a fairly substantial long-haul fleet renewal in the past few years (787s, A380s) but has wasted the opportunity that this provided to materially improve its on-board premium offering and keep it in the leading pack.
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Old Jul 5, 17, 6:09 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by mikeyfly View Post
Well the prospect of 2/3 aircraft by the end of 2019 is not that exciting, and if the new all aisle access is this - there will, quite rightly, be much disappointment

New Club World (Genuinely something new)
The current product cycle does not permit any revolutionary change for foreseeable future:
1, B777-200ER to B747: will not see any changes at all until their end of life cycle. That means the current CW will last until 2020 and beyond
2, A380 and B787: Minor changes may occur but that would be the same seats for A350. Thus it is safe to say that current CW seats on B787 will last until 2023-2025; Unsure about A380 though, they might get the A350 CW seats some time around 2019-2022.
3, Coming A350: Seats already finalised and I do not think BA would invest that heavily to abandon the already new-ish seats. So the A350 CW seats cycle will last until 2025 and beyond.

If you like seats on AA, CX or even DL and AF. Fly with them. Unless BA's market position is seriously threatened, I do not see BA make big changes ahead following its lifecycle of the current and new coming CW seats.

Any way BA's new motto of cost cutting means no capital investment that would impact on cost cutting. A better CW product beyond the current and force coming Mark III is a waste of money under this motto.
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