Two very different First flights.

Old Oct 26, 17, 7:01 am
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Two very different First flights.

Hello there,

I thought I'd share some observations from a couple of First flights my husband and I recently completed.

We're very lucky to travel premium cabins regularly. As an avid reader here, I have noticed the bashing BA have (rightly or wrongly) received in recent times. I get it and we've experienced lots of things people have been talking about. You can see service and standards depleting which is a shame. To be honest, we have taken AA, QR or QF flights as an alternative to BA because we know we'll receive a better standard of service and seat when flying East or to Oz.

However, we fly fairly regularly to the US so our options are limited when we're wanting to burn Avios, use a GUF or a BA voucher. This brings me to our recent trip two weeks ago.

LHR - MIA

Whilst the Cathay first class lounge is lovely and a nice way to start the trip, it isn't the CCR (which we prefer). What a shame this route moved terminals. The flight itself was poor, don't get me wrong, I really like the A380 but my crew member in First really let the product down. First of all, we were told to 'go left' when we entered the plane (no problem, I don't need to be shown to my seat), no offer of a drink when I sat down, I had to ask and then ask for an amenity kit and PJs (I was tired after an early start so I wanted to sleep for a few hours). I know it's a day flight but these things should be offered, as standard, regardless. When I did ask, I was given a nonplussed reaction... almost a shrug of the shoulders that I dare ask.

The drink came.

We take off, I watch a movie, the crew member then arrives with my meal and I'm pretty much forced to eat it immediately. Oh, and ask for another drink.

The food is ok, bland but fine.

Plates, cutlery, and paraphernalia cleared. My glass was also taken away. No offer of a refill. After 20 or 30 minutes, I press my call button, nothing. I then head to the galley and ask for another drink, I get an eye-roll (I've had two drinks btw, hardly smashed out of my face that warrants an eye roll). The drink arrives and it goes down well. I feel like a naughty child for daring to ask so I didn't bother with another.

After watching a film, I doze and decide to ask for my bed to be made. I wait, and wait, and wait... this then happens. After two hours of sleeping (it's very easy on the A380) - I change back into my day clothes and head back to my seat. The bed is still made up, not the end of the world, I clear it myself. It then sits rolled up above the wardrobe until just before landing. It was ignored for about two hours. I'm feeling risky, so I ask for a glass of fizz.

Before I'm lambasted, I'm not hard to please and I'm more than capable of waiting and/or doing things myself. This isn't the issue. The issue is paying (revenue or avios) for First class and receiving an extremely poor service. We've always been lucky to have received wonderful service but this flight was extremely poor and a real eye-opener.

MIA - LHR

A completely different experience. Granted the lounge options aren't great (until the AA flagship opens next month) and we generally use the Centurion lounge which is often full to the rafters (though a nice space), we also tend to avoid the rubbish BA lounge.

Yes, the 747 is cramped and a little tatty but the flight was excellent. The cabin crew were brilliant, they couldn't do more whilst keeping the service relaxed and flowing nicely. Food served when I wanted, drinks poured within seconds of finishing... even asking if I wanted more food once finished. The bed was made up quickly and taken away within minutes of me changing for landing. All in all, what you'd expect for such a flight.

The reason I'm writing this; well, an interesting contrast and a word of caution to anyone who may think First class means First class. We have another F return to NYC in December so it'll be interesting to see the experience(s) there but as a staunch BA fan... my attitude on loyalty is certainly changing.
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Last edited by London32; Oct 26, 17 at 7:32 am
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:25 am
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Such a poor experience on your LHR MIA, really sorry to read that. I am actually surprised this level of service can happen in F. Glad you had a better experience coming home, although this inconsistency really needs addressing.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:31 am
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Originally Posted by London32 View Post
Before I'm lambasted, I'm not hard to please and I'm more than capable of waiting and/or doing things myself. This isn't the issue. The issue is paying (revenue or avios) for First class and receiving an extremely poor service. We've always been lucky to have received wonderful service but this flight was extremely poor and a real eye-opener.
I'm guessing you didn't manage to speak to the CSD/CSM about this service? Because First has a high level of personal service, then if the designated crew member is not up to scratch then it has a disproportionate impact, unfortunately. The single easiest way to resolve this is fairly on make sure that you express your concerns, ideally to the crew member, if not the CSD/CSM, to give an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and fix the problem. A CSD may well decide to reallocate the crew member's duties to another part of the aircraft, for example. At some point it becomes too late to fix, and though ideally one should not need to do this, believe or not every CSD and CSM I have ever met is extremely keen that passengers leave their aircraft delighted with the flight.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:37 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
I'm guessing you didn't manage to speak to the CSD/CSM about this service? Because First has a high level of personal service, then if the designated crew member is not up to scratch then it has a disproportionate impact, unfortunately. The single easiest way to resolve this is fairly on make sure that you express your concerns, ideally to the crew member, if not the CSD/CSM, to give an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and fix the problem. A CSD may well decide to reallocate the crew member's duties to another part of the aircraft, for example. At some point it becomes too late to fix, and though ideally one should not need to do this, believe or not every CSD and CSM I have ever met is extremely keen that passengers leave their aircraft delighted with the flight.
Hi CWS, I didn't actually. You're correct, I ought to have addressed it immediately. We all have bad days, at the beginning, I just accepted she may have been having an off day... this then continued and continued and it had gone past the point of wanting to address it higher (and then becoming awkward). My mistake.

You do make an interesting point, the CSD didn't do their usual welcome on the flight out (I'd forgotten that until now). On the way home, she did and couldn't have been lovelier.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:40 am
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I have said very similar things over the years, please give the the SCCM a chance to rectify any problems in flight, this is one of the reasons we are there after all.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:43 am
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The LHR-MIA experience sounds pretty poor. To be honest, I've experienced something similar MIA-LHR on the A380 in F. Was totally underwhelmed after being mega excited for the trip. Felt short staffed, or the crew had been moved up to F or something. No drink refills offered, forgetting still or sparkling water - little things, for sure.

Judging by what you value (drink refills, removing the bed linen, etc) it's the personal attentiveness that can really make a flight poor - or exceptional. This, as we all know, is where BA is hugely inconsistent.

I don't know how I'd feel about walking up to the CSD and saying 'hey, can I get some more drink refills and my bed made up a bit quicker? And how about less eye rolls from your crew?'. I typically do what the OP did and just ask the crew directly for things, use the call button, or walk to the galley. None of those should ever be met with an eye roll.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:44 am
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Originally Posted by London32 View Post
You do make an interesting point, the CSD didn't do their usual welcome on the flight out (I'd forgotten that until now). On the way home, she did and couldn't have been lovelier.
Well, all I can say is that though this isn't a 100% test, if you get a good CSD/CSM greeting, the chances are that this crew member also did a proper job in the pre-flight briefing (I've never been able to attend one of these, by the way), and in my opinion it seems to go a long way to motivate the crew. In other words a good CSD/CSM is worth their weight in gold since (e.g) they are able to leverage sub-par crew members to get the best out of them. Occasionally I don't get to chat to the CSD before departure, and occasionally it's still a good flight, but more likely to be indifferent - that said, I can't really remember a bad BA flight, which perhaps is just as well! So you may be on to something there.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:45 am
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Anecdotally JFK gets the better/more experienced crews as it is considered a 'Blue Riband' route. Not sure whether this is true or not or whether it attracts a more polished type of crew but we've never had anything but good service on this run.

Lots of bankers, diplomats, celebrities on this route so it would make sense for BA to make an extra effort here - catering by Do & Co also somewhat better than the norm. CCR at JFK isn't bad either.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:48 am
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I agree that it is probably best to raise concerns with the CSM although if the crew member isn't moved I might then feel a little awkward afterwards. A tricky one I think.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:48 am
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There are no special/better crews on the JFK route.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by Flexible preferences View Post
I agree that it is probably best to raise concerns with the CSM although if the crew member isn't moved I might then feel a little awkward afterwards. A tricky one I think.
Agreed!
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by seanp7 View Post
I don't know how I'd feel about walking up to the CSD and saying 'hey, can I get some more drink refills and my bed made up a bit quicker?'.
I'm not convinced that is a good approach, I'd suggest something quite quiet and discreet, where no-one else apart from the SCCM can hear, along the lines of "I'm really sorry to trouble you, and it's probably just me being cranky, but I'm really struggling to enjoy this flight, due to x, y and z. Can you have a look into it please when you have a moment?" Ideally the reply would be "I'm sorry to hear that, leave it to me", and that will do the trick. But doubtless other approaches are valid!
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by Betteronacamel View Post
Anecdotally JFK gets the better/more experienced crews as it is considered a 'Blue Riband' route. Not sure whether this is true or not or whether it attracts a more polished type of crew but we've never had anything but good service on this run.

Lots of bankers, diplomats, celebrities on this route so it would make sense for BA to make an extra effort here - catering by Do & Co also somewhat better than the norm. CCR at JFK isn't bad either.
We've flown F to NYC and back many times, I'm yet to find fault and certainly worlds apart from our recent MIA flight.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 7:58 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
I have said very similar things over the years, please give the the SCCM a chance to rectify any problems in flight, this is one of the reasons we are there after all.
I do honestly think that the vast majority of people wouldn't feel comfortable doing this. It shouldn't be necessary anyway but I suspect most people just shrug their shoulders and make sure not to travel BA F again and/or post their experiences on-line. I have been around a while and I wouldn't want to be making a scene at 40,000 feet.

I would mirror CWS comments that if the CSD/CSM can't be arsed to do even a brief greeting to F passengers that is usually a red flag - obviously there may be reasons why this isn't possible, but in my experience there is a correlation between no greeting and indifferent service.
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Old Oct 26, 17, 8:09 am
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I agree that it shouldn’t be necessary but sometimes it is and given a chance we can make a difference.
I would be wary of linking no SCCMs personal welcomes to the performance of the other crew onboard, there are times when I haven’t managed to do these but I am still very aware of my crew performance and would jump on anyone who wasn’t performing.
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