BA In F at San Diego

Old Feb 17, 18, 8:25 pm
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BA In F at San Diego

Just concluding a lovely week’s holiday in San Diego/Palm Springs. Not wholly convinced by the BA F experience at the airport. In summary:

1. F bags came off last on arrival. Fair enough in principle (BA can’t guarantee how outstations work) but it took more than an hour. If you are pleased to have a long haul 747 route then perhaps a few more handlers might be in order? Not down to BA but hey.

2. Check in operatives at BA F desk a bit clueless on the return. Asked if my husband was on the same itinerary as me having handed over boarding passes illustrating that to be the case. “And you’re both Silvers?” as a query before the baggage tags were attached which was a bit weird: isn’t the F bit enough info?

3. Shared lounge unsatisfactory. Lounge dragon entirely charming but failed to stamp one of our BPs with the result that bar staff refused to provide free BA drinks. Rectified easily but annoying. Then a long queue for any kind of service by BA or otherwise.

I suspect this illustrates that SAN almost exclusively caters for internal US flights which in my experience are pretty poor. So maybe this is a first world whine about the airport rather than BA.

Here’s hoping that the experience in the air is better. Magnificent mixed Fleet crew on the way out were very accommodating including a 40th birthday card for me and copious fizz during a delay on the tarmac.
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Old Feb 17, 18, 10:23 pm
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Very sorry to hear about your ground experience but alas many small outstations are like that these days. Maybe route San-lax-Lhr next time to enjoy superior QF F lounge and A380F seats.
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Old Feb 17, 18, 11:06 pm
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I don't see how any of this is the fault of BA. It's a 3rd party lounge, and probably 3rd party baggage handlers and check-in agent. International traffic is a tiny fraction of what's handled at SAN, and the majority of that is short-haul flights to Canada and Mexico. For sure, you make some good points about things that could have been done better, particularly the baggage delivery time. And perhaps BA should be playing a more active role in pushing those improvements at the airports it serves.

But I also have the feeling your expectations might be a little too high for an airport like this. I think people who live in places like London, LA, Sydney, etc. often get a bit spoiled by the ground experiences there. Luxurious lounges, lots of services and recognition for people with status or flying in the premium cabin, etc. That kind of stuff just can't be supported in many markets. Smaller airports like SAN are never really going to be able to fully live up to the F experience; it is what it is. And it's less about the flights mainly being "internal US flights" than it is about what the market can support; transcontinental flights within the US sometimes have a lot of premium services and amenities, whereas flights to Mexico and Canada tend to have few.

Hopefully some of the downsides of flying out of an airport that can't provide all the premium services are mitigated by other upsides such as shorter waits in the security line and quicker access to the city center. That way you can minimize your time at the airport in the first place and extend your vacation.

Last edited by Kumulani; Feb 17, 18 at 11:24 pm
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Old Feb 17, 18, 11:19 pm
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Originally Posted by nufnuf77 View Post
Very sorry to hear about your ground experience but alas many small outstations are like that these days. Maybe route San-lax-Lhr next time to enjoy superior QF F lounge and A380F seats.
See, I personally think this is a trap people fall into when they focus too much on frivolous stuff like lounges. It's one thing if you're doing it to get a much better fare, but otherwise... Sure, the A380 experience may be a bit nicer. But is it so much nicer that it's worth the inconvenience? Maximum waits for immigration at LAX are way longer at SAN*, and even if you get through quickly, there's still the hassle of waiting for your bags*, then picking them up and re-dropping them. And then an extra security check. Not to mention you will eventually still deal with the baggage, check-in, and lounge facilities at SAN! Sure, you'll get some time in the QF lounge at LAX on your layovers but who cares about that when you could have just been spending more time in San Diego?

* Yes, I know some people have Global Entry (myself included), and never check bags (myself included). But those do not apply to most people so I'm writing from the majority perspective.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 12:33 am
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You were unlucky on your outward leg. On our recent trip to SAN we had the quickest transit through an airport we’d ever experienced. Traveling in F so we were off first and at the head of the immigration lines (we didn’t have GE at that point). Excellent immigration officer with great sense of humour who passed us through as quickly as his software would allow.

Bags were already going round by the time we got into baggage hall; priority tagged luggage all together so evidently offloaded first?

Several buses waiting to go to car rental facility and utilised the Avis Preferred ‘pick up and go’ facility (as car was booked through BA).

From touch down to walking into hotel bedroom (3 miles from airport) took 56 minutes!

I cannot comment on the return leg as we flew out of SFO.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 3:43 am
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I guess SAN didn't offer much of a First service or infrastructure per se, but the fact is it's a small, lovely and normally efficient airport and it is a great place for BA travel. Would you really prefer LAX TBIT??!! At places like that, where there is never going to be a CCR, your First experience really begins on board. I hope you had a good flight.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 4:17 am
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Originally Posted by Stoemp View Post
1. F bags came off last on arrival. Fair enough in principle (BA can’t guarantee how outstations work) but it took more than an hour. If you are pleased to have a long haul 747 route then perhaps a few more handlers might be in order? Not down to BA but hey.
The crew bags always come off first in my experience, so BA must be able to dictate to an extent. I seem to recall one of the BA staff on here saying that F bags are supposed to be loaded with the crew bags in the same container. I wonder of that's not happening?
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Old Feb 18, 18, 4:23 am
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Originally Posted by shonerm View Post
You were unlucky on your outward leg. On our recent trip to SAN we had the quickest transit through an airport we’d ever experienced. Traveling in F so we were off first and at the head of the immigration lines (we didn’t have GE at that point). Excellent immigration officer with great sense of humour who passed us through as quickly as his software would allow.

Bags were already going round by the time we got into baggage hall; priority tagged luggage all together so evidently offloaded first?

Several buses waiting to go to car rental facility and utilised the Avis Preferred ‘pick up and go’ facility (as car was booked through BA).

From touch down to walking into hotel bedroom (3 miles from airport) took 56 minutes!

I cannot comment on the return leg as we flew out of SFO.
Ditto, Arrived on Friday in F. Immigration was a breeze, premium tagged backs where being taken off the belt already and like you the car hire bus left as soon as we got there with just us on it with no queue at the car hire.

The main hold up seemed to be the plane over shooting the gate area and having to turn around by going back onto the runway!
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Old Feb 18, 18, 6:23 am
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Happy to accept that I’m spoilt after 20+ F flights (the majority on Avios, I hasten to add).

That said, this Mixed Fleet crew on the return flight has been the laziest I’ve yet encountered. One glass of fizz belatedly offered before the doors closed (30m after boarding). No follow up of any kind until almost an hour in the air - at which point Dine on Demand was reduced to “best to give me your order now”. Er, how about a drink? CSM greeted Golds only before disappearing. Buddy dining request met with “that’s okay”. Woke up after 6/7 hours slumber to see that my empty glasses had not been cleared. Breakfast fruit plate served on the arm rest (table laying not offered).

My experience of San Diego left me feeling chilled and ready for next week’s work. It clearly didn’t have the same effect on this crew, but erhaps two nights isn’t enough!
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Old Feb 18, 18, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by Stoemp View Post
Happy to accept that I’m spoilt after 20+ F flights (the majority on Avios, I hasten to add).

That said, this Mixed Fleet crew on the return flight has been the laziest I’ve yet encountered. One glass of fizz belatedly offered before the doors closed (30m after boarding). No follow up of any kind until almost an hour in the air - at which point Dine on Demand was reduced to “best to give me your order now”. Er, how about a drink? CSM greeted Golds only before disappearing. Buddy dining request met with “that’s okay”. Woke up after 6/7 hours slumber to see that my empty glasses had not been cleared. Breakfast fruit plate served on the arm rest (table laying not offered).

My experience of San Diego left me feeling chilled and ready for next week’s work. It clearly didn’t have the same effect on this crew, but erhaps two nights isn’t enough!
So very poor. I also had a poor F experience with MF. 20 minutes waiting for a glass of champagne after boarding. No bedding at all (although that may not be their fault). Shoddy and sloppy service throughout.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 6:45 am
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Originally Posted by Kumulani View Post
I don't see how any of this is the fault of BA...
Agree with all your reasoning except this one point. The airport is a service supplier to BA, we are a customer of BA. When BA choose to enter into a contract with a smaller airport (which I imagine is lucrative for both parties) it is up to them to negotiate, set and enforce the level of service the airport provides. If priority baggage return for premium passengers is a benefit of paying enhanced ticket prices then this is something BA should be requesting from the airport and subsequently measuring to ensure adherence to this X% of the time. If you were paying the airport directly you would demand a partial refund if the service level agreed wasn’t met. You could argue that the different level of service is to be expected at different airports and maybe even that it is then reflected in the price, but your average traveller will have no idea of this and if you are paying >£2k for a ticket I’m not sure I’d accept this argument anyway.

It is not BA’s “fault” when an aircraft goes tech in that they are not “at fault” as they follow the authorities and manufacturers maintenance to the letter, however they are still responsible for providing the service for which you entered into a contract with them (your ticket). The same with broken IFE, and pretty much every individual thing which could effect your experience, especially true in premium cabins.

One of the few benefits of the new “everything is extra” models is that it allows the airlines less wiggle room on service recovery - pair £10 for a premium in flight meal and it was terrible? Fine, have your £10 back. Paid £8 for a token to get enhanced IFE but the system isn’t working? Fine, have your £8 back. OK we’re at completely the other end of the spectrum to First here but I could one day imagine paying for priority delivery of bags at the carousel and then there’d be no more “well what did you expect?”
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Old Feb 18, 18, 7:18 am
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Originally Posted by Stoemp View Post
Happy to accept that I’m spoilt after 20+ F flights (the majority on Avios, I hasten to add).

That said, this Mixed Fleet crew on the return flight has been the laziest I’ve yet encountered. One glass of fizz belatedly offered before the doors closed (30m after boarding). No follow up of any kind until almost an hour in the air - at which point Dine on Demand was reduced to “best to give me your order now”. Er, how about a drink? CSM greeted Golds only before disappearing. Buddy dining request met with “that’s okay”. Woke up after 6/7 hours slumber to see that my empty glasses had not been cleared. Breakfast fruit plate served on the arm rest (table laying not offered).

My experience of San Diego left me feeling chilled and ready for next week’s work. It clearly didn’t have the same effect on this crew, but erhaps two nights isn’t enough!
This seems to be a recurring theme these days.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 8:49 am
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Choosing your "gateway" airport is a question of what is important to you. As others note, fly into LAX and drive the 90 minutes to SAN or fly on one of those ghastly micro-hauls for 15 minutes.

The issue here is that as an international F passenger, you represent the miniscule of miniscule percentage of passengers at SAN. The vast majority treasure the ability to arrive at a smallish airport at T-45, be at the departure gate at T-30, board and depart. Lounges are useful for unfortunate longer connections, but as a matter of customer demand, most would prefer to spend more time enjoying SAN, at sleep, work or at a real restuarant, than whatever it is that can be offered at an airport.

The LHR experience will only be replicated in places where there is sufficient demand and, over time, that will drop off.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 8:56 am
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SAN is one of my favorite airports on the planet. It's a downtown airport, close to everything. Security lines are always short. Best of all? It's not LAX.

Get out of the lounge and enjoy some of the wonderful atmosphere at the atrium restaurants before your flight.
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Old Feb 18, 18, 9:18 am
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I’m happy to accept that - viewed as London City but with sunshine - SAN was a good Airport. Now home to grey skies.(sigh).Won’t get me anywhere but will be complaining about the crew.
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