Club World: How do they get away with it?

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Old Sep 3, 18, 2:33 pm
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Club World: How do they get away with it?

I had the misfortune of taking two BA flights in Club World (business) this week: IAD-LHR ad LHR-TLV. It's the first time I've booked and flown BA since 2012. It was bad.

What I didn't like:
- As a non-status member, you can't book your seat before check-in. I can't think of any other airline that actually charges (north of $100) for seat assignments in business.
- I would have had status had my two Iberia flights the week before counted as eligible flights. But one of them was on AA code, so no. I had the TP to make Bronze, but not the flights. I know, these are the rules... I just don't like them.
- The hard product is ridiculous. 747 on the transatlantic flight and 777 on the second one; both 20 years old. The seats are top of the line for 1998, but we're in 2018. It wasn't just that they were extremely narrow; it's the fact that there's simply no storage space. Want to read a book? No place for it. Phone? No. Eyeglasses when you sleep? Sorry, no. And don't put your bag on the floor during takeoff and landing because the entire floor space is considered exit row. Yes, the upper deck on the 747 has some space, but with no access to advance seat assignment...
- All window seats face backward.
- Service was indifferent. On the transatlantic flight I (tried to) sleep. But the crew simply wasn't there. On the second flight, a day flight, they disappeared after the meal service and stayed in the galley for the entire duration of the flight.
- What would you serve on a flight that is supposed to take off at 8am and land at 3pm (local times)? BA serves breakfast. Two versions of scrambled eggs, one porridge (porridge? seriously?) and a continental spread. They ran out of the latter as they only loaded four of them (for 56 pax). I can't remember when I had such bad food in business class.
- And then they had some mechanical issue; landed 75 minutes late. I know, this happens.

What I liked:
- The number of landings equaled the number of take-offs. Which is what really matters.

I can't see why anyone would want to fly in these miserable seats. I understand that service can be inconsistent and that delays happen. It's the hard product that I find totally unacceptable. Iberia (including the new 350 to NY) was so much better; and so are TK, LH, LX and even RJ, the airlines I tried in the past two years in business. I learned.

Shuly
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Old Sep 3, 18, 2:50 pm
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You raise some good points - the food in J is sometimes bad, especially the breakfast meals!
And the storage space is one of the key areas addressed by the new, yet to be unveiled, CW seat, apparently...
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Old Sep 3, 18, 2:52 pm
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How they get away with it is very simple. Nigh on monopoly of some very lucrative transatlantic routes. They have no incentive to innovate whatsoever when they can fill an 86 seat J from LHR to JFK multiple times a day.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by shuly View Post
I had the misfortune of taking two BA flights in Club World (business) this week: IAD-LHR ad LHR-TLV. It's the first time I've booked and flown BA since 2012. It was bad.

What I didn't like:
- As a non-status member, you can't book your seat before check-in. I can't think of any other airline that actually charges (north of $100) for seat assignments in business.
- I would have had status had my two Iberia flights the week before counted as eligible flights. But one of them was on AA code, so no. I had the TP to make Bronze, but not the flights. I know, these are the rules... I just don't like them.
- The hard product is ridiculous. 747 on the transatlantic flight and 777 on the second one; both 20 years old. The seats are top of the line for 1998, but we're in 2018. It wasn't just that they were extremely narrow; it's the fact that there's simply no storage space. Want to read a book? No place for it. Phone? No. Eyeglasses when you sleep? Sorry, no. And don't put your bag on the floor during takeoff and landing because the entire floor space is considered exit row. Yes, the upper deck on the 747 has some space, but with no access to advance seat assignment...
- All window seats face backward.
- Service was indifferent. On the transatlantic flight I (tried to) sleep. But the crew simply wasn't there. On the second flight, a day flight, they disappeared after the meal service and stayed in the galley for the entire duration of the flight.
- What would you serve on a flight that is supposed to take off at 8am and land at 3pm (local times)? BA serves breakfast. Two versions of scrambled eggs, one porridge (porridge? seriously?) and a continental spread. They ran out of the latter as they only loaded four of them (for 56 pax). I can't remember when I had such bad food in business class.
- And then they had some mechanical issue; landed 75 minutes late. I know, this happens.

What I liked:
- The number of landings equaled the number of take-offs. Which is what really matters.

I can't see why anyone would want to fly in these miserable seats. I understand that service can be inconsistent and that delays happen. It's the hard product that I find totally unacceptable. Iberia (including the new 350 to NY) was so much better; and so are TK, LH, LX and even RJ, the airlines I tried in the past two years in business. I learned.

Shuly
I agree with a lot of this but on average BA’s service is very good (even with a miserable hard product and variable soft product). But what I don’t understand about your post is the objection to backwards facing window seats? It’s better for you - safe, elevates your head so all your blood doesn’t drain there, etc.

Also every airline in the world services breakfast on an 8am flight. And while I don’t eat it porridge is a very common English breakfast.

Last edited by AmericanLawyer; Sep 3, 18 at 3:02 pm
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Old Sep 3, 18, 2:58 pm
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All pretty fair comments but what's wrong with facing backwards? Raises your head slightly for sleeping, safer, while sitting in cruise you can't really tell the difference.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:01 pm
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I rather like the rear facing window seats
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:19 pm
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Try VS if you want a really nasty seat with even less storage. Then you’ll appreciate the World’s favourite Airline.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:32 pm
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Do you go to bed with your "eyeglasses" (how quaint). Do you cuddle your book in bed or put your phone under your pillow. Does your bed at home face forward or backwards - can you really tell.....

F me...the things people complain about.

How about you get ready for bed like your Mommy told you. Brush your teeth, put your stuff away and then go to sleep. All of a sudden the cares of the world will disappear and you will stop trying to get upset about trivial things.

P.S. Tonight I think I will sleep diagonally in reverse but as I sleep with the lights off it will all be in my imagination
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:45 pm
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We all have our individual perspectives as to what the priorities are when travelling business class.

Very few (including the CEO) would dispute your key points re the outdated CW seat and lack of storage, though I suppose the matter of food is rather more subjective ; and crews can - as in so many consumer-facing businesses - be very variable in quality and service levels. The matter of seat fees has been discussed here many times.

Don’t know what your own particular expectations were at time of booking - but either way, it sounds like these flights have (as you put it yourself when signing off) been something of an education.

At least going forward you can make your decision as to whether or not to spend your cash with BA in future from a more informed perspective.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:51 pm
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Originally Posted by shuly View Post
- The number of landings equaled the number of take-offs. Which is what really matters.
I like this quote so much I'm almost considering stealing it as a signature line
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by jackcarr View Post
How they get away with it is very simple. Nigh on monopoly of some very lucrative transatlantic routes. They have no incentive to innovate whatsoever when they can fill an 86 seat J from LHR to JFK multiple times a day.
I think that it is utterly disgraceful that there is not a single other airline that flies from LHR to JFK.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:55 pm
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Originally Posted by kennycrudup View Post
I like this quote so much I'm almost considering stealing it as a signature line
Indeed.

Nice variation on the much-celebrated “I counted them all out .... and I counted them all back”
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Old Sep 3, 18, 3:57 pm
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I suppose AA enhance (the right kind) their onboard across the Atlantic, and BA still profit share. Why do they need to do the same?!
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Old Sep 3, 18, 4:01 pm
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Originally Posted by shuly View Post
I can't see why anyone would want to fly in these miserable seats. I understand that service can be inconsistent and that delays happen. It's the hard product that I find totally unacceptable. Iberia (including the new 350 to NY) was so much better; and so are TK, LH, LX and even RJ, the airlines I tried in the past two years in business. I learned.
I admit I've started flying Skyteam when the price is right and can't really argue with many of your criticisms. My wife really dislikes CW but I like it for many reasons:

1) BAEC / Oneworld credit
2) Flight timing (From PHX an evening nonstop to LHR)
3) Tons of legroom without the "coffin" effect like on reverse herringbone seats
4) Flying with my wife, I like that I can talk facing her during a meal or whatnot (only other time I had that was AA first class with the middle pair that swivel to face each other).
5) The alternative oneworld option for me is to fly AA through a crappy east coast hub
6) My wife does like the privacy at the window seats

To me the part of the experience that definitely makes me echo your title ("how do they get away with it?") is definitely the fact that BA doesn't including a free seat assignment in business class, and the CE experience on intra-Europe hops. KLM gives extra legroom in their intra-Europe 'business'.
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Old Sep 3, 18, 4:19 pm
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I book based on a combination of price and schedule. For a corporate travel the reality is that I can rarely find any reason to justify another carrier even though I would like to do it more even just for variety. I haven't bothered studying in great detail but it seems that for BA/AA the terms are more generous so you get refundability and no minimum stay requirements on fares that book into I class etc. That is how I think they get away with it though I'm sure other airlines do the same with different corporates.

It wasn't always thus and I recall all too well the struggle to get off AA's 2-3-2 sloping seats onto BA (and away from the dismal Admirals Club...).
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