Can BA learn anything from QR?

Old Feb 3, 2019, 12:38 am
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Can BA learn anything from QR?

Ok, so I know this is the BA thread, but BA is my home airline so I feel it’s valid to be posting comparisons here. If not please feel free to move.

I have just had the pleasure of a couple of QR flights in J, the first ones for some years with them, which were excellent in every way, and I have since been thinking about the differences between these and my recent BA flights and what lessons could be learned.

First off, I acknowledge the hard product is different clearly, so I’m largely discounting that as I know both airlines are where they are with their aircraft ages. It was the little, in some cases low cost, in others no cost, things that really stood out however.

Firstly every J passenger was escorted to their seats and the cabin crew looking after those rows introduced themselves personally, restaurant style. This also made it easier for them to recognise their passengers and acknowledge them by name I guess, even away from their seats. They handed out drinks, sleep suits, hot/cold towels, menus and newspapers and ensured We were all comfortable with every aspect of the seating and entertainment controls. Then there was the purser personal at seat introduction, made to all passengers, not just those with status, so nobody was uncomfortable.

The next thing that struck me was how clean the aircraft was, and again I don’t think this was just an age thing. Perhaps the small army of cleaners waiting to board when we landed were to thank for this. Looking back as I left the aircraft I couldn’t help noticing how it still looked clean and relatively tidy, so perhaps starting with this state encourages better customer behaviour and tidiness I’m not sure.

I really liked the “dine when you choose and in any order” concept from the a la carte menu with no fixed mealtimes or service. Food presentation was superb, complete with battery tea light candles, again adding to the restaurant feeling.

I noticed the bathrooms were stocked with toothbrushes, shaving and other amenity kits as you would find in a hotel bathroom, and also that most remained untouched by the end of the flight so not really a big replacement cost there but handy if you needed them.

Overall it felt like a first class service provided in business class seats.

For the most part I love flying BA, always have, for the crew as much as anything who I usually find excellent, and it always feels like stepping onto a little piece of the UK anywhere in the world, but this experience really opened my eyes. There was a similar tone from others I overheard as I disembarked.

Lastly, whilst not a direct flight, it was half the price of BA, so one very happy passenger. I wish BA management would take note, and see how things can be done.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 1:06 am
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What was the 'no cost' part?

PS: No problem (in my view) comparing BA with QR but there really are a lot of existing threads doing exactly that, maybe it would have been better to add to one of those than to start a brand new one?
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 2:19 am
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I'm curious about escorting every J passenger to their seat.- how is that possible without a lot of crew or holding up boarding?

And while I'd love to see BA raise their game, I think there are cost implications to just about all your ideas, so I can't agree about the no/low cost part
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 2:42 am
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From my experience this is not something they offer all the time. I have done the grand total of 9 sectors with QR and have only been shown to my seat twice, once when they had upgraded me to first and the second when I was on a Q-suites aircraft.

The intros etc are all standard and having the crew follow an intro script for all passengers is free and could be something that BA instigate. But then again there is no consistency on how the amenity kits are handed out, sometimes left on your seat other times get asked if you want one.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 2:44 am
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Must say, my only J experience on QR I found the “soft product” quite cloying and unhelpful- escort to seat (pointless), bombarding me with 1000 questions about pre departure drinks while I was trying to stash my carry on (of course no help with that, not that I needed it), then I ordered a non alcoholic drink with y meal and had to be asked 3 times if I was aware it was non alcoholic and was that ok? Insufferable

perhaps BA (and QF, and others), and QR could BOTH learn that there is a happy medium in terms of service. A minority on QF/BA do this so perfectly it’s a shame that others don’t
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 2:58 am
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Yet another BA/QR thread. Yippee.

OP sounds like a QR trip report.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 3:00 am
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A lot of these points are valid but the biggest differences between QR and us is the crewing level, if we had as many crew as them we could be as attentive.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 3:08 am
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I like parts of BA and I like part of QR. Different way of operating. Enjoy being asked about drinks whet it is time for them (at BA), not deciding what pre-departure drink and wine I want before I have sat down in my seat and hardly looked at the menu. I like that QR are pretty good at have a "big" meal in the right end of the flight, almost like BA sleeper service. Looks to me hay they are better in adjust the meal type and size to the duration and time of day. But getting a windows seat in CW is far better and quiter than trying to sleep in the middle of the A380 on QR where crews are running around the entire night because people are dining on demand. And until BA ditched the trolleys, I would say that I loved BA even more. Trolley-service is quicker with less running back and forth, esp. important on night-flight.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 3:54 am
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Can BA learn anything from QR?

Yes, reincorporate in a country with a native population of just over 300,000, the third-highest hydrocarbon reserves in the world, a 2018 estimated GDP (PPP) of $357 billion (thanks Wikipedia) and thus a GDP (PPP) / person well north of $125,000***, effectively number one in the world.

Then get your government to throw oodles of cash at your national airline and that will allow the airline to satisfy the needs, demands and dreams of every single FT member. Maybe.


*** That's based on the total population of 2.5 million including expats - although I'm pretty sure the reems of imported workers building football stadia are probably not benefitting much from that $125k!

Rant over.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 4:39 am
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I'm sure there are a few things BA could learn from QR, but I wouldn't say a QR flight is always "perfect". I did 4 sectors with them towards the end of last year covering their A380, 787, and both versions of the A350 (with and without QSuites). I'd say the overall experience was mixed, my thoughts as follows:
  • At no point was there personal escorting to the seats despite the higher crewax ratio
  • The crew themselves largely came across as robotic, dealing only with prepared questions and struggling with anything else
  • The pace of service was glacial, to the point where on a DOH - DEL sector they weren't able to complete the meal service
  • The quality of the food was mixed. On the LHR sectors it was absolutely fine, on the DEL sectors I'd say it was almost on a par with some AA domestic first food
So, yes, QR is an airline with good service, I wouldn't necessarily call it "great". Can BA learn anything from them? I'd say there's a few things they could learn about the in-flight meals (obviously not the DEL sectors!) but hopefully that will be dealt with to some extent with the switch of suppliers.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 5:03 am
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I look forward with eager anticipation to our first QR experience ... in J in November LGW-DOH-CPT. I read so many positives here on FT [albeit with some shading] that the BA/QR comparison is going to be interesting. I just hope QR is still in OW by then, as we need the TPs!!
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 5:06 am
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It could be that 'familiarity breeds contempt' plays a part here with the positive differences on QR being so noticeable to a frequent BA traveller. Frequent travellers on QR above have less rose-tinted-glasses regarding their experience. That said, some nice touches on QR - I like the little battery candles, but I'm not sure I'd want to cough up a higher fare for touches like this.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 5:27 am
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Originally Posted by T8191
I look forward with eager anticipation to our first QR experience ... in J in November LGW-DOH-CPT. I read so many positives here on FT [albeit with some shading] that the BA/QR comparison is going to be interesting. I just hope QR is still in OW by then, as we need the TPs!!
I’ve done quite a few sectors in J on QR to CPT - will take the indirect route rather than BAs direct flight.

Normally go via LHR but last month did the routing via LGW as the flight was 1k cheaper..

Unfortunately was disappointed with QR on the LGW sector .. The J desk at check in was extremely slow and staff kept leaving their desk so took a while even though there was only 3 people in front of me in J.

The lounge is poor in LGW especially compared to LHR t4.

Perosnally not a fan of the 787 used on the Lgw sector -find the plane a little small and cramped even though there are identical seats on other planes.

The CPT sectors were excellent - really like the A350 even without suites .. good crew and very pleasant flights.

Also bathrooms seems to be kept very clean with crew being very proactive in cleaning after they are used.

Be prepared to be bussed at DOH as had this both inbound and outbound - fortunately they put on a bus just for J -passengers which makes things a little faster.

Also don’t be afraid to ask them to lower the temperature as they do like to keep the planes warm.

Overall i I do really like QR - not perfect but neither is any airline ..

Report back on your experience ..

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Old Feb 3, 2019, 5:28 am
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I’d imagine QR is quite happy, maintaining a strong enough product in its own brand to justify the premium label, while also being the biggest shareholder in a stable of highly profitable mid/lower range brands operated by IAG (albeit one of those shouts constantly that it is premium...). Let BA take the brickbats for the costcutting, and pocket the profits, not to mention a tidy share price premium on what was paid for their stake.
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Old Feb 3, 2019, 5:43 am
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Originally Posted by zeel
[LEFT]I’ve done quite a few sectors in J on QR to CPT - will take the indirect route rather than BAs direct flight.

Report back on your experience .
Thanks - some useful pointers there. ^

Three of the 4 sectors are 787-8, so novelty value for us! CPT-DOH is A350, also a first on that airframe. A Trip Report is assured!
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