Weak BA Experience

Old Feb 15, 20, 6:21 pm
  #1  
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Weak BA Experience

I'm sure this is nothing new for you guys, though I was quite surprised to be honest. It makes me wonder with so many options ex-LON why people actively CHOOSE BA.

I was traveling on 2 tickets, OTP-LHR (cheapo economy) and LHR-YVR (paid F)...never flown BA F, only my 2nd time flying true Fm so I was pretty excited. I'm not a BA flyer, so some of the stuff you guys are totally used to blew me away. I absolutely understand having paid seat assignments for economy, but every airline I've ever flown, perhaps outside of true LCCs allow free seat selection upon OLCI. Oooohh not BA lol. Checking in at T-24, I figured I'd be able to select a seat free, nope, ok fine, but I was also assigned a middle seat despite the entire seatmap being wide open. I began to wonder, if I couldn't select a seat, why would I be forced into a middle even though the seat map is wide open? The only thing I could surmise was that my low fare class defaults to a middle. Do the higher Y fares default to aisle/window? Do higher Y get free seat selection?

Alright, I figured I'd gamble and take the middle, used EF to try and predict if the plane would have some aisle seats open. Got to check-in, asked about checking my bag through both tickets, she couldn't do it, no problem, I've been able to do that in the past on star carriers, but my bag was small so it wasn't a big deal. Asked for an aisle seat, gave it to me free, so I was quite happy. Got on board to find that not even soft drinks were included? I'll admit my ticket was cheap, but not LCC cheap, so what incentive does anyone have to fly BA? OTP-LHR is regional, but it was a 3+ hour flight with the headwinds. We have some seriously long domestic flights in Canada and the US, but there's no full service carriers that don't at least offer free drinks. I thought this was particularly egregious. I have an upcoming LGW-TIA flight on BA and at least I know what to expect, but the gambit of airlines/airports is gonna force me to buy a $5 CAD drink basically, because I can't get liquids past security. I didn't love that the streaming content came at a cost either, that's not custom on my side of the globe.

Ok fine, I could overlook this, it was 1 way, I slept for a good chunk of the flight had the open middle seat, so it wasn't the end of the world. I actually found the regional seats relatively comfortable as well. I was looking forward to a layover at LHR and a first class flight.

No fancy ramp transfer, I chalked that up to having 2 separate tickets. I'm not sure how people get those transfers, but maybe had I been in CW on the OTP-LHR flight I would've? Had to transfer from T5 to T3, it just kinda sucks, but that's big airport life, no biggie. But then we had to clear security again? I can't really explain that. I never left the secure area from when I departed OTP.

Lounges were quite disappointing I must say, CX business side of the lounge was best for me due to the seating options, BA F side had a pretty good burger. QF lounge seemed rather superfluous and AA F lounge was a total joke, it's a wonder why the 20 people who were in there were there. The gate my flight was departing could not have been further from the lounge, that's no ones fault but as I kept getting further down the hallway I kept wondering "where the hell is this gate"?

The real letdown was the flight though. I will say I liked the seat, it's nice to not have your feet in those coffins many other seats suffer from. While I've read reviews and people say it's a great J product, I didn't really fully get that until I tried it. The food was average at best, I was immediately told upon ordering there was no salmon left, fine by me cuz I hate fish, but I would've been choked if I wanted it. Drink order was wrong twice in a row. I was in 2K, "my overhead bin" was occupied selfishly by duty free items by the upper crust in 1A/K. I get that they don't have access to bins, but the closet is perfect for duty free stuff, don't take up an entire bin with your chocolates and 6 liquor bottles. The entertainment is a travesty. My iPad costs 1/4 what my ticket cost and has a resolution and response time that's infinitely better than that joke of a screen. I was also surprised to see no wifi available. My fancy little lamp reading light also wouldn't turn off, despite all my efforts and the crew and a full reset of the system.

Maybe I just expected too much, but BA is a prestige carrier, or at least it is in my head. I will say the staff (other than the "waiter" in the dining lounge) were all quite nice both in economy and first, maybe that's an outlier, but they certainly beat most North American carriers there.

But for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone would regularly CHOOSE BA, and if they were to choose BA just based on schedules and availability etc, why they'd ever pay up? I've flown BA long haul in WT and it was fine. I'm flying WT+ on the way back and I'm hopeful that I feel like my money is better spent on that than the waste of money for F.

At this point flying Air Canada business to LHR regardless of aircraft type it beats BA first class in my opinion, and that just shouldn't be the case. I'd love to try CW just because it looks kinda terrible (I realize that sounds dumb) but first is FIRST, I really thought I'd be wowed. I was anything but wowed.

I've seen plenty of reviews from bloggers and you guys here, I've seen the complaints and whatnot, so I ask you...why was F on my flight totally sold out? It's not like it's flying empty all the time. I'm just at a bit of a loss here.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 6:43 pm
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Sorry you experienced this. BAs seating policy is encouraged to keep the best seats avilble&94 British Airways’ status passengers who cam select seats for no charge at the time of booking. By discouraging people like you to pay for an alternative seat it keeps more popular aisle and window seats free. I am glad that you got a free swap at check in and a bonus empty seat next to it.

BAs buy on board is hotly debated. At the end of day paying £10 for a sandwich and gin and tonic is your choice. In the US loyal customers won’t get lounge access on a domestic flight but will get a coffee and a biscuit. I think you need to weigh up what’s most important to you.

The First cabin some say is good others inconsistent. I personally prefer Business Class but of course when departing T5 at Heathrow you get the Concorde Room lounge experience.

Security needs to be done in the UK when coming from outside the UK to ensure passengers are screened to the standards or CAA dictate. Some countries have similar policies others don’t.

Lounges in T3 again done at length. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, good views, better champagne, better service. There’s something for everybody. A lot of people rate CX F and J and it’s good but sometimes if you wanted an extra slice of toast or drink it can take 20 minutes to come. People often underrate the AA F lounge. On several visits over a few months I was warmly welcomed by the same server who asked if I wanted the same drinks and meals.

I can’t speak for others but as a BA status holder I value The First Wing dedicated check in and private security at Terminal 5. Lounge access, free seating assignments, an extra item of checked luggage if I need it. Extra economy reward availability. Last weekend I paid £65 and 2600 Avios to go to Madrid and back. I had the benefit of a long haul aircraft so go the World Traveller Plus cabin as economy for no charge and for whatever reason I got upgraded to Club Europe on the return again a long haul service so the Club World lie. Flat seats.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 6:51 pm
  #3  
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Don't fly BA again.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 7:22 pm
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For the OTP-LHR seating issue, did you buy a basic economy (carry-on only) “HBO” fare? These don’t allow free choice of seat, even at OLCI. Cheap economy fares that include checked baggage (usually around GBP 20 more) include a checked bag and choice of seat at OLCI. If you bought HBO and got a free seat change at the airport you got a bonus.

I assume you didn’t actually check a bag at all, otherwise you couldn’t have stayed airside at LHR.

Regarding the poor F experience, it sounds like this flight was operated by a mid-J 744 which had not been given the new IFE. These do offer the poorest F onboard product BA has, given the ancient and poor quality IFE and the lack of WiFi. The 744 generally has the least generous personal space of BA aircraft F seats, given the squeezing of 14 seats in there, though if I had choice of seats, I would always choose 2A/K.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 8:05 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
Sorry you experienced this. BAs seating policy is encouraged to keep the best seats available British Airways’ status passengers who cam select seats for no charge at the time of booking. By discouraging people like you to pay for an alternative seat it keeps more popular aisle and window seats free. I am glad that you got a free swap at check in and a bonus empty seat next to it.
The seating thing makes sense, I've just never experienced not being able to change a seat on OLCI except for on LCCs. I was surprised to see that from a legacy carrier. It just seems to me that if you give out free seat selection to elites and/or people paying a higher fare class, OLCI it should be fair game because everyone who "deserves" the seat selection has already had that chance. Oh well.

Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
BAs buy on board is hotly debated. At the end of day paying £10 for a sandwich and gin and tonic is your choice. In the US loyal customers won’t get lounge access on a domestic flight but will get a coffee and a biscuit. I think you need to weigh up what’s most important to you.
I don't know DL/AA very well, but I do know you're right when it comes to United, it's a painful part of US flying. However, as a Canadian elite, we don't suffer this , if you have status, you get lounge access even flying domestically AND you get a drink, amazing concept right? I have zero issue with food for purchase, we've established that worldwide, airlines on short haul that feed you are the outlier. It's a nice touch when flying regional LH, but like on Copa it's a bit ridiculous, they give you a drink and a sandwich on PTY-MDE which is like a 45 minute flight. But not getting a DRINK, that seems REALLY stingy and downright crappy to me. I assume they have to be able to give you free water? To be fair I think they were giving out free coffee? I just don't drink coffee so it wasn't an option. I've heard people SAY BA went to an LCC model regionally, but I didn't realize how far that extended to. I kinda figured, ok pay for bags, pay for seats, but then I saw that they really went the full distance on it.

Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
Security needs to be done in the UK when coming from outside the UK to ensure passengers are screened to the standards or CAA dictate. Some countries have similar policies others don’t.
This stinks, I get that BA has no control over this, but man there are pleasant transit experiences (PTY, MUC) then there are terrible ones (MEX, FRA) I'd say LHR is somewhere in the middle.

Originally Posted by KeaneJohn View Post
I can’t speak for others but as a BA status holder I value The First Wing dedicated check in and private security at Terminal 5. Lounge access, free seating assignments, an extra item of checked luggage if I need it. Extra economy reward availability. Last weekend I paid £65 and 2600 Avios to go to Madrid and back. I had the benefit of a long haul aircraft so go the World Traveller Plus cabin as economy for no charge and for whatever reason I got upgraded to Club Europe on the return again a long haul service so the Club World lie. Flat seats.
I suppose that's always the case right? High tier elites for every airline have a better experience than others, that's who SHOULD be getting the best experience, I have no issues there, I guess I was just a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing. With your cost to MAD, it seems like you didn't have to pay much in the way of surcharges, it that a waiver for elites? I've never redeemed AS/AA miles on BA because it's always been a huge waste of miles to pay full price and then $500-700 on top of it in scam charges.

Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Don't fly BA again.
I don't necessarily think that's a great solution either. I mean the odds of me flying BA after the next month or so (already purchased tickets) are fairly low, but it's just a shame that they sunk their regional product to near lowest common denominator. People can critique LH all they want, but I find their regional offering pretty solid in comparison, same goes for my experiences flying Swiss and Brussels. I'm not necessarily opposed to paying for certain things too, obviously I don't believe when airlines claim that unbundling fares is better for consumers, because they don't drop the prices. But I flew Blue Air (Romanian LCC) from BRU-OTP and paid for a checked bag and a seat assignment, I didn't end up using the checked bag, I find myself paying for them on LCC's semi-frequently just in case, but that flight with those costs was about the same as the BA flight with none of the extras. Not exactly apples to apples sure, but had I picked a seat and paid for a bag I would've been in over 40GBP more which would almost double the ticket cost. I flew BA in this case basically because the time worked and I wanted to fly into LHR so that I wouldn't have to transit across London to make the connection. I would've been totally satisfied with my BA economy experience if I had been able to get a free cold beverage (juice/soda is fine) and an OLCI seat selection. The actual onboard product was fine by me.

Originally Posted by Oaxaca View Post
For the OTP-LHR seating issue, did you buy a basic economy (carry-on only) “HBO” fare? These don’t allow free choice of seat, even at OLCI. Cheap economy fares that include checked baggage (usually around GBP 20 more) include a checked bag and choice of seat at OLCI. If you bought HBO and got a free seat change at the airport you got a bonus.
You're correct and I recognize I got a "bonus" from the check-in agent. My point was while I was ok with the seat gamble and not pre-selecting, I was surprised to see even at OLCI I wasn't able to switch for free. That totally came out of left field for me.

Originally Posted by Oaxaca View Post
I assume you didn’t actually check a bag at all, otherwise you couldn’t have stayed airside at LHR.
'

Correct again. One thing BA does do right regionally is the HBO size is more reasonable than most LCCs. They use real world hand baggage sizes imo, whereas I swear my jacket folded up won't fit in their sizer bins. I only asked for the checking of the bag to not roll mine around, as soon as she said she couldn't link the two tickets, I didn't push as I know it might not be possible, but it's always worth asking as it has worked for me on star tickets previously. I knew I would've had to clear customs, while I had time and no issues with my passport entering the UK, I didn't really wanna go through the check-in process again especially since I wasn't traveling out of T5 so there wouldn't really be any fancy process to it.

Originally Posted by Oaxaca View Post
Regarding the poor F experience, it sounds like this flight was operated by a mid-J 744 which had not been given the new IFE. These do offer the poorest F onboard product BA has, given the ancient and poor quality IFE and the lack of WiFi. The 744 generally has the least generous personal space of BA aircraft F seats, given the squeezing of 14 seats in there, though if I had choice of seats, I would always choose 2A/K.
I've heard about the AVOD system and it's just a real shame. It's the poorest one I've seen flying in recent memory, I flew ANA 767 YVR-HND something like 4 years ago before they changed it to 787 and it had a tiny square version of something similar. I would hope that the screens are better throughout the plane, and maybe in a smaller version it's not so glaringly bad, some of the UA 777s (I think the 772) have pretty weak AVOD, but the screen is much smaller and in business it doesn't look this bad.

As far as the space goes, that was something that didn't bother me at all. Like I said it was nice to be able to let your feet roam free when sleeping. I flew a brand new 330Neo from TAP in business across the pond and while the seat was good, it suffers from the foot coffin. I understand the 380s have the same F seats but a bit bigger, that would be nice, but I was pretty satisfied with the seat itself.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 8:26 pm
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BA’s short haul economy product is now almost entirely transactional. If you opt for a basic fare option, then you’ll pay extra for the baubles. As Oaxaca said, standard economy tickets are marginally more expensive but do come with free a seat alignment, available from two days ahead of departure and of course a checked baggage allowance. While Club Europe’s price point is a significant step above Basic, the fares are still very competitive
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Old Feb 15, 20, 8:59 pm
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No my trip to Madrid was a Basic hand baggage only fare. It was £50 out and £35 back so £85 which I used 2600 Avios to reduce the price by £20 to £65. Status gets free seat assignment on Basic fares for Status holders.

FWIW if you want to check in your hand luggage this can be done free of charge from London and domestic airports even on a basic hand baggage only fare. From outside the UK this is only free if the flight is very busy when you will get a text or email to invite you to check luggage in.

The crew will offer water on request free of charge in Economy. With fares as low as Ä13.50 on a Luxembourg to Heathrow fare I donít really think itís unreasonable to buy a drink if you want one but I appreciate not all fares are that low.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 9:33 pm
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You flew a route that BA sometimes uses one of their ancient planes. Yes i will agree with you that AC product is better but it is usually much more expensive. BA has usually much competitive prices when it comes to both PE and C. I cannot say for F as AC does not offer F. I have done this route mostly with AC and the product is good but as i already mentioned very pricey from LHR. Also quite soon AC will open a signature suite lounge in YVR. It is one of the best J class lounges aroud the world, similar to Polaris lounges. The lounge experience is somewhat dissapointing in LHR T5. The lounges are usually extremely busy compare to LHR T2 where you have access to 4 different lounges.
People pay BA J and F for a variety of reasons. Vouhers, Avios collection, lack of competition to specific routes, or simply because they like it. Saying that i do try to avoid BA Club World when i can find alternative routes with other airlines. Bear in mind, BA has improved their soft product recently with new bedding, DO & CO food etc.

Last, for many of us, BA is not a prestige airline. If you want prestige airline experience in F i would suggest you try Air France/Lufthansa or some of the ME3 airlines.
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Old Feb 15, 20, 9:41 pm
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This is an interesting itinerary in that you got to experience opposing ends of BAís market in a single trip. Namely, Basic Economy on a European point-to-point hop and First Class Long Haul. While I think your expectations are/were entirely reasonable for the latter, in the case of the former your expectations (based on experience elsewhere) were sadly high of the mark.

For good or ill, BA are competing against LCCís for European Y travel, hence the introduction of things like Buy-on-Board and seat densification. Basic Economy fares are an extension of this model, removing the last bells and whistles like assignable seating and checked luggage for the lowest fare. These things have been debated extensively on this forum, and I have my own thoughts on them, but it is what it is, as the saying goes.

As these were separate tickets you also lost additional benefits like protected connections and through-checked baggage (which is something that other carriers, even in oneworld, but not BA, offer on separate tickets).

Ironically, had you booked this as a single OTP-YVR ticket, many of your concerns about your OTP-LHR experience would have been negated. You would have been booked in to Club Europe on your short-haul connection, giving you:
  • Assignable seating at OLCI
  • Guaranteed empty middle seat so zero risk of being assigned one
  • Complimentary food & drink
  • Luggage through-checked to your final destination

You say your ticket was cheap, but not LCC cheap. So I guess the question is did the savings on buying a separate HBO ticket for your short haul flight balance out the things you lost had you booked a single OTP-YVR routing?
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Old Feb 15, 20, 10:24 pm
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Originally Posted by drvannostren View Post
...I was in 2K, "my overhead bin" was occupied selfishly by duty free items by the upper crust in 1A/K. I get that they don't have access to bins, but the closet is perfect for duty free stuff, don't take up an entire bin with your chocolates and 6 liquor bottles...
On the 747 the F cabin has only 8 overhead lockers for 14 seats. It is easy to not realise this and assume the lockers over the window seats from rows 2-5 are exclusively for those seats, but they aren't.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 1:04 am
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Originally Posted by ermis177 View Post

Last, for many of us, BA is not a prestige airline. If you want prestige airline experience in F i would suggest you try Air France/Lufthansa or some of the ME3 airlines.
Other 'not bad' F airlines - Swiss, Cathay Pacific, JAL/ANA. The ME3 - QR (only available on a few frames), Etihad (esp the Apartments) and Emirates are all superior to BA.

BA has recently updated some of the soft product but the wines have now gone downhill. No sign of a meaningful upgrade to the seating, even on planes being re-fitted to accommodate Club Suites, which is a worry. BA's focus, as ever, is on cost cutting so F is not really in their DNA anymore. My most recent BA F experience a couple of weeks ago was quite poor (useless MF crew) on a clapped out 772. They couldn't even load enough amenity kits. Enough said.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 1:11 am
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you didnít get one because they didnít have any left? Seriously?
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Old Feb 16, 20, 1:13 am
  #13  
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Many thanks to the OP for sharing their impressions.

Had the OP continued on to another flight in Canada then there would have been another search there too, I'm not sure the Canadians would have wanted to rely on whatever happened in London, let alone Bucharest.

For the First experience, yes the OP should have at least been suitably impressed by the experience, but the IFE on the midhaul 747s is one of the worst out there. It won't be around for much longer. The more interesting question posed by the OP was why would anyone want to travel BA, which is a question that could be asked of the OP. I suspect it was some combination of cost / airmiles and timing. It was amusing to see the OP annoyed at not getting a menu item he didn't like!

I wonder if QueenOfCoach is available to give her summary?
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Old Feb 16, 20, 1:36 am
  #14  
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I am finding the Air Canada references are making it hard to believe this post isnít just a wind-up.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 2:03 am
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Sorry you had bad experience, but what's surprising about your post is that you were surprised with many things either at the airport or onboard. Why did not you find out what your ticket came with before you bought it?
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