13 MARCH 2017
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Although there has been no official media announcement in the UK, British Airways is to launch Club Europe (Business Class) on domestic flights from next month for its routes between London and Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Manchester. From London City Airport (LCY), Cityflyer will also offer the product. (See ‘BA goes regional Club’ in this issue)
Business Travel News has been looking at the BA website which announces with the headline “UK Domestic – We're improving our service on flights within the UK.
“Until 31 March, British Airways flights within the UK will continue to operate a UK Domestic cabin.
“From 1 April, we're replacing UK Domestic with Euro Traveller (economy) and introducing Club Europe (business) to align with our short-haul network.”
Chairman and chief executive Alex Cruz has been in position for nearly 12 months. He now clearly has his feet under the table. A multitude of new routes have been introduced, especially long-haul. This domestic upgrade is the second major cabin service change launched since the turn of the year. Out went the old economy (Euro Traveller), replaced with a paying Marks & Spencer (M&S) sandwich service.
Why has BA upgraded the front of the cabin for the regional services? One can only guess. The airline was more forthcoming to the media overseas than in the UK, with a spokesman telling Australian Business News: "We believe (Club Europe) will be popular with customers and create a more consistent experience for the many travellers who transfer across our domestic network on to European or long-haul destinations."
British Airways is facing new competition on key domestic routes from 27 March when Flybe begins operating a single-class service between Heathrow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh with cheaper fares than BA, but slower less accommodating aircraft. Using Heathrow T2 (BA uses T5), connections to other airlines will be easier, but if you are accompanying a golf bag, or have a large amount of luggage, forget it. The Flybe Q400 turboprop has limited hold space.
Business Travel News’ assumption is that Cruz wants BA to continue to be seen as a quality airline, hence the choice of M&S as the catering supplier. It is the British flag carrier after all, and the Chatham Flag tailfin means something.
There is a small demand for executive clients taking through flights over Heathrow, who want the Club check-in, lounge access, priority boarding and extra space once on board. Maybe the use of a wardrobe for one’s outer garment is not that important, nor a pick-me-up drink, but it is all part of the Club Europe package. First off at the other end too.
Perhaps a bit late in the day, but one could also add it is a way of demonstrating BA’s affinity to the European concept. Or will they re-name it Club Britain?
PS: Business Travel News is going to take a BA Euro Traveller flight within the next few weeks. We shall report back. The reaction from readers to date is that while it took a bit of settling in for both cabin staff and travellers, it is now working smoothly. At LCY, Cityflyer will follow with the same product “in the coming months”.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Brian Donohoe, IRVINE
If BA think for a minute that Business Class seat for domestic UK travel is worth £600 for a front seat and a meal against £200 they denude themselves and I would be VERY surprised if ANY business would consider that anything other than total extravagance then they want to get into the real World
franco mancassola, honolulu hawaii
My motto was: "Comfort is not a class privilege." It seems that what airlines are doing is reducing the Y class to almost a negative pitch, making it so uncomfortable that there are little choices but to upgrade to business. Ouch!