15 JANUARY 2018


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Article from BTNews 15 JANUARY 2018

COMMENT: Budget Airline (BA)

It once called itself “The World’s Favourite Airline” but has British Airways gone too far this time?  Is it now perhaps “The World’s Favourite Budget Airline”?

Complimentary snacks are no longer served in the Economy cabin on short-haul sectors, or even a cup of tea (unless it is a BA Cityflyer flight). Now it seems BA is planning to follow low-cost carriers by introducing fixed seats in Economy Class. This on flights that can last up to four hours. 

The move may prove controversial for BA amid criticism of its increasingly budget-style service and cost-cutting measures.

The airline has confirmed a new fleet of aircraft destined for short-haul routes will have seats in Economy that do not offer passengers the luxury of recliners.  The 35 Airbus A320neos and A321neos due to start entering service later this year will be used on routes where flight time is around four hours or less.

BA says they will instead feature chairs that are at a “gentle angle”.

A BA spokesperson told  The Telegraph: “The new aircraft will have brand new seats set to a gentle recline to ensure everyone in the cabin enjoys a comfortable journey.  These changes will also allow us to offer more low fares to customers” – translation: it means bigger profits.  

It will also save cabin staff from the problem of disgruntled passengers who feel passengers in front of them are impinging on their space. It can get nasty at times. Window sliding blinds might go too. They cost money. A certain Irish airline dropped them and presumably gained a further discount from Boeing.

There has been talk of discontinuing the sale of duty-free products on short flights too.  That might not go down well with the cabin staff, who get commission.

Is this the right route to take? Compare BA to the high street.  Waitrose is an upmarket brand and you pay a little more.   

Will BA next take away airbridges to speed up the turnaround and ask passengers and cabin staff to tidy up the cabin for the following sector?  Britain’s largest airline, easyJet, does just that.

At the end of the day BA’s duty is to its shareholders.  You cannot argue with that.  But it is also the nation’s worldwide ambassador, setting a standard to reflect on the whole country.  The fixed seats, and the windows if they happen, BTN can go along with.  The short-haul cabin service we are not so sure.  Why pay BA prices for the same as you might get on Ryanair? 

Should BEA be resurrected as British European Airways (short-haul)?  An interesting World Traveller product is about to be rolled out (see in this issue).  How will you be able to differentiate in the future between British Airways and a BA (budget airline)?  Surely flying on our flag carrier should be something special.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Ian Hamer, UK

Full marks to BA for removing reclining seats, no more seat backs in my space. However, the introduction of M&S food is not so welcome, perhaps Greggs would be more appropriate.

Robbie Shaw, Burgess Hill

So Brad Burgess thinks it is a good idea not to use airbridges. He is obviously not disabled or have a mobility problem. I have stopped using easyJet at Gatwick as they no longer use airbridges. Can I stop this myth that not using airbridges makes turn round times faster - it does NOT. Twice I have experienced a long delay to departure because disembarking passengers with a disability could not walk down the stepd - butCOULD have walked off an airbridge.

Ian Hamer, UK

Full marks to BA for removing reclining seats, no more seat backs in my space. However, the introduction of M&S food is not so welcome, perhaps Greggs would be more appropriate.

Catherine Chetwynd, United Kingdom

If passengers expect BA to match low-cost carriers' prices, then there have to be corollary cost savings. We can't have it both ways

Graham Greenwood, United Kingdom

I love the idea of bringing back the BEA brand, but the Dakotas don't carry many and are rather slow!!!

Kevin Oliver, U.K.

Full marks for removing so called recline seats. Weight saving and arguments provoking devices. Not sure about the window blinds. Get rid of duty free on board. Another weight saving.Order it and collect andpay at your destination

Colin Antill, Colne, UK

I think the removal of reclining seats in economy is the best move any airline could make as there usually not enough room for the to function properly without upsetting the person behind you.

Brad Burgess, UK

"Will BA take away the airbridges to speed up the turnround?" Already happening. Frequently when I travel between Gatwick and Edinburgh and vv no airbridge used at Edinburgh so front and rear doors can be used.

Peter Kenworthy, UK

I'm sure BA cabin crew are earning a lot more commission selling the M&S shop on board product than they ever have selling tax free goods on short haul flights.

Ray Mayne,

On many occasions I have looked around the cabin on BA's short haul flights and very few people actually bother to recline their seats at all. Remove the extra mechanism of the seat recline (and additional weight) and you end up with a more reliable seat which cannot fail to stay upright during take-off and landing.