Let me preface these comments by saying that I’ve flown 3.25MM air miles since 1975 on just about every airline, everywhere. On a recent quick (2.5 day) trip to London I choose British Air because I could split my class of service going Business Class from Boston to Heathrow overnight to take advantage of the ‘flat bed’ sleeper (given a full day of meetings upon arrival) and returned ‘World Traveller’ because I wasn’t going to sleep on the way back and it was another $1,000 for Business Class.
The Business Class experience was at it’s best pathetic. An offered buffet meal in a cheesy lounge that was near impossible to find prior to the flight. A claustrophobic cubicle of a seat that while flat came in two pieces (one of which sagged and no one could fix it), a virtually non existent flight crew and amenities you would not give out a ten year old’s birthday. But props to the marketing folks for making it all look so inviting and ‘rich’ on the web site. (I guess that’s where my money really went to these chaps who deserve a bonus for ‘spin’.) Then, we landed at the outer edge of the airport (late) only to be bussed around the entire facility and then just disgorged into Terminal 5. Forget any expedited service through customs as the consensus opinion amongst my fellow ‘elite’ travelers was that the ‘Fast (Premium) Lane was actually moving slower than the tourist class queue. In addition they were flying their Boing 777 with not one but two of the Business Class toilets ‘out-of-service.
The British Air Lounge is at best average and the shower rooms tiny to the point that it’s near impossible not to get your belongings wet as the shower leaks throughout the compartment. So that was a $3,300 experience not to be repeated.
The return flight was full (not BA’s fault) the World Traveler experience weak, the meal something that cost under $5, they ran out of one of the entrees prior to getting half way through the cabin (then suggested an economy meal as an option) and the amenities something you wouldn’t hand out at a five year old’s birthday as a favor. The plane (or at least the area all around my seat was full of debris from the last flight (despite the plane sitting at the gate for several hours prior to departure), service was almost invisible (the Flight Attendant’s Union must be fantastic at negotiating work rules as there is the absence of flexibility in their ability to respond to anything ad hoc); no one ever responded to the call button/light, they could not get the cabin or seat lights off making watching anything on the tiny screen almost impossible and the toilet was dirty, out of some products and leaking half way across the Atlantic and it took 10 minutes to get a tiny can of Diet Coke (not on the cart). All for a mere $2,000.
Call me jaded or cranky or nuts but someone will not take customers for granted like this and win my business in the future? Or I’ll spend $50 on gourmet food that I take on board, have a chauffer drive me to the airport, reserve a room at a Heathrow hotel so I can change and be a few thousand dollars ahead.