July 26, 2021

Disgruntled iNews Cayman reader re British Airways

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A380_&_Red_Arrows_-_RIAT_2013Consider this contrast – BA v Virgin

September 2015 – BA flight from JFK to London on a tatty old 747 in Premium Economy. I was served a ‘pasta’ meal that was a mix of half-cooked and over-cooked. After I choked on it the cabin crew took the tray away and left me with nothing to eat for the next five hours. When I complained to BA they claimed to have no record of the incident.

February 2016 – Virgin flight from San Francisco to London on a brand new 787 Dreamliner also in PE. I ordered a low fat meal but the caterers produced something containing rice that smelt like damp washing – it was disgusting. The Virgin cabin crew took a record of the problem and found me a pasta meal from the main menu – definitely not low fat but delicious. They also brought me another bottle of wine.

Virgin make BA look like a bunch of amateurs. One huge difference is that the same Virgin staff serve First Class and Premium Economy then there’s a separate team for Economy. BA use the same team to work Premium Economy and Economy so with the on-going short-crewing they’re always too busy looking after ‘cattle class’ passengers to provide a true premium service.

VirginAmericaAirbus320neo-1024x768Virgin’s US partner, Delta, was also pretty impressive. I only did the short hop from LA to San Francisco and didn’t expect much but got a big surprise. Delta have completely re-fitted their old 717s. They’re like brand new aircraft inside and my £19 Comfort+ upgrade not only got me a big leather seat but 4″ more leg room than you get on BA’s European business class services. I’m looking forward to flying with them again next month.

BA are in a real mess. Over the past two years they’ve been paying off long-term BA staff to try and reduce their exposure to pension commitments but they apparently over-did it. Now they’re trying to poach experienced Virgin cabin crew to make the numbers up. In the press BA have been stating that they will be recruiting 1600 new cabin staff in 2016 and indicating that these will all be new recruits to the industry but they already know that target is impossible. This is just the latest round of Willie Walsh’s creative accounting to try and make BA look viable when it clearly isn’t.

There’s lots more.

When Delta took a 49% share in Virgin the first thing they did was force Branson to cancel four unprofitable long-haul routes and abandon his plans to operate A380 Superjumbos. Virgin then very quickly moved back into profit. Dropping the A380s was a smart move because BA are apparently operating their fleet half empty. Virgin/Delta are killing BA on some of the major routes – I recently found fares as low as £208 LA-LHR and £140 Boston-LHR on their websites. Virgin frequent flyer miles are also actually still worth collecting. By combining the miles from my LA trip, a Virgin credit card bonus and £27.50 in Tesco vouchers I’ve already got enough points for a round-trip to the USA.

The most interesting speculation here is about what happens when Willie Walsh runs out of money and excuses. Will BA be bailed out by the government or will its routes simply be broken up and shared between other airlines – the smart money seems to be backing a break up.

EDITOR: Name withheld by request.

IMAGES:

British Airways and Red Arrows en.wikipedia.org

Virgin America Airbus twolittlecavaliers.com

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