British Airways was once a byword for class.
The flag carrying airline of the United Kingdom was always the go to choice when booking any flight. It carried a certain kudos, whilst its staff and airport lounges were second to none. Furthermore, as a patriot it always stirred something in me to fly on our carrier.
However, the airline has become a bit of a joke nowadays. Following BA’s decision to outsource 700 IT jobs to India last year the airline suffered a, as put by chief executive Alex Cruz, “catastrophic” power surge that essentially shorted its entire computer network.
The result was not the champagne or gin and tonics with swizzle sticks, which BA had been splendidly synonymous with, but 300,000 travellers stranded at their respective airports.
BA is now a byword for farce. It is rapidly becoming the Lillywhites of the airplane world.
The woeful weekend further highlighted its decline and fall; even the British and Irish Lions have flown to New Zealand on Quantas.
British Airways – a 1974 merger of the UK’s four national airlines – was nationalised in 1987. In 2011 BA merged with Iberia, creating the International Airlines Group (IAG), a holding company registered in Madrid. IAG is the world’s third-largest airline group in terms of annual revenue and the second-largest in Europe.
Big business. Big planes. Big salaries at the top.
That said, in my opinion, capitalisation is often glorious. When a privatised company is at its best it runs like Swiss clockwork, everything is shiny and new; the staff are wonderful and there is no resentment or mindfulness of the cost. Starbucks is a prime example of this – we know it is a soulless enterprise that is all about making cash for the ‘fat cats’ but their coffee is first rate and so we return and delight at the personalised cardboard cups.
Needless to say BA did deserve to be a premium price product and, yes, it was a fine one because it gave the impression that it did care about the customer. Rather like the Peter Jones or Waitrose of aviation.
This is at the essence of what is sad about BA – it once took notice but now it it is turning like Rhett Butler and saying: “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”
To be fair BA has been harassed and harangued by the low cost airlines, who have chipped away at the once regal carrier. The low cost mob did undeniably reduce the margins and for that matter a customers expectation, as well the perceived market price.
Instead of ameliorating it’s product – enhancing its prestige to become unmissable – BA decided to drop its levels, beginning with dropping complimentary food and booze on European flights. Might as well fly EasyJet in this case for half a bob less.
To some people aviation travel is scary, not to me. I love airports and, for me, the longer the flight the better. Gin, a meal and a couple of films is utterly splendid!
Now, the recent farce hasn’t helped matters but I have recently flew Turkish Airlines, Branson Over the Pacific and BA. It was startling – and this does betray my patriotism – how much more enjoyable the former two were to travel on. This cannot, dear readers, be laid squarely at the door of an IT misdemeanour, Mr.Walsh.
So BA – buck up your ideas, bring back the booze and food, return That beautiful British flag to the top of the skies!