Yesterday I wrote an open letter to British Airways CEO Alex Cruz. He graciously took the time to respond via email and publicly in the comment section of my initial letter, so take a peak at his extensive comments and then pop back here for my rebuttal. 

Mr. Alex Cruz, Chairman And CEO Of British Airways, 

First, WOW. Your finger is on the pulse and you're not hiding. That's so rare and something I find highly laudable. Answering directly without some fabricated press jargon or an email from one of your staffers is just absurdly cool in today's world. Second, I owe you an apology. I had no business asking for you to move on. You're right- you've been there, done that and you're clearly a top guy in the business. I'd like to offer your detailed response a far more constructive response than my somewhat crass first letter, which was far too focused on your career and not enough about present day British Airways, the airline we know and love. 

Your Thoughts On "Not" Being A Budget Airline Don't Align With Customer Sentiment...

I'll launch into specifics shortly, but more people than I could've ever imagined commented on my letter (via Facebook) saying that things are feeling budget. Even if your customers aren't technically right, that's the way many feel. That sentiment is meaningful and little gestures could fix that, especially as low cost carriers aim to raise amenities. Like tea. Get a marketing deal done with a tea maker, bring it back, get some water thrown in and you instantly lock in your quintessentially British branding while keeping your buy on board offerings. From your data points I'll concede buy on board is the right move. One last thought: HOOU "have one on us" digital drink/food coupons for elite frequent flyers...

You Mention The Ability To "Upgrade" Differentiates You From Budget. Double Down On That...

The only thing major media outlets ever ask me for is upgrade tips. It's because EVERYONE wants one yet no one ever seems to get them. Make it easier for passengers to use Avios for upgrades by making additional seats available for upgrade, especially as flight dates close in. Why not even make upgrades available on board too? Your competitors already do it and you could create excellent value for your club members who find completely "free" flights difficult.

You Say Short Haul Business Class Separates You From Budget Carriers, But You Barely Have One. So Make One.

It's hard to call a seat which is identical in size, shape and legroom to the offering found in economy, "business class". Yes, I get that the efficiencies in the airport are good, but budget carriers have those "fast track" privileges now too. Minus lounges it's hard to discern the finer points, and to your point of "price", it's consistently inflated in this cabin. No one is looking for a re invented wheel here, just something with considerable legroom, extra padding and food worth tucking into.

You Talk About Price Being The Driving Force In Investing In Customers. Let's Have Fun With That...

REAL Flash sales. Do you know how many happy people I made when one of your competitors intentionally offered $640 round trip business fares to Tokyo? I know, that's not a sustainable price point, but they only did it for three hours, so only the most engaged customers could get in. These flash sales create brand excitement and a term I frequently used in music, "stickiness". People would be glued to BritishAirways.com (and hopefully my site) if you started getting festive with your fares. We all love a bit of fun. If you say price, we want price

You Say You'd Be Budget If You Didn't Have The Executive Club. That's Not Enough. Make It Great...

A club is only as good as the value derived, and I think we can both agree that there's room for improvement. My buy 10 get 1 free coffee card is no good if I can't ever use it. Find me a person who feels that there are enough seats released for the flights they want and I'll pluck you a unicorn straight out of the sky. People see loyalty as their ticket to exceptional experiences, not a few bucks off their next (high) priced ticket. Keep the dream alive and you will keep people flying and swiping (with their BA credit cards). Keep making the app easier to use, it's improved and can really go even further as "mobile" becomes king.

You Say The British Airways Amex Partnership Separates You? Let's Be Real Here...

This partnership is NOT a hand out to consumers nor does it separate you from being budget. Southwest Airlines, the low cost U.S. budget carrier has a similar partnership and people can use their loyalty points on any flight any time! This Amex partnership is an incredibly lucrative ancillary revenue stream where you make money without flying planes and its success would only be enhanced by creating a more compelling value for Avios holders. A nifty example is that partnership you did with Chase last year. That was brilliant.

You Mention Connecting Itineraries. I Like That. Why Not Connect People With Their Bags Too?...

Connecting itineraries are good, and I'm glad you offer them, but there are many reasons controllable and otherwise why travelers need to book separate itineraries. Your airline is among the least friendly here. Though OneWorld officially ended it's interline policy many carriers still happily check bags onto the next carrier or next itinerary, even if it does not immediately benefit them. Refusing to do so seems short sighted, unfriendly to your alliance and inflexible to modern customer needs. It's better to have a slice of the pie than none of it, so just be cool here.

You Mention Investment In Wifi, Lounges, And Check In. Tell Us, Then WOW Us...

Genuinely excited about you sharing these details, would love to cover them, but that doesn't sell tickets. Most people just want to see them in action. I'm excited to see what you've got up your sleeve, but as you say these exciting future things needs better communication, before the people who might make use of them or buy tickets to experience them disappear for good. I once had a PC, but they lost me. Right now there's no great wifi, no world class lounges and passengers don't make decisions on future promises. I hope you nail it. Truly.

You Mention Investing In Us. Do So By Holding Your Entire Staff To The Level Which We Hold Pilots...

A large consensus of customer complaints I see about your airline are in regards to service. Focused, polite, detailed and polished standards of service offered by your competitors are not boding well. You wouldn't accept "hit or miss" pilots to join the ranks of the Speedbird elite, so I'd love for you to invest extra time and money in polishing your crews and ground staff to beat your competition. That doesn't cost nearly as much money as new seats and smiles are worth at least a million bucks, even ones with strange teeth...

British Airways Needs BOLD, Swift Moves. You Clearly Move That Way...

Find a way to balance "cheerful" sentiment and price. You'd be surprised how much that cup of tea could make you stand out, really bringing the British "flag" into your flag carrier role. Those little things are like the terroir which make the best wines so unique and highly regarded. You genuinely made my day with your email. Your insights were meaningful and your distinctions have made for great constructive thought from my readers and I. I'm just a sounding board. Find a way to bring the cheerful feeling, British branding and innovative products along for the ride and I'll be there the whole way. 

With Great Hope & Respect, Your New Email Pal,

Gilbert Ott

Being reasonable, is there anything else you'd like for Mr. Cruz to take note of while he's being so generous with his time? Should I apply for a job on his product team?