World Travel Market is a renowned travel event in London, where people congregate to
feel important conduct important travel business and make industry connections. While we were not in attendance, the Independent’s venerable Simon Calder was, and he flagged some interesting remarks from Alex Cruz, the Chairman and CEO of British Airways.
A Second Meal Will Return To Long Haul Economy
Much to the chagrin of many, a second meal on many of British Airways longest flights disappeared over the last two years. Well, it’s re appearing. As part of a large scale catering investment, the airline will bring back a second meal on longer flights, such as London to West Coast USA. It’s nice to see money being invested into all passengers. Especially on flights where meals are actually necessary.
Benefits For Elite Flyers On Short Haul Flights To Come
With anything “in the process” (we hope, fingers crossed, woohoo) details of new special benefits for elite flyers on short haul were not given. However, remarks pointed to British Airways frequent Executive Club flyers, and those on flexible economy tickets receiving special catering perks on short haul flights. We’ve hoped for this for a while, and it seems it may become reality. Details to follow, we hope.
More Tech, Better Passenger Experience
Many of the years investments have centered around better food, drinks, bedding and glassware for those in the pointier end of the plane- but the airline is making tech investments which put them at the forefront of passenger experience for all. Truly. Less time spent in check in queues, less time in bag drop, boarding gates is a winner for all. Cruz signaled a rapid expansion of of biometric boarding gates and e-bag drop at Heathrow and Gatwick. If price is similar or the same, passengers will always choose convenience.
Personal Favorite: “No Privilege To Fly”
Covering all airlines and being a fan of everything from $69 one way transatlantic fares to $6000 first class suites grants an interesting insight, the gist of which: competition is fierce. Alex Cruz gave a rather passionate speech…
“As a national flag carrier, we are not granted some special immunity from the way the industry has changed. Incumbency does not grant any privilege. We do not have a divine right to flourish and we don’t ask for one. The current plight of Alitalia is a testament to that.”
Here’s why I personally love this. U.S. carriers would rather spend lobbying money to fend off competition than compete on innovation and technology, such as biometric boarding which British Airways is a pioneering airline in. Alitalia and many national carriers would rather ignore the balance sheet, believing they’ll always be bailed out- profitable or not. Cruz seems hellbent on making British Airways a real, sustainable airline, carving out ground with their own merit and not the help of the meritocracy. You’ve always got to back a fighter, whether you like the fighter or not.
Not all decisions will be popular, some treacherous decisions are still to be made, but in general it seems that technology advancements will improve service, austerity has reached it’s peak and many of the more traditional elements will return, in some form or another. One thing we’ll never understand: why people care about eating on a 45 minute flight. We’ll be along for the ride to call it how we see it, as always.