One small sip for man, one giant leap for BA…
In recent years British Airways eliminated complimentary food & beverage service on short haul economy flights. The move drew the ire of all customers accustomed to a traditional full service airline experience and created unique branding problems for an airline competing against “low cost” – especially amongst frequent British Airways customers. But in Europe: cost is key. When the changes took effect, we can’t say we missed the airline food a single bit, but the comforting cup of tea or coffee was sorely missed, especially on increasingly frequent, cold wintry mornings. Recent trials seem to suggest frequent flyers may soon again receive long awaited perks on short haul flights. Cup of tea, anyone?
British Airways is trialling free tea, coffee or water for Silver and Gold Executive Club members on short haul flights, offering frequent flyers an experience a bit more like the old days. It’s certainly an appreciated step in the right direction. Initial trials are taking place aboard flights between London and Geneva. The concept is simple: reward frequent flyers with something that everyone else must pay for – an instant sign of gratitude. That reviving mid flight cup of coffee or tea? If you’re Executive Club Silver or Gold – it may soon again be free. Geneva is first, but assuming trials run successfully, we could expect a wide rollout in the months to come.
This move would be a significant first first step in putting British Airways loyalty proposition in line with US partner American Airlines and European counterpart Finnair. To be fair to British Airways, American Airlines flyers are not granted lounge access on domestic itineraries – so there is trade off to be found. American Airlines Executive Platinum members however receive complimentary snack boxes and drink privileges when flying economy within the US, especially on cross country flights. Fortuitously, British Airways Gold members show up on American cabin crew iPads as Executive Platinum, so if you happen to be flying American in the US as a British Airways Gold member, you may experience these perks for yourself!
Striking the right balance is between price, service and loyalty is a tricky dance move. Non frequent flyers buy airline tickets almost purely based on price. Passengers with frequent flyer status may sway their decision if price is within reason. British Airways may be close to striking the right tone, offering more competitive pricing to all customers while rewarding brand loyalty with the return of small freebies on board. A cup of tea can go a long way, especially with a British crowd.