a large airplane taking off

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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. It’s was never about the food removal from short “45 minute” (or other) flights. It was about the removal of the free g&t, which for any member of the British public is tantamount to heresy…

  2. BA was denationalised many years ago. It is also already a “real” airline. Pretty crap at the moment but real nevertheless. I also seem to remember BA stopping being the national flag carrier a while back too. I know you like AC but I’m not sure I understand the gist of your article.

  3. A major issue for me is that BA seems to have neglected its fleet. The 777 aircraft used in the ATL – LHR routing are tatty & dirty. It doesn’t have to be this way. I just flew ATL – AMS – BRS with KLM, and their aircraft was pristine.

  4. You seem to be a bag carrier for BA’s CEO. That’s a shame and it undermines your attempts to be an ‘independent ‘ commentator which I think increasingly you are seen as not.
    Try not to get seduced by the attention of Mr Cruz and try to stand on your own feet and options. Simon Caulder is a class act – try to be a shade like him and we’ll all want to keep following you.

    1. Funny, I didn’t see any of these comments when I wrote about dynamic pricing just two days ago, which was read by about 20,000 more people than this.

      I carry no ones bags. I don’t even think the coverage told any stories not directly pieced from Simons article. If you feel differently, I’m sorry you feel that way. I thought the speech was a very strong tone. I call it how I see it. Truth is, he’s not “all bad” and I enjoyed todays remarks. So did Simon. I bashed dynamic pricing because I think it’s treacherous, I praise the moves here. Next turn we’ll see what happens. I will always write what I believe in my heart and my gut, drawing upon any and all knowledge I’ve attained. Never anything less.

  5. They have turned a corner / pulled the rip cord on their reputational parachute (but it’ll take time to deploy) and begun to realise that they have to show a modicum of respect for those paying for their fares. Nevertheless, in 2017 they don’t compete on service on either long or short haul and not on net price in shorthaul… Adopt LCC product but continue to charge premium.
    In 3years time, when there is a new or refurbished fleet with the densified cabins, a reintroduction of basics like 2x meals on an 11 hour flight I may try them again *if* they’re competitive on price. However, if they continue to fly with dirty cabins, undersupplied galleys and a refusal to offer help / compensation when things (as is inevitable for all) go wrong then maybe not so much…

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