A cautionary lesson for airlines on social media

London Air Travel » Page 98

A few months I ago I posted about the disappointment experienced by many British Airways passengers when BaxterStorey took over the catering contract for the British Airways lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5.

The issue had largely died down. That was until last Saturday a poster on FlyerTalk had identified that, following an inspection of two of the six lounges at Terminal 5 (The Galleries First lounge and Concorde Room), Hillingdon Council had awarded these lounges a food safety score of 2 out of a possible 5. This means an improvement is required.

To put this into context, almost all of the outlets at Terminal 5 achieved either a score of 4 or 5 with only Gordon Ramsay’s “Plane Food” restaurant and a branch of Caffe Nero achieving a score of 2.

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Could Gatwick persuade one of the alliances to defect?

London Air Travel » Page 98

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

On Monday 23 September 2013, the Financial Times featured an interesting story where the Chief Executive of London Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, postulated, known in politics and the press as “kite flying”, that if a second runway for Gatwick was approved, one of the “Big Three” airline alliances could be persuaded to defect from Heathrow airport.

Is there any mileage in this?

Put simply, I don’t think so.

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Virgin Atlantic & Delta to operate New York “shuttle”

London Air Travel » Page 98

Virgin Atlantic & Delta Air Lines Aircraft (Image Credit: Delta Air Lines)

Following the grant of anti-trust immunity by the US Department of Transportation, Virgin Atlantic and Delta have today confirmed they will co-ordinate their schedules to operate a nine times daily shuttle service on the London Heathrow – New York (Newark & JFK) route from 30 March 2014.

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BA introduces Lifetime Gold for Executive Club members

London Air Travel » Page 98

British Airways Executive Club Cards
British Airways Executive Club Cards

If you are a member of the British Airways Executive Club, you may notice a small, but significant, change when you next log on to your account at ba.com

BA has, in addition to annual tier points which determine the level of status (Bronze, Silver, Gold) a member is entitled to for their membership year, introduced “lifetime tier points”.

Put simply, these are all the tier points a member has earned since joining the Executive Club.

At the moment, if a member has earned 35,000 lifetime tier points or more they are now entitled to gold membership for life.

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BA launches its advertising campaign “To Fly. To Serve. Today. Tomorrow.”

London Air Travel » Page 98

British Airways Crest. "To Fly. To Serve."
British Airways Crest. “To Fly. To Serve.” (Image Credit: British Airways)

Last weekend, British Airways launched its first major UK TV advertising campaign in over a year with a return to the theme of “To Fly. To Serve.”

The advertisement, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, follows a single customer journey from the airport to on board a Boeing 787 aircraft. The advertisement, which is certainly very slick, uses a “micro to macro” style of filming, featuring close up shots of the details of flying, panning to wide shots of the aircraft in motion.

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Qatar Airways to join Oneworld on 30 October 2013

London Air Travel » Page 98

Qatar Airways aircraft in Oneworld livery
Qatar Airways aircraft in Oneworld livery (Image Credit: Oneworld)

Qatar Airways is to join the Oneworld alliance on Wednesday 30 October 2013, just over one year after announcing its original intention to join the alliance.

This means that from this date, members of fellow Oneworld alliance members frequent flyer programmes will be entitled to reciprocal frequent flyer benefits (such as mileage earning and airport lounge access) when flying on Qatar Airways.

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Was Hasan Syed’s Twitter campaign against British Airways justified?

London Air Travel » Page 98

BA First WiFi
(Image Credit: British Airways)

I’m sure by know you have read the story of how Hasan Syed used Twitter to protest his dissatisfaction at the way British Airways responded to the loss of his father’s luggage on a trip from Chicago to Paris last weekend.

In the interests of accuracy and completeness, the passenger did not transit via Heathrow. He flew from Chicago to Newark on American Airlines, and from Newark to Paris on BA’s subsidiary OpenSkies.

Hasan spent close to $1,000 to promote a series of Tweets to alert users to his views on BA’s customer service failings:

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BA adds flights to Accra and Entebbe in Summer 2014

London Air Travel » Page 98

British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

Quite a mixed picture for BA in Africa at the moment. Yesterday, BA announced that its route to Lusaka was being dropped and this followed the suspension of its route to Dar es Salaam earlier this year.

On a more positive note, BA is to increase flights to Accra from daily to 10 weekly from Sunday 27 October 2013. Furthermore, the daily flight will be upgaged from a Boeing 777 to a Boeing 747 from Sunday 30 March 2014. This is no doubt a competitive response to Virgin Atlantic withdrawing from this route.

London – Accra

Flight BA0081 Depart 14:50 Arrive 20:20 (Daily)
Flight BA0079 Depart 22:45 Arrive 05:00 (Sat, Mon, Wed)

Accra – London

Flight BA0080 Depart 06:55 Arrive 14:55 (Thu, Sun, Tue)
Flight BA0078 Depart 22:45 Arrive 06:20 (Daily)

Flights to Entebbe in Uganda also increase from three flights to four flights a week from 30 March 2014 and also benefit from being retimed.

BA moves London Heathrow – Tel Aviv back to Terminal 5

London Air Travel » Page 98

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Just under a year ago, as part of a reshuffle of flights between London Heathrow terminals as British Airways digested its acquisition of bmi, BA decided to move all of its flights to Tel Aviv from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1, with all flights operated by an Airbus A321 aircraft.

This proved to be unpopular with passengers for three main reasons:

1. The switch to Terminal 1 meant no access to BA’s Galleries Club and First lounges in Terminal 5 and a change in terminals for the majority of transfer passengers.

2. The switch from three/four class widebody aircraft to a two class, economy and business class, aircraft.

3. The change in aircraft meant that no premium economy product was available on this route and members of the British Airways Executive Club could not use frequent flyer miles (“Avios”) to upgrade to business class (Club World).

BA has now reversed this decision and from Sunday 30 March 2014 all flights to Tel Aviv will operate from Terminal 5. Flights will operate twice daily, with an Airbus A321 aircraft and a four class Boeing 777 aircraft.

It has not been confirmed whether any routes will move from Terminal 5 to 1 to accommodate the move.

Terminal 1 is due to close in Spring 2016, at which point it is expected that BA’s flights will be consolidated in Terminals 3 and 5.

BA suspends London Heathrow – Lusaka

London Air Travel » Page 98

British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

British Airways has today announced that it is to suspend its thrice weekly route from London Heathrow to Lusaka in Zambia from 25 October 2013.

The final flight, BA255, from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Lusaka will operate on Friday 25 October 2013, and the return flight from Lusaka to London, BA254, will operate on Saturday 26 October 2013.

No reason has been given for the suspension of the route. However, it is a safe assumption that unsatisfactory commercial performance is the reason.

British Airways has provided rebooking guidelines which include re-routing options via other BA gateways in Africa. Additional options may be added in due course if BA can reach commercial terms with other airlines.