British Airways Long Haul – That Flight – Part 2

This post has been a bit delayed – it’s part 2 of this post from December 2012 (specially for Danuta 🙂 )

So, after 2 hours in the the Singapore Qantas Club lounge, its back onto BA16 and the haven of comfort and serenity that is 43D (not) for the remaining 14 hours to London.  

My ankles have really swollen up – but they do this every time so I’m not too worried.  Won’t make that mistake again. 

There’s a different crew on this leg and while the previous bunch were rather indifferent, this lot seem a bit cheerier.  Unfortunately our aisle has someone who is older;  efficient, but in a rather brutal way – without any personal warmth at all.  She stalks up to a row in front of me and barks at a teenage male passenger about the overhead lockers (he was wearing a trilby so he clearly deserves it).   The FA in the other aisle is a bubbly girl who addresses passengers as ‘love’.  And she has tinsel in her hair.  I want to be on that side of the plane – probably everybody else does too.

In one of my wide-awake-but-slightly-crazed-from-lack-of-sleep phases, I start thinking about the customer experience I’m having.

Take the food.

On Emirates, dinner on the plane is a bit like opening your presents at Christmas – you know something good’s about to happen because there’s an attractive menu to inform you of the delights ahead.  Then there’s the build up as we go through the heated towel ritual.  When it eventually arrives, the tray has lots of interesting little packages –  ooh salad-y thing with smoked salmon, ooh delicious pudding, ooh cheese and biscuits to go with the shiraz, ooh, warm croissant with butter and jam (breakfast), ooh little chocolate to have with coffee.  It’s nicely done.

With BA there is no menu and a fairly bare tray.  I’m not complaining about the sufficiency which was fine. Quality was adequate at best.  It was just very clear that nobody gave a stuff: ancient, cold, dry croissants;  ‘chicken or beef sir?’ as the standard descriptor.  And no chocolate to go with the coffee (thank you Tanya for the Maltesers!).

In case you’re thinking ‘she’s a bit pouty over the lack of an After Eight mint’ it seems indicative of 2 very different approaches:

  1. BA:  what can we get away with?  Let’s strip out everything and put the bare minimum back in. Quality and service don’t matter because it’s the back end of the plane.
  2. Emirates:  what can we do to provide a premium product at reasonable cost?   Menu?  Tick.  Tiny chocolate for post-dinner coffee?  Tick.  Heated croissants with butter and jam for breakfast?  Tick.  A choice of wines?  Tick. Heated towels for any nose-picking South Africans?*  Big tick.  *I realised later that there must have been a handwipe sachet in with the plastic cutlery.  I didn’t notice it and neither did the South African.

I’ve mentioned before that the organisation I work for is completely focused on customer satisfaction and the customer experience.  I compare what’s happening to me on BA with a recent experience at my bank where, despite my being a techno-dullard, the concierge showed me a new way to bank a cheque quickly and easily at an ATM (amazing!).  Best of all, she managed to do this while being totally professional and charming and not making me feel like an idiot or ‘I should know better’.

Being an FA must be a hard job but there appears to come a time when they lose the ability to relate to economy passengers as human beings, and view them as livestock.   I cringed for the teenager in the trilby – nobody needs to be spoken to or humiliated like that, especially in front of a cabin full of people.   It just shouldn’t happen.

BA needs to get back the ability to affect customers positively.  They appear to have forgotten that all of us on that wretched plane have paid a fair whack of money to be there.  In exchange for all that very hard-earned dosh, I expect to get from A to B safely, to be treated as a human being and receive a reasonable level of service.

Seems like it’s too much to ask.

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2 comments

  1. As I hadn’t visited your blog for a while I’m glad you gave me that prompt yesterday…….and you’ve not disappointed! 🙂 I love your posts! BTW – the
    FA’s on Canadian Airlines must graduate from the same training centre as the BA girls e.g. travelling to Vancouver last year, I had to wait 7 hours into the 14hr flight before I could have a cup of tea!! We could have all the water our bladders could hold, but NO TEA (or coffee) until the appointed hour. “Not happy Jan!” Danuta 🙂

    1. Hi Danuta – just seen your comment (I haven’t looked at my blog for a while tsk tsk) – glad you enjoyed the post.

      I’ve heard bad things about Canadian Airlines too; same lack of service as BA and the same attitude: sit down and shut up.

      7 hours is too long to go without a cup of tea – I’d go into a decline! You do wonder if it’s deliberate – almost like ‘how far can we torture them before someone loses it…’.

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