Thursday, January 25, 2007

BA - the next pterodactyl?

A flying dinosaur? Maybe, if British Airways can't get its house in order. Personally, I work hard not to fly BA, and here are a few reasons why.

1999. BA Flight from Houston to London takes off. 747-400, full consist. Immediately after take off I am told only the four toilets at the back are functioning. This on a 10 hour flight. Imagine having paid a full first class fare on this flight and then having to line up for 30 minutes to use the toilet! Purser suggested I write to Robert Ayling, then Chairman. "He always answers letters". He didn't. And he didn't last very long as Chairman, either.

2004. Flight from Luanda to London, an overnight flight of 8 hours duration. Full fare business class has European style business seats (economy three across with center seat not used). Only Iberia compares this unfavorably and that on a much shorter flight (Madrid to Malabo, five hours).

2006. Flight from Luanda to London. BA accepts a medevac patient without any doctor or nurse to accompany the patient who deteriorates rapidly. Plane has to land at Algiers to unload patient who presumably wouldn't have made it for another 2-1/2 hours in the air - that's frightening.

Once upon a time I had a BA Gold Card and traveled from Houston to India on a regular basis. That was before Ayling started his cost cutting exercise to make bigger profits. I switched my business to Continental for the Transatlantic flights and never looked back. Continental spent money to make money. A smart approach in a world where customer satisfaction equals loyalty. These days I give Air France my loyalty and it generally works well. At Christmas, when BA shut down all its regional flights out of foggy Heathrow, we flew to Paris from foggy Birmingham on schedule. It was so efficient it was embarassing.