A review about British Airways A350 Club Suite from London to Las Vegas. In this review, I will not go into many details about the A350 Club Suite seat since I reviewed that fairly recently in-depth in this article.
This was a Lloyds upgrade voucher that I had moved twice during the pandemic which allowed me to upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club for free. The Avios card no longer exists. For comparison, the cheapest BA flight in business I can find in the next six months on the same route is £2869.
The flight was just before Easter and I was expecting the worst given the ongoing issues with lack of staff in the terminal. I was very pleasantly surprised and although the terminal was busier than I had seen it since the start of the pandemic, there were no long queues anywhere that I saw. Here is the Club queue:
I went through the First Wing which was also quiet and had a lovely chatty check-in agent. There was no real queue for security and I was soon on my way to the lounge.
There have been requests for more reviews of the other lounges rather than just the Concorde Room. So on this trip, I actually visited the Club, First and Concorde lounges. I will review the First lounge separately.
The Club Lounge was absolutely heaving despite the air of calm outside. If you were looking for a comfortable seat you’d struggle to find one although there was room at some of the long tables.
There were no paper reading materials which has been the case since the pandemic since you can use Press Reader which offers 7,000 digital newspapers and magazines. Although I have seen the odd copy of High life in the other lounges.
If you wanted to eat there are long communal tables and a few smaller individual tables by the coffee stations.
Drinks are back to help yourself. Although the shlevs looked a little bare, the overall selection was OK with
- Gordon’s Gin
- Tanqueray Gin
- Smirnoff Vodka
- Zacapa Rum
- Johnnie Walker Red and Black Label
- Bulleit Rye whiskey
There was also beer available in the fridges including Brewdog Jetstream.
Nicholas Feuilatte champagne was available to help yourself to, although I’m not very keen on it.
There were also 3 white and 3 red wines including some decent choices such as an Albarino and Cabernet Sauvignon.
There were a few snacks to help yourself to including fresh fruit but the rest of the food was ordered via a QR code.
Here is the menu:
If you wanted to work there were plenty of high stools to work on with power sockets and also a printer.
Unfortunately, I had been given the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass. This only applies to the US and means you get the pleasure of an extra security check at the gate. I do wish the US would get over itself and do away with this practise on flights to the US. It’s not like the UK doesn’t have decent airport security!
Although the person rounding everyone up was very pleasant, it took far too long in my opinion. I have no idea why we all have to stand there for ages when there were people ready to actually do the checks. Even once they had eventually got everyone they then took us downstairs and made us wait again even though one of the security staff was standing there waiting to do the checks doing absolutely nothing. Normally they do them quite early and you get to board first. This time despite being the second person for SSSS I boarded with groups 2 and 3 so had a long queue of passengers behind me as I was trying to stow my hand luggage and get settled. Not BA’s fault at all as they don’t do the checks, but it didn’t get the trip off to the best start since we were already delayed.
Once on board, I was given a menu and the staff member looking after me introduced themselves. Normally I can tell from the initial interaction what the service will be like and I was encouraged as the crew member seemed friendly. I was offered a washbag which was the standard White Company one.
Then welcome drinks were offered. I actually went for water as I had been enjoying one or two libations in the Concorde Room and needed a little break!
The seat and cabin
As I mentioned before I won’t go into much detail as there are plenty of details in my previous review. This time I was in 1K. I will just mention a few things about this specific seat of British Airways A350 Club Suite. It has the advantage of having the bulkhead
in front of you which I quite like as somewhere to ut my bag when I am unpacking my bits and bobs. It also can provide a bit of extra storage once airborne if you just want to pop something out f the way.
You can just see the edge of my shopping bag on the left on the ledge I am referring to.
I actually wouldn’t choose this seat again as it was quite noisy being by the galley. Crew were constantly moving trolleys in and out of the cupboard nearby and slamming the doors shut so it wasn’t great when I wanted to sleep.
I do really like the Club Suites and find them comfortable for sleeping and relaxing. However, on both legs of my journey I had issues with things not working. On the way out it was only minor. The headset cabinet which has the mirror was stuck fast although the cabin crew did eventually manage to prise it open. Also, the smaller of the two storage bins also had a sticky latch and kept getting stuck which made me afraid to use it in case my stuff got stuck in there!
The other interesting thing of note is the layout of the A350. You may remember that BA said they may consider a different layout for the galley on future A350s as it is a very tight working environment for the crew. One way the crew try to help themselves is to block the front toilet during service. That’s fair enough but on this flight it was blocked for the entire duration. This meant a constant queue for the two remaining toilets that were being shared by 56 people.
Food and drink
This for me is BA’s biggest onboard failing both in terms of the actual food and the service from crew.
Here is the menu for drinks:
I know they are switching over to Aviation gin, but I find it ridiculous to have three types of gin but missing fairly basic options such as Brandy or Bourbon.
I like Aviation Gin so I thought I would try that. I find Aviation gin has a lot more botanicals you can actually taste and I think the more full-favoured taste to it. The G&T was pretty weak and came with the usual nuts.
Here is the food menu of British Airways A350 Club Suite. Most of the choices have been around for a while which is a bit boring. My last long haul flights were in December since much of the menu was exactly the same! The choices for the mains looked OK but I decided to try the lamb.
Orders were taken at the start of the flight including wine and water choices. I’m also not a fan of the “lucky dip” wines where it just gives you a grape but no further details. I do understand that supplies can be inconsistent but would it be that hard for the CSM to announce perhaps when they do the intro for Club? Or perhaps when they take your order if you are interested in one of them?
I have no idea if they were short-staffed but there seemed to be the normal number of staff in Club. However, while the person serving me was friendly, it felt like the crew were doing the bare minimum. It can’t just me that remembers when you would normally get a drink before dinner, a top-up, then two glasses of wine with dinner? Now you get a drink before and one glass of wine with your dinner, no top-ups every offered unless you ring the call bell. In between service I never saw a single cabin member. So basically I was offered two drinks in the 7 hours before the second meal.
BA are still serving a single tray due to “Covid”, but really it’s due to lack of staff as it’s much quicker to serve. This is due to stay until winter schedules in November this year!
The tray arrived with the usual 3 bread rolls. The herb one was particularly tasty.
Sadly I got the avocado salad again which they have changed slightly. I’m sorry but this is a poor excuse for a starter. It was actually worse than the last time I had it! It’s something I’d expect in economy. There was far too much sauce, one solitary piece of avocado, half a cherry tomato and some soggy bits of chicory and a few edamame beans. The actual flavour is OK but it just screams cheap to me and I’m not keen on soggy veg swimming in sauce.
I went with the lucky dip chardonnay which tasted like a new world one to me but not an overly powerful or buttery one.
The lamb was better. It was meltingly tender, the vegetables were not overcooked and the potatoes while not crispy had a nice flavour to them. The thing that was lacking was the flavour of the leek sauce which was missing in action. It also seemed an odd choice to have a creamy sauce with lamb as that’s quite a fatty meat.
The highlight was the tiramisu as it was the best dessert I’ve had on BA for a while. It was both light but had plenty of punch from the coffee and the sponge fingers were not too soggy. The cheese was very basic with cheddar and red leciester. Again more what I’d expect in economy.
I sat for what seemed like an eternity waiting for my tray to be cleared. The crew seemed to disappear for ages after delivering the trays. When it was eventually taken I was not offered tea or coffee but they did at least ask if I wanted anything else so I tried the cabernet sauvignon which was decent, whatever it was!
For some reason bottles of water were not given out either. Either that or they were very late doing it. But around an hour after I finished my meal I gave up waiting and asked if they had any. I was given a bottle of water.
The second meal service I declined since I had eaten in the lounge prior to boarding. As I mentioned before, it would be great of they could offer a snack option like the old tapas plates for those that don’t want a full second meal.
I can actually report on the meal though as it was exactly the same when I flew to LA in December! This was very tasty and quite filling. The starter had a lovely rich sweet pepper taste with a little spice to give interest. It was very moreish and perfect for dipping your bread into.
The chicken dish was also tasty but very filling. It was also too similar to the starter in my opinion since both has a rich and sweet vegetable sauce. The dessert has a good balance with the creamy pannacotta contrasted with the sweet but slightly sharp passion fruit.
Entertainment and Wi-fi
I was pleased to see that there was a good choice of new films on as last time most of the choices were quite old. I went for House of Gucci which I really enjoyed – Lada Gaga was superb in it. Even if you don’t have an interest in fashion I think you would enjoy the story of a family feuding over a business. There was also the new Bond film which I think is Daniel Craig’s best by a long way.
The screen of British Airways A350 Club Suite is a great size and has high definition. You can either use the touchscreen or the handset to control the screen. Overall it felt like there was plenty of choice for both TV and films with plenty of recent choices. Normal service has resumed in this area!
There was Wi-Fi which was a bit patchy and went off for around 40 minutes. This was annoying as I had only gone for the short package rather than the full flight. Prices start from £2.99 for messaging to £14.99 for full Wi-Fi for the whole flight which I think is reasonable. When it was working it was reasonably fast.
It’s also worth mentioning I found out while I was onboard I was being flown by the lovely BA legend who is Captain Dave and has a huge following on social media. He very kindly popped down to say hello and offered me a tour of the cockpit afterwards. If you enjoy aviation, it’s worth following him on Twitter or Instagram.
He also captured some great images from the flight.
We were lucky enough to get some amazing views of Greenland and the frozen sea just to the west on our way to Las Vegas yesterday. ????✈️ pic.twitter.com/gfBqJ89hUd
— Captain Dave (@DaveWallsworth) April 8, 2022
The ground experience of British Airways A350 Club Suite was a pleasant surprise until the gate with no queues and relive calm in the terminal despite it being extremely busy.
I still love the new Club Suite which is a huge step up from the old seats. I was glad to see that both my Club Suite flights stuck on this trip as there is currently far more volatility in aircraft types than usual and you can’t rely on what your aircraft will end up being. Hopefully, this will improve later the year as the full 777 fleet at Heathrow are due to be refitted by the end of the year.
Sadly the food and service were average at best. If I’d paid the full price I would have been very disappointed. The lack of any top-ups whatsoever and the invisible crew did not make a great flight. While they were pleasant it felt like they were doing the bare minimum, which sadly I get this impression from many of the flights I have taken recently.
The main course was decent as was the dessert but the whole one tray experience and the poor starter did not feel worthy of business class. It’s definitely not what I would envisage when CEO Sean Doyle says he wants to create a “premium” experience on BA. It felt more like a premium economy meal and service.
When I do my review of the way back shortly I’ll be contrasting it with my friend’s flight as he flew back in economy with BA on the same route. The results are interesting.
Like our British Airways A350 Club Suite review? You can read more flight reviews here.
I can tottally agree with all you above statements, we travelled to Tampa last November in ClubWorld for the fist time and loved it, however coming home it was the worst flight I have ever had with BA. We are due to travel back to Tampa on the 5th May and again are trying ClubWorld which has a price tag of just over £4000! If we experience the same again with BA then we will switch to another airline to fly to Tampa. After flying with BA on this route for fifteen plus years! It’s areal shame that I already worried about our flight experience when we should be ecstatic about the thought of our ClubWorld flight and being a silver member too.
The downfall in service levels in BA’s First and Business cabins has now become the norm. Pre Covid, I regularly used to travel to and from JFK in business and if I was lucky, occasionally First Class. The service was slick and polished and bizarrely I used to see the same faces amongst the crew. I certainly didn’t have the problem of an empty wine glass back then.
I understand that a lot of BA’s experienced crew have left but they can’t all have left. I’ve read on another frequent flyer forum that the crew’s working position on the aircraft used to be decided on experience but now it’s done on alphabetical order. Why you wouldn’t have your most experienced staff dealing with your passengers at the front is very strange. You think BA would be utilising their most experienced staff.
Hopefully things will change and BA can return to the way they were pre-covid.
Yes they have ditched seniority and now get assigned to a working position for a period of time and then swap. So there is zero thought into it. You could get a completely inexperienced crew in one cabin.
So all the experienced crew could be at the back of the plane and inexperienced at the front? Why is that? Bizarre commercial decision to make.
Or more likely with the removal of quality and experience, you get a whole crew who are inexperience, uninterested or knackered youngsters. At best you might end up not wearing your food or drink, or won’t have a whole meal service in first completely forgotten about. BA have been a shamble for a number of years now. No amount of lip service from changing bosses will change what used to be a fantastic product. To see some of the prices they are trying to charge for a one tray service is a complete joke. Avios / 2-4-1 are the only way to go, full price (joke price) forget it
How does that make business sense to almost go out of your way to destroy what used to be the selling point of BA. The premium cabins and the staff that worked in them. Some years ago First crew were specially trained and not everyone could even work in First. New manager same down hill spiral
That is still technically true in F and CW but current shortages of staff sometimes impact that. You say new manager, I guess you mean Sean Doyle but it is actually Tom Stevens (director of brand and customer experience) and Amy James (head of IFCE) who oversee this.
Agree totally re the heaving lounge, service and quality of food. Have travelled six times in BA Club since the beginning of the year and been disappointed every time. It’s not the experience it used to be. Luckily some of our flights were booked using Avios because, flatbed aside, it’s certainly not worth the money
I had the same experience month ago in Las Vegas – London flight. Front toilet was blocked during the flight. Business class was 100% full as they cancelled the flight the day before. It was a nightmare. Not only queue but also dirty
Offering only a ruby port in business seems very mean to me. It should be reserve tawny, at least.
It’s not a good port either. I had it coming back from EWR and it wasn’t a patch on the port I had in the Virgin Clubhouse there.
It’s been that port for years now. I actually quite like it but I’m definitely not a port expert!
That lounge pic reminds me why I never use the Flounge. I’m happy to check in via the first wing, but I always head off to T5B Galleries after that.
Sure, the food / drink selection isn’t as good, but it’s always fairly quiet. Lounges are supposed to be places to relax / get some work done, not feel like you’ve been herded into a pen.
The pictures in the article are from the Club Lounge, not the F lounge.
Quotes from the article – “So on this trip, I actually visited the Club, First and Concorde lounges. I will review the First lounge separately.”, and above the photos of the lounge – “The Club Lounge was absolutely heaving …”
My bad, I saw the horse and didn’t look in any great detail.
I can say for 100% certain that wasn’t T5B though!
We are due to fly into San Diego next month the ONLY reason we are flying BA is down to the fact that we have Avois to burn. There is no way that I would be paying over 5K per ticket for a service that appear to be no better than PE at best. I know that Doyle cannot improve everything over night BUT there are thing that he could do , get rid of the tray service, improve quality of the food and beverage offering , put experienced staff back into the premium cabins. Until things show a major improvement I will burn further Avois on other one world partners , BA will be a choice of last resort
Where are the experienced staff, didn’t BA get rid of them all to save money or make their conditions so detrimental all the quality left. On our most recent First trip one girl was on her first ever flight working for BA it was a shambles
Sadly it’s now pot luck where they end up working instead of giving choice by seniority. They should have a system that ensures that someone brand new does not work in first!
The comments about the front toilet being blocked for the entire flight worry me. These things matter more as you get older!
That main meal menu looks very unappealing really! I don’t like fish, so would be stuck deciding between lamb which I’m kind of ambivalent about in general and going vegetarian. Definitely unlikely to be excited by the starter either.
Such a shame that the experience is so mediocre, particularly with lounge and crew.
If I can avoid any mishaps, supposed to fly with Virgin next week in Upper Class. Only did once before, in March 2020. Hoping it will be worth the wait!
Anybody doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result the next time , is the definition of insanity.
The world has changed, eveything is different, this is the new norrmal, you pampered people with ‘ avios to burn’ are just going to have to get used to it, or actually use ypur brain and do something different.
It’s not exactly “pampered” to have Avios to burn right now.
We have several hundred thousands in the household account and that’s sat there simply coz we haven’t been able to travel to use them in the last couple years/ have had masses credited back due to continuing cancellations.
A rude and unnecessary way to comment. If you disagree there are ways of putting things politely if you “actually use your brain” as you said.
I have absolutely no idea why you bother to read this blog then?? Since it’s all about having “Avios to burn” ? I have a friend who is a cleaner who uses Avios to visit friends abroad which she saves for by putting everything she buys on an Avios credit card. I’d hardly say that’s pampered! She couldn’t afford to do things like that without the card and Avios. Is that the definition of insanity?
@Brian, this is a Blog for people who are looking for great ways to travel for less. I’m sure we’re all aware of everything else that’s going on in the world so please remember the context of these comments.
Another useful review Michele. My other half and I currently have 5 Amex241’s EACH to use and we’re about to start travelling again (old voucher availability is awful by the way).
I have to say I’m filled with dread about flying with BA. A friend of mine who works in the Travel Industry hits the nail on the head when she says that “the trouble with BA is, they don’t make you feel special”.
They terminated experienced cabin crew- one of their unique resources and I’m horrified that they don’t have processes to ensure that those with more experience aren’t focussed on premium cabins.
On the day that QF announced 2025 for the first non-stop SYD LHR plus a super new F cabin, I would love to ask Mr Doyle, “what happened to BA’s spirit and innovation?”. I predict he’ll be gone soon – I know it’s been a tough 2 years for him but when the going gets tough, the (highly paid) tough are SUPPOSED to get going and that doesn’t mean BACKWARDS.
I’m right up there with you for the first world problem of no cognac, it’s insanely frustrating and really poor show, every time I ask the crew about it, they have no idea why, perhaps someone on here could explain why BA in their infinite wisdom have categorically stopped cognac. My lovely crew members promised me they would put in their report yet another customer has complained about the food and drink service..3 gins that’s just P’s us cognac drinkers right off. I think it’s because cognac is more expensive than gin. All other airlines and lounges have it. Poor show BA
Have had cognac on all of my recent trips. But this feeds directly into what I have written in response to another post where Michele commented on on board working positions. The cognac is not loaded in large bottles, there are usually 6 miniatures loaded in a JAB or FAB bar. (A for Ambient 🙂 No one thinks to look there because they’re looking for 750ml bottles.
If BA listened carefully to those of us who KNOW product and delivery then the working position system would change even a bit. It is likely you had someone working in that cabin for the first (and probably last) time for months at a time and it is not possible to keep up with product specifics the way we work.
i did the same flight to Vegas on the 19th and came back on the 27th, both ways the toilets at the front were closed the whole flight, i never even got offered a drink with my meal service on the way out and only got one on the way back because i made a point of asking for a glass of wine with dinner. crew were nowhere to be seen on the return flight after the meal service untill they came around asking if you wanted breakfast about an hour before landing.
Living in Phoenix we and many friends fly BA’s non-stop to London often and we all absolutely hate BA but have no choice. First of all they have discontinued First Class but at least the new biz class is a quantum leap forward over their atrocious previous seating. Now to add insult to injury they have moved this ten hour flight to Terminal 3 so you have to transfer to T5 for connections. What “genius” decided on this. Their food has always been terrible and there is no excuse for this except that they are CHEAP!! On the other hand we have always found the cabin crew to be very good – none of these issues are their fault.
We flew to Dubai in March on board was good no problems at all including top up drinks. But the business class lounge at both Heathrow & Dubai was very poor. Both meals were warmed up & not a very good quality, most disappointed.
It will be interestng to watch this for the next few months as I am booked LHR-AUS in Club World in September.
Interestingly enough, on a recent LHR-ANU trip on Virgin – we also experienced a lack of drink top-ups. Outbound was PE, inbound was Upper – so at least it isnt *just* BA going through this.
Interesting about Virgin. Both trips I did with them in the last couple of years were perfect. But I do know cabin crew morale is not great at the moment due to the rather pathetic pay offers!
Crew were polite and professional both Virgin flights. We just noticed the lack of top-ups, no second coffees after a meal, etc. We were somewhat disappointed as our original booking got changed by the airline. Outbound flight was a day later than planned, and equipment changed from an A350 to A330. We were really looking forward to the A350. While I can say there was nothing particularly wrong with the A330, it was a little worn. No reason was given for the change in flights apart from a vague reference to COVID precautions.
Some things I’d like to comment on, I am crew at BA.
1. One Tray Service
I would agree that the starter/salad is a pathetic offering. It would not be difficult to offer something more substantial and that could offer more to a variety of tastes. However, those who complain about one tray in general either haven’t experienced the full service or have forgotten that the dessert portion even when served separately was always a tiny portion and of no quality difference to the (tiramisu, in the current case) served on the tray.
The main course is exactly the same as it has been since Do&Co took over changing only with menu changes.
The presentation is always going to be something of a pigsty because as I learned the china ware is from a Do&Co stock and BA has obviously elected to use stuff from the “seconds” pile. That means that hideous little wire basket for the bread roll doesn’t match with anything else and the size and shapes of the other items were driven by cost and probably too many people at Waterside who each had a “good idea” resulting in a tray that wouldn’t support anything other than what it is. A more substantial (portion) starter wouldn’t fit on a one tray arrangement.
Something the objectors also forget, is that in full service mode, BA CW service takes too long. There is not the quality or substance or frankly the facilities to provide a grand restaurant experience. This is especially true on the A350 which BA has finally agreed was badly designed.
(No one will ever admit to being “the one” who chose the way the A350s are configured) With only two small galleys front and back and 320-odd people in between.)
2 The forward toilet on the A350
The placement of the toilet should have been aft of the galley to make it generally accessible. But that would have come at the cost of a club seat and even looking at the reconfigured B777-200 which has squeezed an extra seat in (49 instead of 48) we can see that revenue trumps all.
As it is, it is not possible to have passengers in and out of the galley because of the service arrangements as well as the security arrangements for flight deck access and (pilot) rest facility adding to the mix. It has been suggested that next-to-be-delivered A350s will be differently configured but that doesn’t help the current situation on board.
3. Where and when we work in First or Club.
The current system of alphabetized working positions is stupid. It was invented (and it seems from what social media says, is the say so of the head of cabin safety though why he has that authority over brand and delivery I can not say, but that is typical of BA) It replaced the seniority system of the former legacy crews who merged in with another fleet that did not work on a seniority based system. Whipp (safety manager) published the rotations lists but they do not take into account in any way shape or form, how they affect the personal morale of the crew (many do like it, but they tend to be the ones who never had much choice to begin with) or how the level of service is affected. I know of a few people who have tried to bring this to BA attention but they are deaf to the words.
There is no care or attention whatsoever to who works where in terms of service. As it stands it is more than probable that unpopular working positions such as running the club world galley are fobbed off onto someone at the end of that month’s list who might not have done the job for 6 months or more. But the same could be said of a cabin position in either F or CW. Satisfying the beloved union and making someone’s job in an office (such as Whipp) easier is the best goal of our management. An online position request system was invented for the A380 (which in normal times has 22 crew) but extending that to all long haul flights seems to be a puzzle too much for cabin crew management. That was a simple request system which the IFM could print before briefing and more or less have that admin done quickly and easily satisfying most if not all of the crew preferences. Again, there is no consideration to having the best people in the best positions. Your article focus is on premium cabins but the best people in the best positions also mean that the person in the middle seat at 55E or somewhere also stands a nice change of having a good experience. Perhaps Michele you could use your influence to get this changed by way of your blog before the one tray starters are actioned! Would you or your readers prefer a generally more wholesome and enjoyable experience or just a bigger piece of avocado?!! (I ask that flippantly but I do mean it too !!!)
I know I have given up completely on trying to talk to them.
4. Service Levels
We do try. There will always be someone who lets the side down, but the position system (above) is directly responsible for many of the failings. We are at an extremely low morale level right now and I think rock bottom is still some way down. Mixed flying (long haul and short haul) is not suiting everyone but there are two main obstacles in getting that ratio fixed. Again, IFCE management are not working on either in any meaningful way.
One – the working blocks can be physically exhausting. 8 sectors on our cramped under facilitated A320Neo on days 1-3 before boarding an A350 (with the above noted handicaps) to go to Chicago for instance is too much. Similarly, a 20 sectors 5 bay block with 2 days off and the Las Vegas is also killing.
Two – Management with every excuse in the book continually delay and stall restoring our crew swap facility. This name doesn’t really do the function good in the public eye when they hear about it because it sounds like I show up and give you a bad service to Las Vegas because I would rather have swapped and gone to Maldives. But it is so much more than that. It is automated facility that allows swaps of trips, leave, days off to afford crew a balance between the demands of the job and homelife. Currently our options and choices are almost zero.
Thanks for your very comprehensive reply. I can imagine the current working conditions are pretty poor with reduced crew and unhappy passengers. I am due to meet with one of the senior managers at BA soon so I’ll make sure to include your comments. Totally agree with the best people in the best places. And yes they can’t fit a bigger starter on the tray but there are definitely some that are better like the burrata back from the US which is more substantial and akin to what it used to be. I remember when you used to get a side salad and a starter!
Thank you for this. Its useful to have some insight as to what is going on “behind the scenes” that are not necessarily apparent to those who arent crew.
Fully concur with my colleague Monica. I am part time (75%) and haven’t ever had first choice of working position and when I look at the calendar of alphabet change versus my week off, I probably won’t see first choice. My favourite positions are First or Club World, which I have done on my seniority as I have been there 35 years. Matt Whipp would argue that it is safety related to keep rotating but I think it is juvenile to believe everything is at risk because someone hasn’t been (number 7, say on a 777) for X amount of time and has “forgotten” where the infant life jackets are. Maybe that was experience at Virgin before he came to BA. A number of us have written to him but any response on changing the system or even adapting it slightly to take the matters you (Michele and others) have raised is that it is a “trial” and that it is negotiated with BASSA and so taking the position that it is inflexible and more or less the bible going forward. This position system is Wrong For The Customer apart from morale.
There is a workshop being set up for crew to collaborate in Club World changes that are on the horizon but the impression I got when I emailed and asked about joining was that things focus on a new meal order form, because in BA logic, anything that can be written down to “capture customer preferences” (his words) is much better than actually changing things at a most basic level to get the whole thing right. So I withdrew interest. I have seen too many upstarts making changes that end up being scrapped.
Good luck with your management meeting Michele, it would be well appreciated if you made a post on the subject because as you can see some of us have to take our problems to outside sources to TRY and make changes that our customers want. No one is listening at BA. No one.
Like Monica, I am crew as well. I’ve been an Onboard Manager for over three decades.
A few points I’d like to comment on
One Tray service – Despite what anyone says, this is down to staff shortages, nothing else. I can understand why it’s went that way but in my opinion the full service could be reinstated. It would mean removing a proper full size starter and putting a main course in its place. Not exactly hard work.
Working Positions – As an Onboard Manager, I have to work the same position every trip and have for years now, however when it comes to my cabin crew, I want my most experienced crew dealing with my customers who are paying a small fortune to fly in our premium cabins. I want to make clear this is not just about knowing how to set up a First Class table or presenting wine in Club World, ( although that’s another story) its about how you interact with our Premium customers and the conversations you have with them. Our previous Seniority based system allowed those very crew members who’d been flying for a long time to utilise their experience in any cabin they chose. Not all crew who’d done 20 or 30 years always worked in First or Club. Some went to work In World Traveller as that was just where they liked to work. This system allowed relatively inexperienced crew to gain confidence in dealing with customers before progressing on to the cabins nearer the front of the aircraft. The decision to get rid of this system, in my opinion, has been commercial suicide. My heart sinks when I’ve got four or five really eager, experienced crew in the briefing room ready to work in Club or First but because their surname begins with A, B or C, I can’t utilise their experience. It’s a real shame. I used to be as proud as punch working in Club and now it’s a sheer embarrassment.
As mentioned above, no managers in IFCE ( Inflight Customer Experience) seem to be listening. It’s fed back and fed back but nothing gets done. I regularly read Flyertalk to see what our customers are liking and not liking onboard and inexperience in our premium cabins seems to be a recurring theme.
The really sad thing is that some crew that used to be on top form are now getting so dismayed onboard that they are giving up and their performance is now being questioned. So sad.
Michelle, I was delighted to read you could possibly have a meeting with a senior manager from BA. I am not sure if this is someone from the Board or someone from IFCE, but I would be grateful if you could let them know actually what’s going on onboard our aircraft.
I am saddened that we now have to communicate with our IFCE management through seomeone like yourself.
There is nothing to suggest that Heathrow Cabin Crew will be any different from Mixed Fleet in that the turnover is still going to be high. When I started flying it was a career supported by salary, perks and roster types. That isn’t so any more, and a 20 year old new starter is unlikely to still be here in 5 years time. Seniority, which could be rebranded to make it more palatable for some, along with some tweaks, is what serves the customer.
I already see a fairly diverse spread of staff numbers and if I review my last 10 ABS sheets (briefing) I would say although I come out fairly highly I came out on top 4 times, 6 times within the top 4.
I am not a disciple of the service standards it is fair to say, because they were OK years back before Club World went so premium heavy and we had the people, space and equipment to support what desk jockeys at Waterside want now and are often impractical in delivery to the written word.
We don’t want to put pressure on you Michele to help us out but you and your readers are in a far better position than any of us now.
Shock ~ Horror! Are you all telling me that I can’t drink the wonderful Otard VSOP Cognac anymore on any flight? As an ex restaurateur we used to only stock this brand, which is a wonderful small cognac house, and was always one of the best selections in BA Club [XO in First]………
The port was always the best on BA., [for god’s sake it’s one of the most British gastronomic habits like scones & clotted cream etc.,] to be promoted by BA. I do hope their management are reading this, as they can’t let things slip any further, and as you all so accurately state, how far can you dilute the product in the cabin, which will eventually drive us all away to use other airlines who originally copied BA?!?!
What to expect at your meeting depending on who you meet.
1. Crew Swap – Amy James (Head of IFCE) will tell you about systems sitting on top of systems that must all tally up and can only do so when our flying agreement is fully in place or when everyone is converted to integrated flying but there will be nothing we haven’t heard for 18 months that doesn’t keep delaying things.
They will tell you that we have Facebook to use as an interim system – the same people who police those pages for references to the company suddenly find it ok to have crew place their entire schedule into a not (really really) secret group domain. Thanks Amy.
Crew Swap was a promise made when the new fleet started and is about 18 months in the works now. It allows people to do more than just trade trips. It helps people live their lives around irregular hours.
2. Working Positions – Matt Whipp (Head of Safety) will tell you it’s a trial, that it’s negotiated with the unions (which seems to make things stick fast into concrete and never get reviewed) He (or they) will quote Naomi Butchers (Head of cabin crew development) who told us two days that “we are the best in the business”. Subtext: Everyone is equal, every one has the same skills, interests and awareness so everyone can and will work in any position. Amy will tell you how she is averse to seniority. Tom Stevens (Head of Brand and customer experience) will tell you that Amy and her team have it all under constant surveillance.
Tom Stevens is also the man who in reference to Willie Walsh having mentioned BA and how it can be split out of IAG said that Willie had no insider information and had left the business. The man who was here for many years and was a founding figure in IAG has no inside information. OK Tom whatever gets you through the day.
3. On board service.
Sajida Ismail (head of inflight product) won’t say anything because she never responds to anything. The woman who came from JetAirways via Gulf Air and Etihad product delivery thinks hand running everything on our huge club world cabins is a great way to go. Ask her when last she worked to LAS or DXB and tried to juggle that mess and come out looking like… Etihad.
That brings me back to alphabetized working positions. A few weeks ago a customer asked me (as I passed by from Door 1 back to Door 5 on the 77H) to tell my colleague to stop calling his wife Babes. (Sweet girl, really the kindest intentions but surname letter got her a spot in First Class.
4. Service related problems resulting from poor rostering
Brian Lewis (Operations Resource Manager) will tell you he doesn’t understand the problems we talk of because bidding is so successful. He uses the Caribbean as his bench mark for bid success. Everyone on those flights bid for it as the most popular routes so of course the request ratio is going to be high.
Lastly if it’s Sean Doyle you meet, be kind to him because he is the only person who has actually stood up and said that things must be better and that the results of Reality Check are difficult reading. But please tell him these things we have all said here. Perhaps ask him how crew can get behind the leadership who are responsible for where we are.
Our customers need a better deal and we are on our knees.
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