No drinks? No bags? No point! How British Airways lost my loyalty

I remember when I first flew BA. To that point my limited flying experience had been solely on EasyJet and Ryanair so you can just imagine how proudly I settled into my leather seat on that first flight to Heathrow, listening as city tycoons wrapped up important phone calls and the classical music played in the background. I remember setting the Financial Times to one side as I polished off breakfast, then reclining with a cup of coffee and surmising that all was right with the world.

My wife and I have loyally flown BA and their One World partners over the years and have always enjoyed a level of service that, especially in the U.K. domestic market, has rightly held the reputation of standing head and shoulders above the rest.

Well, they say it’s lonely at the top and my, how BA have fallen.

One of the most obvious deteriorations to their domestic service is the recent axing of complimentary food and drinks. Since Janurary 2017, there are no more hot breakfasts, teas, coffees, snacks unless you’re willing to pay. It was perhaps BA’s most distinguishing perk that separated it from the rest.

A little longer ago, BA introduced ‘hand baggage only’ fares, where as the name suggests, customers must then pay extra money to check a bag. It’s ‘unbundling’ the fare and sure, I get it. But somehow I managed to go for 2 years without running into this until recently, checking in at Gatwick, I was being asked to pay £40 per suitcase. The normal cost is a fairly typical £20 and it leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth that BA has jumped on the ‘prey on the unprepared’ bandwagon, taking extra advantage of passengers who didn’t take care to pay for their add-ons prior to travel day.

Tell me BA, how can the customer feel valued when when there’s a 100% premium on paying to check a bag at the airport versus ahead of time, something which costs the airline exactly zero? It is precisely what people so passionately hate about Ryanair.

Now paying for bags in one form or another is nothing new but what is even more disappointing to me is BA’s lack of grace toward their frequent flyers. As Platinum members with American, we are never charged for baggage, even domestically. Under BA’s rules, you could be a Gold Executive Club member and still you’d be left to pay the baggage fees on the ‘hand baggage only’ fares.

So what’s even the point of earning status with BA? I mean, with Priority Pass lounges everywhere and a million and one other ways to gain lounge access nowadays, I don’t consider that to be a strong draw factor. Priority check-in and boarding is nice but alone isn’t enough to make loyalty worthwhile. And now baggage fees aren’t being waived.

Both for frequent and non frequent travellers alike, having one ticket that included all the little perks; that’s exactly what earned BA our loyalty for so long. You’d gladly pay that little bit extra knowing that your journey would be pleasant, comfortable and you wouldn’t be nickelled and dimed from start to finish. That is now a thing of the past.

British Airways: I really don’t get the point any more. You’ve become just another low cost carrier, recognisable only by your fancy logo and especially unhappy workforce. You need to do better.

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