The British Airways IT meltdown. A week on.

It’s been a week now since the British Airways IT meltdown that caused chaos for days.  For once there’s been a huge amount of media coverage of this pretty calamitous event for the airline.

I’m not going to rehash what’s been said, but it’s pretty bad.

  • For whatever reason, the power failed.  It’s reported it was turned off due to maintenance.
  • The disaster recovery data centre wasn’t in a position to take over
  • British Airways had no communications plan
  • There were no manual procedures in place for the staff in the terminals and worldwide to fall back upon
  • They screwed over customers by not rebooking them with the first available seat and restricting customers to BA or oneworld only
  • Stingy with compensation and not clear that they will be pay out EU 261/2004 (EU mandated compensation for downgrades, delays and cancellations)

It’s been clear for the past few years, a process that has accelerated since Alex Cruz took over as CEO, that they really don’t care about their passengers and frequent fliers.  If things go wrong, it’s up to you to fix, and they might or might not make you whole at the end of it all.

Cost-cutting on passenger-facing products is rampant albeit with some minor glimmers of hope such as the return of the amuse bouche in first class and flowers returning to the lavatory.

Club World is old and uncompetitive.  The investment plans are laughable and if the rumours are true won’t substantially change the proposition.  American Airlines has a far superior product across the north Atlantic with Delta and United also increasingly competitive too.  Travelling east pretty much every other major carrier has a better proposition.

With all of these shenanigans, products cuts and attractive competition, what place does British Airways have in my future travel plans?

As a London based traveller with Gold Guest List status in the Executive Club it’s pretty hard not to fly British Airways.

If you value your time, they fly nearly everywhere direct and non-stop.  Yes there is competition from the likes of SkyTeam and Star Alliance carriers, but the challenge is they’re fragmented and there’s no stand-out frequent flier programme to defect to, like the old BMI Diamond Club was.

The Executive Club has attractive mileage earning opportunities for UK-based residents.  Miles & More which is my secondary programme isn’t that great with it’s high mileage requirements when spending miles, but it’s the only choice if you want to travel in first class on Lufthansa.  Which is awesome.

I think that Virgin Atlantic has a huge opportunity here if they were to join SkyTeam.  At the moment, being outside the three global alliances, they’re too much of a niche proposition, despite the supposed de-emphasis of said alliances.

So for me, flying British Airways is pretty inevitable.  However I’m very much reducing my spend there, burning miles, and looking at alternatives wherever possible.  In September I’ll hit life-time gold status and won’t look to renew my Guest List status.

Why?  British Airways isn’t investing in the customer relationship, so why should I?




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