Club Class is `tatty, tired and overpriced'

BRITISH AIRWAYS' Business Class, once lauded for its innovation, was yesterday described as "tatty and tired". Air-travel experts held differing views as to where British Airways had gone so wrong with its business customers, but most agreed it was in definite need of the revitalised Club World, announced yesterday.

Alex Mcwhirter, airlines specialist with Business Traveller, magazine, blamed BA's refusal to discount, despite competition from other airlines.

With the business market shrinking - a 10 per cent reduction in yield year on year - he believed BA was unwise to keep increasing its fares: "A few years ago Club World was a very good product, but others have been catching up. In some cases one might argue they offer better products," he said.

At a time when business travellers are increasingly bent on economising, Mr Mcwhirter discovered you could save thousands of pounds on some long- haul trips. He quoted a return trip fare to New York with Air France for pounds 1,350, considerably less than BA's pounds 3,200. "BA will only discount with large, multi-national customers - they won't for the ordinary person," he said. "Air France may be a longer flight [via Paris] but for that price it could be worth it.

"Delta's new business class is offering 10 inches more leg room, seats with five motors, new catering facilities, and a 20 per cent discount."

He added: "BA's business class is a good product and reliable. These are important factors to some people, but others will be looking at the savings to be made by going elsewhere."

David Learmount, operations editor of Flight International, agreed: "There is no doubt BA never offers the cheapest prices."

However, he added: "The message is uncomplicated. BA wasway ahead of the competition. It was innovative, and one of the most profitable airlines in the world - it still is. But that was it's heyday and it is never going to reach that level again."

Chris Jasper, business editor of Flight International, felt that other more logistical factors had prompted the slump in business travel: "There is no doubt the business product is tatty, poor value for money and with low morale among its cabin crew," he said, but added that the East Asian economic crisis had hit the airline hard.

"But the main problem is it is offering the wrong routes and services for its business market," he said.

Mr Jasper insisted that the airline, which has always been a business- orientated carrier, was going to have to make changes, increasing its ratio of professional passengers by introducing smaller aircraft, and focusing on profitable routes. In some cases it could have flights dedicated entirely to business.

BA insisted it was doing just that - by replacing the Boeing 747s in its long-haul fleet with smaller 777s. Europe was also proving unprofitable, and the airline has announced that it is cutting its 80 continental destinations to 60. Flights will be transferred on to the more profitable business routes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
booksNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015