In January, we reported on a fairly nasty bed bug situation which seemed to be affecting British Airways flights. One passenger complained he had been bitten between 120-150 times during a 14-hour flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa. Another passenger said she and her 7-year old daughter were left covered in bed bug bites after flying with the airline.
At the time, staffers claimed this was only the tip of the iceberg – it was a common problem and cabin crew were regularly being bitten by the little blood-sucking critters as well. And that wasn’t the only problem – they said British Airways had a major cleanliness problem.
Customer complaints about the state of cabin cleanliness aren’t new. A well-heeled British art dealer, Michael Hoppen even took to writing into The Times of London newspaper recently to specifically complain of how filthy the airline’s planes and seats had got of late.
And on news that Qatar Airways was considering loaning widebody long-haul aircraft to BA, one commentator on the popular FlyerTalk website wrote, somewhat tongue in cheek:
“If they do, best go round the planes first and break a few seats, wedge some crumbs and old socks down a few cracks, and chuck lots of coffee down the toilets for staining purposes. Just to make us feel at home, like.”
It seems executives at the airline have received one complaint too many and are starting to take the problem seriously. A spokesperson for British Airways had already confirmed they were attempting to improve the cleanliness of its aircraft, telling The Times they had:
“…recently introduced a team of our own managers to work alongside our cleaners at Heathrow to carry out increased inspections and drive improvements.”
And now we’ve learnt British Airways is trying to get on top of the problem once and for all, with sources telling us the airline is conducting an “ultra clean” of every plane in the fleet. Apparently every nook, crack and crevice will be given a deep clean as part of a concerted effort to transform the image of the often maligned airline.
According to some reports, the airline’s newest aircraft – the Boeing 787 fleet will be the first to get the “ultra clean” treatment. This would seem to make sense as many of these aircraft have been grounded for periods at a time whilst urgent engine investigation work continues (the reason behind Qatar Airways’ offer to loan aircraft).
Other reports on Flyertalk confirm the news that British Airways is giving its ageing fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft a facelift with new fabrics and curtains. The plane’s, some of which are over 20-years old, should be given a deep clean during the upgrade work.
By Autumn 2019, British Airways has also announced plans to install new upgraded Economy seats to its fleet of Boeing 777’s at London Heathrow. The airline recently unveiled a new-look cabin for the aircraft type for flights departing from Gatwick Airport in the South of England – the new Economy cabin features a densified 3-4-3 configuration.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.