The British are growing accustomed to supply chain woes – Empty supermarket shelves, petrol stations without any petrol and fears that Christmas might have to be cancelled because of a shortage of delivery drivers and workers in key sectors. It was only a matter of time before the country’s flag carrier airline was affected.
Cabin crew at the airline have been told to start rationing a growing list of everyday essentials as supply chains snarl and BA’s usual stockists of basics items like orange juice, linen and bedding fail to fulfil the airline’s orders.
And the epitome of first world problems has started to be inflicted upon frequent flyers as passengers report a shortage of champagne onboard some short-haul flights. British Airways has been forced to buy up vast quantities of Rose champagne as supplies of its usual fizz dwindles.
With no end in sight for the wider supply chain problems though, rationing will continue for some time to come.
On long-haul flights, cabin crew have been instructed to only offer water outside of main service times although flight attendants will meet passenger requests for other drinks so long as it is in stock.
Children’s activity packs are also only being offered on request as BA tries to hold onto its dwindling stock, while unused bedding and pillows have to be quickly hidden away rather than offered to customers who might want an extra pillow or blanket that is going spare.
Other items may be swapped for an alternative or be missing altogether at short notice.
“You can help to manage expectations by explaining any product changes during your initial introductions; and by proactively offering alternatives,” an internal instructs cabin crew.
“The little things you do on your next flight will help to make a big difference on your future flights. As a team, we can still deliver a premium service and I know you will try your best with the resources available – so thank you in advance.”
“We hope to return to normal loading as soon as possible,” the memo continued.
The supply problems could, however, get a lot worse before they get better. British Airways plans to ramp up services over the next few weeks after the UK government slashed the number of countries on its pandemic Red List.
By December, BA will be flying to Cape Town double-daily, while flights to Mexico City and Cancun will resume within weeks. The airline also plans to massively increase its services to the United States as soon as the Biden administration drops the travel ban in early November.
“It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries, and now it’s time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully vaccinated travellers to ensure we don’t lose our place on the global stage,” commented BA chief executive Sean Doyle on Thursday.
“We are ready, and we look forward to operating our first flights and welcoming back our customers,” Doyle continued.
But just as pandemic restrictions are lifted, British Airways is facing another challenge – the supply chain crisis that is blighting the UK’s emergence from the worst days of the pandemic.
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.