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British Airways Has Just Found a Way to Make its Short-Haul Business Class Even Worse

British Airways Has Just Found a Way to Make its Short-Haul Business Class Even Worse

British Airways has just managed to make flying its short-haul Business Class even less comfortable and frequent flyers are, quite rightly, not very happy.

Short-haul Business Class on European airlines including British Airways has never been a particularly comfortable experience.  It’s standard for European Business Class (which BA calls Club Europe) to be made up of standard Economy seats in a 3-3 configuration but the middle seat is blocked for extra room and privacy.

British Airways

Along with a blocked middle seat, Club Europe passengers generally get lounge access, priority boarding, additional luggage allowance and, of course, some form of complimentary food and beverage service.

In recent weeks, British Airways has sought to massively improve its catering compared to European rivals like Air France, Lufthansa and KLM but in one fell swoop, British Airways has lost the advantage once again.

On Thursday, British Airways started to put short-haul Club Europe passengers in the middle seat.  To make matter worse, some passengers didn’t even know until they got to the aircraft door.  Others found out in a flatly worded email just minutes before they were meant to board.

The email explained that owing to the airline’s own IT outage the day before, it would start filling the middle seat in order to squeeze as many passengers on every flight which hadn’t already been cancelled.

“British Airways is still suffering the after-effects of technical issues across the UK and Europe this week which has had a significant impact on our airports, flight schedules and colleagues,” the email explained.

“As a result, we are in a position where we have regrettably had to cancel some flights and move individuals from those services on to others or change aircraft types to accommodate as many customers as we can.”

“As a result of the impact, we have had to take the difficult decision today to temporarily use the middle seats in our Club cabin for Club Europe customers, to help get as many people away as possible.”

Passengers have not yet been told whether they’ll receive any form of compensation but have been promised the other perks of flying Business Class including food and drink – small consolation for many frequent flyers who just want some extra space. 

Some passengers expressed sympathy for British Airways and said it was fine to start assigning middle seats in Business Class in rare and isolated circumstances.  This isn’t, however, an isolated incident.

The last time British Airways filled the middle seat in Club Europe was only last month.  In that case, it was down to yet another IT outage.  

Last week, chief executive Sean Doyle admitted customers were “rightly fed up” with BA’s performance over the last few months. The airline is now pro-actively trimming its schedule through the end of May in order to build ‘resilience’ into its operation.

Many of the problems have been linked to staff shortages owing to BA’s eagerness to reduce its workforce at the height of the pandemic.

View Comments (8)
  • Did you decide to just go full clickbait with this OR is it intentioal stupidity?

    It’s not like BA have announced the removal of blocked middle seats BECASUE THEY HAVENT! Whilst very annoying to those affected it is NOT BA policy to fill those seats unless there are extenuating circumstances. Just because it has happened twice in short succession does not mean the blocked middle seat has been removed as a standard.

    This is pathetically lazy reporting

    • Click bait or false advertising? Oh wait you’re ok with BA engaging in the latter I guess. The seat is what people pay for.

      • I think you’ll find in your term of carriage agreement on BA, and ALL other airlines in the world, the words “We may need to change or move your seat for operational reasons” are both there and fairly prominent. It is standard industry practice to include such a clause and has been for decades. The article falsely implies that removal of blocked middle seats in the CE cabin is a new/ change of policy and has become standard. It patently has not hence my, and numerous others, comments about the clickbait misinformation basis.

        The alternative to them not making use of those middle seats would be that they left, at least, hundreds of pax ( over the course of a day) stranded at airports all across Europe and beyond. Likely resulting in a sizeable portion of those pax missing connections or requiring overnight hotel stays. Both of which BA would be liable for not to mention the additional personal inconvenience caused to those passengers who have already been delayed. Pause a moment and ask yourself how YOU would feel if they hadn’t utilized those blocked middle seats & left you stuck in a hotel abroad keeping you away from your loved ones when they had seats they could’ve used to get you home. I imagine your POV on their approach will miraculously change when you view the situation from that side of things.

        Would I be a bit put out if someone was placed in the blocked middle seat. Yes most likely but in such a situation and where the alternative was others suffering more due to no fault of their own then I, like any reasonable human being, would have compassion for my fellow man and live with it. It wouldn’t be their fault and i’d email BA post flight to request a chunk of miles as way of a service recovery.

        Finally it is NOT mis-selling because it was an emergency measure deployed solely to deal with a non-standard operational event. When they sold the seat BA had every intention of providing you with the marketed blocked middle seat.

        I assure you I’m always more than happy to pull BA up on things and I’ve easily accumulated enough miles off of them by way of service recovery to quite literally fly around the world at least twice. I do, and happily, hold them to account when they mess up including calling them out on the IT failures at the time( s). However this article is either written with intentional ignoring of the facts of the matter & making false assertions throughout or I would have to assume that Mateusz never wrote this article or checked it before publishing as he should know better based on his normal level of industry knowledge. In which case he would deserve to be called out for disingenuously posting a ‘ghost writer’ article & allowing it to go unchecked and attaching his own name to it. It can only be one of two of those things.

  • This article is a terrible interpretation of a proactive attitude towards disruption. It’s also a policy they’ve used for many years, nothing new.

  • We flew by BA on short haul only once from London to Madeira and paid exorbitant prices for snacks. They did not have most of the items on the list. Total indifference towards customers.
    We regularly fly by BA on long haul to India which is a direct nonstop flight. Just few days ago my husband has flown back to UK and he told me that the meal supplied was so atrocious that atlast he has agreed to fly by other airlines and not pay over the odds price of a BA ticket. Covid has given BA an excuse for even more indifferent behaviour towards its passengers. They have totally lost it and do not think it is necessary to deliver good service to their paying customers. Until they go bust BA will never recognise where they are going wrong.
    We very recently went to Australia on SriLankan flights; actually 2 inter connecting flights in Business class and it was a pleasure to travel with them. They are so welcoming, polite and nothing is too much trouble for them; unlike BA staff who hide away and do not want to be bothered by passengers except when the final call for descent is announced by the pilot; then they are all smiles and happy to strap themselves into their positions. Really pathetic service by BA airhostesses.

  • The headline doesn’t match the facts within the article, and you should be ashamed of yourself for such blatant click baiting. This was a TEMPORARY measure.

    And European ‘business class’ is a joke anyway – paying business class bucks for a coach seat with 29″ pitch. It sucks whether anyone is in the middle or not.

    • I thought this was a great way to present this article without giving the whole story away. As you know, this is a little different to other headlines on the blog and I’m sorry to learn that you don’t feel it hit the mark. Thank you for the feedback… I do appreciate it!

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