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Is British Airways Seriously Considering Rebranding its Frequent Flyer Club and Cabin Names to Appeal to New ‘Premium Leisure’ Travellers?

Is British Airways Seriously Considering Rebranding its Frequent Flyer Club and Cabin Names to Appeal to New ‘Premium Leisure’ Travellers?

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British Airways could be looking to rename its frequent flyer club and its branded cabin classes to appeal to a new breed of premium leisure travellers who continue to drive demand at the Heathrow-based airline and as business travel lags behind following the pandemic.

In recent months, the airline has been sending out detailed surveys to travellers and frequent flyers asking for their opinions on a range of topics, including whether the airline should start offering milk-based alternatives and how the airline could improve its onboard Wi-Fi.

a sign in a building
British Airways

Some of these questions are based on touchpoints that British Airways has already recognised should be changed and is working on building a business case to secure the necessary funding, while other topics are at an earlier exploratory phase.

British Airways created its frequent flyer club back in 1982, and while the programme has changed significantly over the years, its name – the British Airways Executive Club – has remained constant in the last four decades.

For many years, businessmen represented the bulk of members of BA’s frequent flyer loyalty programme, but times are rapidly changing, and a name change could now be on the cards.

British Airways has been asking members whether the current name of the programme is relatable and aspirational, suggesting the airline is concerned that passengers aren’t signing up as members because they don’t think the frequent flyer programme is for them… in other words, they still think the programme is designed primarily for business travellers.

For an airline, that means they are losing crucial data about passengers and making it a lot harder to drive loyalty and repeat business.

One suggestion is calling the programme ‘Flying Club’ – the name that Virgin Atlantic, which has focused on premium leisure travellers for many years, uses for its loyalty programme.

Also on the cards to be changed are BA’s branded classes of travel. British Airways was one of the first airlines to give bespoke names for its different cabins, such as Club World for Business Class, World Traveller Plus for Premium Economy and World Traveller for Economy.

Again, the branded cabin classes are a relic of the 1980s, with Club World introduced in 1988 and World Traveller following a few years later in 1991.

To further complicate BA’s cabin class naming structure, the airline also has Club Europe and Euro Traveller, which represent Business Class and Economy on short-haul hops across Europe.

The question is whether these branded cabin classes still make sense in 2023 – especially for travellers who are shopping for flights on price comparison sites and don’t instantly know the difference between different cabin names.

Of course, British Airways isn’t alone in branding its cabins – United has Polaris, Virgin Atlantic offers Upper Class and Air Canada has Signature Class, to name but a few.

It’s not known how far BA is into the process of potentially changing its cabin class names, although the airline is likely looking to gauge brand awareness of the different names and what they represent across a wide range of travellers.

That brand awareness and product knowledge are no doubt very good amongst loyal customers who have flown with BA for many years, but are they potentially confusing and even offputting for the airline’s new premium leisure travellers?

Name changes like this would likely be opposed by existing members who see little value in a rebrand when they’d like to see BA focus on other aspects of the customer experience that desperately need improving but if executed well, the idea is to attract new customers, while not alienating longtime members.

What do you think? Should British Airways embark on a rebrand of its loyalty programme and cabin classes?

View Comments (4)
  • BA need to start delivering a competitive service rather than just advertising one…
    Effectively Clean cabins not the superficial pass that happens today
    Responsive customer services (less than the current 2-4month)
    Catering availability (ig Ibe paid for a premium cabin and an item appears on the menu then it should be available or in worst case, I shouldn’t be landed into a working day hungry because they didn’t load enough for all onboard in any class)
    Price (BA rely on their near monopoly at LHR) simply put, with the probable exception of the cabal controlled transatlantic routes, their fares are ridiculously uncompetitive and thays before the appalling service)

    IT – From the app/ website to dispatch and scheduling BA’s absence of investment in any of their IT systems maintenance, let alone upgrades is the worst in the industry (globally) and it’s ALWAYS customers who pay the price for their profiteering approach

  • I have been a BAEC member for many years as a leisure customer. The word executive or club etc haven’t been confusing for me. Even if you tell a friend you’re flying club, they get it.

    What BA should be focusing on more than anything is consistency, and in my flying experience that boils down to staff more than anything. Any issue can be resolved and made memorable and not miserable by laser focused customer service. My last BA long haul flight was LAS to LHR, sat in economy at an exit door. The flight was non memorable, however what I do remember is two crew members having a conversation across the A350 from one exit door to the other about their time off plans. You wouldn’t get this on any middle eastern carrier, or SQ for example.

    I’ve not flown BA for a year now, but have two trips lined up thanks to Avios, one to Vienna in euro traveller, and to the US in a mix of WTP and Club.

  • The cabin brabding should remain. It sets them apart and even relatively newbies that i know to the airline seem to understand it very well. Infact most people seem to refer to “Club” as the business cabin on many other airlines that dont even use that brand! BA should be proud of having this differentiation. As for the Executive Club Frequent Flyer program, i guess that part could be branded to something more instantly catching like, club card.

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