We apologise your full service airline has been cancelled / by Mark Izatt

There can be very few CEOs who sit down and open a meeting with an objective to erode customer value and destroy a great brand.

Yet it is hard to accept that the CEO of British Airways, Alex Cruz, is not a sleeper agent for every one of the airline's competitors.   Such is the zeal with which he slashes the British Airways offering, cuts value and reduces a full service global airline to a low cost airline.    He does all of this in the hope that those premium passengers don't notice since they are isolated from the blood letting in other parts of the plane.    But that's a foolish comfort because quite simply British Airways has one of the poorest premium offerings compared with the innovation of other airlines. 

This makes today's decision, from January 2017, to charge for all food and drinks on short haul flights as dangerous as it is upsetting to the loyal customer.  Dangerous because it is another slice off the overall proposition when added to previous "enhancements" such as hand baggage only fares which then prevent you from selecting a seat at the point of booking. 

Alex Crux perhaps contemplating what M&S sandwich he will buy.

Alex Crux perhaps contemplating what M&S sandwich he will buy.

The mistake that Mr Cruz and presumably his very emasculated heads of product and brand have made is to look at the food and drink offering in isolation.  He sees it only as a snack but the customer sees it as a large part of the British Airways inflight differentiation.  It's a key factor, even if sometimes subliminal, in making the decision between BA and a competitor.  You can imagine a household conversation "BA is a bit more expensive but at least we get a drink onboard".     It's a HUGE experience differentiator.   And now it's gone.

I suspect it's not the end.  

All of this would be bad enough were it not for the way it's being communicated.  As an upgrade which positions a very tired brand, Marks and Spencer, as the ultimate in food.


Mr Cruz has given customers another push to try out the competition.  The danger for him is they may never return.  Oh well at least it makes a good case study.