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British Airways Mixed Fleet staff have now been on a series of strike since the beginning of July and things don’t appear to be getting any better. The current strike has been going on since 2 August and was set to end on 15 August. Not any more.
The union representing British Airways Mixed Fleet crew members, UNITE, has announced an extension of the strike through 30 August and that will see the industrial action take in the UK’s August ‘Bank Holiday’.
A statement from UNITE said that the action was being taken thanks to sanctions the airline has been taking on the members of Mixed Fleet who had participated in the previous rounds of strikes (anyone else think this sounds like a self-perpetuating thing?).
For its part BA says it thinks it has been more than reasonable in its offers to date but that, if strike action does go ahead, it expects most services to go ahead as normal.
Flights to/from London Gatwick should be largely unaffected with the exception of the service to New York JFK which, on some days, will be merged with one of the services out of Heathrow.
BA City Flyer services and services out of Stansted will be unaffected (per BA) but the will be disruption to some Heathrow flights.
Customers are being urged to ensure that their correct contact details are stored with British Airways in case the airline needs to update them on their flights.
Good News For Some
One of the reasons that BA has managed to keep most of its short- and medium-haul services running is because it has “wet-leased” 9 aircraft from Qatar Airways and it has been operating these around Europe in place of its own crew-less aircraft.
A Qatar Airways A320 At London Heathrow
“Wet leasing” means that not only does BA lease the airplanes but it also leases a full crew for each airplane from Qatar Airways too…..and this has been fantastic for the few who have had these aircraft fly them to their destinations.
The key to understanding why this is good news is to first understand how woeful British Airways short-haul product actually is…especially in Business Class (Club Europe).
BA’s short-haul Business Class seats are exactly the same seats as you’ll find in the Economy Class cabin and have exactly the same legroom as the Economy Class seats too:
British Airways A320 Club Europe
British Airways A320 Club Europe
What is different is that, in short-haul Business Class, BA blocks off the middle seat so passengers have a bit more room to one side.
On the aircraft BA is leasing from Qatar Airways things are a bit different.
The Qatar Airways A320 working for BA may not come with the lie-flat seating I reviewed on my recent flight between Pisa and Doha…..
Qatar Airways A320 in Long Haul configuration
…..but they’re still a significant step above what BA offers.
Where BA’s Business Class seats offer just 30” of seat pitch (leg room) the Qatar Airways aircraft offer a fantastic 45” ands where the BA Business Class seats offer just 17.5” of seat width the Qatar Airways equivalents offer 21”.
The difference is like night and day.
Even in Economy Class the Qatar Airways aircraft are an improvement.
While BA offers 30” of seat pitch and 17.5” of seat width the Qatar Airways A320s offer 31” of seat pitch and 18” of seat width and, while those differences may seem small, they’re most definitely noticeable one you’re in the seat.
Here’s seatguru.com with the evidence:
On top of all this passengers on the Qatar Airways aircraft also get Qatar Airways service from the cabin crew…..and this is so much better that what you usually get from British Airways that this must surely be becoming an embarrassment to the UK’s flag-carrier.
If you’re hoping to fly on one of the Qatar Airways A320’s soon you may be interested in this recent post: What Routes Are The Qatar A320’s Flying For British Airways
If you’ve had a flight canceled thanks to the British Airways strike you have my sincere sympathies. If you’ve booked with BA and had your flight operated by a Qatar Airways aircraft and crew you’re definitely one of the lucky ones…but I’d still love to hear what the experience was like.
Was the experience just ok or was it so good that it made you realize just how bad BA has become? Or am I completely wrong and was the experience below par? I’d be stunned if he latter was the case (based on what I’ve been hearing) but let me know in the comments one way or the other.