Friday, July 23, 2010

When a Few Thousand Pounds Isn't Enough (to buy you a laptop connection on British Airways)...

Here I am, sitting on a British Airways flight about to leave LHR and I can't
use my laptop in the "World Traveller" class. I had planned to use the next 5
hours or so to catch up on work. So much for global connectivity...

But alas, my ticket was only $2521. It turns out that World Traveller is just a
posh name for ECONOMY, so no perks with British Airways today. Amazing how
little the dollar buys you these days.

Adding insult to injury, after spending more than $100 to buy an "inverter" to
enable my laptop to connect onboard (plus the myriad phone calls to the airline
to find out which craft I was flying -767- and tail number to find out if the
plane was wifi enabled, as well as a 25 minute head scratching session with a BA
Customer Service Agent at T5 - he graciously thanked me for teaching him
something today), it turns out that my new purchase is completely useless on
board... I'm not sitting in the right cabin.


Worse still, the cabin crew were not "allowed" to sell me an upgrade onboard and
I was not permitted to power my laptop in any of the dozen or so empty seats in
front of me.

I'm not in the "right" cabin.

Now for the irony.... I just spent the week in London attending the Farnborough
Air Show, watching airlines place big orders for new craft and then at the
Airline Retail Conference to hear Ryanair's Micheal Cawley tell the airline
industry to "grow up and act like a business," while others talked about the
urgent need for airlines to develop sustainable revenue models that would endear
loyalty. In other words, thinking beyond the baggage fees.

So here's a start.. When a customer is willing to pay more than $100 simply to
plug their laptop into your plane, take their money.. And when a customer is
willing to pay for an upgrade on the plane, take their money too.

You could actually make some money. How novel.

NB - I sat down with the Purser to discuss what happened. The sad reality, she
told me, is that she has less power to satisfy customers than ever before. She
said because of fraud and the airline's inability to implement consistent
policies, she had no idea what the future would hold for her after a 22 year
career with BA, or her fellow flight crew.

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