British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz has no regret over cutting free food and drink from economy class on shorthaul flights. None at all.
In an interview earlier this week, he claimed that negative passenger reaction “didn’t surprise me at all,” and added:
If you have a perception that you are getting something for free, however bad quality or no-choice it is, if you’re taking something away there’s a reaction.
Bad quality or no-choice? That’s really a stinging indictment against the (formerly complimentary) food in British Airways economy class. As I recall, it wasn’t that bad. Cruz continued:
There are very, very, very, very few seats left in Europe that provide you with something for free….
It was difficult at the beginning as a consequence of this change, but we’re very pleased where we are.
He’s pleased because British Airways customer satisfaction is higher than it was two years ago when free food was still on offer. That’s also a dangerous assumption considering how low satisfaction scores were during that time. And no, I did not add any extra “very” to the quote above…
An unnamed BA executive told the UK Daily Mail:
It is simply no longer popular with passengers because you are giving them something they do not necessarily want and which they take for granted and no longer appreciate anyway.
I don’t know about you, but this seems like a great case of post hoc justification. In reality, though, I’m not sure that passengers took the food for granted or did not appreciate it. I certainly appreciated a complimentary English breakfast on domestic flights. I also appreciated even little snacks like a croissant with orange juice on most short-haul flights within Europe.
I suppose I understand why Cruz is taking a victory lap. His airline is profitable and customers have grown accustomed to paying for food and drink onboard. But the logic that this was a necessary step is really absurd considering full-service airlines like Air France, Austrian,KLM, Lufthansa, and SWISS (to name just a few) still offer complimentary food and drink to economy class passengers on flights within Europe.
image: British Airways