It was only a matter of time until global carriers started following in their US counterparts’ shoes, right? As airlines around the world continue to bleed, we’re seeing them start to cut back. Today we’ll take a look at British Airways and ANA as examples of what’s going on.
I feel bad for BA. These guys had done a really solid job of focusing on the long haul premium business traveler in the last decade, and now it’s that segment that is hurting the most. All those rich bankers are flying less and less, and that has hurt badly. BA is feeling the pain more than most, so now they’ve started to make cuts.
Some of these cuts are surprising. For example, they will no longer serve meals in coach on flights of less than 2 1/2 hours that go after 10a. It’s not the cut that’s surprising but rather the fact that they still served a meal on a flight that short. And it’s not like BA is eliminating food completely – they’ll still hand out “snack bites” or biscuits. If you fly before 10a, you’ll still get breakfast, and premium cabin passengers will still get food.
But there are cuts on long haul flying as well, and that’s where decisions start to get a little more difficult to make. In the back of the bus, you’ll no longer get bottles of water. You’ll just get the dreaded “cuplet” instead. That’s annoying since you can’t put a cuplet in the seatback pocket, but it’s hardly the end of the world. Economy passengers will also now have to pay to bring a second checked bag (starting in October). The first bag will still be free . . . for now.
In the front cabin, the only change that I see so far is that the second meal (breakfast) on long haul flights will be shrunk. Apparently, a full third of those meals go uneaten, so they’re just going to cut back on it. As someone who usually plows through those meals, that is a slight annoyance but nothing more.
On the other side of the world, ANA is doing some of its own cutting in Japan. Newspapers and magazines will no longer be offered in coach and there will be a fee for using the services of reservation agents. They will also start selling food, lounge access, etc to economy class passengers in order to raise revenues.
Are any of these cuts going to make a huge difference? No, but I’m sure the slippery slope argument will be thrown out there by many. For us jaded Americans, these cuts are nothing new. We’re far further along in this evolution, but just because it has worked in the American market doesn’t mean it will work elsewhere. Still, I would expect to see more of this to come.