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Why BA drives Francis Ingham to drink

Now don’t misunderstand me. I love British Airways. And not just because BA is a PRCA member…. I’m a genuine fan. I like the staff. I like (usually) the planes. Petty as it is, I like the app. And though I’ve never used a single Avios point, I like the idea that one day I shall. In fact, over the past five years as chief executive of ICCO, I've flown on only one other carrier. And that was because I had to. But… some BA announcements drive me to despair and drive me to its (free) drink.

Allow me to offer up four examples of this:

  • I *hate* its split infinitives. For example “Please make sure that your hand luggage is securely stowed under the seat in front of you, or in the overhead locker”. “Securely stowed”? Argh! Okay. I admit that I split my infinitives too. We all do. But people at BA HQ spent hours and hours agreeing the wording of this announcement, made daily on its 269 aircraft. And still they got it wrong.
  • Example two. The collection of small change. It’s a great idea, and it’s for a very deserving cause. But “any donation you make, no matter how big or how small, will make a massive difference”. Well that’s simply not true, now is it? If I've just got back from visiting PRCA MENA members in Dubai; have five Dirham in my pocket, and donate that, then I've given a quid. Will that make “a massive difference”? No. It will not. It might at best make a tiny difference - most likely to my conscience. So let’s not say that it will make “a massive difference”. Because it won’t. 
  • Example three. We’ve landed. Everyone’s ignored the injunction not to unfasten seatbelts “until the plane has come to a complete stop”. And we have the message of welcome. I just don’t understand the tiering. Is it really a warmer welcome to Executive Club members? It’s just a little pointless. And the “if this is your destination’ bit. Well. Heathrow isn’t anyone’s final destination, now (one hopes) is it?”
  • And finally…. The constant, constant “this is a non-smoking flight”. Yes. I know that. We all know that. Unless you’re ancient, or own a private jet, I can’t imagine anyone on the plane can remember being on a smoking flight. I smoke occasionally, so being deprived of the ability to smoke for a few hours is of zero concern to me. But imagine you smoke a lot. It’s the thing you love. You’re counting down the hours and then the minutes until you can enjoy your beloved vice. You don’t need the constant reminder - and even if you did, well the no-smoking signs above your head would suffice.

So my plea to BA as a loyal customer: please just sort out your announcements. Because right now it’s a case of: To Fly. To Serve. To Read Out Annoying Randomly-Constructed Sentences.

Article written by PRCA director general Francis Ingham

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