An African President Calls Out British Airways Poor Planes and Service

After the Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Clinton started playing small ball on many popular issues that more often were handled by deputy assistant secretaries rather than a President. It was unique for a U.S. President to talk about school uniforms.

Of course now the US President renegotiates aircraft purchase agreements.

And a decade ago the Governor of American Samoa wanted to eliminate Hawaiian Airlines service to the territory because the carrier didn’t offer DigE Players on their Honolulu – Pago Pago service.

So perhaps it’s not at all strange for the President of Ghana to be complaining to British Airways about specific elements of their service.

  • That they’re flying old 747s to Accra
  • The use of London Heathrow terminal 3 for these flights instead of terminal 5
  • “the general quality of services” offered by British Airways

British Airways Boeing 747

Here’s what Ghana’s President told British Airways’ head of sales for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia when the BA sales officer came to congratulate him on his election:

people complain about the movement (of flights to and from Accra) from Terminal five to Terminal three at Heathrow. Terminal three is not so convenient place as Terminal five. There are also complaints about the quality of the planes on the route and the service. In some quarters, there is a feeling that you are taking us a little for granted in the way in which we are receiving your services, …

I think on an occasion like this, for when friends are speaking, I think we should speak frankly. I think I am the proper person to let you know what the pre-occupations of our people are. These are matters that will be easy for you to rectify

Of course One Mile at a Time think leaving from Terminal 3 may be better thanks to the new Cathay Pacific lounge given how overrated even the British Airways Concorde Room is.

And things could certainly be worse, just a few years ago there were flights that involved two buses and a train just to make an inline British Airways to British Airways connection at Heathrow (arriving at a terminal 1 bus gate, busing to terminal 5, and then departing a terminal 5 remote gate).

BA’s 747s do have their weakest first class product, with too many seats squeezed into the nose. But I don’t think their business product is worse than on the Boeing 777. I suspect Ghana’s President doesn’t fly British Airways World Traveller class in any case.

(HT: @guyu)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m no ‘Africa’ President but I do get his point. T5 is where all the action is, and T3 feel like the old newark airport. There’s no doubt that race is a factor in who goes where at LHR

  2. I flew this 747 last year. Nothing worked the IFE, seats etc. in fact to date it was the worse business class flight I’ve ever taken. Really bad

  3. I flew this 747 last year. Nothing worked the IFE, seats etc. in fact to date it was the worse business class flight I’ve ever taken. Really bad

  4. It needs to be repeated over and over and over again in all manner of media , just how awful and pathetic the gradual decline of BA , a once respected airline, has become today. As a gold BA tier level for years now, I wish more of us could put a stop to this blood letting in quality by their new CEO , Cruz. But of course our letters and pleas mean nothing to Cruz andCo.

  5. Interesting post even if some aren’t that turned on by it. I have not flown LHR to ACC or back, but I do fly PHX-LHR on an American codeshare with BA. Not only does that flight fly into and out of T3 at LHR, but on some occasions I have noticed (courtesy of Flight View Elite) that the ‘plane I am on from LHR to PHX has come from ACC. I am generally with the President of Ghana.
    I fly First Class on the route and indeed the 747 First cabin is cramped. There are some seats in the center I just wouldn’t want to fly. If I could combine AA’s Flagship seat and BA’s cabin service and food I would be a happy camper, accepting this isn’t Emirates….
    I too have had a complete failure of both lights and entertainment system PHX-LHR, so I couldn’t even read. So yes, the ‘planes are getting a bit long in the tooth even if they get new lipstick once in a while.
    I am generally originating in London when leaving from T3, but the potential to fly in to T5 and then leave again from T3 (or visa versa) is a nightmare. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t really know Thiefsrow.
    Gary, thanks for reminding me that OW Emerald can use the CO lounge in T3. I will give it a try. I always use the CP lounge in HKG when flying AA to DFW/PHX. While the BA lounge is a step up from the Admirals’ Club at T3 LHR, the First Class end can get overcrowded.
    All that said, BA is the only non-stop from PHX to LHR — which beggars belief in itself — so I will likely continue to fly it in the absence of an alternative.

  6. come on, these routes (LHR-LOS, etc.) ARE bad. when was the last time you flew business to give us your personal review?

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