[UPDATE] Now British Airways Won’t Skip Most Cleaning Of Planes Between Short Flights

See update below, British Airways says the changes described in this memo will not happen.

Several years ago British Airways started a test at London Gatwick to pay flight attendants £10 to do a quick tidy of the aircraft between flights, instead of paying contract cleaners. Then before the pandemic they tested not cleaning planes at all between flights within Europe.

They’ve now adopted a new model of clean for short haul flights in the morning and afternoon:

  • Only 6 minutes allotted for a cleaning

  • They will no longer wipe down seats and tray tables

  • They will no longer vacuum the floor

  • They will no longer clean lavatories and galleys, though trash will still be remove from both.

Here are memos describing the procedure, via reader Rob.

This seems inadvisable given problems British Airways has had with infestation. Their joint venture partner American Airlines is willing to trade off departing on time for flying dirty planes. But this seems more of another cost-cutting measure at the once premium carrier than an operational one.

If you’re flying British Airways within Europe, bring wipes and hand sanitizer.

Update: British Airways shares a statement attributing reduction in time per flight for cleaning to a misunderstanding with their cleaning vendor, while not disputing the rest of the information in the memos above.

There’s been a misunderstanding with one of our suppliers, and we can confirm we’re not reducing the length of time we spend cleaning our aircraft.

We continue to clean every aircraft after each flight. In addition, our teams conduct a more intensive clean every evening on our aircraft at Heathrow and we carry out an ultra-deep clean of our aircraft around once a month.

Update 2: British Airways now says “all information shared in the memo is incorrect and isn’t happening. Our current cleaning procedures remain as is.” That must have been some misunderstanding. Certainly BA didn’t like these discussions made public.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. It’s amazing to me that airlines’ managers continue to find new ways to show their contempt for their revenue generating passengers m

  2. Isn’t this the case for a lot of turns here in the US? Often when I’m at the gate when the arriving plane is a bit late and there isn’t a crew change, once the passengers get off, it seems they start boarding about 5 minutes later. Not sure how much cleaning (if any) is being done.

  3. Judging from my experience on Southwest, this will be a non-issue. The “what-ifs” will be the rare exception, not the rule.

  4. Have passengers do it and give them 100 frequent flyer miles for their own seat, prison if they refuse, and 1000 miiles to do the lavatories.

  5. “ Every customer is unique” priority. So to make them feel at home, we are going to create a pigtail!! I worked for a now gone British airline. British customers love to buy on board. They spend a fortune and leave the cabin in a state of shock like no other nationality. We were cleaning the seat pockets wearing gloves…sometimes we would find ….baby nappies!! Sometimes it was more obvious as left on the floor. Of course, this was intended to be a cost-cutting exercise. But I love the BA bullshit “every Customer Unique”..

  6. “Every customer unique”…. As long as it doesn’t cost anything.

    I thought these nupties coming up with these ideas had left with Cruz..

    Clearly not..

  7. As Alfred E. Neuman from MAD Magazine was proud of saying, “What me worry?”, apparently this anti-customer attitude has found its way into Amtrak, America’s national passenger railroad-Soviet style.

    Not just satisfied to reduce cleaning costs, the ex-airline honchos now making policy at Amtrak continue on cutting costs to qualify for bonus. With such a decision process unchecked by a marginalized Board of Directors incapable of providing competent stewardship or to demand accountability, these ex-flyboys now imbedded in Amtrak have taken their embrace of dirt to a higher level than the airlines by not bothering to wash passenger trains at their end points.

    What the railroads used to promote as a travel advantage of how a passenger could see scenery from the clean train windows, has been discarded with a false perspective of cutting costs. So much for how transportation used to think like Cunard, “getting there is half the fun.” Customer experience? Who cares is the mantra in airline andAmtrak boardrooms.

    Another solid reason why I fly Lufthansa business class whenever I can to avoid the aggravation of unclean planes. Imagine how the galleys and “johns” have so much in common on UA, AA, BA, etc.

  8. In some cases on other airlines I have seen cleaning crews start cleaning before everyone has gotten off to make short turnaround times work. As gaps appear in the movement of passenger getting off, they gradually move further back but they usually start in first class and/or business class. By modifying the loading procedure and possibly using stairs for the rear exit, adequate cleaning could be done for short turnarounds.

  9. Keep publicly shaming these companies. It’s the only way to keep them somewhat honest.

  10. This procedure has been in place since atleast 2015 when they changed cleaning provider and aimed to try and improve ontime performance. Its no different to any other airline operating shorthaul around europe (minus TUI UK who have a full hoover and tray table wipe etc on all ontime turnarounds back in the UK). Not sure how this has managed to resurface as news to be honest?

  11. If this was in any way new or real it would say “BA EuroFlyer” as that is what the the LGW unit is known as.

    The fact it doesn’t says all that needs to be said about this “news”

  12. Talk about cutting corners. It should’ve illegal to not clean/sanitize an aircraft in between passengers. Everywhere.

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