British Airways Will Use Qatar Airways Aircraft & Crews This Summer (Again)


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Last year British Airways wetleased a number of Qatar Airways short-haul A320 aircraft when its “Mixed Fleet” crews went on strike and, as I mentioned at the time, this was actually very good news for a lot of BA passengers.

Qatar Airways aircraft generally offer a considerably better short-haul Business Class product that you’ll find on BA so, last summer, a lot of BA passengers found themselves with lie-flat Business Class seats this…

Qatar Airways A320 Business Class

…rather than this:

British Airways A320 Business Class (Club Europe)

As I said, the aircraft changes were great news if you were flying up front.

There’s no strike this summer (well, not yet anyway) but British Airways has another issue – the unreliability of the Rolls Royce engines on its 787-9 Dreamliners.

Because BA is being forced to take a number off its Dreamliners out of service and shuffle its fleet around it has once again turned to Qatar Airways for a little help (it’s worth remembering that Qatar Airways is part owner of IAG – BA’s parent company).

As things stand BA is wetleasing (leasing both the aircraft and crew) Airbus A330 aircraft from Qatar Airways to cover three of its routes to/from the Middle East while its own aircraft are having their engines attended to.

The destinations affected are:

  • Kuwait City
  • Muscat
  • Delhi

The flights being affected are:

  • BA157 London Heathrow to Kuwait (9 June – 30 June 2018)
  • BA156 Kuwait to London Heathrow (10 June – 1 July 2018)
  • BA79 London Heathrow to Muscat (9 June – 20 August 2018)
  • BA80 Muscat to London Heathrow (10 June – 21 August 2018)
  • BA143 London Heathrow to Delhi (9 June – 20 August 2018)
  • BA142 Delhi to London Heathrow (10 June – 21 August 2018)

Unlike last year where all passengers did well out of the aircraft swap things are a little different this year.

The Good News & The Bad News

The Bad News

The Qatar Airways A330 aircraft don’t offer a First Class or Premium Economy cabin and, in some cases, the aircraft that the Qatar Airways aircraft are replacing offer more seats in the Business Class cabin than the Qatar Airways A330.

British Airways 787-9 First Class – Image British Airways

This is how British Airways is handling the issues:

  • First customers will be rebooked into the Business Class cabin on the A330
  • Club World customers will be rebooked onto the Business Class cabin on the Qatar Airways aircraft where possible.
  • Where the number of passengers booked in to Club World exceeds the number of seats available on the Qatar Airways A330 a number of Club World passengers who will be rebooked into the Economy cabin.
  • World Traveller Plus customers will be rebooked into the Economy cabin

That may sound bad if you’re booked into First or terrible if you were booked into Club World/World Traveller Plus and now find yourself in and Economy Class seat…but there are remedies at hand.

The Good News

First Class passengers can choose to refuse the downgrade in which case they can choose to:

  • Use the value of their ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket to an alternative destination.
  • Get a full refund

If a First Class passenger chooses to take the cabin downgrade he/she will receive the difference in fare between First and Business Class as an automatic refund, will retain their First baggage allowance, Concorde Room access and Avios / Tier Point earning and will be offered £700 or 140,000 Avios per sector as a goodwill gesture (i.e £1,400 or 280,000 Avios for a non-stop roundtrip journey).

All passengers originally booked into Club World (Business Class) can choose to decline the option of flying on the Qatar Airways aircraft. They can then choose one of the following:

  • Use the value of their ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket to an alternative destination.
  • Get a full refund
British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner Business Class
British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner Business Class

Club World (Business Class) passengers who find themselves downgraded to Economy Class (ouch!) but who still wish to travel will receive the difference in fare between Business Class and Economy Class as an automatic refund, will retain their Club baggage allowance, lounge access and Avios / Tier Point earning and will be offered either £400.00 in the form of an e-voucher or 80,000 Avios per affected sector.

All World Traveller Plus passengers can choose to decline the option of flying on the Qatar Airways aircraft. They can then choose one of the following:

  • Use the value of their ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket to an alternative destination.
  • Get a full refund

Where a World Traveller Plus passenger chooses to accept the downgrade to Economy Class  he/she will receive the difference in fare from World Traveller Plus to Economy in the form of an automatic refund and will retain their World Traveller Plus baggage allowance and Avios / Tier Point earning.

British Airways World Traveller Plus – Image British Airways

Only World Traveller Plus passengers with British Airways Status (Bronze and above) will be offered a goodwill gesture of 20,000 Avios per affected sector.

Other Considerations

According to British Airways the following services normally found on BA flights will not be available on the Qatar Airways operated flights:

  • Oxygen
  • In-flight retail
  • Pre-paid seating
  • Pre-paid or pre-ordered catering

Kosher meals will not be available either (not really a surprise) and a fruit platter will be offered in its place….which doesn’t sound all that substantial to me so you may wish to enquire further if this affects you.

Bottom Line

If you’re booked to fly on any of the affected routes while the Qatar Airways aircraft are subbing in for BA you should have heard from British Airways already but, if you haven’t, you should get in touch asap.

The sooner you contact your travel agent or BA the sooner the more likely you are to have any issues resolved to your satisfaction – the later you leave things the less options you’ll probably have open to you.

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