British Airways’ premium drive to avoid missed international connections

British Airways (BA) is introducing a new service called Premium Transfer Drive at London’s Heathrow Airport to ensure that customers who are at risk of missing their connection are able to catch their onward flight. The new scheme applies to customers travelling on a UK domestic flight, who are connecting on to either a short-haul flight in Club Europe, a long-haul service in Club World (long haul business class) or First, or who are Silver or Gold Executive Club members.

BA’s team at Heathrow will track inbound customers, and where there’s a risk they will miss their connection, will provide an ‘airside’ car transfer between one flight and the next. They will also send a message to the inbound aircraft, so the cabin crew can inform the customer that a car will be waiting to transfer them, thereby alleviating any stress or worry.

“Missing a connection is one of the most stressful situations a customer can experience, so helping them through that journey and keeping them informed is critical,” says Carolina Martinoli, director of brand and customer experience, British Airways.

“The new premium transfer service will enable us to identify customers who are at risk of missing their onward flight, and proactively arrange to collect them by car, whisking them directly to their next flight,” she adds.

BA is investing £400 million in Club World with an emphasis on improved catering and sleep. At Heathrow a First Wing check-in area with direct security and lounge access has opened, and lounges around the airline’s network are being revamped and improved. Meanwhile, the Club Europe cabin has been introduced on UK domestic services and WiFi will be rolled out across the airline’s long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years.

The Blue Swan Daily analysis of UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data shows that around 5,535 passengers per day each way (PPDEW) flew on the domestic flights that link Heathrow to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford and Newcastle in 2016. This is down from 7,040 PPDEW the year earlier, mainly due to fiercer and more efficient competition from domestic rail providers and the suspension of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red domestic project.

CHART – After growth in 2014 and 2015, domestic air travel into London Heathrow declined in 2016 to a ten year low, but is on the up again based on H1 2017 dataSource: The Blue Swan Daily, UK CAA and OAG

Although domestic traveller numbers remain at their lowest levels, BA’s connecting traffic flows through Heathrow remain strong, buoyed by the resumption of its flights to Inverness which in particular is seeing strong inbound passenger flows. The Blue Swan Daily analysis looks at the main international connecting passenger flows via Heathrow from each of BA’s domestic stations.

TABLE – A mixture of Short- and long-haul dominate the main connecting markets to/from domestic British Airways (BA) flights into London Heathrow (LHR) during H1 2017Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG