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British Airways' move of dropping free meals is eating into its brand image

Stephan Shakespeare
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BA is set to cut its free meals on short haul economy flights
BA is set to cut its free meals on short haul economy flights (Source: Getty)

British Airways has been in the news for a number of reasons over the last couple of months and YouGov’s brand tracking data indicates that perception of the brand has been impacted as a result.

Just last week, the airline announced it was to cut its free meals on short haul economy flights. Passengers will now have to pay for sandwiches supplied by Marks and Spencer should they want something to eat.

Added to this, early in September, BA had to apologise to delayed passengers after many faced delays because of an IT glitch in its check-in process. A similar incident occurred in mid-July, during one of the busiest days of the summer season.

YouGov BrandIndex data shows us how these stories have begun to change perception of the company.

Read more: Passenger numbers up at British Airways-owner International Airlines Group (IAG)

In early June, among all respondents, BA’s quality score was a very healthy +48. However, as the weeks progressed there has been a noticeable fall. It now stands at a still respectable, but notably lower, +42

This has been reflected in other YouGov metrics. One that is central to British Airways’ ethos is value for money. Among current customers, its Value score has dipped to its lowest point since late May. It has also fallen fully 25 points since the middle of July (from +52 to +23).

The good news for British Airways is that it still has a very positive impression score among consumers – and especially compared to other airlines. Despite its recent toils it ranks first in the airlines sector on Impression rating, pointing to the lasting and strong reputation the brand still holds.

Read more: Qatar Airways' friendship with British Airways just got a little tighter

So there is no need for BA to panic just yet as it remains well liked. However, consumer perception is dropping in areas that has really set the company apart from its rivals in the past.

With uncertainty surrounding the cost of travel post-Brexit, there may be more pressure than ever on BA to maintain its position as the dominant flyer in the industry.

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