I received the e-mail below from British Midland yesterday:
Dear Mr. Matthew,
As a valued Diamond Club member we want you to be one of the first to know about some changes we’re making.
From 27 January all our UK and Ireland flights to and from London Heathrow will be operated on single cabin Economy only aircraft.
At the same time, we’re introducing new Flexible Economy fares intended to give you full value for money without compromising on the comfort and flexibility you expect with bmi. When travelling on Flexible Economy fares you’ll benefit from an enhanced service. You’ll be seated at the front of the plane, receive complimentary inflight food and drink, as well as lounge access and 200% Diamond Club miles.
Complimentary refreshments for Diamond Club Gold, Silver and Blue Plus members will unfortunately no longer be offered, unless you’re travelling on a Flexible Economy fare…
It was sad enough to see BD pull out of the North American market, then the Middle East, but this latest cutback seems like a move of desperation. BD’s shrinking route map makes me question their long-term viability as a stand-alone carrier and Star Alliance member. I look forward to seeing what changes (if any) Lufthansa will make in exercising their interest in British Midland.
In just a year, BD has transformed itself from a full-service airline with worldwide service to essentially a regional airline and from the news above, it seems the cuts may not be over.
Remember when US Airways cut complimentary drinks in Economy in 2008, only to reverse itself based on "customer feedback?" I know the business model, with fierce competition from RyanAir and EasyJet is a bit different in the UK/Ireland, but how much money is BD going to save by no longer offering complimentary refreshments to their elites on short-haul flights? I would think the consumer backlash would not be worth it (but then again, I’m not running the airline).
For more on British Midland, stay tuned for our upcoming podcast where Fozz, Mike, and I discuss all aspects of BD.