British Airways to offer free in-flight access to messaging apps

5 March 2024, 09:44

British Airways planes
Which? airlines UK passenger satisfaction survey. Picture: PA

The airline announced it will begin rolling out the service on April 3.

British Airways passengers will be able to use messaging apps on flights free of charge from next month.

The airline said it will roll out the service over two weeks from April 3, enabling travellers to send and receive text on apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Teams.

All the carrier’s Gatwick aircraft and more than 80% of its Heathrow-based fleet have wifi, with the remainder expected to be fitted with the technology by the end of 2025.

Passengers must register with British Airways’ free loyalty scheme to use complimentary onboard messaging, which will be restricted to a single device per person.

Those wanting to use apps to send or receive images, videos or attachments, browse the internet or stream content can purchase passes costing between £4.99 and £21.99.

Enhanced wifi access is part of British Airways’ £7 billion “transformation plan”.

This includes developing a new mobile app and website, which will improve assistance given to customers whose flights are cancelled.

The airline said the changes will enable passengers to book seats on alternative flights, including those operated by other carriers.

Passengers entitled to hotel rooms and food will also be sent vouchers direct to their electronic devices.

Difficulties accessing call centres or finding staff at airports means customers of all airlines are often forced to pay up front for food and accommodation during disruption, and later submit claims for reimbursement.

This leads many passengers to miss out on what they should receive under consumer laws because they are unaware of their rights or cannot afford the costs.

Television presenter Steph McGovern hosted an event for the airline in the City of London on Monday night, at which she told bosses: “I’ll be honest with you, I hate the app.”

TV Choice Awards 2019 – London
Steph McGovern hosted an event for BA (Matt Crossick/PA)

Chief commercial officer Colm Lacy replied: “I wish I had a pound every time I heard that statement.”

He added: “Having a new technology platform allows us to do things that we just can’t do on our existing platform. It’s all about personalisation.”

Other areas included in the “transformation plan” are new short-haul and first class seats, using AI to boost flight punctuality and aircraft reliability, a new lounge at Dubai Airport, and the return of flights between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur, and between Gatwick and Bangkok.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said: “We’re on a journey to a better BA for our people and for our customers, underpinned by a transformation programme that will see us invest £7 billion over the next two years to revolutionise our business.

“We’re going to take delivery of new aircraft, introduce new cabins, elevate our customer care, focus on operational performance and address our environmental impact by reducing our emissions and creating a culture of sustainability.

“We’re also heavily investing in the development of a new website and app and are laser-focused on transforming our business and fixing any pain points for our customers.”

By Press Association

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