British Airways Tested Not Cleaning Aircraft On Shorthaul Stopovers

Simple Flying has learnt that British Airways held a trial of cleaning some planes only at Heathrow. The trial was designed to cut down on time required to turn around the aircraft away from the base, hence allowing time to be recovered during delays.

While the move was being trialled for time-saving reasons, it does come at a time when British Airways have been cutting costs left, right, and centre. These changes have come to be informally known as “enhancements” by frequent flyers. The most famous example is the removal of complimentary catering from the Euro Traveller cabin.

British Airways Cleaning Trial
British Airways recently held a trial regarding onboard cleaning. Photo: Tom Boon

Usual Procedure

Typically when a British Airways aircraft lands at its destination the passengers disembark, then an army of groundstaff “turn around” the plane, making sure that it is ready for the next leg of its journey. This includes cleaners boarding the aircraft to tidy the interior and perform a quick clean. For example, removing rubbish from the seatback pockets. They then remove the rubbish from the aircraft before handing it back to the crew. During this process, the crew disembark the aircraft and take their scheduled break.

Time Saving Trial

British Airways recently held a short trial to determine whether cleaning was necessary during times of severe disruption. Typically when an aircraft is delayed, every second counts trying to cut the delay of the next flight. In the worst cases, the crew could hit their working limits and the flight is further delayed or cancelled.

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British Airways Cleaning Trial
The British Airways cleaning trial was carried out on one route for four days. Photo: British Airways

In these trials, British Airways was seeing what effect not fully cleaning the cabin during a turn around would have on flight times. The trial took place across four days on a single route. During the trial, instead of cleaning the entire aircraft, the cleaning team only came on board to remove the rubbish collected by staff. Staff were instructed to do nothing different by British Airways. Before the aircraft departed, British Airways senior managers boarded the aircraft to check that presentation standards hadn’t been breached. British Airways told us that no customers complained during the trail. Additionally, British Airways stated that the trial would not be continued, and crucially, was not being rolled out.

False Rumors Spreading

A few aviation focused blogs focused on the story. However, each portrayed the trials as if they were set to become a regular part of British Airways Service. Simple Flying spoke to British Airways, who stated that the trial would not be continued, and crucially, was not being rolled out.

British Airways Cleaning Trial
Cabin Crew were told not to take on additional responsibilities during the trial. Photo: British Airways

A British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying: “We know our cabin crew work extremely hard looking after our customers and understand their rest period between flights is very important. We consulted with our crews during this short trial to advised them not to carry out additional tasks during their down time between flights. We understand our customers value arriving at their destinations on time, that’s why we completed a short trial on one route.”

What do you think of British Airways’ cleaning trial? Would you be happy to have a slightly dirtier plane if it meant your flight flew on time? Let us know in the comments down below!

    1. Having worked as flight deck for the company for 15 years and pleased to say that I don’t now, BA’s Mad Idea’s department always tested a few of them without letting the crew know. It was only when you got to the aircraft you found out what it was and realised what kind of a day you were going to have. Then the “Senior Manager” would suggest a comment to make to the pax explaining why the idea was happening. This was usually on a piece of paper as the Senior Manager was either still in bed, couldn’t be bothered or on holiday somewhere on BA’s global network. I could throw out a few choice words regarding these senior managers and even those at a higher level – but I’ll wait for a better moment. As crew working for BA, you are there for a reason – that reason is because you love doing the job. What you are not there for is to mop up bad ideas from managers, who can’t be bother to face the music when it goes wrong. Considering BA’s profits over the past year, their service and product is beginning to suck quite a lot. If you have to fly anyway in the world, I would strongly suggest that other companies are available and provide a much better service. Also, I feel very sorry for the crew that work for BA today. Not good.

  1. With BA’s record and cleanliness, not sure anyone would notice if they skipped a wipedown or three…
    Which other longhaul “flagship” has had recurrent headlines about bedbugs?

  2. There is no downtime or break for cabin crew. Trolleys have to be swapped, galleys prepared, food placed in ovens and security checks of cabin, toilets, and galleys.

  3. I started with BOAC in 1970, retired in 2000 because of severe Airport Offices closures, but seems Nothing has changed since. (instead becoming worse?) STR/BA Robert-Koch-Str.65

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