This is British Airways first A320neo, and as such she’s laid out in the new quick-change interior layout. This enables any IAG group airline to swap its internal branding, seat covers and trim, pretty much in a few hours, and the whole aircraft can be turned into Vueling, Aer Lingus or Iberia and back again if needed in just 3 days, including an external repaint.
The aircraft was delivered in mid April and in this guise is equipped with a flexible CY-180 layout with the famous curtain adjuster to determine which seats get to be “Club Europe” business class. All they do is shutter the middle seat in each row. However only this last week BA announced a major upgrade to business catering on European flights, as it seems their endless penny-pinching has finally got to the point its affected customer retention.
Now that we’ve gotten to the point of mentioning customer retention, two things I get asked often. Firstly, “Are you going to review the BA A350-1000?” In short, no. I’d only buy the properly registered one and the Gemini was too late to reflect that the sharklets will have Union Jack flags painted on them, so this is one fantasy model that’s already outdated.
We’re also fast approaching the point of BA’s 100th Anniversary (well its constituent original airlines), and they’re not going to let that pass by. I’ve heard several times now from senior people, a new or modified livery is almost certain, as well as a special livery. The airline will also be looking to capitalise on its “Britishness” post-Brexit, whatever that nebulous image suggests these days. Old white Brexiteers think it’s a jolly good dose of Miss Marple and a cucumber sandwich on the lawn at 4.00pm. Except they do that drinking gin and tonics at their French villa in the Dordogne while playing cricket.
The second thing I keep getting asked is, “why are you still buying Gemini Jets when you said you’d stop?”
There is only one reason, and that’s the one reason I said I would buy them all along, that they were deemed essential to my collecting criteria. BA, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Icelandair are all core airlines. After that, you can forget any more unless they too, are deemed essential. Having looked ahead, I don’t see much that fits that view any time soon. Only one, the Icelandair 757-300 100 years of Independence looks viable – if they do it.
So now I’ve answered those persistent questions…let me explain with this model why Gemini Jets, despite its protestations about being superior, are as out of touch with the people who buy their models as they are with those who make them…and that’s a very, very long way.
There’s a persistence in manufacturer circles that despite their flagrant errors, mistakes do not get rectified for years at a time. With some it’s just pedantic refusal to spend money or move with the times. They think they know best. They think you’ll buy it anyway, and most of you do. Take the JCW A350. The nose was a cock-up of extraordinary proportions. Three years or more to put it right. Yet many buyers were perfectly OK defending it. The deafening silence now they have put it right is hard to ignore.
And here we have the A320, it’s been a while since they introduced it. It was shit when they did, and it remains shit now. I’m not wasting time on good photos with this junk.
Take a look at Example 1 above.
Let’s start at the top.
- The vertical stabilizer is tilted to one side.
- The right and left horizontal stabilizers aren’t even level.
- The wings are twisted at the root, the (in this photo) left is twisted down, the one on the right, up.
- The No.1 (right in this photo) engine is pushed onto its pylon further and tilts up more
- The paint blue/white under the nose isn’t even straight, never mind wobbly and poorly defined
- The crap inside the landing gear hydraulics, has been a problem for almost three years on new and old versions – it still is.
- The nose gear doesn’t even touch the ground on one side.
- The TNA registration over the cockpit is off-centre.
Example 2 above.
- The vertical stabilizer looks even worse from behind…
- …and so does the horizontal stabilizer pair.
- Magnifier clearly shows poor moulding in the gear hydraulics.
- The No.1 engine tilts inwards as well as upwards
- The rear blue/white is also totally wonky
Example 3 above
Left to right;
- Notice the uneven paint and marks on the nose.
- The blue splashes in the second magnification are an example of the entire length of the blue and its interaction with the white. They are in short, a mess.
- The nose gear wheel is unpainted and left bronze coloured.
- The engine is clearly tilted too far upwards
- The main gear moulding around the doors is atrocious – again.
- The registration is thin, the wobbling blue continues where it meets the white.
Example 4 above
Left to right;
- Registration is terribly printed
- Engine tilts noticeably downward
- Nose gear mould issues
- Terrible nose paint around the blue, general low definition paint where blue meets white along entire length.
There can be only one score for this piece of junk: ZERO.
You only have to look casually around this model, and there is no way you’d fail after even a few seconds, to see its a total lump of Gemini garbage. There are strands of glue all over the place, dust stuck in the paint (especially at the rear, suggesting it was allowed to tip back when wet). The print quality is crap, the definition atrocious, the assembly appalling.
This is a prime example of Gemini jets ignorance, lack of quality control and profiteering. If there is one person out there who got a model even half as bad as this and paid full or near full retail for it, you should go and have a look. Why didn’t you send it back? I would love to hear your explanation. However I suspect you’ll sit all Gollum-like stroking your precious, feeling like your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) syndrome is incurable.
And because you didn’t inundate your retailers with returned crap models, they’ll just keep making them. The more dross you accept, the less incentive they have to do anything about making them better.
If every model that looks like this was sent back to every retailer, every time it was this poor, and profits dropped for retailers and Gemini, something would get done at a little above the snail-like pace it does.
And because they have done nothing, others have seen the chance, appreciating that quality sells; NG, Panda and so on. Maybe they’ll shake the situation up and maybe, rather than resorting to law to stop competition like most corporations, try fixing their issues, and by restoring some semblance of pretence at quality, Gemini might eventually get rapidly jading customers back and the threat they clearly see from the newcomers would evaporate.
Conclusion: Almost as good as BA’s payment system security
Q: Was there anything good about this model?
A: The box was fine.