British Airways lets Osama Bin Laden try their new mobile boarding pass solution [Updated]

In a serious case of “what were they thinking”, a British Airways company magazine used a boarding pass issued to Osama Bin Laden to show off their latest mobile ticketing service.

The name was obviously put there as a joke, but the timing couldn’t be any worse – a month after severe disruptions caused by volcanic ash, British Airways is now in the middle of a series of five day strikes – so customer satisfaction is already at a pretty low point.

A British Airways spokeswoman told ABC News that “A mistake has been made in this internal publication and we are working to find out how this occurred”.

According to the boarding pass, Mr Bin Laden flies in First class, and has a frequent flier number with Northwest Airlines. Sadly, knowing the brilliant minds behind the anti-terror organizations, the terror level will be raised to “red hot” on October 26 2010 while airport police all around the world try to figure out which airport the most wanted terrorist in the world will be flying to.

UPDATE from @BritishAirways, via their Twitter stream —

@Gadling A mistake has been made in this internal publication and we are working to find out how this occurred.less than a minute ago via CoTweet

Breaking news: British Airways Christmas strike canceled

Good news for passengers who had planned to fly British Airways during the Christmas holiday – Their planned strike has been blocked by a British court.

The strike was scheduled to begin on December 22nd, and last till January 2nd, essentially shutting down the entire airline during one of the busiest periods of the year. Thankfully, Judge Laura Cox decided that the disruption could not go ahead.

Sadly, there are still a couple of issues that could screw up holiday plans, as baggage handlers and check-in staff are planning to do three separate “walkouts” at Heathrow. This dispute is unrelated to British Airways, though the walkout is being organized by the same union behind BA strike.

Expansions in the business-class-only service

The all-business-class model for airline carriers has been a touchy subject over the last few months. With all but two of the airlines now out of business (OpenSkies and Singapore Airlines‘ select flights), many wonder if the original approach was a good idea.

Yet OpenSkies (EC, owned by British Airways) and Singapore Airlines (SQ) continue to press on — and even expand. Earlier this month, OpenSkies announced that they would be adding service further into the European Union, while SQ just expanded their A340 service from Los Angeles into Singapore.

How can these carriers thrive in such tight times? How can they survive where so many others failed? Well, there’s no doubt that the deep pockets of each carrier are helping ride out the storm of high oil prices. While Americans sort out their financial woes, each airline plans to build a product and loyal customer base, get the word out on their product as much as possible and fight for a place in the future market.

Things could be a little rough for OpenSkies. With the American economy suffering and the EU economy headed in the same direction, demand for business class seats is going to be dropping off pretty quick. Unfortunately, the worst may yet be to come.

According to Singapore Airlines, their business-class-only service has conversely enjoyed packed flights and thriving business.

The true gauge for each airline, regardless of their current situation, is long term sustainability independent of their parent airline or routes. If the routes fail to generate profit after a few years they will surely disappear, but perhaps if we’re all lucky and the trend picks up, OpenSkies’ and SQ’s business-class-only flights will be here to stay.