I have been flying BA for years and recently, after I moved from London to Beijing for work, I have been flying them very frequently. They have always been fine... until I had my first issue. Firstly, I booked a return flight and needed to change the return date. I was informed online and by the UK office that I had to contact the local BA office in Beijing to do this at least a day before travel. The week before travel I did so, only to be cut off due to a dodgy phone line. I called back several times. The day before travel I was out of town on a work trip so I emailed the BA customer support and explained the issue. I tried the UK only to be out of biz hours.
I assumed they would have records of my calls and emails and that even though a new flight had not been booked, they would understand I had been trying to get through so would be flexible. This is when the volcano issues happened. Since I wasn't flying over this period, I thought I would leave the lines to disrupted passengers and continued exchanging emails with customer support.
These email received nonsensical responses, full of very elaborate apologies but no advice or solutions. Finally I just thought I'd sacrifice that flight and use miles to buy another flight online. The cost of the extra miles and the staggering tax (almost £300) meant that using miles to buy the flight cost the same as buying the flight outright?!
I thought I would call customer service in the UK to give me some advice. I explained the situation and the woman on the phone was so strange. They must be stressed because after putting me on hold for 15 minutes she was just unnecessarily rude. I wasn't even complaining. I just wanted them to either explain to me the situation or offer some advice. She just kept repeating "there is nothing we can to resolve these issues" in answer to every question I asked. "Is it possible to refund the miles I bought as my flight costs the same as it would directly, plus 30,000 miles?"
"There is nothing we can to resolve these issues." "Is there anyway you can access my correspondence and call records to propose an alternative solution to my lost flight." "There is nothing we can to resolve these issues." "Is there anyone else I can call or email as the online customer response team don't appear to understand my emails?" "There is nothing we can to resolve these issues,” etc.
I know that technically the guidelines specify that I don't deserve a refund or a rescheduled flight, and I wouldn't even be writing here if I had even been listened to with the slightest bit of courtesy, but at each stage they have been so impolite and unhelpful. So different from my experiences using Virgin (who also do direct from Beijing to London).
Sadly, I have 3 future return flights booked with BA in the next few months (something else that didn't encourage even the slightest hint of cooperation with the customer service rep) so will have to wait till after them to make the switch. In the meantime, I'll be changing the flights of my London and Beijing staff to Virgin and recommending to my clients to steer clear of BA. Actions which I doubt would even bother the BA team...
Subject: Horrific experience for bereaved customer returning to work in Doha. I had been off work for several weeks due to my mother's terminal cancer and witnessed her death at the end of February. Because my father was very unwell and also grieving I stayed with him for a couple more weeks.
I went to Heathrow airport T5 on 12th March to get the BA 125 leaving at 1020 for Doha. I was with my 2 older children who checked me in and drove me to the airport. I dropped off my bag and was given the boarding card with a 1000 closing time, plus verbal reminder for the gate cut-off time only. We were all still grieving, so we spent time with each other on the check in side. I spent some time hugging my children before the departure gate.
When I went to the gate to enter security I was turned back, with no explanation and went to the BA desk. They told me I was put on standby and go to the ticket desk. At the ticket desk they told me that they would not put me on the flight. They then told me that there is a rule about 35 minutes. I asked to speak to the manager who told me that BA had told me about this via its contracts and various notices. I pointed out that I am a bereaved person and that none of this would mean anything to me, and even then I would not know this would be done in such a harsh way, especially when according to them, I had gone over time for a matter of seconds.
Actually the duration I was hugging my children. They offered to rebook the flight but, I would have to pay additional charges. I asked the manager, if due to my circumstances she would waive these charges, she said she could waive the charges, but she would not do so. She even implied that this harsh regime is designed to train the passengers. I was left feeling a distinct lack of compassion and also a failure to acknowledge that I genuinely didn't understand about this rule.
I contacted the Customer Services representative to whom I spoke for over an hour, my main point being to get BA to understand what a horrible experience they were giving me, for someone in my circumstances. Rather than get this basic point, she re-iterated that I had been "told" about the 35 minute rule - which was not true. She referred me to the Boarding pass, and I read out to her exactly, what it said especially the "important notes" on the back of the document. Then she just referred to the part which says, "Subject to conditions of carriage, copies available on request". She gave me the complaint reference number ** to follow up with yourselves.
I think at this difficult time in my life if BA had shown some compassion and consideration due to my circumstances, they would have gained my respect and loyalty. Instead they compounded the tragedy of someone already in difficult circumstances, being bereaved, missing your flight, wasting your money, being told indirectly that you are stupid etc. I felt literally heartbroken at the end of this encounter. I decided to go and rebook, on another airline, even though this cost me more money.
In any case, the BA staff should have taken into account my personal circumstances, realized that this contributed to what happened and waived the rebooking fee. Showing that little bit of compassion and consideration would have won my favour, instead of leaving me doubly heartbroken at this difficult time in my life. Had they shown more compassion, they would have created a positive experience for me and not made me determined never to fly with British Airways ever again.
Furthermore, I will give this message to all my family, friends, community and staff at work. At work, I will not endorse any future travel with BA in my job capacity at Qtel. I will also, let the EXPEDIA travel agent now that this is the way that BA treated me, and according to BA they are also to blame for not making the 35 minute rule explicit to me.
REFUND REQUESTED. Kindly note that I belong to a family of 7 making about 6 to 7 trips to UK a year, in addition to business travel for myself and staff. Prior to this incident I had made a commitment to travel to BA in future and made advanced purchases. Please expedite my refund request.
BA left us stranded on a connecting flight a Johannesburg and refused to take any responsibility. We had to sort out the situation and I would advise anyone thinking of travelling to South Africa to avoid BA. Our story is below. On arriving at Heathrow the baggage drop was efficient with no real queue and a fast service. It transpires that the bags were not prioritised which I will return to later.
The Fast Track queue was ridiculously long and as such not acceptable; after 5 minutes going nowhere we moved over to the economy queue and passed through security faster than we would have done had we remained in fast track. We went to the club lounge which was so full that we could not get a free table to accommodate the five so us. We gave up and dined instead at Gordon Ramsey's Plane Food which was a very enjoyable experience.
On returning to the lounge a few tables had freed up but had not been cleaned. There was waste paper, dirty plates and cups and magazines strewn around the place. We tidied these into a small pile - which was still there when we left two hours later.
In the past when club was full we have been directed to the Gold lounge, but it seems the policy today is to account for my wife and children as my guests and for the gatekeepers to adopt strict policy that only two guests are allowed. I do not see my family as my guests and think this is an incredible short sighted policy. This is particularly so as since BA stopped the Gatwick Geneva flight they now welcome me into the lounges on both sides whilst I am flying Easy Jet on this route. At the same time BA refuse to accommodate us as a unit when flying full fare club on a scheduled BA flight.
The flight BA0057 on 18 December was due to take off at 20.10 but due to a backlog this was posted on the departure board as due to depart at 20.30 a delay of 20 minutes. At 20.30 the flight was fully boarded and the doors locked ready for take off. The pilot announced a short delay to deice the wings, but after around 30 minutes he confirmed that the weather had improved such that the icing was not now necessary and the plane was now ready to push back for take off.
Around 30 minutes later the pilot apologized that the tug top push back the plane had not appeared and they were urgently trying to locate this and that we should be departing shortly. Another 30 minutes passed and the pilot again apologized that the tug had not appeared and assured you that he was trying his best to get us airborne.
It was over an hour later before we pushed off having spent over two hours on the tarmac waiting for the flight to take off. Once airborne we settled into the flight and switched on the in-flight entertainment. After about 5 minutes this packed in and needed to be reset. This took nearly an hour to fix and we were well into the meal service before the system was working properly. Needless to say none of the party watched the evening film they were looking forwards to.
The choice of meal was particularly uninspiring and the food was bland and tasteless. The baby leeks were limp and uninspiring and the turkey dinner was so bad I had to leave it after a mouthful or two. On arriving into Johannesburg the pilot acknowledged that we were running over two hours late and assured everyone with connecting flights that arrangements were in place and that we would be met by ground crew who would ensure that we were all placed onto a suitable alternative flight.
On leaving the plane and arriving at baggage reclaim there was no BA ground crew to welcome or explain what was happening. Our bags were not prioritised and as such were pretty much in the last few off the carousel. Most of the flight had passed through customs by the time we were cleared and on our way to the domestic terminal.
That was no BA representative either at the exit to the international terminal or at the BA desk in the domestic terminal. On arriving at the domestic terminal we went to club check in and were told that the BA 6241 flight which we had booked on had closed and that we had to join the queue for ticket sales to get rebooked onto an alternative flight.
The queue was approx 50 yards long and must have had over a hundred people in it. There was one person at the ticket desk who was processing things incredibly slowly. After around half an hour a BA representative appeared to make an announcement. All Durban ticket holders were quickly given boarding passes to the next flight and all Port Elizabeth passengers had to remain in the queue. A second person appeared to help with ticket sales and after over one hour in the queue I was given a computer printout and told to go to check in.
After a further queue at club check in I was told that the paper was for the wrong passenger and I had to rejoin the queue for ticket sales. This was again around twenty people long so I went straight to the front and asked to seek to someone senior to complain. I was treated rudely and indifferently by the BA representative but stood my ground.
The manager who eventually appeared around 15 minutes later told me the following: We had only be waitlisted and not booked onto the next Port Elizabeth flight. If we failed to secure seats on this flight then the next available flight on all airlines would be after Christmas day. The fact that I had a gold card and that we were full fare club made no difference and she stated that there was nothing else she could do.
She stated emphatically that as the delay was due to weather that BA had no responsibility to get us onto a flight the same day, nor provide accommodation or any other assistance if we were stranded in Johannesburg whilst BA found an alternative flight.
I immediately called the gold executive line to seek clarification. The first option resulted in disconnection with a message saying sorry we are closed. The second attempt found me hanging on for approximately twenty minutes of soothing music before somebody picked up the line. I explained the situation and the BA representative put me on hold to check with a supervisor.
When she returned she said there was nothing that could be done from London. She said the procedure should be to waitlist all passengers which missed the flight on the next available flight (the 15.45) and as we were full fare club with a gold card we should be at the top of the queue. I asked her to check the status of this flight which she said was fully booked and as such there was a possibility that we would not be allocated a seat. She confirmed that if this was the case the first next available flight would be on the evening of Monday 21 December.
I pointed out the following: This was a 'once in a lifetime' holiday to celebrate my wife's milestone birthday. The holiday had cost a significant amount a major part being to cover flights with BA. We were scheduled to take two days on a safari park and then were due to leave Port Elizabeth for Cape Town at lunchtime on 21 December. As such a flight on the evening of 21 December was of no use at all. I commented that BA had made this an experience never to be forgotten - but not for the reasons we would have hoped for.
I asked her if there was anything else she could do or suggest. She said there was nothing. I asked her if she thought this was a reasonable way to treat us. She confirmed that it wasn't. I asked her to register a formal complaint and that I would be following this up as soon as I was able to do so. She said she would do so and make her manager aware.
When the flight had closed we went to the rather small waitlisted queue where we were informed rather curtly that the flight was heavily over booked and that there were no waitlisted tickets being issued. At this point I cannot describe the extent of the anxiety and distress which BA had caused to my family and in particular my wife who was nearly in tears as she saw her whole 50th birthday experience falling away.
Six days have now passed and I have received no communication by phone or email to confirm than the complaint is being investigated, to apologize for the scandalous treatment received at the hands of BA, nor even to inquire if we had managed to sort things out. This is truly a disgrace of the highest magnitude which BA should be thoroughly ashamed of. At 3.15 after four hours of hell the realisation dawned that BA had simply abandoned us on the other side of the world and were not going to do anything to help our situation and as such we would simply have to fix this ourselves.
A quick call was made to our travel agent who suggested we check with South African Airlines to see if an indirect flight could be arranged. The SAA representative was a complete breath of fresh air. He was helpful, polite and completely empathised with our situation. With a good humoured approach he helped ease the tension and quickly found us a flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth leaving first thing the next (Sunday 20 December) morning. There was a regular service from Johannesburg to Durban and after a short while while he checked to get us the cheapest fare and then provide a free upgrade to club on the first leg we had our tickets and were on our way to Durban.
This is the complete text of the complaint written to British Airways moments ago. Subject: Complaint regarding Events of Friday 18th 2009-Sunday 20th 2009 at Washington Dulles International Airport and the treatment of passengers of flight BA 0292
My name is ** and I was a passenger on flight BA0292 from Washington Dulles (IAD) to London Heathrow (LHR) originally scheduled for Friday the 18th of December at 1010pm and experienced a tiny piece of travel hell at the hands of British Airways. I am writing this letter to express my displeasure with British Airways and to request compensation for both myself and my fellow travelers for the inconvenience caused by the incompetence of the organization.
I am a British national who lives and works in Washington DC and travels between the USA and the UK frequently and as such I understand that there are elements that are beyond control but in most cases airlines are prepared to deal with these situations and have contingency plans in place. This experience was not one of those times and I feel that my fellow passengers and I were treated without regard by the airline.
As I am sure you were aware over the course of the week preceding Friday the 18th the weather forecasts predicted a nightmarish weather situation that would form the night of the 18th. This storm was anticipated to bring a significant amount of snow to areas of the United States not used to such weather and as such were ill-prepared. This weather system arrived the evening of Friday the 15th and was the catalyst for a series of events that created a hellish situation for me, my fellow passengers and those passengers on flight BA0624 (scheduled to leave shortly before my own flight).
This situation was compounded by the lack of preparation for these events by both the ground crews at Dulles and the British Airways ground staff and further distressed by the incompetence of the British Airways ground staff over the period of time from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th December 2009. I would like to express my understanding that British Airways cannot control the weather and the magnitude of the storm was “once-in-a-lifetime” but there was a week of warning in which both the airline and the Dulles ground staff should have spent preparing. My complaints are listed and detailed below:
Initial Delay on Friday 18th. There was an initial delay indicated for the flight during the day on Friday the 18th. Efforts should have been made to expedite the turn-around once the plane had arrived due to the oncoming storm. No information was provided to explain the nature of this initial delay and this 1 hour would cause the plane and its passengers to be grounded at Washington Dulles for 48 hours. We understand that it was probably related to the weather conditions in the UK but the fact that no information was provided to passengers was unacceptable.
7 hours spent on the plane overnight. We finally boarded the plane at 1145 and were told we were being deiced. This process had been going on for hours but inside the aircraft we only saw our windows slowly get covered with snow. In an attempt to get us off of the ground that evening the ground staff did everything within their power to get us airborne but the passengers knew the flight would not depart when they saw BA264 return to the terminal (we were later told they had been skidding all over the runway).
The passengers were eventually given their dinner at 630am and deplaned at 730am Saturday (coincidentally this was about the same time we were supposed to land in the UK). The passengers personally felt that the plane was not departing at 3am and were frustrated with being kept onboard when this fact was clear and apparent.
Lack of Information during delay on Tarmac. During this 7 hour delay the captain gave us information updates only twice. The passengers understood that we probably wouldn't be leaving but the fact that we were not given any information regarding our status or what decisions were being made was unacceptable. The fact that we had to discover that the trucks had run out of deicing fluid though whispers from flight attendants was also unacceptable and we feel that the airline should have treated us as adults and not kept information from us.
Lack of coordination upon disembarking on Friday night/Saturday morning. There was a serious lack of coordination between BA operations and Ground staff concerning instructions for rechecking/delay procedure for disembarking passengers. Staff told passengers that they needed to recheck in on later flights and to coordinate this with 1800 number. This caused a sense of general pandemonium as passengers all raced to secure the few open seats on the flights the next day.
It was only from these calls that it became clear that if we rechecked then the next flights available were days later. After talking to ground staff again it had become clear (after they had spoken to BA operations) that we would all be simply held on this flight and that it would try to depart at the same time the next evening. The complaint is regarding the general state of panic resulting from mixed information from the various conversations with BA staff and customer service.
Incorrect instructions On Saturday the 19th. Passengers were instructed to travel back to the airport at 3pm in order to collect their baggage and check-in for any new flights. Any proposed flights for this day were obviously not going to happen due to the increasing intensity of the blizzard. The instructions concerning our baggage was incorrect also as we were told only later in the day that it was all still in the hold of the plane and could not be retrieved (understandably) due to hazardous conditions for baggage handlers. The complaint is regarding the lack of correct instructions and information from BA ground staff to passengers which increased their already frustrated state.
No facilities provided to contact relatives/pickup at end of journey. There was no facility provided, be it a phone or a computer with email access, for passengers to use to communicate with people at their eventual destination. This showed a lack of regard for passenger welfare and that BA was operating under the assumption that all passengers had means of communication.
Assumption that all passengers had means to purchase food and provide hotel with credit card. It became clear that there were some passengers that had no dollars or credit cards they could use and as such had to borrow money from other passengers on faith as there were no food vouchers provided by British airways. Their problem was compounded by the fact that they had to provide a card at hotel check-in (even though BA would eventually reimburse this) but they could not do this and had to rely on other passengers to provide this credit.
2nd Check-in. The check-in process for all 5 flights on Sunday the 20th was a complete nightmare. 5 flights of passengers had to check in via 8 check-in desks. There was a single line for each flight that stretched backwards until it became a single snaking line through Dulles. There was no information about how this was organized and this caused severe frustration throughout the line. I was personally in this single snaking line for 2 hours until on investigation I found I could just join the back of the line for my flight.
I was in this line for 2 more hours until the 2 BA staff serving my flight were taken to process an earlier flight (this only served to make us feel like second-class passengers). This was eventually resolved after I was waiting in line for 6 hours, when I was finally given my 2nd boarding card of this trip (which would turn out to be useless). The lack of organization and public information at this point of our journey was unacceptable.
Limited Staff on Saturday (no on-call staff for emergency). There was a 4 day warning of the approaching storm that BA could have used to make appropriate staffing arrangements in case it hit. The fact that the storm did hit and there were only 2 BA staff to serve hundreds of BA passengers was unacceptable. An on-call system should have been set up with a number of BA staff available to come in on an as needed basis. The fact that on Saturday there were so few staff, even in the face of the severe conditions, was unacceptable.
Limited Staff on Sunday (BA staff refusing to stay and assist). This caused remaining staff to be pushed to their emotional limit dealing with a plane of frustrated passengers and would also cause the flight to leave later as when it became clear that they would have to manually recheck-in every passenger and the 2 staff that left could have served to expedite this process.
Plane not prepared for departure on Sunday 20th. Both flight 624 and 292 were not prepared to take passengers on their eventual departure date. They were not re-catered or cleaned after passengers were on the aircraft for 7 hours on the 18th and even the captain and flight crew were disgusted with this fact upon their arrival. The plane was not deiced and ready to go; our delayed planes should have had priority on all services.
Any excuse for this not being the case is unacceptable. The plane had been sitting stationary for 3 days and had not been monitored and this is unforgivable as BA only has a small number of flights a day from Dulles as opposed to the large number of AA and UA flights.
The AA and UA flights had no problem leaving on time on Sunday the 20th. The lack of preparation by British Airways was completely unacceptable and this was not a direct result of the weather but rather a direct result of the incompetence of the British Airways ground crew. This incompetence directly resulted in us arriving to our destination 5 hours behind our anticipated arrival time on Monday afternoon GMT.
3rd Check in. As a result of our information being in the system for over 48 hrs the system had removed our stored information and the ground staff needed to re-check-in the entire passenger list. This was the 3rd time many passengers had checked in. This only served to anger everyone as it is RIDICULOUS that this was not foreseen by anyone in the organization. It became clear that our original boarding passes from Friday would have got us through security; completely negating the reason for me and my fellow passengers to stand in line all day and check-in a second time.
This process was rumored to occur from 2300 and then was confirmed by an announcement from the ground staff at 0025. I personally was not able to board until 0246. The fact that this would occur and cause us to all check-in manually was unacceptable. This situation was also compounded by the staff that refused to stay beyond a certain time to assist the other ground staff, their presence would have expedited this process and we would have boarded at a time closer to our original departure time. The lack of foresight was unacceptable.
Lack of Priority given to delayed or cancelled flights (delayed by days!). 5 flights were flown from Dulles (IAD) on Sunday and every flight was allowed to leave before flight 0292. Every passenger feels that it was unacceptable that us and flight 264 were not given priority for departure on Sunday and that those flights that were scheduled for the 20th at 615pm, 930pm and 1010pm were allowed to leave before us and the fact that our delay was compounded by the lack of preparation and organization of our aircraft created a situation that threatened to boil over.
Lack of email communication from BA. My flights were booked by the people who were picking me up and as such they were expecting to be informed of any cancellation or sever delays via email as this form of communication had been used for confirmation of flights and supplementary notification. To get any information it required multiple phone calls to BA in the UK who on repeated occasions knew nothing about the flights predicament. The fact that we had indicated email as the preferred preference for communication did not appear to matter. This was unacceptable.
Lack of information at Heathrow T5 caused “worst case” speculation. Upon arriving at Heathrow T5 for passenger pickup there was no information on the boards or from ground staff. As the plane had been sitting in freezing conditions for 3 days and “looked after” by a ground staff in Dulles (IAD) that had demonstrated earlier on Sunday that they had not monitored the plane (catering and cleaning) there were fears of plane safety amongst both the passengers and the families waiting.
Upon talking to BA staff at T5 they told us that there were “unable to find any trace of or flight status of” flight 0292. Experiencing this lack of information from BA only caused speculation of a plane crash to spread amongst those passengers waiting at T5. The emotional stress this caused on top of the existing situation was unacceptable
Lack of information regarding complaints procedure and compensation from BA. Our flight was not the only flight at Dulles delayed and other airlines also had flights of frustrated passengers to contend with. On Sunday evening it became apparent to us that other airlines had already discussed with their passengers how they could complain and had already explained the levels of compensation that would be available to them. British Airways passengers at Washington Dulles received no such communication.
This weekend would have been a lot worse had it not been for the accommodation provided by British Airways for passengers on this flight and for this myself and the other passengers I have spoken with are very grateful but the consensus is that this was inadequate considering the events of Sunday 20th 2009.
I would like you to think about the other passengers on this flight. I was lucky in the sense that I had no connections that I had to catch and had people to pick me up from the airport but there were plenty of people who were not so lucky and this experience caused far greater stress for them that it did for me.
Some particular passenger situations that were on my flight are listed below: A young Indian man in his 20's flying home for his grandfather's funeral in India. If our flight took off after 1am Monday morning (which it did) he would miss the funeral as the next available flight he could get on was Thursday the 24th. This poor fellow was in tears as we were boarding our flight at 4am Monday morning. 2 families with 4/5 small children. 2 families that had autistic children (one teenager, one young child). A pregnant Polish woman in her 20's who didn't speak English and had a connection to Eastern Europe.
In spite of these complaints I would like to single out our captain, Captain **, for his thoughtfulness in constantly communicating the situation to us passengers on Sunday night and taking control of the situation in regards to the catering, cleaning, and deicing of the plane that evening.
This whole experience was created by a freak weather system that the area was ill-prepared for but was compounded by the incompetence and efficiency of the airline that I had chosen to fly with and a timely offer of compensation would be appreciated.
My total travel time from arrivings (9pm on the 18tH) for my first check-in until arrival at LHR T5 (530pm on the 20th): 63 hours. Amount of time spent in lines: 15 hours. Amount of time spent of aircraft: 15.5 hours I look forward to receiving a formal response from you addressing all of the issues above.
LONDON, ENGLAND -- I am a disabled person and I have always flown with British Airways when travelling to Europe. Their service had been exemplary until this year. Only two days into my holiday in Oxford, UK, I fell and broke my hip. The accident occurred on 21 July 2008 and I had to be hospitalized for 15 days to get my hip repaired and get me back in a condition to travel home.
My cousin who is also my care giver when I travel called British Airways immediately to transfer our return tickets as due to my hospitalization we would not be able to travel on our original return date of 24 July 2008. She got a note from the doctors stating that I was unable to travel and recommending a return date of 4 August 2008. She told them I was being released on 2 August 2008 and would need to return to the US by 4 August 2008 as I have several heart and diabetes medications and I would only have 48 hours worth of medication when released from the hospital. They refused to transfer the original ticket unless we could fly after 28 August 2008 (4 weeks later).
So now we are out of medicine, out of money and have no place to turn and since they would not honor our original tickets to return home in order to do so we had to purchase two new coach tickets $1,400 each. She purchased these tickets one week prior to the flight to be sure we had them for our return.
As I am disabled with a bad heart and diabetes, my care giver cousin always arranges for a wheelchair as I can no longer walk the long distances at the airport to get to the gates. She has done this for the past 4 years. She once again called and requested a wheelchair to take me to the plane but when we arrived at Heathrow, Terminal 4, we were told she would have to take the doctor's note into the airport and go to the ticket desk to get the wheelchair.
Meanwhile I am standing on the drop off zone right next to the construction going on. I have a four legged metal walker which they issued me on release at the hospital. I am 10 days post surgery on having my hip replaced and am in terrible pain but there is nowhere to sit and wait so I am standing next to the luggage cart our taxi driver had brought us when the driver has to leave and I am there waiting for her to get the wheelchair.
Inside the airport terminal she was having a problem getting assistance for me. My doctors had written a medical release so she not only had documentation as to the need but she had arranged for this service at the time of ticket purchase. Still they would not bring a wheelchair unless she saw the British Airways ticket agent.
While she was going through this, an elderly priest that was also travelling with a handicapped person, saw me and asked if he walked alongside me and held me up do I think I could walk into the terminal to try to get help. It was a very slow, very long and extremely painful walk but as I had been standing in the parking area for a lengthy period of time I agreed and we walked slowly together into the terminal.
When I arrived inside the terminal, the fellow that was following my cousin with the wheelchair trying to get approval from the ticket agent saw me and immediately put me in the chair. He took me to the ticket desk where my cousin was arguing about something with the ticket agent.
As we neared the ticket agent I finally could hear what was going on. The ticket agent was denying me access to the airplane even though I had a valid ticket and assigned seat. She insisted that I buy a Business Class ticket at an additional $6,000. I lost it and started crying. Both I and my cousin told her we did not have $6,000. We had already spent everything we had to pay for additional hotel nights and transportation while I was in the hospital. When she uttered her response "Well you better start calling your friends and family because you're not getting on the plane without this upgrade." it was with so much venom that you would think I had done something to her just by existing.
After a half hour of begging her supervisor to come talk to us (which he/she never did) we used her credit card to purchase the ticket. Since they do not allow walkers or wheelchairs on the plane (only in the luggage compartment), I am now unable to walk or stand without assistance. They had told my cousin that she could not come to see me in Business Class "UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES". As she is my care giver, I was unable to leave my seat to do as the doctor's ordered and "mobilize" which meant I couldn't even go to the bathroom.
When we finally landed 8.5 hours later and everyone else had deplaned, she was allowed to come to my assistance to get off the plane and into a wheelchair waiting at the door of the plane at the airport (the wheelchairs do not fit in the aisles of the plane). Upon standing, urine started leaking out of me because my bladder was so full from not being able to go to the bathroom. My medications were out of whack as she was unable to visit me and help me get them from the overhead where they were stored.
I am now so completely humiliated and ill that when my daughter met us at the airport she cried. It wasn't until I got into my home with the assistance of my daughter and husband and told them the entire story that they became angry at my treatment at the hands of British Airways and their representatives.
Because of this, my daughter did some research online and found out that British Airways has violated the law under the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Laws under the Air Carrier Access Act of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 14 CFR Part 382, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel, Subpart C, Section 382.31 and Section 382.37 as well as Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air, Article 3 and Annex II, paragraphs 4-6.
So she wrote a letter to British Airways customer service (you can't call them as they do not allow you to talk to any of their customer service representatives) and they responded with a refund of the $1,400 as they agree they should have transferred the ticket but they would not refund the additional $6,000 they charged for making me sit in Business Class as I had sat in the seat.
I call this a hostage situation. My life depended on my returning home to my doctors and getting my medications. They held me at the airport until I tallied up with another $6,000 even though I had a valid ticket to fly coach and my care giver had our seats assigned next to each other so she could assist me on the flight home.
Considering they forced me to purchase a total of three sets of tickets to fly home when the original should have been sufficient, I feel they owe me a refund on the additional $6,000 whether or not I rode in the seat as it was not my choice to do so. All I can say is don't fly British Airways. Any company that has to sequester their "customer service" so as not to allow the customer to have their say is telling you that as a customer you are not important enough to be heard.
We have just completed air travel from Heathrow to Baltimore Washington International on BA Flight. We were literally held hostage on the plane by a single mother from a foreign country with 3 children who were totally out of control during the entire flight and made it impossible to sleep, or enjoy the in-flight entertainment due to the excessive crying as well leaving their seats and running up and down the aisles. We were seated in exit row seats across the aisle on the left side of the plane and they were seated in the center section in the emergency exit row. (Since they were seated and blocking the exit row, I believe this was a potential violation of airline safety.)
When the plane landed our immediate objectives were to escape from the untenable dilemma, seek peace and solitude in the terminal, get our luggage and return safely home. To add insult to injury we could not accomplish every goal since the airline lost our luggage and we went home without our personal belongings. I am a devoted family person and recognize that children cannot be controlled every minute of the day. In fact, other small children in the section were not a problem since the parents monitored their behaviour.
However, we were confronted with a single parent who was clueless about parental control and did not seem concerned about their discipline nor their safety on the plane. The kids were running up and down the aisles and two of the younger children (approx. 1.5 and 2 years) were crying incessantly in alternating patterns throughout the entire duration of the trip. In addition, the nearby restroom were a diaper changing area with her baby wipes and the smell of dirty diapers. (We were seated directly in front of the restroom.)
The staff made feeble attempts to keep the children in their seats and on a number of occasions corralled the toddlers back to the safety of their buckled seats. But after time it was apparent that your staff either was not up to the task of controlling the situation or totally failed to recognize the impact this situation created and avoided this section of the plane for much of the flight. I am sure many of the other passengers suffered the same effects.
After several complaints to the staff supervisor offered to have the seats changed with other passengers to a central - more cramped area in the back of the plane. Having suffered with little leg room on the way over we were reluctant to trade one set of problems for another. To add another insult to injury the air temperature on the plane was so cold that I was wearing a golf jacket, gloves and two blankets. And it took considerable time for the staff to respond to our personal needs to get additional blankets and talk to the Captain about raising the inside cabin air temp.
The British Airways staff cannot cope effectively with developing personnel issues (such as controlling children and insuring passenger comfort levels). Things can go downhill very fast and turn an otherwise fantastic journey into a "trip from hell". It seems to me there should be limited to infant and small children brought on board by a single adult passenger, or at the very least a special children only seat area specified.
We spent considerable money to travel on your airlines and feel that we did not get what we originally bargained for, i.e., quality passenger service from an experienced international jet service. Instead we experienced the emotional distress of listening to children crying for the entire length of the trip on a 7 hour flight, suffering through hours of frigid air temperatures and not having our luggage to take home with us.
NEW JERSEY -- I am a teacher who was sponsoring a tour group to Italy from NJ from 14 March to 21 March 2008. The plane ride to Heathrow (where we had our first transfer) was unbearably hot for six and a half hours. Upon arriving in Milan, we discovered that five of our group's bags had not arrived. The people at the customer service desk seemed to think this was not that big of a deal. Four of the suitcases arrived at our hotel in Venice within two days. However, one suitcase was still on its own mini-vacation. The final suitcase arrived in Rome literally as we were piling on a bus to go to the airport to return to NJ.
In the Rome airport, the BA customer service representatives were incredibly rude and refused to print the boarding passes for our transfer flight. Instead giving us only the passes from Rome to Heathrow, saying we would have to once again stand on line in Heathrow even though our layover was only 1 1/2 hours. The flight left Rome 1/2 hour late. We asked again at the desk of the gate if there was anyway for us to get our boarding passes for the transfer and were told no. Once on the plane, we spoke to a flight attendant who told us we absolutely should have had the passes printed and who called ahead to Heathrow to ask that they do so.
Of course, we landed late in Heathrow. A bus was waiting for us on the tarmac and took us across the airport where we then had to run (following a BA rep) through security again. We made it to the plane for our transfer for last call. The plane smelled horribly like gas or fuel, the flight attendants said that was normal. Upon landing in JFK we discovered that none of the bags for our group of 23 had made the trip with us and were all still in Heathrow. The BA rep said this was NORMAL because Heathrow requires that all bags be x-rayed again. Well, if this is the case why schedule flights with layover times that do not allow for security checks?
We were promised our bags would be delivered to our homes the next day by dinner time. The next day came and went. The website tracking service was no help, nor was the automated phone tracking service. Finally, on Easter Sunday (the third day) a rep called to say he was on his way and I had to wait for him to arrive with my bag which could be up to six hours. So, that was the second day I had to put my life on hold as did our entire group waiting for BA.
I've sent email complaints to BA but don't expect to hear back from them as they don't seem at all to care about their passengers. I will say this, I refuse to fly BA ever again. I've been flying internationally for over twenty years and have never experienced such horrific service. I sponsor two overseas trips per year with group sizes averaging twenty or more people. I will no longer be using BA for any of these trips and will be letting everyone I encounter know of the horrible service provided by this airline.
FLANDERS,BELGIUM -- July 18th. Personal data: I am a white male Dutch-speaking Belgian citizen, 51 years old, medical doctor, professionally active in social security, married for 26 years, father of 2 bright children, not known with any problems with or convictions for drunkenness or aggressive behavior or in general, without any psychiatric disease in the past or the present. For at least 15 years, I haven't spoken French or English on a daily basis.
Facts: The safety instructions on the 747 are visually communicated through individual passenger screens by means of an animated picture. I consider it always important to see them because every plane has its own intricacies, and it was the first time I flew with British Airways and on a 747. There was absolutely nothing on my screen and several times I tried to get the attention of the crew member in my isle who was standing about 10 feet away.
Although he noticed me, he refused to respond, and kept looking in a different direction. I was not able to see the safety instructions. Looking around me, I became aware I was not alone: from row 30 on many people had no instructions. Later on, we accidentally overheard staff members and understood that they knew about the problem. The crew rebooted the system several times, without result: nobody beyond row 30 could watch any movie or listen to any radio station anymore. The equipment (run with Windows-software) was clearly malfunctioning.
Incident: I boarded well hydrated and was served a sparkling water and 15 cc of white wine. When the first serving of beverages was removed, [the crew member] asked if he could serve us in any way. I replied that I had absolutely nothing on my screen and that I disliked the obviously malfunctioning equipment, run by what I called "Microsoft **".
Interpretation : Instead of being interested in my frustration, this person suddenly turned against me, accusing me of insulting him by swearing. I protested that I did not do such thing intentionally, and that swearing is by definition “to utter an oath or to utter profanity”, which I absolutely did not. In my understanding of the word and as an active Christian, swearing always implies God, and I did not say anything like that either.
He immediately stopped serving us and got to his superior, who told me again I was swearing, and I told him the same again: that I did not say something against God (or is Bill Gates God?) and I certainly did not intend to insult the person or swear knowingly against some crew member, and that as a foreigner, I did not understand why such a reaction was necessary.
Instead of leaving it that way, they involved the Flight Manager. This lady rapidly and efficiently made things worse, even upsetting my wife and son: she used the same arguments, and I used mine. I told her I felt discriminated by race, nationality, culture and/or language, and because as a Flemish-speaking citizen, I could and should not know that what I said was considered or interpreted as swearing and/or an insult to the crew member.
The word ** is rather commonly used in Flanders, mostly pointing to a messy situation, action or product. It seemed to me that she intentionally did not try to understand us, so I told her that if she continued accusing me of something I or we did not consider as wrongdoing, I would write a complaint, because her reaction was interpreted by me and by my family as absolutely obnoxious and out of boundaries. And I clearly explained her the essentials of what happened: the fact that I complained of failing equipment and thus safety.
Abuse of authority: The reaction of [the Flight Manager] seemed at the least impressively mean and furious: if I was to file a complaint to her management, she would report to the pilot that I was drunk and aggressive. And that was it, take it or leave it. I was – with 15 cc of white wine - not drunk at all. Since I know my limits and no breath test has been taken, I felt and still feel falsely accused.
I also was not at all aggressive, I did not show any signs of aggressiveness at all, not shouting nor yelling, not naming nor cursing, not pointing nor making a fist, or whatever; I hold on to my arguments, and that was it. It is my job to talk with people, to listen to their arguments, to judge if their claim for an allowance is acceptable and then arguing in writing and making up an official document. I'm not known for weak arguments, neither am I known for aggression. I'm rather assertive though.
I pointed out to [the Flight Manager] the difference between aggressive and assertive behavior, I repeated it several times, but with absolutely no result at all: she doesn't know or did not want to know the difference, I and we think. My wife pointed out to me that "drunkenness and aggressive behavior" on a long-distance flight could imply a drop-off-stop, and that all costs would be mine. Of course that made me stop arguing and talking.
Punishment: My son and wife received a glass of red wine, but I did not, because of my so called drunkenness, and for the next 7 hours, I didn't receive any attention or beverage, I left the plane completely dehydrated except for the cup of coffee with the 'breakfast'. But worse of all, my son says that a cross was put behind my name on the passengers list. We all know that passenger lists are handed over to the US Homeland Security. I can't and will not accept that a false accusation and/or misunderstanding can cost me the freedom and joy of traveling.
Impressions: At least, I felt - and still feel - cornered and framed for the fact that I primarily tried to point out that the communication system was faltering, and that passengers were denied the essential safety instructions. By framing me, I feel the staff was able to first divert the attention from a malfunctioning communication system to a so called “drunk and aggressive" passenger, and second to show loudly and clearly that anyone who dared to protest in the same way would undergo the same treatment and/or punishment.
By framing me, I'm very afraid I'm on a list now where I absolutely do not belong. I immediately contacted Homeland Security, because I felt and still feel extremely frustrated and insulted. Post-traumatic side effects: I arrived at home with cardiovascular complaints (elevated blood pressure and heart rhythm disorders I never experienced before) and a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. There is a undeniable objective direct relationship between cause and effect, the latter being very unpleasant and discomforting.
Plan of action and request for indemnities: [The crew member] knowingly denied essential safety instructions to some passengers of his isle, willfully and intentionally misunderstood and/or misinterpreted and/or discriminated foreign passengers, is therefore unable and unapt for his job on international flights.
[The Flight Manager] knowingly denied essential safety instructions to some passengers, willfully and intentionally misunderstood and/or misinterpreted and/or discriminated foreign passengers, gladly and swiftly used “revenge” in order to gain control over an incident, thus abusing her authority, knowingly lied to her pilot, management and even worse, to the American Authorities, in spoken and/or written word, by calling a sober, alert and argumentative passenger “drunk and aggressive”, thus willingly and intentionally slandering, is therefore unable and unapt for the job: she should be given different responsibilities. My family and I expect [the Flight Manager] to apologize in writing
August 18th. On the 18th of July I send a complaint (by registered mail) about what happened on the flight BA0284 SFO --> LHR (**). I send the same text on the same date to the US Dept Homeland Security. Until now, BA has excelled in not answering me. I think that is intentionally wrongdoing, which makes me feel like a 3rd class Titanic customer. After one month I still feel victim of authority abuse, and I want at least an answer. By the way: Singapore Airlines installs Linux, read **.
September 24th. The people @ British Airways customer support have the ultimate arrogance of neither answering a registered letter, nor reacting to a web-based email request. I can hardly believe it. [The crew member] goes untouched and un-blamed for what she decided free-willingly to do: accusing some foreigner of something that he did not do at all. May all BA personnel involved - sooner or later - be blamed for that, at least, because justice should prevail, even in Britain. May they once taste the bitterness such maltreatment leaves you with.
LONDON -- I flew Business Class on Sat 5th April from their new Terminal 5. Prior to check-in they said that the problems were behind them and everything was working normally. This was the first lie. I left the security to try to go in the lounge to wait for departure. The door is beside security manned by two BA people. Despite being entitled to access I was told that BA/BAA insisted that I walk past all the shops and go down a floor and up again to get in. With my flight time approaching I inquired with staff in the lounge. I was advised that there were no delays and to proceed via the transit to the departure gate. Second lie.
Do not leave the lounge or get the transit until you are sure your flight is on time. You can't get back to the lounge. Sure enough I arrive at the gate and the flight is delayed for 1 hour. Reason given was problems with the baggage system meant that they were manually making sure that all our bags were on board prior to take off. Third lie. We then boarded and sat on the ground for another hour supposedly looking for the bag of a passenger who hadn't showed. Finally we got airborne.
About two hours into the flight the pilot declared a hydraulics emergency and turned back, dumped fuel and safely landed at Shannon. This is where all the lies surfaced. Tons of bags were coming onto the carousel but no-one was picking them up. It turns out that these were the bags belonging to BA's victims on the earlier San Francisco flight that had not made it with their owners. Sure enough my bags did not show. About £2k worth of stuff.
There is no BA representation at all. We have been put up overnight and are still waiting to try to depart for the US. There is no information on the state of the aircraft. We all have had hours where we could have used the time to start the process of registering our lost bags. Despite calling the Executive Club and searching the web, I am told that the only way I can do this is to get in line in San Francisco, presumably with 300 or so other people and fill out a form.
BA have collected several thousand pounds from me and given me this experience in return. They deserve to go broke. They should start by firing their arrogant little bean counter Walsh. Avoid them if you can.
APEX, NORTH CAROLINA -- Students who are flying to the United States should be aware of the rip off by British airlines agents at airports. I bought a ticket through British airlines from Mumbai - London- Raleigh. I called British airlines customer service weeks ahead and a day before my flight journey to make sure that students traveling to USA FOR THE FIRST TIME FROM SPECIFIC LOCATIONS are allowed to carry a third checked in baggage.
I requested in writing to avoid any unforeseen complications at the airport, but the customer service agent said, "We do not have any provision to email you in written at this time, but I assure you that if you show your I-20 and screen shot of our website where it stated that students are allowed to take an extra 23 kg checked baggage at the British airlines check in counter, you should not have any issues."
I had no other option to believe what the customer care said, which was my BIGGEST MISTAKE TO TRUST BRITISH AIRLINES. At Mumbai airport, I was tortured by the adamant agent to pay for the 3rd baggage. I tried to convince them by narrating the prior story with the customer service, but they were adamant, rude and not ready to even hear what I was saying.
My flight is in 1.5 hour and I called my sister in the United Stated to talk to the customer service and pay for the 3rd baggage with a credit card as I was having insufficient funds to pay for the baggage and the internet service was down at the airport. All in vain, even the customer service said that they cannot accept any payment 3 hrs before the flight departure. No option left to pay, I had only one choice left, to trash all the contents of the suit case at the airport and take the flight or miss the flight.
Finally, after 2 hrs of struggle, after realizing that there was no means to do the payment due to the lack of internet service they let me board the flight. Therefore, I advice students think twice before they purchase tickets through British airlines. I want to make sure that the British airlines agents working at airports and customer service know their basic rules regarding baggage allowance and what message they are conveying to passengers.
I am filing a FCC consumer complaint against British airlines to make sure that this will not happen to any other passenger, especially students traveling for the first time. I hope this incident will awake British airways officials and take necessary action to train their agents and not to mislead passengers.