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Abuse of Authority
By -

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 Bulls_it".

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 now that what I said was considered or interpreted as swearing and/or an insult to the crew member.

The word "Bulls_it" or "S_it" 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

1/ [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.

2/ [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.

3/ 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 (read http://ba0284.blogspot.com/).
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 installes Linux, read
http://www.linuxworld.com/news/2007/
082207-worldbeat-singapore-airlines-puts-a.html


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.

     
Replies
Horrible service + lost bags = never using BA again
By -

DENVER, COLORADO -- On Friday 13th July I checked in at Paris CDG. I was travelling on a business class ticket to Salt Lake City via Heathrow and Denver. Upon arrival at the check in area I could only locate self-serve kiosks...no "real" person. I checked with an airport steward to verify that this is where I was supposed to check in since normally business class travelers get a "real" person to deal with. I was told to use a kiosk. There were no signs or anything else to indicate a separate check in area.

I used a kiosk and received my boarding cards. Then I proceeded through Passport Control to find the bag drop (which is after Passport Control at CDG). I was dismayed to find about 150 people waiting in line to check their baggage (for economy class). I spent several minutes working my way around the line just so I could get near the counters and see if there was a business class counter but there was not. When I asked a BA rep she told me the business counter was... back outside Passport Control in a different check in area. I was furious at the concept of having to go back outside but it still would be faster than waiting in the economy line so I made my way past the luggage carousels, through Passport Control, and eventually found the business class counter. I double checked to make sure I had not simply overlooked it before but there were no signs or any other indications to it. The counter was 50m down from the BA kiosk area.
Upon reaching the business class counter/bag drop I waited a few minutes while the BA rep processed three gentlemen in front of me, all the while speaking on her phone. When it was finally my turn, I checked in two bags (she was still on the phone). She put bright orange "Priority" tags on my bas, evidently to indicate that my business class luggage should receive special handling. All the while she was still on the phone. During the process I asked her to verify that my frequent flier number had made it onto the reservation; the ignored me or forgot about it. Eventually I got my claim tags and headed off to go through Passport Control (again!) so I could find the BA business lounge.
Arriving at the lounge I approached the reception desk to check in and dealt with a man that at first wouldn't speak any English, apparently just intending to check me into the lounge. When I asked him about my frequent flier number and presented him my frequent flier card, it was evident that he didn't speak English very well at all, nor could he operate the computer because he told me that my FF number wasn't in the computer...nor could he put it in! Disgusted, I resolved to deal with the FF number at Heathrow. Meanwhile I was astonished that I was met at that counter with someone that couldn't communicate in English...even though it was a UK based airline and I was flying to the UK!

Upon arrival at Heathrow I made my way to the business lounge and was able to verify that my FF number had in fact been on the reservation.
The 9hr flight to Denver was uneventful. The aircraft was older and the seat did not meet my expectations for business class but the staff were nice so I figured that may be I had seen the end of troubles for this day and that the rest of my journey would be better.

I was wrong.

Upon arrival at Denver I was dismayed to find that only one of the two bags I checked in at CDG had made it to the USA, despite having those nice pretty orange "Priority" tags. Furthermore I was confused as to why one bag would make it and the other wouldn't, but that's an impossible mystery to solve.
Interestingly enough, there were about 10 to 15 other people on my flight who also had bags that did not arrive, and yet the luggage carousel delivered about 30 bags that nobody claimed! Was BA just randomly sending bags around the world?

I went to the luggage service counter to file a report and was presented a photocopied form with my name already on it. Amazing technology BA has that can tell them--in advance of my arrival--that a bag has been lost, and yet they can't actually just get my bag on the plane. I re-checked my other suitcase with the BA attendant (having cleared US Customs) and made my way to the gate for my final flight (a United flight purchased through BA).

Upon arrival in Salt Lake City a few hours later I discovered--you guessed it--my second suitcase was lost. I checked in two bags at Paris CDG only to have them lost (separately!) before I got home.

Again I spent a few minutes of quality time at the luggage desk, filing a second report. United Airlines, however, managed to find my bag the next morning and it was delivered to my home that afternoon.
BA, however, still has not located my other suitcase and it's now the third day since my flight home. Their online tracer service perpetually reports "no information available" and I can find no place on their site to communicate with a real live person.

There is a page for filing a claim for lost luggage but it only applies to UK & Ireland residents. After stumbling around the website I eventually found a link titled something like "online claim form for lost luggage--USA residents" but it wasn't even a claim form, just a link to a generic customer service inquiry form.
I did call the 800 number for lost luggage but it simply duplicates the online tracer and does NOT give any opportunity to connect with a real live person.

My employer informed me last night that I will be flying back to London either Tuesday or Wednesday. I suppose there is a chance I can collect the bag myself at Heathrow but I'm really skeptical about this, assuming at this point that I'll never see the bag again, nor will I ever receive compensation for the lost bag and it's contents.

     
Replies
British Airways - How can they expect to have customers without service?
By -

Please tell me if I am over reacting - at the start of this debacle 2 months ago I just wanted an apology & assurance, now I am insulted & forced to change airlines as being igored is a constant reminder......

Dear Madam / Sir,

My partner & I were returning from a week’s vacation in Tenerife Saturday night & had such an affronting experience, we felt it right that we bring it to your attention.

We were booked on the 20.20 flight from TFS to LGW. My better half was connecting to MAN & myself DAL via IAH.

At 16.00 I called the airport to check the flight departure time & they told me that the flight was delayed approx 1 hour. As an earlier flight on BA was scheduled, I asked if we could change bookings to avoid missing my am connection to Texas if the delay proved longer than expected but was informed that the earlier flight was fully booked. I offered to pay to upgrade to club or 1st but again, no seats were available. Fair enough – the early bird gets the worm. But when I called at 6pm our flight was now scheduled to leave 2 hours late. To be safe I double checked by calling the UK BA desk & as the actual plane had yet not left Gatwick on it’s 4 hour plus trip to TFS & would need an hours turnaround time on arrival, the time delay would have to be in excess of the latest 2 hour quote. At 19.00 I called back just to make sure that we did not need to check in until 1 hour prior to the now updated 23.20 departure & thank heavens I did, as they told me only when prompted, that check-in was closing in 50 mins. Scot & I left for the airport immediately & after a 20 min queue successfully checked in with minutes to spare for a 3 1/2 hour further forced wait in the airport! On the bright side, the check in lady managed to get my other half & me two seats together. Again I tried to pay or use miles to upgrade to club or 1st given the increasing hardship of the trip but the flight had none so unfortunately this also meant no lounge access to lessen the blow on the other end.

Though the flight was now 3+ hours delayed, no inconvenience or dining vouchers were offered. We solaced ourselves with the fact that we would get a warm meal when we boarded our BA plane which has always in my experience been worth waiting for. But no, not this time. Not only was the plane the exact opposite that I expect from BA, an XL 737cramped bus with wings, but the only entrée offered was pork – not a Jewish preference – never before have I taken a trip where pork was the only option! So a 4 hour trip with a meal had now become a 10 hour one with an angry tummy to say the least. And lucky us, another rapidly approaching leg to go with an ever diminishing gap between.

But still we were trying to look on the bright side – The Corpse’s Bride was the movie. But it began with no offer of headphones & after the stewards had started handing them out 15 mins into the movie, what was the point? Not that they actually ever got round to offering us any! And to add to the blackening mood the back row seat I was assigned dripped a smelly liquid substance on my head the whole trip. Condensation would have been more bearable but this had a nasty odor that I carried on my head & shirt the next 15+ hours of my journey.

The flight was originally due to land at 00.30 & as my connection was not until 9.30, I had reserved a room at the Renaissance Gatwick a month prior for a few hours good rest before my 7.30am check in to the States. But now with a predicted 4:00 arrival, after collecting bags & taking a taxi as the shuttle does not operate 24 hours, the 120 pound room rate would now cost 130 pounds for an hours sleep! But we had missed the cancellation time at 16.00 due to an impossible quoted arrival time at LGW from BA so pay we must. Though the flight made up 45 mins in the air, after having to shuttle from the south terminal to the north & wait for baggage (the shortest wait for luggage was 45 mins after landing), We checked into our 130 pound room at 5.30am, for ones hours sleep before the 2nd leg began.

In the end my journey from TFS to DAL took 25 hours. (Continental was the 2nd leg & it was uneventful & perfect thank goodness) but without the much valued nights sleep, dinner & piece of mind that is granted from booking with what is meant to be the best. It would have been a different story if the following service issues were not forced upon us:

The delay time given was inaccurate & the BA staff knew so. If the plane has not left the UK & was not scheduled to do so until 6pm, how could it possibly return from TFS-LGW prior to 11pm? (The plane actually left at 6.19pm) If the staff had been informed or cared to be so, we could at least not have thrown 130 pounds out of the window on top of the nightmare forced wait at Tenerife South Airport & the service that followed.
Check in by 7.50pm for a flight now scheduled for 3 ½ + hours later? This is terrible customer service. Why not keep some check-in attendants on & not make a plane full of customers tired, sore & grumpy? Surely they have to be at the boarding gate on departure anyway? And not telling the customer that check in would be closed at 7.50pm regardless of when the plane would leave – possibly disastrous!
Not providing any inconvenience or dining vouchers for a 3 ½ delay? And then only offering a pork sausage meal on board = tired, hungry & discriminatory to a significant subset of the population. This added insult to injury.
I book BA for the comfort & reliability it offers me – but there was next to no comfort, no sleep, no options & no customer service to mention. The plane was old & cramped with overhead bins duct taped down & the dripping was the closest to Chinese torture I ever want to get. You advertise your high standards & you make a commitment in doing so.

Although Scot & I are British citizens by birth, we work out of the States where most of our travel occurs. Combined we fly 200 times + a year. BA was in my opinion the BEST European airline but in all the flights we have taken in the last year, this was the poorest & most disappointing. We have taken the time to let you know where we think you dropped the ball & in return would like to hear from you. Time & ease are our most valued commodities & hence why we do not fly charter. The experience we got on January 7th was below our lowest expectations of any scheduled airline or for that matter charter. It was a nightmare that erased the tranquility of the vacation.

Finally, this is the first letter of complaint that we have ever sent to an airline. Given our travel schedule, hopefully this will further validate our unhappiness & help bring your bar back to where it once was. And in time with your assurance, maybe we will fly BA again.

Yours sincerely & wearily, Sarah Slomovic

Finally, if you are reviewing this email within 24 hours as you claim - how come you have not called, emailed or written 50+ days after my 1st complaint. NOTHING no one word from my weekly email & letter contacts. Don't insult me further - take out the patronizing lies:

"This is an automated message to confirm receipt of your email to British Airways Customer Relations.
Your email is important to us and we will reply to you as soon as possible. While you are waiting for your reply, it is not necessary to re-send your email or send a follow-up communication.
We are responding to emails in the order in which they are received. Our normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 6:30pm. Any emails received outside of these hours will be reviewed the following working day.

Regards,
British Airways Customer Relations"

THIS IS THE UPTEENTH TIME I HAVE EMAILED OR WRITTEN & NO RESPONSE FROM YOU IN 8 WEEKS (EVERY WEEK BY EMAIL & MAIL SINCE 1/7/6). I AM DISGUSTED & NO LONGER FEEL AS FORGIVING ABOUT THE SITUATION. IF I DO NOT HEAR FROM YOU FOR AN AWFUL TRIP & WASTING MY TIME I WILL GO TO EVERY WEBSITE, FORUM. TRIP ADVISOR & PUBLICATION ABOUT YOUR LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE. HOW COULD YOU CARE SO LITTLE ABOUT THE HANDS THAT FEED YOU? I ALSO WILL NOT STOP UNTIL YOU HAVE THE DECENCY TO RESPOND & EXPLAIN!

     
Replies
Vacation nightmare
By -

My husband and I planned for months a once in a lifetime trip to Italy and Switzerland. I started by purchasing new luggage. In May started buying all new clothing for this wonderful trip  totaling about $2000. We bought our tickets from British Airways, thinking they were the premium airlines for international travel. Over $3000 for the seats. On September 1st we depart Denver international airport for Rome, we are excited. We land in Rome and learn BA has lost her luggage. We file the lost luggage paperwork, including our contact information, cell phone and e-mail address. We are told we will get it within 48 hrs. We stayed in Rome 4 days making numerous phone calls to BA, getting the constant message, " due to high volume of calls we cannot take your call try again later" never was able to talk to a live person. We check the luggage trAcer web site daily. On the 3rd day in Rome while in a crowded Subway, my husband is pick pocketed and his wallet is taken containing credit cards, drivers license and about €300. Before leaving Rome we purchase a new suitcase and some new clothes. All we ever read on the web site is still tracing. We update our temporary hotel address to Naples for 2 nights, still no luggage and no communication from BA. We update our address on World luggage trAcer to Positano for 2 nights, still no luggage. We again update our temporary hotel address to Florence for 3 nights, checking the web daily, still tracing. Update our temporary hotel address to Verona for 2 nights on the luggage trAcer web site. It is still tracing. We have now been traveling around Italy by train for about 16 days still no luggage and no communication from BA.  We arrrive in Geneva for 2 nights and while exiting the very crowded train station we have our backpack stolen containing my husbands passport, I-pad, I-phone, digital camera, rx sunglasses. We immediately go to the police station and file a report. My husband now has no identification at all. We check in to our hotel to figure out what we are going to do. On Friday morning we walk to the US Consolate to see about getting a replacement passport. The web says they are open from 10:00 - 1:00, we arrive at 9:45 to be told by security they are closed today. Doing more reading online learn replacement passports can only be issued at the US Embassy in Bern. Today took the train to the Geneva airport to talk to BA about our travel options, we have to cancel our trip home and buy train tickets to Bern. On Sunday we will take the train to Bern, check in a hotel so we can be at the embassy at 9:30 when they open. While at the airport we inquire about the luggage, well they are still tracing and told us that after 21 days they stop tracing and consider it lost. We asked about upgrading our seats for all of the inconvenience and were told no. File a lost luggage claim when we get home. No apology or anything, it's apparently the way they handle customer service. I really don't understand how the pride of the UK can do business this way. British Airways is worse than the lowest rated regional airline in the US, they at least sub out their customer service to some 3rd world country.

     
Replies
BA's confusing web sites re: extra baggage
By -

Here is a letter I recently wrote to the BA station chief in Moscow regarding their totally confusing web site messages as well as their incompetent Russian subcontractor Estline>. To date I have heard nothing> There does not seem to be a sense of urgency with BA. Well, wait until they find out what the legal ramifications are!!!!

The Letter:

On October 7th I was booked to fly from Moscow to London and onward to Boston. Since I frequently buy books in Russia I had my usual large number of 15 bags. Over the past twenty years I have on at least 40 occasions paid for 12 to 16 overweight bags. This trip was supposed to be no exception.

I prepaid on line for 10 bags fully preparing to pay extra at the airport for the 4 remaining bags. I noted that the BA British website only allows for prepayment of 10 bags although it does not mention any specific limit of bags allowed to be checked at the airport. The US site states that a passenger may check up to 20 bags.

Unfortunately BA has hired Estline to service its customers at Domodedovo airport. I have has some rather negative experiences in the past with this outfit. The main complaint is that its employees are politely ignorant of rules and rule changes.

October 7th was no different. A Miss Erolinova ? [Unfortunately I do not have immediately at hand her exact name: about 5’ 6” tall, blond hair, roundish face working as a cashier in BA booth at airport across from the check-in counter] who was supposed to represent Estline stated categorically that I could not check in the extra four bags showing me some typed copy outlining the regulation which she said came from the BA website. I had never seen this regulation before. Her comment is simply not true as your site says nothing about the inability to check more than 10 bags [+ one free bag per passenger]. She refused to discuss the matter further.

When I asked her for advice she simply said ‘Go to BA cargo.’ She was, however, unaware of the BA notice that its cargo division no longer dealt with individual passengers and they now have to hire a freight forwarder. In fact I don’t think she knew was the latter actually was.

There was no compromise, no helping hand but simply an adamant refusal to allow any additional bags. When I told her I had only a few months ago checked 15 bags she stated that was impossible because she had been working at the airport for two years and nothing like that ever happened. I asked her to check the BA database where she would find that I have regularly over the last twenty [20!!!] years checked more than 10 bags. She refused.

I then asked her to let the 4 bags go through but to make a note on my passenger file-record that I had been warned that for future travel only 10 bags may be allowed. Again she refused. I then asked her to send the bags ahead as unaccompanied luggage from the BA Moscow office to the BA office in Boston. She refused saying that was ‘illegal.’ [How could that be???!!!]

In the end, I had to leave the bags with Left Luggage [Kamera khraneniia] for a sum of 790 rubles a day. The claim tag number is 3285 and the receipt number for monies paid [tovarnyi chek] for the first day is 3285. [KX000023039]

Now here is what I want you to do:

At the very least, go and retrieve the bags so that the bill does not accumulate. I then want you to send these bags to me in Boston. You may balk and protest but I state that it is YOUR fault the bags are still in Moscow. Also
1] Estline was singularly uncooperative and ignorant of BA site comments and totally unsympathetic to a customer’s urgent needs. Ms certainly needs a refresher course on how to deal fairly and sympathetically with BA’s paying passengers.
2] Your site instructions are confusing and contradictory especially in light of your acceptance over the years including 2010 of all my additional bags [until Oct. 7th]

Please consider this a most URGENT matter. Not only does Left Luggage have three my bags of very valuable books I need for my research, it also has my suitcase with eyeglasses and prescription pills I desperately need. I cannot return to Russia for at least three months and certainly I, nor does BA, wish to face a baggage charge of over $2,100 PER MONTH!!!

Lastly, I have been flying BA to Russia since 1980. Is there not any BA commitment to honorably serving your passengers? Should you not be making some compromising gesture that would ensure continued loyalty particularly when I feel this mess is a result of your misleading and ever changing baggage policy.

Sincerely

Dr. Phil Clendenning,

     
Replies
What Is Up With The Seat Assignment?
By -

Our family of four, my husband, I, my 10-year-old and my infant daughter, recently took flight BA279 from Heathrow London to Los Angelas California on Aug 15th. Based on your policy, we called three days ahead of time to fix the seat of our family members so we can all sit together in the infant seat, row 29 or 40. However, the BA representative was not able to assign the seat for us because they were already taken. Based on her saying, those seats were already taken and her online seat assignment system did not allow her to assign those seats for us any more. My husband and the baby can sit on 40C, but my son and I will have to sit on another row. She would recommend us to go to the airport on the day of departure and try to fix it there. That was three days before our departure date we were informed about this. So we thought there might other families traveling with infants. So we completely understood the situation without arguing and would like to try our luck in the airport.

On the date of our departure, we went to the airport 3 hours before our departure time just to see if we had the luck of getting our seats reassigned. We were informed that BA was NOT able to change the seat for us and there were no seats of three on our flight. Therefore, we had to sit separately. Again, disappointing, but we realized that we might be the late comer as family traveling with infant so we took the way it was.

What irritates us was after we boarded, we noticed that most of the infant seats were taken by group of young adults and family with no disabled or young travelers. We noticed that there were only 2 infants sitting in the infant seat areas, one in the middle of row 29 and the other is my husband with our daughter on 40C. There were some other infants sitting in the regular seats with their family and the parents had to hold them in their arm for the whole trip because the flight was really full. All other “supposed to be infant seat” were taken by regular travellers. We talked to the flight attendants and they told us those people sitting in the infant seats area might have fixed their seats in a way that they were not able to help us to change. Therefore, if the people are not willing to switch seat voluntarily, we would have to sit separately. We talked to most of the people and of course none of them are willing to give those seats away even though there are people who have real needs of them.

What is going on? How did this happen? We do not know what “in a way” means but it must have something to do with the money they paid? Or their travel agent might have some special magic to fix the infant seat assignment for them way before 3 days of the departure time so the family traveling with infant will not even have a chance?

Our 10-hour flight was a miserable experience. We ended up sitting next to an extremely rude European family of four who were extremely selfish for the entire trip and were not even willing to move their ass out of the seat to let my husband and baby go to bathroom. All in all, we do not appreciate the seat assignment at all. Mostly upsettingly, no one from BA is willing to help us and we had a feeling this is just a dirty money driven business with no business ethics!

     
Replies
No solution or common sense
By -

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 til 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...

CT

     
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Horrific customer service experience of bereaved passenger
By -

Subject: Horrific experience for bereaved customer returning to work in Doha.

Dear My Walsh

I had been off work for several weeks due to my mothers 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 8059201 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 know, 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.

     
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BA is Ruining my otherwise Happy Life - Honestly!
By -

BA BAD AT EVERYTHING - BUT TRY FLYING DOMESTIC!!!

I live in Newcastle and work during the week in London. I have a lovely (paid for) home in Newcastle, three great lads who I am proud of and a wife who I love even more than the day I married her (and she me by the way!). I live in a nice flat when down in London and earn a very handsome salary. Oh – I also really enjoy my job as well.

By any and all accounts I should be the happiest man alive and have no issues or stress at all.
BUT... I HAVE to fly BA Newcastle – Heathrow return every single week. Incredible as it may seem, this casts an enormous cloud of unhappiness over my otherwise complete life.

Why? Well, okay I said I enjoy my job, BUT, it is grindingly hard – hence the high pay - and I put in at least 60 hours over Monday – Friday. This leaves me with a 48 hour weekend of which I spend about 16 sleeping and another 2 – 3 hours keeping my company accounts up to date. So I get about 30 hours a week ‘downtown’ to relax and enjoy myself.

Over the past 12 weeks, the Friday 18:10 hrs Shuttle from Heathrow to Newcastle has departed thus:
1 Flight cancelled (no reason) – bumped to the 21:00 hrs flight. That flight delayed (no reason) 2 ½ hours. Got home at 12:30 am
9 flights delayed over 40 minutes or more (worst 3 hours, best 45 minutes)
2 flights ‘on time’ (and in fairness I call ‘on time’ delayed less than 45 minutes)

My weekend hours ‘stolen’ by BA = approximately 34 in 12 weeks (i.e. more than a whole weekend in twelve just ‘lost’ due to operational incompetence and complacency)

Statistically, this means an 88.33% operational failure rate to depart according to schedule over a 12 week period. Who reading this would accept such an incredible failure to deliver if you were the MD of the company?

So “Complain” I hear you say. Well, at Terminal 5, I have learned now NOT to complain to BA ground staff. Why? Well, because these people were and are uniformly excellent in dealing with frustrated and angry passengers. They are fantastic at (at least seeming) to give a damn, and are genuinely apologetic and sympathetic. It is simply not possible nor is it appropriate to take it out on them. So, I refuse to play BAs game of ‘shooting the messengers’. They tell me themselves, they are ‘just the firewall’ and urge me to complain in writing. They ALL say that they constantly tell their managers how difficult it is for them – especially regarding the completely routine delays on all the domestic shuttle services and they get genuinely frightened on a Friday when they know full well what is going to happen. They tell me their comments to their managers are ignored, and that their managers NEVER ‘walk the patch’ unless they are shielded by lower order supervisors and then it is all a sham anyway.

They seem to despise and loathe the bumbling little man (with a really bad case of ‘little man syndrome’) who has an Irish accent and purports to be in charge. ‘Slash and slash and burn’ to cut costs is his rasion dentre they say. Well Mr. Walsh – any idiot can slash and burn to cut costs. Easy as taking candy from a baby. No skill or intelligence required. Now cut costs AND maintain a decent level of service – THAT’s hard. Too hard for WW and BA clearly.

I HATE flying BA. I HATE the complacency of the fools in charge. I HATE the patronising and lying little ‘customer services letter’ I receive when I do put my issues down in writing, and I HATE the monopoly this most loathsome of companies has on the slots available at Heathrow.

Feel better now.

I hope you do too reading this!
Thanks for listening...

     
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Travel Points
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

Worst Travel Program Ever - the entice travellers with promo offers. Transfer your hard earned points from other Credit Card partners and they will give you a 50% bonus. Good luck being able to book a trip. Unless you plan it a year in advance, not during the peak season and perhaps to one of their less travelled destinations.

Dare you try to request YOUR points transferred back less the bonus, that can't happen they say ... once they have them, consider them GONE.

Points that I spent dollar for dollar to earn ... and better yet, they EXPIRE. Yes, I made the mistake of doing this, so I am here to warn everyone else not to fall for their marketing scheme.

     
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