British Airways - Failed to Make Things Right
DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- I am extremely disappointed with the customer service of British Airways. My situation may be unique, but it was one of the worst experiences my wife and I have ever had.
We booked a trip to London from DC leaving Aug 2nd and arriving Aug 3rd (BA0216). My wife is a Jamaican citizen but permanent resident in the US. She called the Customs Border Protection in the US to see what would be needed before the trip (she had her passport and green card). They never mentioned needing a VISA.
We checked in with the reservation agent at the Dulles airport who checked our paperwork and sent us to go through security. After going through security, the TSA agent checked our information and let us on the plane.
After getting to London, the customs agent asked my wife for her Visa. We were both amazed at this question and she told him that she didn't have one nor was told she needed one. The customs agent told her that the airline should never have let her on the plane and she was taken for questioning for 10 hours. I was not able to have contact with her the whole time. It was miserable. She was literally being treated like a terrorist or threat to the country. She was terrified as a result.
After the long drawn out wait, they told me that they were sending my wife back to the US and that I was on my own to find a flight back. I had to spend another 3 hours in the airport trying to get on a standby flight, which never panned out. Finally my only option was to pay a change flight fee of $278.04 dollars and then the difference in cost for another flight to Philadelphia, PA ($178.37), which left on Aug 5th.
I then had to find a ride from Philadelphia to DC. My wife in the mean time had to find a place to say until I got back since she did not have the car keys or house keys (again they did not let me see her).
After speaking with the Customer Relations person at British Airways, she stated that there was nothing that they can do as it is the passenger’s responsibility to know what documentation were needed. This is not correct as the customs agent specifically said that the airline should not have let us on the plane.
In addition, the reservations attendant in London for British Airways confirmed this as well. Lastly, the Customer Relations person also stated that customs would fine the airline $2000 for the mistake (which customs in London mentioned as well). If British Airways is to be fined, that tells me it is their responsibility to check the correct documentation before letting a passenger on board.
The only offer they provided for resolution was a travel voucher for $274.04. This is potentially point less as I have no intentions on going back to London within the next year. It was a $3000+ trip that was wasted already and like most people, a once in a lifetime trip that we would have loved to enjoy.
I am typically not one to complain and appreciate great service, but this was beyond miserable, it was horrific and something no law abiding person should go through. I am not asking for much to be whole again. A refund back to my card (not a voucher) for the change flight fee ($274.04), difference in airline ticket ($178.37) and seats paid for on the original return flight of BA265 ($52) is more than reasonable to make this right ($504.41)
If British Airways was able to check the necessary documentation fully and correctly as Customs stated, I would not have had to incur these extra fees nor experienced the traumatizing experience that went on for 12+ hours.