British Airways Complaint - travelling with kids... ground staff at Heathrow are terrible!
LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT -- I recently filed a letter of complaint to British Airways in March 2005, however did not receive a response.
In December 2004, I was travelling to Singapore from Amsterdam via London Heathrow Airport alone with my four year old son. I conveniently took his pram/push chair with me to Schipool Airport in Amsterdam.
When I checked in, I asked if I was able to put my stroller either on board the flight or pick it up at the gate when I arrived to Heathrow (as we had a two hour wait to catch our connecting flight.) The check-in staff told me that I would have to ask the ground staff as this decision was made at THEIR DISCRETION. I would like to commend the staff on the flight. They were very child friendly, helpful and had a lovely friendly disposition.
However when we arrived to the boarding gates at Schipool, the British Airways staff told me that they would have to take the stroller away from me and give it to me when I arrived to the airport. When I asked which airport (as I was travelling to Singapore), they replied that they thought it would go to Singapore but they did not know. They told me that if I did not receive it at Heathrow disembarking that I would receive it at Singapore Airport. However when we arrived to Heathrow Airport, my son had fallen asleep and I did not receive my stroller.
I paid for two business class tickets for myself and my son. Not that this should affect the quality of service. However there was a passenger travelling economy class with a child a similar age to my son and their pram was placed on the aeroplane. If someone pays for a business class ticket at least their luggage should receive priority.
Upon arrival I went to one of the transit desk and explained the situation to them. I was carrying my four year old son on my arms with two pieces of hand luggage. The woman at the desk told me that it was against British Airways POLICY to carry prams on board due to health and safety regulations. Obviously their health and safety regulations are VERY inconsistent considering another passenger had their pram taken on board.
I then asked to speak to the supervisor and the staff member was very reluctant to do so. She told me that the supervisor was not there. After I insisted, she informed me that the supervisor was there but I would have to wait as she was busy.
When the supervisor came over she told me that it was indeed British Airways POLICY and added rudely that my travel agent should have told me that this was British Airways policy (obviously a very inconsistent policy as the staff did take on a pram for another passenger.)
By this stage I was exhausted, carrying a child who was asleep on my shoulder, attempting to pull two pieces of hand luggage on wheels along with me.
At this point I told the manager I was not moving until she did something. She said I would have to wait. So my four year old son fell asleep on the couch in the transit lounge while I waited for appoximately twenty minutes. The manager then came back and said she had found a pram that a passenger left behind but she could not guarantee it's safety. I told her that I did not mind as long as I could push my son while he was asleep.
The staff did not even offer to assist me. I find this absolutely disgusting. Words cannot describe the way I feel about the ground staff at British Airways Heathrow Airport.
I then went to the business class lounge and called British Airways Customer support. I was extremely distraught by this stage and the woman at the customer service desk informed me that I would have to call Barbados regarding this complaint. So in addition to being put through enough distress, the customer service desk expected me to telephone a country that is far away from here and incur financial costs. To me that is unheard of. For goodness sakes, I was at HEATHROW airport, the home of British Airways and I had to call BARBADOS regarding the complaint. No matter where I reside, this should not prohibit staff to answer my questions. I also find this rather inconsistent to the comments of Jenny Lourey (Area General Manager, Asia Pacific, British Airways) when she said, “British Airways' guiding principle is that customer complaints should be resolved on the spot wherever possible to ensure the customer has the satisfaction of having their issue dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
This situation was incredibly child un-friendly and I would have thought that such a civilised and modern country such as the United Kingdom would provide prams for travellers (considering passengers' prams are unwillingly taken away from them.) Airports such as Vienna and Singapore (amongst many) stock prams for passengers with children. I also find it incredibly appalling that some passengers are given preference over others.
I will not recommend anyone to fly British Airways if they are travelling with children and have a stopover at Heathrow Airport. Out of every country I have been to (and I have travelled extensively) I have found British Airways ground staff to be the most child-unfriendly and inconsistent. I also found your ground staff at the transit desk to be extremely rude and unhelpful.
If I could only fly British Airways and only deal with your wonderful air staff and avoid stopping at Heathrow Airport, I would. However this is obviously not possible. In 2002 British Airways was listed at the top of 20 airlines by number of complaints to AUC (The Air Transport User’s Council.