An open letter to British Airways

Today I sent a letter of complaint to British Airways after a horrific flight experience. I have never been made to feel less of a human being. So bad was the experience that I could not hold it back and so I am posting it below for you to read the shocking service I received following what should have been a simple rerouting of a passenger due to a flight delay.
 
Feel free to share with whomever you think would be interested/ helpful in resolving the issue.
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An open letter to British Airways Customer Services/ Complaints,

After a terrible flight to Lisbon via Iberia and a week on business there, I was very much looking forward to my return flight with British Airways on June 15th. However as you will see from my experience explained below, it turned out very different from my expectations.

My original flight details were:
BA 0503 (Class S) LIS to LHR 18:25 – 21:00
BA 0163 (Class S) LHR to TLV 22:30 – 05:30

 1.       Flight Delay and Rerouting

Part 1

After giving the lady at the check in desk my final destination, I was rudely told to “go stand in the other line” where I waited 15 minutes to be seen. Once at the desk, I again stood waiting for the British Airways representative behind the desk to explain the situation to me. All I got was “flight delayed we are rerouting you.”

20 minutes later the representative decided to offer me an explanation and informed me that as the flight was delayed I would miss my connecting flight so they were going to reroute me, but not on a British Airways flight. Instead I would be flying with TAPs to Barcelona and then on to Tel Aviv with ELAL. I agreed and stood for another period of time while they tried to issue my ticket.

Eventually, realizing no ticket could be printed the representative assured me that I was in the system and wrote me a manual ticket and sent me with one of her colleagues to go get the boarding passes from the TAP desk. She assured me that I would be getting both boarding passes for my flights. She also at this point (when it was too late) told me that I was actually not going to be flying ELAL but instead Iberia (see the first sentence of this letter).

Part2

At the TAP desk there seemed to be further confusion and problems printing the boarding pass, but my luggage was taken and I was promised that it would go directly to TLV. I was then handed 1 boarding pass for my 1st flight to Barcelona. I asked the rep where the second ticket was and he informed me that “you will go pick that up when you get to Barcelona. It is totally normal for transfer flights”. I’d like to state at this point that I am a frequent flyer and all my flights are connecting flights and this would be the first time I have ever not received both tickets.

After handing me 1 ticket he told me I had 10 minutes to get to the gate. I asked if I would have time to go to the bathroom and he told me I could wee on the plane.

In addition no-one told me what time my connecting flights were, what gates I was supposed to be at or were even clear about what airline I would be flying with. I was sent out into the airport to find my way through security and up to the gate quickly as if the delay and the flight change was my fault! And with absolutely no assistance despite requests.

2.       The Connection – TP1046 15JUN 18:10 – 21:00

Part 1

After landing in BCN, I looked for ‘Transfers’ but there was no sign so I asked one of the staff who told me that I needed to go to the Iberia desk located behind the duty free shopping. After finding the desk, I again stood for a while, as the representative looked puzzled at the screen, said that I was not in the system and then stared at the slip of paper the BA rep had assured me was my manual ticket and would be fine. After a few minutes of waiting I was told that he could not issue me a ticket and that I would have to go to sales, which was through baggage claim, out of the exit and up the stairs in departures.  As I left he said, “They will issue you a ticket in a few minutes. It will be quick and simple.”

Still unsure what time my flight was I ran through the exit up to the sales desk to get my next ticket.

Part 2

At the Iberia sales desk the representative took my manual ticket and my passport and disappeared around the wall for at least 30 minutes. In that time no one came over to explain to me what was going on with the tickets. No one offered me to go to the bathroom or go get a drink while I waited. No one told me anything.

While I waited 3 boys approached the desk. They had missed their flight to LHR and asked for a new ticket to be reissued. They were first offered a flight at 7am which they rejected as they wanted to spend the day at the beach so were instead offered a later flight. Within 15 minutes they had new tickets issued and went back to their hotel.

Meanwhile I was still waiting for someone, anyone to tell me something!

Eventually the representative came out from behind the wall with my ticket. He informed me that “I have no idea what the BA representatives did, but it was a mess! They really messed it up and I am sorry. You are now flying Vueling and you have 10 minutes to make your flight.”

After the events of the day; hungry from no food on my previous flight; thirsty from having no time to stop and drink while running through airports, I began to cry. The representative instead of being sympathetic to what I had been through shouted at me. I pleaded with him, “Is no one going to help me get through the airport to my gate?” He told me that his colleague would. A little relieved, I followed the man who instead of taking me through the airport took me to his office where he wrote down the gate number and wished me a good flight. I had less than 10 minutes now to make my flight.

Sobbing I ran through security. I reached boarder control and begged a nice man to let me jump the queue on the shortest line I found which was not the line for my EU passport. At the front I cried to the woman that my flight was in less than 10 minutes and she very nicely let me straight through and let me know exactly where the gate was. THIS WAS THE ONLY GOOD SERVICE I RECEIVED DURING MY WHOLE DAY!

At the gate there was a long line and a bathroom nearby so I managed to rush into the bathroom and get on my flight in time.

3.       The Flight – VY7844 15JUN 23:05 – 04:15

On the flight I was originally on from Heathrow to Tel Aviv, I had a kosher meal ordered. However as soon as I got on the Vueling flight I realized that this flight included no food and I would have to pay for drinks. Obviously in my 10 minute run to the gate I had no time to pick up any food or drink to eat or take with me onto the flight.

I asked the hostess for a blanket and a pillow so that I would be able to sleep. She informed me that despite it being a night flight there were no blankets or pillows. ON A NIGHT FLIGHT!

This flight (a 6 hour night flight) had no in-flight entertainment of any variety, no pillows or blankets to sleep and no food.

I landed at 4.15am in Tel Aviv

 

Summary

According to British Airways Passenger Rights the following should have occurred:

“Passengers whose flight is cancelled, shall have the choice of either:

  • Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination of the ticket presented at check-in at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability; or
  • A refund payable to the person who purchased the ticket. This applies to the part or parts of the journey not flown.”

I can confirm that:

  1. I was re-routed
  2. I was not given any choice in the flights that I took.
  3. I did NOT fly under comparable transport conditions

In another area on your website I found the following:

“If we cancel a flight, delay a flight by five hours or more, fail to stop at your place of stopover or destination, or cause you to miss a connecting flight on which you hold a confirmed reservation, you can choose one of the three remedies set out immediately below.

Remedy 1

We will carry you as soon as we can to the destination shown on your ticket on another of our scheduled services on which a seat is available in the class of service for which you have paid the fare. If we do this, we will not charge you extra and where necessary, will extend the validity period of your ticket.

 Remedy 2

We will carry you to the destination shown on your ticket, in the class of service for which you have paid the fare, at a later date at your convenience and within the validity period of your ticket, on another of our scheduled services on which a seat is available. If we do this, we will not charge you extra.

 Remedy 3

We will give or obtain for you an involuntary fare refund.

 We will give you additional assistance, such as compensation, refreshments and other care and reimbursement, if required to do so by any law that may apply.”

Following the above I can confirm that I was:

  1. Not given any refreshments
  2. Not given any care by any of the staff involved
  3. Not given any assistance to make my flight
  4. Placed on a flight which was not the same class of service
          • No kosher food (as I had ordered)
          • No blankets
          • No pillows
          • No in flight entertainment
          • No water served to passengers

A trip home that was supposed to be relaxing and convenient to myself, the passenger, resulted in extreme discomfort, hunger and stress. At no point was I offered any help to get to the gates I needed to be at. Despite it being obvious that I was in distress, no one offered me an alternative solution to get me to my destination. And at no point was it acknowledged that perhaps as a human being with human bodily functions that I might be in need of rest/ food/ drink/ amenities during the several hours ordeal that I had to deal with.

I have flown many times with British Airways and have always been happy with the service I received from your staff. As a result I am a member of British Airways and have placed it on my company list of preferred airlines for flights I take to Europe regularly. This was the first opportunity to fly with British Airways on one of my work trips and sadly it very well may be the last if this is how you handle passengers who are rerouted due to delays on your service.

This letter is an open one as I understand that British Airways has a policy of 30 days to read a complaint and 60 days to respond. I hope that this open letter will help you to give it the attention it deserves.

I look forward to receiving your response to my experience.

Hannah Graham

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Boyfriend meets friends gif

When your friends meet your boyfriend and love him

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All My Days

I don’t know a lot. I know a little of some things and a lot of general crap that is only useful in a pub quiz. I don’t know my own gut. I never stretched that muscle all that often. I don’t know how to feel most of the time. I know what is ‘appropriate behavior’, but that is not always the reaction in my lungs. So I swallow it down. Make them happy. Show gratitude. I know that’s what they want to see. I know they mean well. I don’t know any other way to be.

Sometimes when I listen to Alexi Murdoch, I know what it feels like to love, to be loved. To be held and it not feel forced or uncomfortable. I know the feeling. And yet I cannot explain this to anyone. Not without, “You’re not trying” smashed back in my face. Give it all you got. But what if it’s not got what I want to get.

I hear a simple melody over plucked strings and basic cords. I hear words sung in deep soothing tones. I feel a blanket of warmth surround me. It feels familiar and right. It’s where I want to be. But I don’t know where it is. I just wonder if it is here. I know maybe I don’t know.

Thanks to Alexi Murdoch for helping me hear my heart.
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Very Pinteresting

When I was first introduced to Pinterest, I was at the back end of a job that, well to put it politely, I was at the back end of. Pinterest was a happy distraction. It was a place where I could collect pictures and recipes that I came across and share them with my friends. It was also not blocked by my company, unlike Facebook. And it was addictive. Once you pin you can’t stop! I was rediscovering the internet. I was finding new and exciting websites and blogs I had never heard of before. I was collecting ideas from photographs I planned to take, food I planned to eat and cook and haircuts, tattoos and shoes I would one day get.

Now 6 months later, in a different, more fulfilling job, I find I am still pinning as often, even maybe more often than before. Other than at the weekend, when I make every effort to cut myself off from the online world, I pin every day. Even if I never open the platform itself, I am continuously pinning pictures of stuff I come across on my RSS feed and other sites I see. As a somewhat early adopter of the platform, I have smiled with pride when see people reposting Pins to their Facebook accounts, for all those not yet pinners out there (oh the poor lost souls). When asked to review other websites and platforms out there, I have found myself half-heartedly looking at them only wishing that they would have half the sex appeal that Pinterest does. Yes Pinterest is sexy.

Seriously sexy. Despite the crazy pinners out there with 90+ boards of the same pictures but in different colors. Despite the little bugs and glitches. Despite having to refresh the board every now and then to make sure you get new pins, Pinterest is one of the sexiest sites I have come across… ever. The tiling of content upon content; videos, photos, word art all mesh together in a visual feast on my screen and I eat it up.

So the question asked is “Why?” and it’s a tough question to answer. For the most part I have simply responded with inviting a friend to join and asked them to answer the question themselves. Two hours later of no contact and I’ll receive a ‘mouth-filled’ excited email of thanks from the friend, “I am in love with this website! Thanks so much for introducing me!” or “I’m sorry for not getting back to you. I’ve been repinning every single pin on your Food Porn board.”

But when asked by a couple of my colleagues to explain, in fact and not just love, how and why I use the site pretty much every day, I needed to put my love aside and remind myself what it was about Pinterest other than her sexiness that got me hooked. So I tried to elaborate…

She’s Organized

Organization, for me at least, is boring. There is nothing sexy about my RSS feed. Cold tabs of random words that on a screen jumbled together (not even in a word cloud formation) fill me with dread, rather than organizational relief. To be honest, the only reason I deal with my RSS feed at all is that the thought of 1000+ unread posts fills me with more dread than the boring linear page it appears on. Pinterest on the other hand, is visual. I group together my favorite pages by boards which I title as I wish and my pages are clustered together with mini preview pictures. It’s like having a pin board. A pin board of words and pictures mixed together. Which means, my favorite recipes are easy to find; that funny link that I know my mate would love is easily reopened and the Eli Saab dress I will one day buy, once I win the lottery, is only a couple of clicks away.

She’s Intuitive

I feel like there was very little set up involved on Pinterest. In fact I think the less you set up your boards to begin with the better. Let it happen fluidly. Start with an “About You” board and then let your Pinterest go wild. As you come across new fodder, assign a new board to pin it to if you don’t already have an appropriately named board. I just request that you try to refrain from creating pin boards per color. Seriously. Unless you really love one color. Labeling each and every one of your boards with the entire spectrum of the rainbow is dull, unimaginative and will make me ultimately stop following your pins you boring cow!

She likes to give and take

On Pinterest I am both contributor and user. For there would be no pins on Pinterest without users adding new material, found outside of the platform itself. It feels good to see a pin that you posted repined by another pinner months later. It is also a nice reminder to look back at some of your earlier pins for inspiration. Or maybe, finally do just one of the craft projects you pinned to your board, collected the equipment for, and have since never made…

Screw it! I love her!

It’s difficult to put into cold hard facts why I use Pinterest. It’s a passion project, a site to pluck at your emotional heart strings and inspire you to share the things you love. I pin the images that catch my eye, that evoke emotion and speak to me. And I am not alone, which is why it is no surprise to me that most of the users are women.

In truth, I would not recommend Pinterest to everyone. It definitely has a cute and fluffy feminine quality that would not necessarily speak to many guys I know. I’ve seen guys sign up, to find out what all the fuss is about and to in part see if it might be a good way to pick up women, only to never pin a single thing and never to log in again when they realize that they cannot direct message to ask a girl for her number.

But for those that speak the language of love, try it. For those who want facts, figure it out yourself. I am unashamed to say, that in the case of Pinterest, it comes down to organizing my shit in the prettiest way I know how.

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I remember you

Back in the day, this blog was more of a collection of stories, comical interludes of my life, love life and building a life in Tel Aviv. Somewhere along the line that all changed. I got sad. Depressed. okay I admit it, I was heart-broken and torn. And to be fair I didn’t really want to write about all that stuff all day long, if you can forgive me for admitting it. So instead I simply chose not to write. I tweeted. I avoided my Facebook account. And I tweeted some more. I found it helped to let out the rage.

But now I am passed the rage and I miss writing about the funny shit that happens to me on a daily basis. During my time in New York, a friend informed me that every ‘yes this happened to me’ story I told her, sounded like a Seinfeld episode. Perhaps that is my ability to see the funny side of the crap that gets thrown at me seemingly everyday. I mean how is it that a non-gum chewer such as myself, gets gum stuck to some part of her shoe, or clothing, or both on a weekly, if not daily basis? I know! Ridiculous!

So I figured that starting a new job would pass with some level of nervousness. Perhaps even a piece of toilet roll stuck to my shoe. I even braced myself missing my mouth while drinking, falling down on the floor instead of on the chair or banging my head trying to walk through a glass door. I think I could have even mentally prepared myself for a little post lunch flatulence. You can all breathe a sigh of relief that non of these things were an issue.

Instead my first week, so far, has run a little like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Only I have been visited by the ghosts of Dating Past.

Guy number one: We dated for a little while, while the ex and I were on one of our breaks. I don’t really remember how it ended. I think perhaps it was with me getting back with my ex. I remember how it started though. We met on Facebook. He came with my to parties. He spent the entire night, buying me drinks, cock blocking me from other guys and not making a move on me. After a week or so of this game I decided to give the bull the ultimatum to take himself by the horn or bugger off… or am I the bull? Either way, after the second drink of the night and after another guy was shooed away I turned to him and said, “Look this is fun and all, but when are you going to pluck up the courage to kiss me?” He was dumbfounded. I was a little embarrassed by my own brazenness, but I stood my ground with a little cheeky grin. “I was thinking maybe I would walk you home.” I grabbed my coat and we walked out of the bar.

I never thought I would ever see him again. In fairness I think he was recently culled from the Facebook friend list for that very reason. And yet my first day in the office, looking through the list of employees connected to my group, whose old Facebook profile picture do I see staring back at me? Yup exactly.

I tried to remember if we ended badly. If maybe I just stopped answering his calls, or if he stopped answering mine. I am pretty sure there was never a fight or an official break up, which just made the whole thing all the more awkward. And although I am partial to an awkward meeting every now and then (seeing the ex on the street could be my all time favorite) I am not sure that awkward moments and making a good first impression on your first day at the new job, go hand in hand. My nervousness turned to mild panic when I realized that if I could see his internal profile, he could see mine and this was therefore not a situation that I could just stick my head in the sand and pretend never happened, or that I didn’t notice. I had a choice. I could either wait for awkward moment to come to me, or I could face it head on. And going back to how we got together, the whole taking the bull by the horns analogy, I decided (after some wise words from a workmate) to send him a message, “Hey Dude! Long time! I guess we work together now! Awkward!”

In the end it was fine. I still don’t remember how it ended, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he remembered me. That we sat and had a great catch up. And I now have another drinking buddy at the office parties.

Then ghost number 2 appeared in  my Facebook inbox (I see a running theme here… blame Facebook!). Turns out ghost of dating past number 2 works in the same building as me. Thankfully there is no awkwardness here. I mean we barely dated. As I recall we went on a date, he informed me that I was very photogenic, as in much better in picture than in person and we became good friends for a while. Time passed and things change and we lost touch. Once a year we would check in with each other, get updates on our weird and wonderful love lives and then not speak again for another year. In some ways it is a perfect friendship. Plus I can always rely on him to speak his mind.

So here I am. Starting the new chapter of my life. Moving towards a new adventure and yet waiting for me in the doorway are two men from my past. I am not sure why. I am not sure what it means, but I am seeing it as a good sign. A reminder of how things were. Of the girl I was when I met them, versus the girl I was for a while there, versus the girl I am now. And right now… I fucking rock!

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And the beat goes on

The world keeps turning. Six months have flashed by like lightning and yet such changes have taken place I am pinching myself to check that they are real.

Day three in the new job and I am starting to realize that there are no right or wrong answers. That my opinion is accepted without having to build trust. They hired me. they trust me. It is a whole new world and I am loving it and getting used to it all at the same time.

I feel myself getting back into the groove and feeling a little more like my old self every day. I walk to and from work, take deep breaths and thank my lucky stars that I am where I am. It’s hard. It is change. It is the change that I need and I feel liberated.

I am itching to write. Thoughts and ideas spill from my mind at a constant rate and I catch myself giggling aloud at the thought of a blog post that I want to write. All in good time.

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The space between

A boat took my family and I over a deep blue river to a green town dotted with terracotta town houses each with second story balconies, white railings and white underlay of curtains hanging in the windows. We walked among flower beds and drank grape juice to quench our thirsts. I held the hand of one of the children as we walked on following the leader my Aunt to a location unknown. She began to tire, being the oldest member of the tribe, and suggested a friend’s house where we would be welcome to stop, take bathroom breaks, drink tea and  eat biscuits before we resumed our journey.

The house was a four story town house, taller but otherwise the same as all the rest with green bubble trees in front of the door way, but we were not entering the house from ground level. Our entrance was via a ladder placed on a ledge which began around the second story and led up to the guest tea room beyond the giant oval balcony on the forth floor. One by one the family scaled the ladder and hopped over onto the balcony to their rest. I was nervous, but as family members far older and younger than I had managed with no trouble I had faith that I would be the same. I climbed up the ladder to the top, expecting to climb straight on to the balcony, only to find at the top that the ladder did not touch the balcony, but instead a large drop separated the top of the ladder from the solid ground of the balcony. I began to tremble, I looked down to the ground beneath, I measured up the space between the ladder and the railing of the balcony and knew that the gap between was wider than my legs would stretch and that I would have to jump. My cousins beckoned to me to try, but no matter how they insisted that I could make it I knew that I could not. I knew that I would fall and yet I was ashamed that I was the only one who could not make it to the other side.

I climbed downward back to the ground and made my way towards the ground floor of the house to find my way in. As I walked around the side of the hill from which the ladder began, I found myself in the middle of a picnic laid on tables under cream canopies. As I walked in I recognized the people all sat eating and drinking from a bar which had been set up in the middle of the area. I saw him sat on one of the benches among his friends. I could not turn back, not that the thought really crossed my mind, but the thought of hiding did. But I had already been spotted and immediately asked to join the party and take a seat by his side. The usual banter resumed and it was as if two years had not passed. It was as if no other girlfriend had since been introduced to the group. As they smiled in my direction I wondered if they had smiled as widely for her or if they secretly wished that she was there in my place.

All the time I could not look at him and instead I sat with my back to him trying not to show my discomfort. He was talking a lot and everyone was laughing and joining in the fun, and soon I felt the warmth of his chest on my back and his arm around my waste, his chin resting on my shoulder and his breath in my ear and I sighed, leaned into him and felt safe. A few compliments were sent my way and could feel him smile as he squeezed me a little closer with approval, the tip of his nose grazing the edge of my ear. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to switch off all the thoughts of reality and forgot for a moment that this was a dream; that it was long gone and someone else had already been and gone in my place.

Yet no sooner than I had found my peace, he was insulted by the teasing of an old friend and immediately stood to stomp out of the meal, but before he did he whispered an apology in my ear for leaving in that way and said he had missed me. I looked up at him above me, confused and unsure what to do and he leaned over and kissed me on the lips. Not passionately… but like old times… like an old married couple kissing goodbye as one leaves to get the shopping.

Shortly after, his friends began to leave, each one coming over to say their goodbyes and say how they had missed me being around and hoped I was doing well. In the corner of my eye I saw him back the bar glaring at his friend and drinking a Coke out of a pint glass.

I turned around to find my nephew waiting patiently behind me. He held out his hand and led me back towards the house, back up the hill to the ladder and ushered me to the top. My cousin was leaning over the edge of the railing again trying to convince me that I could make it as she dangled a small child who had climbed over me to the top and insisted that she was safe, though the child almost slipped from her hands and she herself looked like she was about to fall from the railing. I could feel my nephew beneath me growing impatient and I began to cry, because I knew that I couldn’t make the jump.

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