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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About channahboo

I was once a Yorkshire lass, I guess I still am, but after moving to London and then on to Tel Aviv, New York and then back to Tel Aviv again, I wonder how much of the Yorkshire lass is left. The adventure continues and although many see my life as an extended episode of Seinfeld (you are free to laugh), I can also empathise with the Buddhist thought of life as our punishment. I guess the important part is the love that you carry with you through life’s journey and my back often feels the joyous strain of the weight of the love I carry.
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