LCY-EDI Saturday 11th August

Old Aug 13, 12, 1:57 am
  #1  
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LCY-EDI Saturday 11th August

Pardon the long story, but need to explain how BA got it wrong on this occasion.

Plane was due to leave at 0945 arriving in EDI around 1100. I was with 3 others going to a wedding, due to commence at 1400 close to EDI.

About 0915, the impending notification of doom "next info at 0935" appeared next to our flight. I wandered over to the BA desk and the lady said that the plane was already at LCY but had a minor technical fault. She expected a short delay in boarding, but thought that we would still arrive on time. I asked if there was a chance of a more prolonged delay, in which case, could we consider LGW or LHR as we had a wedding to get to. I was assured that it wasn't serious and we would only have a minor delay.

The next info time kept changing to later and later. At about 1000, we had next info at 1100. I went over again and said that it looked more serious and got an explanation as to what was going on.

The original aircraft was a 190 (98 seat capacity). There was a comms problem between cabin and cockpit and needed fixing (understandably). They had lined up a replacement aircraft which was landing around 1100 but it was a 170 (76 capacity). The flight was pretty full and BA needed 20 volunteers to offload in order to substitute. Understandably, BA wanted to see if it was possible to fix the 190 in order to avoid all of this. At this stage I was told that either way, I would definitely get to EDI as I was Gold and had checked in online early (this was later going to be used as a criteria for offloading).

About 1045, the next info sign changed to 1200. I queried this, as I thought LCY had a curfew on Saturday of 1230 (last flights are scheduled to leave at 1215).

I was assured that they could leave by 1300 and occasionally get permission to take off later if necessary. Our group was resigned to missing the ceremony, but we thought that we would at least get some champagne after the wedding and stay for the reception.

At this stage, BA started asking for volunteers to offload offering 250 Euros plus rebooking on a 1650 flight from LHR. This seemed to set a few people off. One lady had flown in from SYD that morning and was trying to get to see her daughter perform in the opening night of the Fringe. She was quite upset (but not aggressive in any way). Another chap was getting very aggressive and was more concerned about his tickets for the opening night as well as his expensive hotel rooms and demanded compensation straight away. Let's call him FSB. We were not keen to take up the offer as we would miss quite a lot of the reception if we did and even if we took off at 1300, we would still make most of the wedding.

At this point, we needed some decisions. It was clear that the 190 was not going to be fixed and there were not enough volunteers to make the transition to the 170 nice and smooth so offloading was needed. I can understand that this is a last resort, but it would have been better to upset 10 people (and pay comp) than 86.

What followed was general faffing about, then we were all told to head to gate 10 (right at the far end....). All 86 of us squeezed into the gate area, (by now it was 1230). Then they made the announcement that they needed to offload 10 and it would be done in order of latest check in. 2 of my party were chosen, but they were silver and bronze, and when they pointed this out, they were reinstated. They held back anyone with a seat number greater than 20 as the 170 only has 19 rows.

At this point, FSB tried to barge his way past the lady on the door and caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

The rest of us boarded at about 1245. I was near the front and heard some comings and goings, then a LCY airports operations guy telling them that they had 5 minutes. The situation back in the gate seemed to be ongoing, and then the operations guy came back and said they could not take off. I texted my friends this in the back, but no announcement was forthcoming.

About 1315, the pilot came on, and for the first time we had a full apology. He said he was shocked and embarrassed at the whole saga and admitted that it had been a total miscommunication between BA Ground Staff and BA Engineering. He said that there was little that he could do, and he hoped that we wouldn't have a bad impression of BA as any company can make mistakes but that this was a howler. The flight was cancelled and we all traipsed back to the check in area where there was already a big queue of people waiting to talk to the single lady organising rebookings.

We were told that they were rebooking people on a flight out of LHR at 2030, which meant that we would only arrive in time to see the last few drunken louts having a fight at the end of the wedding. A couple of passengers had been trying to book Virgin trains, but I guess due to the festival, there was no availability. We informed the supervisor (who was getting much grief) that it wasn't worth us flying, and she gave us a card with the customer service numbers on it and was told to speak to them about compo etc.

At the end of the day, I am gutted to have missed the wedding, and wasted a whole morning at LCY, but nobody died and safety has got to come first. Having said that, proactive information and a proactive decision by BA Ground staff could have resulted in a much better result, so the inconvience to lots of people was needless.

I am not seeing $ signs in terms of compensation. I await to hear if the hotel will give me a refund, if not, I will claim on travel insurance. I will await to hear about my parking at LCY (51.60), but what are the rules about being offered alternate transport and telling BA that it does not suit (especially as it leaves 11 hours after the original flight)?

On a side note, there was one woman complaining that she was going to miss an Easyjet flight from EDI the following morning if she didn't get to EDI, and BA would be liable as when she tried to book the same flight on BA they were full. I said that it sounded as though travel insurance would need to cover that. She said "I never get travel insurance as it's such a waste of money....."!!!
The_Gate is offline  
Old Aug 13, 12, 2:18 am
  #2  
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It would be hard for BA to make this an 'unforeseen circumstances' since the curfew at LCY is well known and published (and appears to have been the cause of the cancellation rather than the plane going tech), so I would think EU compensation would apply.

You can certainly, after a flight cancellation, under the EU comp rules, ask for a full refund instead of travelling.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 2:20 am
  #3  
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That sucks.

Being the festival, I'm guessing that there's no way they would have been able to accommodate 100 pax out of LHR anyway (they'd be counting on some attrition) hence the reason they were desperate to try and fix the plane.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 2:40 am
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That is a huge #fail - I'm so sorry for you.

We fly BA because it's a big airline with backup procedures, not a skimpy fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants low cost operator.

I'm especially disappointed at LCY ground handling. If you complain make sure you CC LCY - IME they are quite proactive with customer feedback.

Shame all round. Good to be reminded of the importance of thorough travel insurance.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 4:21 am
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what a total cock up ! total disgrace in my opinion


cs
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Old Aug 13, 12, 6:06 am
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"I was assured that they could leave by 1300 and occasionally get permission to take off later if necessary."
Whoever told you that doesn't know what they are talking about. The planning permission for LCY allows opening to be delayed to 1300 on Sat - but only in exceptional circumstances - and never ever beyond 1300.
I have also suffered a substution of an E170 for an E190 duty (out of GLA). In my case, they did it by simply offloading everyone who was at the back of the plane, ie if you had a seat in the 22 / 23 / 24 row that doesn't exist on the E170, you were denied boarding. Not nice, but has the advantage of being a quick decision process. (So now, if my journey is critical, I never take a seat at the very back!).
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Old Aug 13, 12, 6:28 am
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Could this extended delay be linked to LCYF operating from LGW that day?
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