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Counterpoint to: BA Lousy with IRROPS / Appalling Customer Service

Counterpoint to: BA Lousy with IRROPS / Appalling Customer Service

Old Aug 12, 14, 2:34 pm
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Counterpoint to: BA Lousy with IRROPS / Appalling Customer Service

There is a lot on this board about BA's incompetence on IRROPS and how when things go wrong, boy things go wrong. I think this has much to do with which customer service agent you get - of course, on the phone, if you don't get the response you want, you can politely hang up and try again. But exhausted at the airport, that freedom is not there. But good things do happen.....

So my Lady Wife, 2 toddlers, foetus, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats and a double stroller made the journey from LAX to MUC last Sunday on the last A380 flight from LAX. Avios booking. WT. (Let's have the terrible husband comments in a separate thread, Please). Wife has no status. Flight late into LHR because of thunderstorms Monday afternoon. Much circling above LHR (much wretching on board I am told). Missed connection. In line for re-booking ("80 people in line" - wife taken to shorter line due to kids and foetus. Easy re-book on the last MUC flight. 5 GBP vouchers for all.

MUC flight at 8pm - everyone gets on...sits...waits.....everyone gets off. No one is going anywhere. Mad rush to Customer Service for solutions. Wife told to collect bags. Not at easy proposition given volume and travelling party. But she gets help. Double stroller demolished en route from LAX somehow. Claim form filled out. CS agent realizes that a bus/taxi to Marriot/Hilton not a viable proposition. Sofitel room booked. Everyone bathed and in bed by midnight. Breakfast included. Re-booked on noon-ish flight today. Again, WT. Avios. No status.

Now, of course, for the crowd out there who'll holler - why this post? - BA did exactly what they were supposed to do. Yes, they did. But they did it in a kind, compassionate manner, in circumstances where my wife was not the only one in this predicament, yet she was made to feel that she was the only one in that predicament. And I think the Sofitel was indeed above and beyond. Now, let's see how they deal with the stroller issue....but for the time being, I think a good job by BA

Last edited by Purim; Aug 12, 14 at 2:35 pm Reason: typo
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Old Aug 12, 14, 2:38 pm
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I'm not so naive as to think this happens every time something goes wrong, but it's much closer to my experience of BA than some of those I read.

Bravo for posting.
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Old Aug 12, 14, 2:39 pm
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Very pleased to near it. I guess we are often only motivated when things go wrong, or well.
Worth remembering that BA will still generally look after you better than an American airline, particularly during weather related irrops.
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Old Aug 12, 14, 5:36 pm
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Originally Posted by Purim View Post

So my Lady Wife, 2 toddlers, foetus, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats and a double stroller made the journey ...
Was the nanny downgraded?
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Old Aug 12, 14, 6:46 pm
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Always good to read positive posts.
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Old Aug 12, 14, 11:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Paralytic View Post
Was the nanny downgraded?
From WT? To what, cargo?
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Old Aug 13, 14, 12:23 am
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Nice to see positives here too.

Generally speaking, BA do step up to the mark. However, it does depend on the individual agent, and I'm sure the image presented by your wife and "entourage" would have brought out the best in the agents concerned.

It's when major disruption occurs, rather than with isolated events that the BA IRROPS handling falls apart.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by Purim View Post
There is a lot on this board about BA's incompetence on IRROPS and how when things go wrong, boy things go wrong. I think this has much to do with which customer service agent you get - of course, on the phone, if you don't get the response you want, you can politely hang up and try again. But exhausted at the airport, that freedom is not there. But good things do happen.....

So my Lady Wife, 2 toddlers, foetus, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats and a double stroller made the journey from LAX to MUC last Sunday on the last A380 flight from LAX. Avios booking. WT. (Let's have the terrible husband comments in a separate thread, Please). Wife has no status. Flight late into LHR because of thunderstorms Monday afternoon. Much circling above LHR (much wretching on board I am told). Missed connection. In line for re-booking ("80 people in line" - wife taken to shorter line due to kids and foetus. Easy re-book on the last MUC flight. 5 GBP vouchers for all.

MUC flight at 8pm - everyone gets on...sits...waits.....everyone gets off. No one is going anywhere. Mad rush to Customer Service for solutions. Wife told to collect bags. Not at easy proposition given volume and travelling party. But she gets help. Double stroller demolished en route from LAX somehow. Claim form filled out. CS agent realizes that a bus/taxi to Marriot/Hilton not a viable proposition. Sofitel room booked. Everyone bathed and in bed by midnight. Breakfast included. Re-booked on noon-ish flight today. Again, WT. Avios. No status.

Now, of course, for the crowd out there who'll holler - why this post? - BA did exactly what they were supposed to do. Yes, they did. But they did it in a kind, compassionate manner, in circumstances where my wife was not the only one in this predicament, yet she was made to feel that she was the only one in that predicament. And I think the Sofitel was indeed above and beyond. Now, let's see how they deal with the stroller issue....but for the time being, I think a good job by BA
That's nice to hear, however I suspect connecting traffic gets better looked after than point to point, and I suspect your family was very lucky.

My (multiple) experiences are of a grudging re-booking that you have to fight for after along wait on the phone (even to GGL, as BA is surprised by the predictable, i.e long forecast weather, as does not seem to adjust planned staffing for it), and a general lack of ability to help those not already at the airport.

BA has along long way to go before it even gets close to delta's pro-active (rather than BA's reactive) irrops 'management' (in the loosest terms for BA).

Generally, BA goes wrong in my experience when it rains (which occurs a lot in the UK).

I assume BA knows Heathrow's limits but still does n't seem to accommodate these in its its schedule planning, and seems surprised weather happens (BA ops patently never seem to check a weather forecast), then seems to make panic cancellations, normally at the last minute.

Its LHR operations make La Gaurdia and Chicago look like beacons of reliable operation.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 3:13 am
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Originally Posted by DFB_london View Post
and a general lack of ability to help those not already at the airport.
This is what I find most surprising with BA - most airlines do not want you to go to the airport in the event of disruptions, but BA can only really help you if you are already at the airport.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 3:57 am
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Originally Posted by DFB_london View Post
and a general lack of ability to help those not already at the airport.
Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
This is what I find most surprising with BA - most airlines do not want you to go to the airport in the event of disruptions, but BA can only really help you if you are already at the airport.
These are good points, and I hope that those of us who read FT can see this and work out the right approach around it. Unless you prefer to be totally passive about it, the informed traveller, facing irrops, can strongly influence outcomes.

So irrops have led to your flight cancelled:
1) BA can't magic up an airplane from nowhere if a flight is cancelled.

2) Ring up to get another BA or Joint Business Arrangement flight. Sort your own hotel out according to tastes, so long as it's not too expensive (which you can quickly do by benchmarking Hiltons/Crowne Plazas/Radissons/Sheratons etc). Be unBritish and haggle for discounts. Also if told that your chosen flight is full then you can be waitlisted / standby for it instead, though it does tend to screw up MMB. The Service Centres don't book hotels so you don't have a choice there, but there again you have more freedom to find accommodation that suits you. Service Centres cannot rebook you on to alternative airlines generally speaking. Hence......

3) Go to airport if you want re-routing via another airline and/or someone else to find you a hotel. The latter is sup-optimal due to queues / Hoppas and what not. Airports can also waitlist/standby, but this won't be pro-actively offered.

4) Don't go landside if already airside, if you can help it. The airside Flight Connections is better set-up to deal with the above, but the queues can be bad so you may want to do 2), sort your own hotel out and deal with the consequences later. If BA don't like that it is incumbent on them to either empower the Service Centres and / or staff the airports more realistically.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 4:30 am
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
This is what I find most surprising with BA - most airlines do not want you to go to the airport in the event of disruptions, but BA can only really help you if you are already at the airport.
It is all about staffing.

To cope effectively and provide decent service during disruption you need enough empowered staff to sort things out and really help passengers.

BA's cost saving cuts bite here in 2 ways. Firstly they barely have enough staff to run the operation in sunny let alone cloudy skies. Secondly BA has deliberately chosen to take away staff discretion to stop staff doing the decent thing (e.g. Interline reroutes, booking convenient hotels etc.) so a staff based which is tightly stretched in normal operations is completely unable to provide decent assistance during IRROPS and that is by cost saving design to save money on Interline costs to save money on airport/ticketing staffing, to save money on subsistence claims and to save money on hotel costs.

None of this is an accident it is a deliberate and well thought out design. It doesn't sit easily with the pretence of providing high levels of service "to fly to serve" or effectively looking after premium passengers.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 6:56 am
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Originally Posted by Land-of-Miles View Post
It is all about staffing.

To cope effectively and provide decent service during disruption you need enough empowered staff to sort things out and really help passengers.

BA's cost saving cuts bite here in 2 ways. Firstly they barely have enough staff to run the operation in sunny let alone cloudy skies. Secondly BA has deliberately chosen to take away staff discretion to stop staff doing the decent thing (e.g. Interline reroutes, booking convenient hotels etc.) so a staff based which is tightly stretched in normal operations is completely unable to provide decent assistance during IRROPS and that is by cost saving design to save money on Interline costs to save money on airport/ticketing staffing, to save money on subsistence claims and to save money on hotel costs.

None of this is an accident it is a deliberate and well thought out design. It doesn't sit easily with the pretence of providing high levels of service "to fly to serve" or effectively looking after premium passengers.
Agree with the sentiment, and agree that its an execution issue.

- Phone lines are consistently not staffed for irrops, even expected disruption, even GGL

- Staff would nt be needed if the IT was any good. But its hopeless. BA's under spend here hurts because it seems incapable of the automated re-booking Delta achieves, and does consistently well.

what this seems to imply is:

1. IF YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE THERE ON TIME, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHOOSE ANOTHER AIRLINE

2. IF YOU NEED TO CONNECT USING BA/LHR, YOU SHOULD FIND AN ALTERNATIVE IF YOU WANT TO KNOW YOU GET THERE ON YOUR PLANNED DAY/TIME.

3. NEVER EVER EVER CHECK BAGGAGE ON BA. FROM EXPERIENCE, IT IS A LOTTERY IF IT GETS THERE.

4. IF IT IS WINDY, RAINS, SNOWS, IS A BIT FOGGY, OR JUST NOT 'BLUE SKIES' EXPECT TO BE DELAYED/CANCELLED

5. DON'T ASSUME SPECIAL SERVICES IN THE CCR WILL HELP EITHER. MIXED EXPERIENCES WITH THAT TOO.

6. DON'T RELY ON BA TO INTERLINE YOU TO ANOTHER AIRLINE

If time does n't matter, you have no checked baggage and can afford the cash flow of buying another ticket and/or hotel, then BA is fine.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by DFB_london View Post
1. IF YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE THERE ON TIME, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHOOSE ANOTHER AIRLINE

2. IF YOU NEED TO CONNECT USING BA/LHR, YOU SHOULD FIND AN ALTERNATIVE IF YOU WANT TO KNOW YOU GET THERE ON YOUR PLANNED DAY/TIME.

3. NEVER EVER EVER CHECK BAGGAGE ON BA. FROM EXPERIENCE, IT IS A LOTTERY IF IT GETS THERE.

4. IF IT IS WINDY, RAINS, SNOWS, IS A BIT FOGGY, OR JUST NOT 'BLUE SKIES' EXPECT TO BE DELAYED/CANCELLED

...

6. DON'T RELY ON BA TO INTERLINE YOU TO ANOTHER AIRLINE
Not to forget, 7. BA KIDNAPPED MY CAPS LOCK KEY AND NOW I HAVE TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME AHHHH

I cannot comment on 5 (I sue as a pauper), but I have had all these problems occur to me on BA ... and AF, KL, DL, AA, and maybe point 1 on EK? (Very rare for me to fly on EK).

Surely you have as well or am I just exceptionally unlucky to not only have problems on BA at LHR???
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Old Aug 13, 14, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by DFB_london View Post
BA's under spend here hurts because it seems incapable of the automated re-booking Delta achieves, and does consistently well.
Does Delta have a great rewards programme? Do they have good quality lounges? Offer a better inflight service?

Maybe BA recognises that as IRROPS don't affect the majority of their passengers it's wiser for them to divert resources to maintain quality in other areas that have a much greater impact on its customers.

There will always be something that can be improved but you're never going to get a perfect airline.
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Old Aug 13, 14, 9:20 am
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Does Delta have a great rewards programme? Do they have good quality lounges? Offer a better inflight service?

Maybe BA recognises that as IRROPS don't affect the majority of their passengers it's wiser for them to divert resources to maintain quality in other areas that have a much greater impact on its customers.

There will always be something that can be improved but you're never going to get a perfect airline.
As someone that flies to get there, and where the 5-6,000 TP pa and a few hundred thousand miles a year are just a side effect of that, my preference is to get there on time and as planned. And BA has failed this basic requirement quite consistently this year.

To me, getting there as planned matters far more to me than the mileage accrued as a side effect of that. So, no, I'm really not bothered about delta miles 'rates' and revenue based mileage accrual. (and at least you can use them , unlike BA ones.)

In fact now you mention it, if BA aggressively cut back the FF Accruals, and really cut lounge benefits, etc maybe there'd be more to spend on the basics of running a reliable schedule. Given the choice of the two, I 'd rather see every lounge closed permanently and mileage accrual halved or more, if it meant the flights ran on time.

...and by the way, I know you come with biased preconceptions about airlines (Lufthansa F, now Delta) or even BA services (eg LCY-JFK) it seems you've never flown on, but have a n 'expert' opinion about, but in long-haul J Delta is better than BA across the Atlantic for seat, food, crew service, IFE , cabin temperature and cleanliness. where they miss is their schedule and the joy of connecting in MSP or ATL.
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