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BA IROPS handling: room for (lots of) improvement (blogger)

BA IROPS handling: room for (lots of) improvement (blogger)

Old Feb 20, 15, 6:06 am
  #1  
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BA IROPS handling: room for (lots of) improvement (blogger)

This guy's experience matches mine: BA might tell you on email not to go to the airport in case of IROPS, but it staffs people on the phone that can't help. Going to the airport is often the only way to get service: this was the case for me as well in a similar situation, but BA's cancellation was mechanical, i.e. it's own fault, yet on the phone BA would not reaccomodate me and a trip to the airport (on my dime and time) was needed to get the situation fixed.

Good read with lots of detail at http://blog.wandr.me/2015/02/snowed-...-job-istanbul/
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Old Feb 20, 15, 6:58 am
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BA's IRROPS handling is indeed appallingly bad. While I've never ended up in a terrible situation on BA out of sheer luck, I did have an apple out of the "one shot deal" approach. At 10 a.m. I received a notice that my 1:30 p.m. PRG-LHR flight was cancelled (this was a few months back) due to "weather." (I use quotes because only in England would it actually be considered weather) Got to the airport at 10:30 for the 11:20 flight. The system had already booked me on the last flight of the day. They put me on standby. I was on a non-refundable ticket but am a One World Emerald. I clear standby. They try to process the ticket. The system absolutely refuses to allow them to move me up from the 8:30 or whatever flight to the 11:20 since the system had already changed it. She calls. No luck. And just shoves the tickets back at me and says "you will fly tonight" and walks away. Luckily I had already been talking with the supervisor, she notices I was still showing on the standby list as not having claimed my seat, and starts to work on it. System rejects her. She calls. They refuse her. Luckily, she decided to make a federal case out of it and basically started yelling at them over the phone in Czech. All I heard was "Emerald" about 10 times. This goes back and forth for 10 minutes and finally the ticket releases, and at 11:13 I start the run through passport control to the gate. I made it. But what a TERRIBLE approach to IRROPS.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 7:23 am
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I've miss-connected twice this year on BA already due to IRROPS. In neither of these case was I informed in advance. Both instances cost BA a night in the T5 Sofitel and 1 of them cost then an EU261 claim too. In both instances I could have been easily rerouted on other BA services had they let me know in advance.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 9:12 am
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A bit of a long story of IRROPS here. Maybe interesting. Maybe not. I don't know.

I recall the interesting time I had in Frankfurt in Dec 2010. Where the snow closed LHR. On the day I was due to fly, LCY and FRA also had snow problems. So, unsurprisingly my flight was cancelled along with others. So, I was pretty quick off the ball and rebooked to the next day's flight (to LHR, since it was Saturday). On the Saturday I seem to remember I had a succession of flights I managed to get "onto" which were cancelled one by one.

Eventually I could no longer use MMB (too slow) and it was impossible to get through to BA. So, I went to my company travel agent. They said everything to London was booked up for Sunday. I was mulling the idea of taking a flight to MAN and getting a train down when I had an idea. Ultimately, it's what saved me. I asked about the evening flight to LCY. The lady said she hadn't seen that and saw there was space. So I said take it!

I had one more beer in FRA then popped back to my hotel (for some more).

Sunday, I arrived extremely early so I could gauge the situation. I found out quite quickly LHR was closed, and intended on being closed all day. However, my investigations were showing that both FRA and LCY were operating, albeit with some delays involved.

When it came to check in time I found they wouldn't take my bag. "No flights are going to London today, didn't you see the news?"... I politely pointed out both FRA and LCY were operating and that my flight wasn't showing as cancelled (yet).

Nope, not taking your bag. It's not going, I should just go back and try again tomorrow. I wasn't having any of that. So, I stuck around. By this time FRA T2 was extremely busy and by now I actually recognized a group of people from the previous days and sat down to go "British style" and just deal with the situation by talking nonsense.

Eventually it was getting close to when the flight would depart. There was nothing on the board (and by that I mean my flight wasn't even listed. Not cancelled, just not there). On MMB it showed as "on time".. So I went to drop my bag. Same lady "No, not taking your bag". So I sat down again. Eventually, the flight status DID change to cancelled. So I said goodbye to the "group" again and headed back to the hotel.

Now, here's where something that I had only seen happen once before (and also on BA). I always thought cancelled had a finality to it. You had a delay which meant "probably you will go" but cancelled meant, forget it. The flight is done for.

When I got to the airport I got a strange message from my mother. It said "Oh, it looks like you're going to make it after all". Confused by this I replied that the flight was cancelled "No, it's boarding it says on the internet"....

By now I had a beer and was already taking off shoes etc in the hotel. So, when I saw "Boarding gate 6" I was somewhat less than amused. Also, to put it into perspective I was 25km away from FRA.

Shows went back on. Bag closed. Beer still in hand I went back down to the reception to explain the situation. A taxi was called, let's say after the situation was explained to him the unrestricted autobahn played a part here. In the snow (which was now falling again) we thundered back to FRA in what I would call the record time for this journey (well maybe it could be beaten in the dry). I paid (with a decent tip for that) thanked the driver profusely and then ran inside.

The lady saw me coming and was already on the defensive "It WAS cancelled, talk to my supervisor". So, I did. He said "If you go now, without checking the bag, maybe you can make it". So, I did. Off I went. Threw out some oversized bottles at security, haggled over a bottle that was 175ml in volume but definitely had less than that inside. Won the haggle and got to keep it (lost the same battle with LCY security some weeks later mind you).

I waltzed through and joined the back of the line to board the plane.

Happy ending yes. However, it introduced a new word that I've only seen twice, and both times with BA. "Uncancelled".
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Old Feb 21, 15, 2:30 am
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Interesting to read; none of which is a surprise apart from perhaps the aloof nature of the social media team.
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Old Feb 21, 15, 3:04 am
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I always approached the IRROPS issue with a '.... happens' frame of mind and a lot of patience, something that you need to have in those situations. It's not going to be seamless, it's not going to be fast and it's not going to be pleasant. Being from a family with a history of heart attacks I decided long ago not to follow the anger route anymore, because it won't help and will only make me miserable.

I have to say that, though, BA has always treated me decently when I happened to be stuck in LHR. True, I had to queue for hours; true, once they ran out of hotels; but I always saw them out en masse, including the top brass (one of the BA uniforms pointed me, for example, Keith Williams and the director of operations out and about in T5).

I also believe that things have improved over the years: I now see more and more people being re-routed by the local airports (on my MXP-LHR commuting this summer, when delays were pretty much the norm, I must've seen the local airport rebooking EZE and other LATAM pax on to TAM by the bucketful), I've been rebooked by a volunteer via her iPad, there are those fellas with the purple gilets taking you to the gate and - joy of joys - LHR's wifi is now free.

I appreciate that .... happens, and sometimes I wish that there was more communication, especially when you're on the plane ready to go and engineers are fiddling with something, but I also understand that they have to do their job, i.e. fixing the damn thing. And I also understand that, sometimes, things happen at a certain time that makes things hard to fix (i.e. return from airborne at a small airport, or diversions in a godforsaken place).

If I have to make a point to BA, I've never received one SMS update from them.

By contrast, other experiences I've had with other airlines hadn't been so nice. EasyJet basically told me to sod off, hence the reason I now avoid them like the plague; Alitalia cancels, rebooks and reschedules flights without bothering sending an email, a letter, a smoke signal or a loud shout; and that time I found myself in FRA during the strikes hasn't been that great either, even though it can be said that it was an exceptional circumstance. And if I compare BA - or airlines - to train operators or, God forbid, to the TfL... well, it'd be like comparing the Jimi Hendrix Experience to One Direction.

That's pretty much my 2p on IRROPS. I was wondering, though, which airline is good and, I mean really better than BA, at handling them and how do they do it? I'm sure there are many users with a lot of experience on this topic.
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Old Feb 21, 15, 4:22 am
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Originally Posted by 13900 View Post
That's pretty much my 2p on IRROPS. I was wondering, though, which airline is good and, I mean really better than BA, at handling them and how do they do it? I'm sure there are many users with a lot of experience on this topic.
I tend to think AA are fairly good. They proactively rerouted me under airport control due to a probable wx-related misconnect, then rerouted me again at my request on a slightly better routing time-wise over the phone. In the phone situation, I had to do my research first and offer the alternative routing.

(fwiw: it was AA ticket SMF-DFW-LHR-DUB; SMF-DFW was heavily delayed due to wx. AA phone agent rerouted me SMF-LAX-LHR-DUB and onto BA metal for the longhaul).
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Old Dec 21, 15, 2:47 pm
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They really are remarkably bad. BA286 (SFO) went tech last night, with a broken fuel pump. Fair enough, it happens. Quite a bit of space on the two 747s today (which are scheduled to leave earlier), but the airport desk simply refused to rebook. "You have to call the telephone line."

The US phone line was closed, of course, so I called the UK. "Oh no sir, we couldn't rebook you. You'd have to see an agent at the airport."

I tried again this morning, and this time the telephone line was more accommodating. "Oh yes, we can put you on the LAX flight." Great! "You'll have to get to LA yourself though." Why? Can't you just put me on the AA codeshare? "Your flight is only delayed (25 hours), not cancelled."

What's the point in having a huge four-airline US-Europe network if they're not willing to put me on anyone else's plane?

This is one area where AA is stratospherically ahead of BA.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 4:17 pm
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Originally Posted by jamespvg View Post
I tried again this morning, and this time the telephone line was more accommodating. "Oh yes, we can put you on the LAX flight." Great! "You'll have to get to LA yourself though." Why? Can't you just put me on the AA codeshare? "Your flight is only delayed (25 hours), not cancelled."
Yes, I can see this is annoying, when there appears to be seats going on other services. I must admit I would probably book my own seat to LAX and ping BA for it later, if confronted with this response, but that's easy for me to say. If the flight had been cancelled then the agent could have made the full booking. It looks to me that you were auto-confirmed on to this service, which in some respects is good, but in other respects reduces your options. Furthermore you are only supposed to be allowed one involuntary reroute, you can't keep hunting for options, which AA is entirely happy for you to do.

The way this works must look very complex to outsiders, but what it boils down to is that yes the agents at SFO can do a lot more for you, including re-routing on to the LAX service. Telephone agents are heavily constrained as to what they can do, particularly if the aircraft is not showing to them as Cancelled (JB only, limited rerouting). But what you also have to understand is that late at night, with a full aircraft load of passengers, they really don't want to rebook hundreds of people on the night unless there really is no alternative. They probably would rebook First passengers and those with high CIVs or the corporate High Values.

If you get to the airport at a reasonable time today, they may be prepared to rebook you on to the 747s, but I suspect they may still be reluctant.

When you claim your 600€, you could of course point out that had you been rebooked on the night you would probably not have bothered to claim compensation had the airline been more accommodating.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 6:35 pm
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Thanks for the reply c-w-s ó insightful as always. But while what you say is true, it's a result of commercial choices. If BA wanted to empower their phone agents, they could, just as some other airlines do.

The other problem is the finger pointing (airport says call; telephone line says airport) and misinformation (different agents say different things). This is a training issue. Indeed, it was fairly clear last night that the infrastructure, at least at SFO, is just not well equipped to handle these events.

I'm not a first timer, and nothing about BA's IROPS process last night was mysterious to me ó in fact, the whole thing was depressingly predictable! (No great problem for me in this case, but) I do think they should do better.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 3:12 am
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Originally Posted by jamespvg View Post
The other problem is the finger pointing (airport says call; telephone line says airport) and misinformation (different agents say different things). This is a training issue. Indeed, it was fairly clear last night that the infrastructure, at least at SFO, is just not well equipped to handle these events.
Well there is a solution to the finger pointing issue, and it would be brought a swift end if the following happened from time to time:
a) airport staff say "call BA"
b) BA call centre staff say "we have no information / not been cancelled, check with the airport staff"
c) Make very precise note of exactly what was said, the agents' names and the exact time of the call / encounter.
d) Make your own booking
e) Charge BA for that booking, which they will initially refuse to pay.
f) MCOL on the basis of (a) to (c) and BA's apparent refusal to fulfill Article 8 (Right to reimbursement or re-routing). It would be then down to BA to prove that a) and b) did not happen.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 3:26 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Well there is a solution to the finger pointing issue, and it would be brought a swift end if the following happened from time to time:
a) airport staff say "call BA"
b) BA call centre staff say "we have no information / not been cancelled, check with the airport staff"
c) Make very precise note of exactly what was said, the agents' names and the exact time of the call / encounter.
d) Make your own booking
e) Charge BA for that booking, which they will initially refuse to pay.
f) MCOL on the basis of (a) to (c) and BA's apparent refusal to fulfill Article 8 (Right to reimbursement or re-routing). It would be then down to BA to prove that a) and b) did not happen.
I think this also neatly illustrates why we continue to see this happening - many people just won't have the inclination to take this upon themselves:

- The amount of time that would need to be invested during, and after the event
- The financial implications of making your own booking with no clear certainty that this would be recoverable
- Having to "fight" with a large corporate and all the frustration that that may entail.

How IRROPS situations are responded to is no accident.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 3:37 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Well there is a solution to the finger pointing issue, and it would be brought a swift end if the following happened from time to time:
c) Make very precise note of exactly what was said, the agents' names and the exact time of the call / encounter.
I have previously had a BA staff member try to hide his name badge from me when I started taking an interest in it! (This was when he was busy dis-organising a shocking, definitely sub-Easyjet, response to snow in GVA a few years back)

Originally Posted by V10 View Post
I think this also neatly illustrates why we continue to see this happening - many people just won't have the inclination to take this upon themselves:

- The amount of time that would need to be invested during, and after the event
- The financial implications of making your own booking with no clear certainty that this would be recoverable
- Having to "fight" with a large corporate and all the frustration that that may entail.

How IRROPS situations are responded to is no accident.
At the same GVA snow-hell Easyjet were handing out hotel vouchers, BA were refusing to accommodate anyone (and telling us to go home!). When I put in a claim for the hotel costs we got a standard reply denying us - they're relying on lots of people not remembering/bothering to claim and then some more accepting the first refusal.

Last edited by omk298; Dec 22, 15 at 3:43 am Reason: Additional reply
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Old Dec 22, 15, 4:10 am
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Originally Posted by omk298 View Post
I have previously had a BA staff member try to hide his name badge from me when I started taking an interest in it!
Fortunately for the customer, most carry a camera in their phone these days that can be used to record evidence of airline staff obstruction.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 5:04 am
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Originally Posted by flatlander View Post
Fortunately for the customer, most carry a camera in their phone these days that can be used to record evidence of airline staff obstruction.
In Switzerland that is NOT a good idea.

Getting on the wrong side of the very strict Swiss privacy laws is likely to make your bad situation significantly worse ...
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