LHR wheelchair assistance shambles (again)

Old Dec 28, 17, 8:59 am
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LHR wheelchair assistance shambles (again)

Flew back from GIB yesterday after a short Christmas break with my mother. Leaving aside the appalling food in CE on the way back, we had yet another issue with wheelchair assistance.

My mother is 81 and on a waiting list for a hip replacement with trouble walking, so I had booked assistance level one - so from the pier to customs. Except we ended up on a remote gate at T3 so I had assumed the assistance would be where the bus dropped us off. There was a sign for assistance but no one was there. There was even a phone for assistance, but no one answered. In the end, I had to help my mother on a pretty long walk (2 lifts, several corridors) - through the border, baggage collection and to T3 short term car park. Another lady also had the same issue and had to be helped by her family. Anyone on their own would just have been stuck.

By the time she arrived she was in tears and today cannot get out of bed as her hip is so sore.

This isn't the first time this has happened with BA. Unacceptable.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:06 am
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Why didnít you persist in calling for assistance?
Didnít your smartphone work ?
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:08 am
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You probably know this but BA don’t provide the wheelchair service your complaint is with HAL.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:13 am
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Sorry for the trouble you've had, this is very poor.

My great aunt required assistance travelling from Brisbane to London via Singapore as she is 80, hadn't travelled abroad for some years and cannot walk large distances. I requested assistance from Qantas by website and BA via GGL line. Her breakdown of the service she received went like this:

Brisbane : Excellent. Complete help from checkin to aircraft.
Singapore : Excellent. Ground staff helped her promptly off the Qantas aircraft after arrival, took her to the lounge and then collected her later to take her to the BA aircraft.
London : BA crew told her on arrival "Oh you can walk off can't you?" (This was in First by the way) and when she said no she had to then wait 20 minutes for a wheelchair to be requested and arrive.

Return leg was better from Heathrow, LAX was also excellent by her account, taking her from the aircraft through immigration back to checkin then through security and to the gate.

Basically I understand the responsibility for providing assistance is down to the airport. On my one data point above Heathrow and the UK lived up to expectations, and BA disappointed also.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
You probably know this but BA donít provide the wheelchair service your complaint is with HAL.
Is there a principal-agent relationship?
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:16 am
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Can you clarify what BA did wrong please?
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:17 am
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Originally Posted by richardwft View Post
Is there a principal-agent relationship?
No, under European law the provision of assistance at all airports must be provided by the airport, not the airline.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:21 am
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Originally Posted by richardwft View Post


Is there a principal-agent relationship?
BA wouldn’t have known that the wheelchair didn’t meet the bus when it arrived at the terminal, the phone that the OP mentioned and that nobody answered goes straight to the wheelchair provider which is also by the way the wheelchair provider for the whole of the airport.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by irmster View Post
Flew back from GIB yesterday after a short Christmas break with my mother. Leaving aside the appalling food in CE on the way back, we had yet another issue with wheelchair assistance.

My mother is 81 and on a waiting list for a hip replacement with trouble walking, so I had booked assistance level one - so from the pier to customs. Except we ended up on a remote gate at T3 so I had assumed the assistance would be where the bus dropped us off. There was a sign for assistance but no one was there. There was even a phone for assistance, but no one answered. In the end, I had to help my mother on a pretty long walk (2 lifts, several corridors) - through the border, baggage collection and to T3 short term car park. Another lady also had the same issue and had to be helped by her family. Anyone on their own would just have been stuck.

By the time she arrived she was in tears and today cannot get out of bed as her hip is so sore.

This isn't the first time this has happened with BA. Unacceptable.
Sorry to hear your mother is in pain

I had pre-booked assistance (option 2) at T5 last night and it was not ideal. The crew were great and very kindly waited 30 mins with me for the wheelchair to arrive but it was completely unacceptable from omniserve. Apparently they have a general shortage of staff and recruitment issues but their organizational abilities also seem poor - they sent someone from a gates to pick up at c gates even though there were assistance staff at c gates doing nothing. The delay caused the cabin crew an extra 30 minutes work as they were on their last flight of the day, the captain a delay to get to his next flight at a gates as he needed to wait for the wheelchair to close up the plane, an extra 30 minutes use of the air bridge, the tug driver a delay to take the plane to its next stop of maintenance and so on... Other than the omniserve shambles it was a good flight with an amazingly kind crew.

On the assistance options, if your mother needs to use this service again I would book option 2. When I first needed to use assistance I went for option 1 as I thought the description of option 2 was overkill but any time I had option 1 booked the BA check in staff would strongly encourage me to change it to option 2 as, I paraphrase, option 1 was useless.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:27 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
Can you clarify what BA did wrong please?
I think the OP believes that BA may have failed to make the correct request for assistance. I fully agree though that provision of assistance is fully down to the airport. The fact that no-one answered the dedicated phone for assistance is quite telling.

In my case my request was mislaid somewhere along the line and the crew were seemingly not aware my aunt needed assistance. I had requested it through GGL and had email confirmation back so on her arrival at Heathrow it was surprising the operating crew were not aware of the request.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by David_Doyle View Post
I think the OP believes that BA failed to make the correct request for assistance. In my case my request was mislaid somewhere along the line and the crew were seemingly not aware my aunt needed assistance. I had requested it through GGL and had email confirmation back so on her arrival at Heathrow it was surprising the operating crew were not aware of the request.

I fully agree though that provision of assistance is fully down to the airport. The fact that no-one answered the dedicated phone for assistance is quite telling.
The chap who collected me last night said my request must have been lost given the amount of time it took them to eventually get someone to the gate.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
Can you clarify what BA did wrong please?
I paid for my tickets through BA. I flew BA. I made the assistance request with BA not with Heathrow. BA have at
least a duty of care to ensure this request is met, not to say 'not my fault mate blame HAL' as you are clearly doing. You are just showing again that BA and some of their staff really don't give a toss. Can I not help you would be more appropriate.

(If the assistance request was made separately to the airport by the customer and confirmed directly by the airport back to the customer, then obviously things would be different).
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:42 am
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The process is that the wheelchair assistance request is sent by the departing station to LHR who contact Omniserve, the crew onboard will tell the person who meets the flight how many customers require assistance to confirm the numbers match.
If the aircraft is on stand the crew will stay with the customer until they have been handed over.
If the aircraft is off stand then again we confirm with the person meeting the flight the numbers, the coaches take any wheelchair customers to the terminal where in T5 the arrival area is manned by the Omnieserve staff, I am not aware of the arrangement in T3.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by irmster View Post
I paid for my tickets through BA. I flew BA. I made the assistance request with BA not with Heathrow. BA have at
least a duty of care to ensure this request is met, not to say 'not my fault mate blame HAL' as you are clearly doing. You are just showing again that BA and some of their staff really don't give a toss. Can I not help you would be more appropriate.

(If the assistance request was made separately to the airport by the customer and confirmed directly by the airport back to the customer, then obviously things would be different).
Quite. The contract is with BA not HAL. BA's conditions of carriage state:

18a) General and Reservations

18a1) If you are a passenger with a disability and you require any special assistance, you should inform us at the time of booking of your special needs.
I.E. the interface for the passenger is BA, not HAL.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
The process is that the wheelchair assistance request is sent by the departing station to LHR who contact Omniserve, the crew onboard will tell the person who meets the flight how many customers require assistance to confirm the numbers match.
If the aircraft is on stand the crew will stay with the customer until they have been handed over.
If the aircraft is off stand then again we confirm with the person meeting the flight the numbers, the coaches take any wheelchair customers to the terminal where in T5 the arrival area is manned by the Omnieserve staff, I am not aware of the arrangement in T3.
I was in 1D and my mother in 1C - when the guy came up the steps, the only conversation that happened was that the person meeting the flight said there were not enough coaches to have a club only one and to only let 45 people down for the first one, With that he went back down the stairs again. There was no conversation about anything else - I am 100% sure of this as I was right there. It was not just my mother who had booked assistance as others were waiting when we tried to call from the non answering phone in the terminal building.
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