Flight missed due to airport delays at BEY

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Old Aug 15, 19, 3:30 am
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Flight missed due to airport delays at BEY

I booked a ticket using Avios for a family member flying from BEY-LHR this morning. Received an SMS a few days ago advising early arrival (3 hours before departure) to the airport - as expected at BEY at this time of the year.

The airport was apparently a complete mess this morning, and 3 hours was not enough to get through the multiple levels of security/immigration/etc, and the family member missed their flight.

The BA team at BEY told the passenger that they would not be able to help, as only the person who booked the ticket would be able to change it. Based on this advice, passenger left the airport.

The ticket is a return BEY-LHR-BEY, and having spoken to the BA call centre, LHR-BEY has been cancelled as BEY-LHR was struck off as a no-show. There are no notes from the airport regarding how busy it was.

At this time of year, buying a replacement ticket is prohibitively expensive so I'm wondering what our BA options are.

Do we have any options?
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Old Aug 15, 19, 4:27 am
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I'm familiar with BEYs SMS system, and in fact if you turn up any sooner it's unlikely there would be anyone at the check-in gate. BEY has also centralised some of their security check operations recently, and an FTer who described it suggested that at peak times this could cause problems. At other times then 3 hours would be overkill, if HBO 1 hour or a bit more would be OK.

Did they turn up 3 hours early ? And were they the only person that didn't make the flight? If so what was the reason why they were badly delayed? If there was only one passenger then that would explain the stance of the ground staff in BEY.

Normally a return Avios booking is only semi flexible, so you can't refund the return, but you can change the return date. It is often suggested in this forum to only book single tickets outside USA and Canada since this generally gives better flexibility. I'm guessing the problem here is going to be that because of the no-show the return ticket can't be restored, so another reason for booking singles, or at least ringing BAEC (where possible) when a no-show is going to happen.

If the traveller genuinely did all they can to get through the system there are some court cases which give protection under EC261 in this scenario (albeit at junior court level) but my first suggestion would be to have another go on getting the return ticket to be restored to minimise further loss.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 4:32 am
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I know it doesn’t help you now but we can’t repeat it enough: the key in those circumstances is to call ba as soon as it looks like there might be a problem. Everything would have likely been resolved then. Now, all your relative can hope for is convince ba that the advice received was unclear. I think I’d try to have that discussion in BEY if possible, preferably with the person who gave misleading advice him/herself as I doubt this would fly with ba phone services
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Old Aug 15, 19, 6:42 am
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The potentially complicating factors here are the Avios booking & the fact that the ticket has now been classified as a no show.

Practically, the flight tomorrow appears to be full but there is 1 J fare available on Saturday.

Middle East Airlines have 1 economy seat tomorrow on ME201 at 8:10AM.

I believe Beirut still has a British Airways local office and it might be worth getting in touch with them directly as they will have a grasp of local circumstances - from googling I found these details but do verify them for yourself

Beirut Symposium Centre, 2nd floor
Wardieh Street, Habtoor Roundabout, Beirut, Lebanon
+961 1 499 333 or try +961 1 628 228.

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Old Aug 15, 19, 6:43 am
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We have some BEY-LHR flights coming up and I’m absolutely dreading the scene at the airport. A photo of the departures hall in the paper the other day was like something out of Dante’s Inferno.....

Edited to add—after reading IANMORGAN’s post above, I called BA in Beirut and they advised showing up 4.5 hours before the flight.

Last edited by prof; Aug 15, 19 at 7:08 am
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:22 am
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Is this always true of Beirut or just during holiday seasons? I am flying out of there on Sunday 6 Oct and am already stressing about missing my flight.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by dpark74 View Post
Is this always true of Beirut or just during holiday seasons? I am flying out of there on Sunday 6 Oct and am already stressing about missing my flight.
October should be fine: this time of year is always the worst, what with expat Lebanese returning to the US and Europe at the end of summer. They are also supposed to be making improvements to the airport to make things more efficient.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:38 am
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Originally Posted by dpark74 View Post
Is this always true of Beirut or just during holiday seasons? I am flying out of there on Sunday 6 Oct and am already stressing about missing my flight.
I'm sure @BA6501 has a lot more experience of this, but I think this is a combination of the new security layout and the holiday season. If it's getting into the local newspapers I'd imagine the airport management would be doing something over the next few days to control the situation. My last visit, March time before the changes, I turned up 75 minutes before departure as HBO, and I could have left it another 30 minutes quite easily.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:44 am
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OP really needs to gather the facts and preferably conduct the call as a three-way with the ticketed passenger on the line from BEY. Did the passenger arrive three hours early? And as others mention, did others no show as well? Additionally, were any of the delays the result of unique "troubles" encountered by the passenger, e.g., was he held up at passport control or security for secondary checks?

It is unfortunate that the passenger left BEY without calling OP as it might have been possible for the passenger to traipse around to find a ground handler who could enter some PNR notes.

But, the bottom line is that it is the passenger's responsibility to be at the airport on time to meet all published requirements.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
I'm sure @BA6501 has a lot more experience of this, but I think this is a combination of the new security layout and the holiday season. If it's getting into the local newspapers I'd imagine the airport management would be doing something over the next few days to control the situation. My last visit, March time before the changes, I turned up 75 minutes before departure as HBO, and I could have left it another 30 minutes quite easily.
Yes it does seem to be a combination of the heavy passenger numbers given the season and the transition to a new security setup for departure which has been repeatedly delayed. I’ll report back when I go through next week.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by IAMORGAN View Post
I believe Beirut still has a British Airways local office and it might be worth getting in touch with them directly as they will have a grasp of local circumstances - from googling I found these details but do verify them for yourself

Beirut Symposium Centre, 2nd floor
Wardieh Street, Habtoor Roundabout, Beirut, Lebanon
+961 1 499 333 or try +961 1 628 228.
I know this was the last location of the office, but I also know that there is no longer a +961 line and that the call centre is now 'regionalised' to, I believe, Amman. I would guess the local office is gone too then...

Originally Posted by prof View Post
We have some BEY-LHR flights coming up and I’m absolutely dreading the scene at the airport. A photo of the departures hall in the paper the other day was like something out of Dante’s Inferno.....

Yup... but that was during peak Hajj season as well. Hopefully that has calmed down by now.
Originally Posted by dpark74 View Post
Is this always true of Beirut or just during holiday seasons? I am flying out of there on Sunday 6 Oct and am already stressing about missing my flight.
Just holiday seasons - most of summer, especially mid/late August, first week of Jan, etc. I regularly get there 90 minutes before outside those times of year (but wouldn't advocate that!)


Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
I'm sure @BA6501 has a lot more experience of this, but I think this is a combination of the new security layout and the holiday season. If it's getting into the local newspapers I'd imagine the airport management would be doing something over the next few days to control the situation. My last visit, March time before the changes, I turned up 75 minutes before departure as HBO, and I could have left it another 30 minutes quite easily.
I'm not sure whether the new layout has launched yet. More passport control desks, certainly, and the new security area looked ready to be in motion in mid-June, and looked exactly the same mid-July. I'll report back on Tuesday - I won't be flying BA, but will be able to advise! The worst times, as far as this board is concerned, are flights departing from 0700 till 0845 or so. BA is smack in the middle of that. I know it's early, but I would advise to arrive at least 3 hours before departure... unless the first security checkpoint is gone, as they keep say they'll do!
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Old Aug 15, 19, 3:30 pm
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I have never been to BEY but don’t understand what is so difficult about it. I always try to get to the airport in plenty of time as to avoid stress, and I generally enjoy the airports, the lounges etc.
Like all of us, sometimes I am late, or the airport is slow. In those cases I will go to the front of the queue of check-in/security/immigration and make my flight.
At other times, I will have spent 30 mins in a queue only for a sweaty or stressed pax to arrive and ask if they can go before me - it’s just fair game. So, why not in BEY?
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Old Aug 15, 19, 4:39 pm
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Building designed for 6M pax/year, yet reaching that figure by mid-summer in recent years. Improved political situation, significantly more tourists, more ex-BEY traffic, removal of travel advisories for some Gulf countries, and being the de facto airport for Syria all contribute.

Government took a while to sign off on the expansion/renovation budget, but in fairness once it got under way it was pretty fast.

Way too many checkpoints (security at entrance to terminal, pre-passport passport check, passport control, pre-gate-concourse security, and then the BA random security at the gate). Somewhat inefficient.

Banked departures.

A.... varied.... mix of passenger types.

Part of the world. (The Economist)

In most airports, going through security checks is a streamlined if soulless passage into a hermetically sealed, sanitised zone. Not so in much of the Arab world. Reaching your departure lounge is a mental as well as physical obstacle course which reveals much about the regime—or regimes—in charge.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:46 pm
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I just dropped off my wife at BEY—very early, so early that the BA check in counter wasn’t open yet. The good news is that there was no heaving crowd at the airport and it took only a few minutes to get through; the bad news is that because she wasn’t able to OLCI (“we are unable to check you in online on this occasion—please proceed to the airport”) she was, of course, downgraded to economy. The least they could do is upgrade her on the connecting flight to the US but as it’s on a separate ticket I’m not holding my breath.

It’s infuriating when the system doesn’t let you OLCI and then punishes you for not having OLCI—in this instance by a downgrade, but I’ve seen people offloaded from flights because they weren’t able to OLCI and were then treated as presumptive no shows. There ought to be a way if you’re denied OLCI to call in and have the record note that you tried and were unable to so the airport counter doesn’t hold it against you.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by BA6501 View Post
I know this was the last location of the office, but I also know that there is no longer a +961 line and that the call centre is now 'regionalised' to, I believe, Amman. I would guess the local office is gone too.
I called that second +961 number and talked to someone at BA, but now I understand why she had a thick Jordanian accent..... so I guess the Beirut BA office has indeed been “enhanced” away, which is too bad, because the staff there were always incredibly helpful and efficient.
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