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A serious gaffe by BA
Not necessarily to be published, but I feel the need the share this story and not sure what to do with it. Your opinion is welcome 🙂
I just received my renewed BAEC Gold/Guest List card and emailed James Hillier, BA Head of CRM, through LinkedIn to share my story (no answer after 3 or 4 days).
Long story short: I was on-board BA flight to CPT that got diverted to Abuja last January (around 4am, fumes on board and a fast landing). We had to wait a replacement aircraft from London so they took our passports and brought us to the über-glamorous Sheraton Abuja (I have a couple of pictures, quite funny to see this cohort of exhausted travelers herded through the airport and parking lot and hotel…). I called the Guest Line to know whether there was another flight I could catch… Nothing so I waited in my room (we were instructed to stay put and not leave the hotel). Around 6pm, someone knocked at the door, I grabbed by cabin luggage and went to the lobby where I realized everyone was gone, and probably gone way before I got called (12 or 15 small buses don’t disappear in 5′).
The face of the guy who was left behind to finalize arrangements with the hotel I presume was quite funny. He found a taxi, or something similar, asked me if I had USD or Euros, I had negotiated the price with the guy, and urged him to rush and make it to the airport in time. The guy did rush, adroitly slaloming between cars and trucks on a busy highway at night.
He also stopped a moment to get some local cash that he needed. I was alone in the car, in the dark, door open, 200km away from Boko Haram territories, in a not so friendly country, with no passport, no reason to be here. I thought I should let BA know and called the infamous Guest Line desk (answer was: “I call the duty manager” and after a good 5-10′ waiting on the line “rush so the plane doesn’t go without you”).
Anyway, I made it to the airport, just after the last bus — which confirmed to me I had been called AFTER the buses had gone, which is a mistake by the hotel (I think the phone didn’t work).
A fellow passenger (I was going 1st class) told me that the buses nearly left without her, and she literally had to run and chase the last bus. Other passengers had their own horror stories that included cockroaches and lack of clean water in hotel rooms.
We made it to CPT 17 hours after scheduled arrival time and I went directly to the training I was giving and did not think about it much.
Then, I emailed BA to ask them what their plans were. I got €600 refund (which is European law), and a “sincere apology”. When I signaled to the person that €600 was not much compared to the value of the ticket (I paid in miles, around 100,000 for a one-way), and that the problem wasn’t even the money but the very fact that it happened, the rep got into a weird mix of “I’m disappointed you don’t accept my apologies” and “I will investigate”. Eventually, she investigated and found no record of my misadventure (which was the point: nobody noticed I was missing! She should have traced my calls though). I got really annoyed, I felt really dangerously treated in retrospect, thinking, what would have happened with an elderly person for instance?
I wanted a clear explanation, a simple recognition that they had not performed their duties as planned, and that they would reinforce their processes. Which is asking a lot, I know. It takes a dead person to trigger these changes.
Then there was this insulting move when they told me that provided I give them a receipt they would refund the taxi ride. Seriously? It’s pretty much when I stopped talking to this bunch of incompetent, rude people, and moved on.
I pretty much stopped flying BA since. A couple of trips on OpenSkies.
I’m stilled taken aback by their reluctance to listen, appreciate the magnitude of the risk they took (check Abuja on a “where not to go map”), act on it to better themselves. Instead, they’ve been insulting and arrogant.
What would you have done in my place? I imagine it’s too late, but this still bothers me (well mostly when they send me an email or a letter welcoming me in “a world of privileges”).