Disgusting BA Customer Service

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This topic contains 46 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  NTarrant 16 May 2010
at 10:20

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  • Anonymous


    I telephoned British Airways to change an existing flight booking which is on a strike day in May 2010, to travel a day earlier. I got to speak to somebody who advised changing the booking on the internet to avoid a telephone change fee. At first this seemed useful advice.

    I have attempted to change the booking on line multiple times and just get an error message “Unfortunately our systems are not responding, so we are unable to process your request at the moment. We apologise for this inconvenience and suggest you try again later.”

    Attempted to telephone British Airways again and just got a recorded message which basically says we have closed this telephone line due to the Unite announcement. The call then is re-directed an automated call system which is only designed to answer flight arrival, departure and schedule enquiries. I tried the Executive Club Silver telephone number and other telephone numbers gave the same result.

    I think it is absolutely disgusting for British Airways to switch off it’s telephone lines in this manner and not even attempt to assist passengers. It just shows complete contempt for the customer.


    A freephone number will be in operation from tomorrow, Tuesday 11th May, for affected passengers to contact British Airways at no cost.

    British Airways will also make an announcement tomorrow about their planned schedules. It is only at that point that the commercial policy will be confirmed. The commercial policy will, in effect, relax the change, rebooking, cancellation and refund terms attached to affected passengers’ tickets.

    Before that time, the underlying conditions will apply and changes may incur fees whether they are undertaken online or offline. The latest statement from BA, issued 33 minutes ago on ba.com, outlines the situation and the options which will apply when the schedules are announced:

    British Airways cabin crew strike

    Last updated 20:30 – 10 May 2010

    We are disappointed that Unite, the trade union for British Airways (BA) cabin crew, has announced that it intends to take further strike action on:

    * 18 to 22 May
    * 24 to 28 May
    * 30 May to 3 June
    * 5 to 9 June

    We are currently considering our response so we can minimise any disruption during this strike period, and aim to provide more details of our plans on Tuesday afternoon (UK time) 11 May.

    All our flights are operating as normal at the moment.

    Which flights will be affected during the strike?

    Due to the excellent levels of support we have received from cabin crew based at London Gatwick, all flights to and from Gatwick will continue to operate as normal.

    All flights to and from London City will also be unaffected.

    At Heathrow we plan to operate a substantial part of our longhaul schedule and there will be a number of flights to every destination across our shorthaul network.

    We are speaking to a number of carriers about leasing in extra aircraft to support our shorthaul schedule and also obtaining thousands of seats from other airlines to help our customers rebook if their original flight is cancelled.

    In the event that cancellations are made due to strike action

    You will be able to:

    * Rebook onto another British Airways flight to the same destination within 355 days of the original date of travel


    * Rebook onto another British Airways flight to/from the nearest alternative airport (for example, if booked to/from Boston you could rebook to/from Philadelphia or New York)


    * Rebook onto an agreed alternative airline, subject to availability.


    * Cancel your booking and get a refund.

    All rebooking options will be subject to availability.

    If you are desperate to speak to someone about your booking, bearing in mind that the original booking conditions will apply until the schedules are announced tomorrow, then simply call BA in the US.


    Here’s another tip, but please dont tell everyone. Try the call centre in the USA or even Australia.


    Account deleted


    To FrequentTraveller (first post): I don’t think this is disgusting. I suspect BA is trying its best to get something in place as soon as possible which will work – it’s quite clear their usual call centre and website capacity will be very heavily stretched if they don’t work out a Plan B. Or perhaps you would expect a Plan B to materialise instantaneously for them out of thin air.

    To geohoveuk (last post): You too need to be a little less quick to see the negative side of every action of the BA management. Emotive language like “throwing away millions” is not a fair description of necessary action to assist customers in response to strike action. And I am puzzled by your comments about BA’s “overall record profits”. Which accounting year are you referring to – it is some time since BA turned any sort of profit at all, and if UNITE and BASSA continue in this way they never will again.

    So let me ask both of you – in BA management’s shoes, what would you have done differently today? (And conceding all the union’s demands is not a valid answer!)



    “thats the law!”

    well the law is certainly working well to help the travelling public!!

    Perhaps the “teams involved” on both sides should consider looking at another route to a solution, becasue law or not, this cant go on.



    I am not sure if you have knowledge of the historical background to BA’s Industrial Relations.

    You would find clicking the links on this other thread would bring you up to speed on many of the odd behaviours BASSA themselves exhibit:


    Compromise now would not alleviate the situation; it would bolster the over-mighty union and not only cause continuing deterioration at BA, but also would cause problems more widely throughout the UK’s transport industry, which is dominated by Unite’s 1970s approach to IR. And worse, many of those are quasi/semi public sector controlled so Unite know the easy option is to cave into their demands, just as you suggest BA should do now.

    That would not be in the interests of the wider travelling public.

    The BA Board and the City are backing WW to sort this out once and for all, and even if it means a Swiss-like rebirth I think he should be tough and face off these unreasonable demands. Not doing so would be even more catastrophic than any short term disruption.

    As it is, Gatwick, London City (including the longhaul London City-New York service) will run normally as will most LHR longhaul, so the disruption will be even less than was the case last time round.



    I don’t think there’s anything “disgusting” about BA taking a few hours to calculate what they can do to ensure customers travel interruption is minimised; after all this requires a huge amount of planning to work out what can fly and what cannot. the announcement was made about 5.30pm and you must have call mere hours after that announcement.

    Having a callcentre open without the proper information available would have been pointless and frustrating.

    If you call back later today there will be proper contingency in place to deal with your unfortunate situation. BA website states:

    We are currently considering our response so we can minimise any disruption during this strike period, and aim to provide more details of our plans on Tuesday afternoon (UK time) 11 May.


    Could I remind you that there are few places served solely by BA, and that if your service is indeed cancelled BA will easily re-book you if your service does not fly as planned. Over 85% of customer booked to fly over the last strike reached their destination.

    Above all:



    VK – Is that right? 90 days notice of change of conditions, and then it is accept or leave? Sounds like an option for the end game?!


    As I said in another thread I am not an expert on employment law; but that is my understanding of the law, and no-one has corrected that understanding so far….


    Thank you for your suggestions to call British Airways in another country.

    To everybody who has commented on my opinion, I would like to clarify that the ticket being changed was semi-flexible. Perhaps I should have mentioned that in my first post.

    It should have been possible, subject to alternative flight availability and heavy call volumes to the call centre, to change the date travel regardless of them finalizing a plan B policy for completely non-changeable tickets and individual flight cancellations.

    This morning the British Airways web site was still giving the same error message when attempting to change the date of departure online. Fortunately, British Airways have opened there telephone lines and the ticket has now been changed.

    I still consider it unacceptable, to just switch off the telephone lines with a recorded message and redirection to an automated system which is unable to assist in this scenario. Especially when the alternative of using the web site was also not working.


    Good to see you achieved an acceptable outcome.

    The phone lines are not open 24 hours in the UK, and so this was standard procedure, rather than a decision to purposefully close early. Had they been open, with just hours since the announcement was made, system changes and commercial policy had not yet been finalised.

    No company is superhuman, and I don’t think it unacceptable to expect to wait a few hours for a policy to be developed to address this issue.

    Thankfully, you have a satisfactory outcome!


    Hhhmm, difficult one. I do wonder whether it would be more frustrating to be on hold for a very long time (given that the call centres will be swamped with the number of calls they get) rather than be told that the number is unavailable. Also, later today, BA will (I believe) announce their planned timetable for the initial strikes and I’m sure that many people who would have telephoned the call centre will have their questions answered by that.


    Regarding Call Centres (In general, not just BA)….. It would be wise for Businesses to ensure that their website is fully updated and proactively programmed. For most callers the website is cheaper to access, and waiting for update or response less stressful/wasteful.

    Also most Call Centre operatives seem to have the webpage as their primary source of info, so there is double efficiency in getting the webpage right


    Further …. interesting to hear that BA Call Centre is not 24/7. I recall a time (mebbbe 15 y ago) when calls to BA were diverted to wherever was open worldwide, so it was not unusual for night-owls to find ourselves talking to a US Operative. More importantly…. the US Call Centre was usually more proactive, better informed and generally more charming than the ‘local’ estuarial. The Newcastle tkt centre maybe an exception to that trend.

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