LGW VRN LGW ….The slow demise of BA at LGW?Back to Forum
Anonymous5 Jul 2010
LGW VRN LGW
After a short overnight stay at the Sofitel, proceeded to Terminal by the newly opened route from the Hotel direct to the terminal building.
Had checked in online but I had two bags so used club desk to drop off. Proceeded to security and passed without incident other than the now customary removal of shoes etc.
The terminal was busy and I went to the lounge where I had not been for some months. One whole floor of the lounge has been closed but the remaining galleries lounge was not that busy even at 8am on a weekday.
Food offering and quality, whilst still better than many airlines, has dived at Gatwick and the usual issue with BA of consistency was evident. Hot bacon rolls are freely available at LHR in all lounges in the morning, but not so at LGW unless you are in the First lounge. This for me is simply further evidence that LGW is a low costs base for BA.
Boarded on time and Captain advised we would depart 6 minutes early. A 737 was being used and it was dirty and in need of some serious TLC. It was July 1st but the magazines were all for June. The overhead bins were badly marked and scratched. It simply looked like a neglected aircraft. Once the STD had passed the captain advised that there was a technical issue in the hold that would require the use of speed tape to repair. That said it all really.
We arrived in Verona on time following an uneventful flight and two cups of pretty average coffee. The crew had been invisible until the duty free run.
The return flight was an altogether different experience. Checked in on line and dropped bags off at club. Requested directions to the lounge and was advised to go upstairs after security. Once through discovered lounge was landside!!. So we decided to sit it out as there was just 30mins to boarding.
Verona is simply too small to cope with the traffic it handles on a summers Saturday morning the airport was crammed and delays were the order of the day. 5 hours to Moscow, 3 hours to other places and this was putting pressure on gates.
The STD for the LGW flight came and went but the gate staffs (who were handling agent people not BA) provided no information. They then left and immediately an announcement made that there was a technical problem and more information would be provided in an hour.
At this point I went to look for someone as I wanted now to go back to the lounge. This was agreed and we were escorted back but whilst on the way the girl tells us, “the flight will be cancelled; they have a broken window following a bird strike.
We were told to go to the lounge and would be given new flight details there. 90 minutes passed and repeated request to the lounge staff elicited nothing. Finally advised almost 2 hours later to go to desk 12 but on arrival they knew nothing about us and apparently could do nothing for us.
I will cut this short……in the end we made a phone call to London, re booked on a flight from Venice and then left making our own way to Venice by taxi and train.
There is much more that could be written including how they managed to inflame an already volatile situation by bringing the cabin crew who were due to operate the cancelled flight to LHR to the check in area and checking them in ahead of the disrupted passengers. It is understandable that BA would wish to get crew back in order to keep them on track for future flights, but could this not have been done quietly and well away from the mêlée? It is no wonder there are incidents of passengers losing their cool.
BA’s agency staff in Verona had no leadership, direction, or plan. It was pandemonium. They had EU directive letters on each desk, but were unable or unwilling to provide as much as a bottle of water. Even in the lounge they continued to charge for internet access and refused to help with access to BA.com.
In short BA abandoned us (I can only speak for my wife and I) as passengers and left us to our own devices.
The LGW product is very clearly the poor relation to LHR and really BA needs to make up its mind about what it is really offering.
The return BA flight from Venice was also late, but by just 15 minutes. The Lounge in Venice is awful and at 7pm no effort had been made to clear the debris of earlier customers from just about every table. In the hour we were there no one cleared away so much as a cup.
Arrival at LGW was on the furthest stand from Passport control, IRIS failed for both my wife and I and we were grateful to get in the car and get out of the short term car park around 35 minutes after landing.
Overall a very poor show from BA.5 Jul 2010
What a shame that BA’s contractors spoilt the show. I think that this is one of the problems when operators, not just BA, rely on local contractors in countries where customer service is not top priority.
Other than a tired 737 and an out of date magazine (I flew back to LGW on the 1st and July magazines were in place), much of your problems were out of BA’s hands and has nothing to do with BA out of LGW.
I hope you have complained directly to BA about your experience5 Jul 2010
NTarrant…I am a big fan of BA generally but this experience was awful but Ido agree with you that it would not just be BA who would suffer in such circumstances. that Said I use them and pay a premium to do so precisely because I expect more care from them than I would imagine you would get from Ryan air and airlines of that ilk.
I am not sure I accept that the issues were out of BA hands (other than IRIS size of Verona Airport etc). They chose to sub contract, they have chosen to remove BA staff and it seems to me that they have either taken a decision that such events and their fallout are manageable (in terms of lost confidence and perhaps repeat business) or they simply do not care and have long since consigned LGW to same fate as Birmingham and the regions. LGW is a dead parrot.
I have spoken to customer relations today who were sympathetic. My costs will be repaid of course, there may even be some form service recovery next flight but that is not really the point. What was missing on Saturday was simply processes, procedures leadership, direction and an ability to communicate, had they been then it would have been a very different experience.5 Jul 2010
Pleased to hear that they have at least gone someway towards putting things right. I know the moment is lost and that can’t be replaced. You are right that they chose to sub-contract and as you say direction and leadership is lacking which needs to be tackled.
I can’t agree about LGW being consigned to the same fete as BHX etc. Certainly the network has contracted from LGW. Of late I have used LGW more than I have in the past, interestingly the 737’s appear in the summer. LGW North is no T5 but at least the BA lounge is well presented, even if there are no bacon rolls which I agree about consistancy.5 Jul 2010
Binman you say in your post that ”the Gatwick product is the poor relation to LHR”. You are so right.
BA have thrown everything into making the LHR T5 product so good that they have lost sight of the rest of the operation. Only 32% of BA departing passengers worldwide use T5. The rest are inbound, having checked in overseas, or at Gatwick. But BA management cannot get the picture that there is a big wide world out there. They are totally blinkered and focus on LHR.
So, your Gatwick experience is now the BA average, away from LHR…..poor! For example, the First lounge at LGW has totally inferior and fewer offerings to that at T5 and T3. They even try to stop you using the lounge phones for outgoing calls with the threatening message ”these phones are for business purposes only”. So a business man can spend hours on an international call, but I cant tell the wife that my flight is an hour late, again! None of this at LHR.
I agree with your discription of the LGW 737 fleet…derelict! But, again, nobody from LHR cares, as long as T5 and the LHR operation are OK.
If you think Gatwick is bad then may I suggest that you avoid London City Club Europe!6 Jul 2010
I agree BA in LGW is a very poor product but the crew have no reason to be cheerful really not treated anything like the LHR crew! and those 737 400/500 have seen far better days roll on the new 319/20s, but the crew do work hard on the shuttle its quite profitable for ba out of LGW.
VRN as with most stations in italy are shocking many delays are due to ground agents not the airline, I work for an airline and I have spent many a few hours waiting for cleaners and catering trucks to do there bit! Alitialia seems to come first for some reason! got used to hearing about check in saying how bad it is, but pax still say next time I will fly BA! still alot of pax paying no frills prices expecting club europe!
LGW is becoming BAs holiday hub with all the carribean and holiday flights with the 777, hence the crew never went on strike, cheaper base with many VS crew going there getting more that £800 a month basic! still nothing compares to T5! very big fan! great Starbucks team as well!6 Jul 2010
This is partly the manifestation of a problem discussed before – BA’s cost base. It is higher than that of some of its competitors (for example, at LGW, Easyjet) and so it has to charge higher fares to make a profit. To justify the higher fares it promises the world (either directly or via creating expectations in glossy adverts that often focus on premium cabins and long-haul travel). Then, inevitably, it sometimes underdelivers. People might be underwhelmed by the third party staff used at outpost airports, they may consider the food to be unappetising or they may simply be unaware that someone else is to blame for a delay.
The BA passenger does not see Ryanair’s baggage charges because they don’t pay them – but they do see BA’s adverts and then think that the product falls short of their dream flight.
I still think that BA offers a better service on its European flights than most of its competitors, but there is really no excuse for such shoddy management as was apparent in the review in the first post. After an experience like that why would you pay a premium to fly with an airline that has let you down?6 Jul 2010
From my experience having used Verona, Bologna, Florence, Pisa and Naples I find regional airports in Italy to be quite small with limited space for passenger facilities.
Often it is the rule that airlines may have no choice but to depend on a ground handling company affiliated to the airport rather than their own staff simply because of lack of space (for separate counters etc)
So in a way you have to suffer these conditions for the convenience of being able to fly from the city you visit. This is certainly the situation in the case of Florence’s tiny airport.
One plus point that these regional airports are often easy to reach from the city centre.6 Jul 2010
I recently flew GLA-LGW-BOL return with BA and agree that the whole 737 experience was tired and had none of the slickness of BA at LHR. Bologna airport is everything you have all said about regional Italian facilities above!! However, a major gripe from this journey and other recent trips there is with the way in which North Terminal Gatwick presents itself. This is out of BA’s control but is frequently a catalogue of disasters – long queues, too few people on security at Gate 55 where you go for domestic flights. My main grouse, however, is transfer from International to Domestic which routes you out landside and then back in through the longest and slowest security queue have encountered. A horrible experience ion a hot Friday night!!6 Jul 2010