One World …. I don’t think so!Back to Forum
Anonymous30 Jan 2009
I’m interested to know what experience other people have had to rate with booking round the world fares with the One World Alliance. I have just spent 3 days solidly on the phone trying to sort out a simple problem – paying for a number of business class flights, all of which I had confirmed seats on!!
I had reserved a RTW ticket using the one world website/RTW planner tool. All went very well until the tool would not allow me to select a flight on the date I required even though there was plenty of space in the booking class. I called BA who simply said to book the flight for another date and they would resolve the matter when I paid for the booking / when the booking was actually ticketed. I followed this advice and rang BA on the booking was made on-line.
BA advised me that the flight I needed to change was “married” to the sector before therefore they were unable to change the booking without first cancelling the previous sector. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem however the sector the needed to cancel had no more availability – therefore by cancelling that sector (in order to change the date on the sector which actually needed changing) – I would be unable to get a flight on the date I needed for that sector. Not to worry, their solution to the problem was to add in another flight in for the problematic sector, meaning they did not need to cancel the previous sector – Simple?! I don’t think so – this meant the airline could not actually ticket the booking because the fare rules were now broken. After spending 2 hours on the phone to BA, they conducted that the particular flights were operated by another One world carrier (LAN in this case) – that I would need to speak to LAN who could resolve the matter.
I called LAN, relayed the whole sorry story (another hour on the phone), who then went off to try and resolve the matter. They then emailed me later that day to say that it was not physically possible to do anything to help and that I should go back to BA.
I called BA again the next day to relay what I had been told by LAN. The first person I spoke to at BA put the phone down, I called back, the second cut me off, I rang back again – the third didn’t really have a clue about RTW tickets, although did try and help. He promised he would call me back and never did. Note that this stage, I had clocked up nearly 5 hours on the phone to both BA and LAN.
I called back the next day and spoke to BA again as I had not had a call back the previous night. The very friendly lady I spoke to tried again to try and resolve the matter and after two hours concluded that it was hot physically possible to resolve the matter – having spoken to her manager, the one world help desk, their operations department and revenue management teams. She told me that either the booking was ticketed as originally planned or not at all. End of story – no one could do anything to help.
I then resolved one last time to call LAN to try and get them to help. I had the same sorry story – which amounted to “Computer says No” – and after another 2 hours battling with the language barrier, the lady in Chile said she would go off and try and resolve the matter once more. She failed to call me back, so I got in touch with her and she basically confirmed what I already knew – nothing could be done. Even though LAN operated the aircraft, the booking system, the flight availability and everything else to do with the sectors in question – this is something which I found absolutely astounding.
I eventually suggested that LAN simply provide me with an additional one way ticket for the sector in question, which would mean that the RTW fare could be ticketed and I simply would not use that sector. She sated quite clearly, that as BA were going to ticket the RTW fare and therefore gain the revenue – they would have to provide a single ticket and I should go back to them and try and resolve it this way. By this point – I had lost the will to live as I had amassed approaching 10 hours on the phone in 3 days. I vented my frustration at the situation to the lady on the phone – basically, One World doesn’t mean anything at all if airlines can’t and won’t communicate or work together – it’s a lovely marketing ploy and making for very good advertising but when it comes down to the crunch – they are not joined up at all in any way. I find it astounding that two airlines – one of who is ticketing the whole fare and one whom is providing some of the flights can not work together to resolve this problem. Anyway, my rant over, I put down the phone and went into a meeting. When I came out of the meeting, I called BA with the intention of cancelling the complete reservation.
The gentleman I spoke to asked why – I once again relayed the story for him to tell me – to my amazement – that the changes I wanted to be made had been done by LAN that afternoon!! Please bear in mind at this point, I had spoken to no less than 6 people at two different airlines who had told me that this was impossible. The 6 people I had spoken to, had spoken to their managers and their managers managers, to their operations and revenue teams, (I think you get the picture) – EVERYONE had said it was impossible to do what I wanted – which was to change the date on a flight sector on a RTW ticket where the sector is “married” to another sector.
Needless to say – I had a number of mixed emotions – ranging from anger to happiness! The main problem is though – what good is an airline alliance if it just paid lip service or used to sell more flights. I am sure I can’t be the only person the world to have made the request above. Why, when I am paying over £6000 for a ticket, it is up to me to spend 10 hours on the phone with two airlines sorting out this problem? Why is it that I am being told that I am asking the impossible? And perhaps my biggest bug bear – why did both BA and LAN simply bat me back and forth and deny all responsibility to fix the problem. This is shocking treatment and I will never again book a RTW ticket with One World or probably travel with any of its member airlines – and I always have been a loyal BA flyer for 12 year and a gold card holder.
Has anyone else experienced this? Has anyone else had problem with RTW ticketing with either One World or any other alliance partnerhip?30 Jan 2009
I’m quite sorry to hear the ordeal that you went through – it is quite unusal as a Gold Member and FF for 12 years that you would be treated in such a manner.
There is a simple alternative – go and see a travel agent. All you have to do is tell them the dates and destinations and they’ll take all the hassle that you suffered out of the equation. And you’ll be able to use your FF number to still get all your miles!
I myself am a travel agent (see the “Low Price Challenge” thread) and have done a number of RTW itineraries. We have all the rules and as everything is issued inhouse, there is no need to speak to the airline.
On top of this, if there is a better alternative, we’d be able to suggest it (there are a number of RTW tickets on several different carries/alliances) which might save you money as well as make your flights easier and on more “mainstream” airlines.
Good luck with it next time – and if you need more help, let me know.30 Jan 2009
I fully appreciate the issues you have with this ticket. During my years as a travel agaent i learnt the hard way and i would never book a married sector involving two different carriers. Married sectors often bring up availability that simply does not exist when you book them separately. The issues that you have had also crop up and are frustrating for everyone involved. I reiterate what the guy said previously, a good travel agent worth his/her salt knows about these issues and would simply book the sectors “unmarried”.
This is not just a one world issue, if you had used star alliance or the like i can guarantee that you would have had similar issues!!
Michael5 Feb 2009
Excellent advice, London_Guy. As a frequent flyer on both the low cost and legacy airlines, I always try to use the best avenue for the least effort. The low cost airlines’ websites are, on the whole, simple and straightforward, and I just log in and book my flights in a few minutes. However, for anything more complicated involving several airlines or convoluted sectors, I pass my requirements to a travel agent who is used to handling itineraries for them to book all my flights and hotels.5 Feb 2009
Thanks for your advice – much appreciated. I do however think that the solution to the problems is not to just ignore the problem in the first place (i.e use a travel agent as opposed to booking direct with the airline).
I think my main issue I have is the awful customer service from BA – which to be honest I really don’t expect! Problems happen, things go wrong, people make mistakes – I accept all this, but its how you put them right which is important, and this is where BA has let me down.
Further to my initial rant, BA then managed to mess the booking up further and it took a further 3 attempts to get it right, taking 2 weeks in total and the ticket was just paid for on Saturday – NB, I had missed my original departure date as BA messed up the first booking so I am now going later than planned …..
So, I will be poping this all in a letter to Willie Walsh and then using a travel agent next time 🙂9 Feb 2009
I think that part of the problem is that BA staff (or consultants) are mainly trained on BA products as opposed to One World products which would include the RTW tickets.
I accept that a Gold Card member should never be treated in such a manner but I don’t think there is any way around this – it is simply down to practice and how often someone puts together more complex itineraries. From the sounds of it, it isn’t very often. Also, it seems that BA cannot access other carriers rules which seems very strange (esp alliance partners!) which is not the best formula when it comes to putting together a multi-carrier itinerary.
This is where using a travel agent is so much more effective. Not only do you save time and money, you get everything taken care of – 100% hassle free. The travel agency that I work for has in house air specialists that decipher the complex contracts and break it down into an understandable format for all their consultant. We also have regular training sessions to keep us up to date with changes to any contracts or types of tickets (eg the new BA-Qantas Walkabout fares).
Granted, when dealing with people, mistakes are bound to happen no matter where you go (whether it be BA or a travel agent). However, ther risk is minimised when dealing with travel agents (and here I speak for myself and my colleagues) as we regularly encounter quite involved and often very complex itineraries that would baffle most people. It is simply experience, frequency of use as well as colleagues who have “seen it all” that results in fewer mistakes whilst taking less time in getting to the desired result than for example BA consultant would.
If ever you do have a similar itinerary/problem, feel free to send the enquiry my way and I’ll gladly help.
Your troubles do now finally seem to be over so forget about us all and enjoy your travels!9 Feb 2009
I would use a travel agent – RTW tickets can be complicated at best if there are any hiccups.
I have played with the new tool, but have not booked a flight yet, because I want to use premium economy on a few legs, and this can’t be booked on line.10 Feb 2009
BA are really pushing the envelope on these OneWorld Explorer tickets. I buy the in First Class which means booking in A class when First is available; usually fine for availability on most sectors. The problem comes when travelling BA within Europe when booking in “D” class for the Business class sector. BA are now pushing their inflexible I class tickets so much that they are tending to close D class to bookings 10 to 14 days ahead of flights. Take my real life example; flying down to Bologna from Gatwick and wanted to change the flight by a day from Friday to Thursday. There are 9 Business Class seats available both ways in I class. there are plently of Miles seats available in Business class for redemption bookings. But, alas, D Class is closed and has been every day we have been trying over the past week. This is the second time we have spotted this.
Clearly what BA are doing is, by the back door, imposing a minimum booking reuirement on D class bookings while they continue to sell of “give away” lowers classed tickets. At the very least, they should be publishing this new approach in the fare rules. At best, they should stop this ridiculous practice.2 Jun 2009
I was a very frequent user of RTW tickets in A class, using mainly the One World Alliance. Travelling on Cathay Pacific, and BA from Heathrow, became a real hassle. Neither airline’s staff fully understood the rules, resorting to me having to advise them. Both would try to push the responsibilty for making changes to the other, and I was constantly shuttling between them on the phone.
I gave up when I had to bring American Airlines into the equation.
All three carriers also have differring baggage allowances, resulting in me having to pay extra when taking more than 2 bags with American Airlines, whilst the other two allowed three. So you can aimagine the frustration whilst travelling internal with American having flown translantic or Pacific with either BA or Cathay Pacific.4 Jun 2009
Just a side note from Canada re this.
I have just tried unsuccessfully to construct and book online at One World a four continent RTW routing YYZ-LHR(BA), LHR-SYD(QF), SYD-AKL(QF), AKL-NRT( ), HKG(CX), HKG-YYZ(CX).
Everything looks great until I come to the last sector.
The system simply will not permit use of CX’s non-stop service HKG-YYZ but instead tries to force me on a connection through the U.S. Something neither my wife nor I want to be subjected to.
Tried in reverse YYZ-HKG as sector one but the same problem.
Anyone else experienced this forced U.S. transit?
If I use Star Alliance their RTW fares permit use of AC’s direct non-stop flights HKG-YYZ and NRT-YYZ, but then I lose access to QF!6 Jun 2009