Outsourcing customer service to India – United lessons for BMI

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  • Anonymous


    United To Move Some Jobs Back From India To US

    On Reuters today:

    February 11, 2009
    “United Airlines parent UAL said on Tuesday it will fill 165 customer relations jobs — previously outsourced to India — in the United States.

    The move runs counter to the trend among US companies of sending jobs overseas to save money. But UAL said the change is cost neutral to the company because US workers who take airline reservations would respond to customer feedback as well.

    The jobs will be located in Chicago and Hawaii.

    United, which cut 7,000 jobs last year and plans to cut 1,000 more this year, said the customer relations work outsourced to India a few years ago has been done by contractors.

    In-house, US-based employees would perform better because responding to customer feedback requires a greater understanding of the airline and its policies than is generally possessed by an outside contractor, a UAL spokeswoman said.”

    This should provide a good lesson for BMI and their outsourced Indian customer service. Any time I call them there is a problem, either with language or a proper understanding of the GDS or airline rules. It is a shame that BMI are making a mockery of the so called dedicated Gold customer hotlines. Other airlines take their premium customers serious and no amount of chauffeur services (see BT news) can make up for the flawed customer service BMI provide.


    At last an airline with some sense.

    I’m a travel agent and loath having to ring BMI and Air Canada, amongst others, for advice and/or help, as their reservations offices are in India. Language problems and a total lack of courtesy and service means I’ll try every single avenue before needing to ring them.

    If I need to ring BMI’s Diamond Club, on behalf of a client, I might as well forget it as the service is non-existent.

    Give me Emirates, whose staff really care, and their office is based in the Manchester area, or Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and Qantas, whose offices are based in their home countries (Lufthansa operates a “rising sun” experience when you talk to an office in their daytime), but they treat you with courtesy and a conversation can be held without the need to keep repeating yourself or to have problems understanding what the agent is saying.

    I gave up with British Midland (as they then were) when they went all Ryanair a few years ago (no food, no thru-ticketing, no interlining, etc.), at which point I held their Gold card. The joke Indian call centres (well, you can’t take them seriously) all add to the parody of an airline that BMI now are.


    I hope this will be a wake up call for companies who choose to send their frontline operations to INDIA.. You end up speaking to TOM, STACEY, ALAN or even GAVIN… All of whom have perfect accents… NOT…

    They seem to lack any sort of prodcut knowledge, as they are simply there to take calls….. They are not TRAVEL or AIRLINE experts…
    Most of them have very little understanding of the TERMINOLOGY…

    One of the great ones… is ‘SOUTHALL TRAVEL’ whose agents claim to be based in MILTON KEYNES and for security reasons, they cannot tell you the location…. What a JOKE……

    Listening and Understanding does not form part of their training and Customer Experience… Apologies, not too sure what that really means… !!!!! – I think it relates to let us take your money and then treat you as if you were all IDIOTS…

    I just wish more and more customers voted with their money, which might force some of these airlines to rethink their strategy…


    Agreee wholeheartedly with all the above.

    Further, if you EVER try to obtain miles seats via BMI India, you will find the answer “No seats”.

    I tried on 18 different phone calls…over a month, to get flights to Australia, via Canada, US, South Africa, Middle east, Asia.
    12 airlines, 6 European gateways, not one seat they would release!

    Lets be honest here, its NOT about capacity, these seats WERE available on Star Alliance airlines, i checked with them for the specific codes on these flights routes etc, for miles seats.
    Its about money they wont purchase release the seats.

    I am currently in Australia but return to the Uk in a week.
    it is my intention to challenge BMI directly in the UK with an ultimatum.
    Either you allocate my reasonable request for a seat, given options airlines etc, or I will issue legal proceedings for the value of those accumulated flights, & value.

    I will indeed print off the comments here, so support my case one way or the other.

    I know there are MANY of you, who simpy canot get any miles seats via BMI.
    They are a low cost shoddy enterprise that has gone downhill, avoiding at all costs purchasing miles seats, where they are demonstratably available.

    One way or the other, will have my seat or the value of it in Money.
    I am already advised, with the efforts & evidence that i have, that the case is easily winable in Court.

    BMI & their “diamond Club” are on its last legs, hope LH do close them down.
    U get NO sense from caling India, made up names, unaccontable people, language & line problems. BMI avoid giving any seats on miles, for pure financial gain.
    It has become NO longer acceptable.


    What absolute rubbish. Yes, bmi has a lot to answer for with its Pune, India-based call centres, but to say that bmi’s diamond club program should be shut down is ludicrous.

    bmi’s DC is one of the best mileage programs out there and is certainly coveted by many travellers. I myself have always got availability for reward flights, you just have to get your itinerary sorted and tell the call centre agents the flight numbers you want.

    Long live bmi and its diamond club. Sure, I’d prefer a UK-based call centre, but I take the rough with the smooth given that I earn miles more quickly and I can spend them on any *A flight out there. Miles better than anything OneWorld or SkyTeam member airlines have to offer, hands-down.


    I agree BMI diamond club is the best for miles and free tickets. You have to get there early to book the seats you want. Yes the staff in India are not so great but if you are patient and explain the routing you can get what you want. It might take several calls but it helps. I would not trade my BMI miles for any Skyteam or Oneworld alliance.


    I would love love bmi to move the call centre back to the UK. Their India call center is painful to deal with, but I’m sticking with bmi’s Diamond Club. For me at least, its got the best return for rewards flights vs miles flown and has provided me and my wife with many great long haul flights.

    With a bit of patience (and the odd 2nd or 3rd phone call) you can get through the call centre experience. So far I have been able to book about a dozen long and short haul Diamond Club reward tickets – AND for the dates that I wanted, all school holidays. By researching it properly on the available web tools and booking a few months in advance you can fly almost anywhere on *A reward seats.

    There is a forum on the web where frequent flyer talk about the successful bmi DC redemptions made. There are enough there to make it very clear that bmi and the rest of *A are making plenty of seats available for reward bookings – and also letting people book them!

    I hope MarkRoberts does print off all of the comments on this board to “support” his claim. I look forward to the outcome of his legal case 😉


    Seems BMI diamond Club lovers are discriminated against with KLM then!!! (Refer to post re Lima baggage).

    I fly 35 -ish flights with KLM (Gold card), & in the last 3 yrs haven’t ever had a bag delayed.
    Also at least Sky team dont have a great network, but you can book yr Miles tickets right up until the day of travel, on their website, with any AF/KLM flight.
    DC ?
    They havent heard of BMI when you get to Asia or Australia region, bnut then it is a semi low cost airline- giving change for a Euro on flights must be a pain for the poor crew!
    Tried over 4 weeks, 27 calls, 12 airlines, 45 dates, 26 different sectors, specific flight numbers, 6 European gateways, NO business flights. Dates were off peak, given as far away as one month 3 months 5 months.
    It certainly will be interesting if a when a judge considers these facts…

    Confirmed the seats were available for some of the above, on Star Alliance codes, by Corporate Manager for Singapore in Australia, Duty Manager at Air Canada at the time.
    One flight had no seats booked in J at all on their system!!!
    BMI dont release or pay for them.

    DC will NOT be kept open, as LH now own them fully, & more consolidation of the airlines in Eastern Europe is taking place.
    A senior source within LH confirmed to me that they intend to integrate it into the Miles & More program.
    Simply, if they had a reasonable access to flights, retained clear english Language & phone lines that did not sound like they were just installed by Alexander Bell, it would work better.
    It was easier, helpful, & worked well 4 yrs ago.

    Now it’s a mess like the Low Cost Airline, which is “BMI”.

    I am quite happy for European flights with KLM having T4 now, BA having left the terminal means no more queues of passengers way outside the terminal waiting 2 hrs to check in!

    Star Alliance Membership -with another carrier- remains the best, i agree. But BMI as a quality World Or FFP airline…well you need to get ot more!!!

    Then if you have a name on here stating you love BMI-DC, you must be part of it, such defensive & inaccurate remarks! Sure LH will sort all the mess out soon enough!


    My first question when I call BMI for a booking/Diamond club issue is always “am I speaking to India”. If the answer is “yes”, my second is “please put me through to the UK”.

    In most cases they do but if they don’t then I immediately thank them, discontinue the call and call another airline.

    I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with them, even to the extent of switching to Saudia between Saudi and London. A couple of years ago Saudia weren’t in the frame but they are now getting better, you can collect your boarding pass from downtown offices 24 hours in advance and even their frequent flyer scheme is OK.

    Many work colleagues I know follow this approach, these days BMI seem quite successful at flying large amounts of empty seats between UK and KSA.


    One of the worst Indian contact centres was that of bmi which sounded like it was manned by bored robots !

    Barclays Indian contact centre offer great service from friendly and custome oriented individuals !

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