Flight BA 869 (July 26-27, 2017) was delayed overnight in Budapest. BA did nothing to help with hotel reservations (which were difficult enough for a local person because the World Swimming Championships were taking place, but virtually impossible for a non-local). No food vouchers were arranged, nor any support offered.
Contrast this with the service which Air Berlin gave to its passengers who were also stranded that night. These German passengers told me that their airline had taken care of hotel reservations, transport to and from the hotel, and food, while BA's Hungarian agent just gave us a single sheet of paper at around 22.00hrs setting out what incurred disruption expenses we would be entitled to claim back, and telling us to report back the next day to the airport for a flight (BA 867) at 13.15hrs, which happened to be already fully booked. Surely, BA had a duty of care to its passengers, some of whom were visibly distressed, but instead we were simply abandoned at the airport late at night in a city where the chances of finding accommodation that night would be low.
Flight BA 869 was reclassified from cancelled to delayed overnight, and by the time we finally landed at Heathrow at 19.10hrs the next day, over 22 hours late, all I had been offered since arriving at Budapest airport 25 hours earlier, was a glass of water on the plane, and it had not even been possible to buy food on the plane. I had been extremely lucky to find a hotel, but this was due to my own connections rather than any help from BA’s agents.
Until I boarded the plane 22 hours after our scheduled boarding time, I had not had a single sighting of a BA employee, because BA had outsourced its representation in Budapest to a ground service agent, which represents many airlines, and which did not appear to be authorised to take any decisions with respect to passenger well-being. Even the customer service telephone line, which I called overnight because I couldn't confirm which flight I had actually been rebooked on, was answered from an outsourced service in India. Outsourcing so many aspects of customer service may save costs, but it is a dangerous strategy when customer service is supposed to be one BA’s core selling points, and it certainly did not work for me.
Once the flight had taken off, the BA cabin staff (who were charming and upbeat) promised that a BA management representative would meet us at our Heathrow arrival gate with food vouchers, but, true to form, no one showed up. During the whole of the 24-hour ordeal, I did not see a single BA representative before finally boarding the flight. I have flown several times a month for the past 30 years (I am an international lecturer on strategy and valuation), and, although you may call me lucky, I have never been exposed to such a lack of support and service (and that includes many flights on so-called 3rd world airlines).
I have no problem with an airline messing up; we all mess up from time to time. However, it is what you do next that is important, and BA simply abandoned us late at night in Budapest with absolutely no support for nearly 24 hours before it managed to get us on to another plane.
If the recent stories of people being denied compensation by BA are true, I presume that I shall struggle to get any compensation for incurred expenses or delays, but that is not the point, and I have already as good as written off any hope of proper restitution to experience. However, BA could have turned the delay into an opportunity to impress future customers with some helpful action, and they failed to do so. This failure comes from the top.
BA's treatment of its passengers in this instance was nothing short of deplorable, and I shall be flying ABBA from now on.
Hi Stephen, It's pretty clear to me also that "This failure comes from the top". When IAG / British Airways senior management include a "Show me the f*cking money" slide in a presentation proposing staff cuts and further cost-cutting, it seems unlikely that staff morale, customer satisfaction or dare I say, even safety, are priorities any more.