I wrote this back in 2002 and never got an apology or compensation. I wanted to sue British Midland but my lawyer wasn't enthusiastic. I've pretty much flown Aer Lingus to Dublin ever since. Come to think of it, I have a few Aer Lingus letters of complaint on file!
Anyway, here it is:
March 23, 2002.
Sir Michael Bishop,
Derby DE74 2SB,
Dear Sir Michael,
I am writing to complain in the most strongest terms about an incident that happened today at your sales desk at Heathrow Terminal One. As a direct result of the actions of your staff there, I was caught up in a fracas in which two men were injured and several innocent passengers came close to being hurt, myself included.
I joined a lengthy queue at the sales desk at about 4.50pm to pick up a ticket for flight BD 133 to Dublin. The queue was moving very slowly, mainly because so few members of staff were working at the desk. At times there were only two people on the terminals with more than twenty passengers waiting. At 5.10pm I went over to speak to a member of the British Midland staff, Ms Rossiter, at the Stand-By desk. I explained that passengers were getting frustrated at the delay and that she should speak to her manager and get extra people on the terminals. I explained that late arriving passengers were jumping the queue, meaning that the rest of us were not getting attended to. She said she would inform her manager, Mr Geoffrey French.
Ten minutes later, a fight broke out among two men at the front of the queue. The two men punched each other in the face, a woman was knocked over, and at one point one of the men picked up a metal post used as a barrier and swung it around, trying to hit the other man. The pole narrowly missed hitting me.
I was almost knocked to the floor in the fracas, and several other passengers, including young women, were pushed over. Your staff made no move to break up the fight, it was left to two other passengers to risk their safety and pull the two men apart.
The police were called and the two men were taken away and questioned. I then spoke to the manager, Mr French. I explained to him that the reason for the fight had been an argument about the queue and that I had earlier warned Ms Rossiter that there was a problem in the making.
Mr French could not have been more unhelpful. He said that he was well aware of the problem, but that he was not prepared to put more people on the terminals. He said the more people who complained the better so that his bosses would appreciate that there was a staff shortage. I said his attitude was not that of a competent manager and that it was his inaction that had led to the dispute and the fight. He simply shrugged.
I then went back to Ms Rossiter and confirmed that she had spoken to Mr French and that he had told her that he was not prepared to put more staff on the terminals. It was Mr French’s inability to manage the situation that led to the fracas in which myself and several other innocent passengers were almost hurt.
I for one will not order British Midland tickets over the phone again if it means I have to queue at the Sales Desk, and frankly I am reluctant to fly with an airline which employs men like Geoffrey French. In view of recent events, security should be a priority for airlines, and what happened to me today was an absolute nightmare. I am still shaking as I type this.
I am this week leaving for a business trip to South East Asia. On my return I expect to find an apology waiting for me, and an offer of substantial compensation. In the absence of either I will be instructing my solicitor to sue British Midland for the personal distress I was caused as a result of your staff’s actions.
I look forward to hearing from you,