Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why I Fly ABBA - Anyone But British Airways!

There are some real horror stories coming out of India about the way that British Airways is failing to help stranded passengers there.

I won't fly with BA unless I have too - I've had too many bad experiences! One flight to New York was so bad that I locked myself in the toilet for four hours just to have some space to myself!

A friend of mine came to stay in Thailand a while back and BA lost his luggage - I went to Bangkok airport several times trying to find out what had happened and was treated with total contempt by BA staff. They're not quite as bad as Ryanair but they're not far off!

Anyway, this is off the Guardian website...

Erica Wald, reader in international history at the LSE, is trying to get back to London. She writes:

"I've just returned from my third round trip to Mumbai International Airport in my attempt to return home to London after my flight, BA 138, was cancelled due to the volcanic ash. It was a fairly depressing and enraging experience. BA told me yesterday , after I finally got through to their India number, which I rang for 3 ½ hours, that the earliest I could go home was 6 May.

I miss my husband and I'm concerned to be missing so much work at such a crucial time for my students who are due to sit their exams in May. I've now been away from home for a month and a half- my flight to India was also cancelled by BA because of the strike.

Last night I heard BA were still SELLING tickets for flights from Friday, 23 April, so I decided to check for myself. Sure enough, there are seats on each of the two daily flights out of Mumbai, however, they are now asking nearly £2,000 for a one way ticket. I was so outraged by this blatant, greedy profiteering, that I decided to go to the airport this morning to try to get an answer from them.

At the moment, the airport is filled with very upset stranded passengers in varying states of distress - I met a gentleman who suffers from diabetes and who is running out of medication and money. Moreover, BA has lost his suit case with his spare needles. They have not been offered any accommodation, so have been sleeping in the terminal. BA is not even offering passengers bottled water or food. And if you leave the terminal to find food they tell you that you will probably not be allowed back in. There was another passenger undergoing cancer treatment, whose medical needs were also ignored. Another one's wife is due to give birth in the next two days.

Right now, BA is telling us that we have to find our own hotel, pay for it, and then claim compensation when we return to the UK. While I am lucky enough to have a hotel that held a room available for me many are not so lucky. The BA manager here has been ineffectual and rude, not giving passengers any information and denied that BA was still selling tickets (until I produced the print-out of the page where I was asked to enter my credit card details for the purchase).

There was a very sweet bunch of backpackers who were booked on to today's flight and had come to say that they were willing to give up their seats for people who urgently needed to return home – they just asked BA to provide them a place to stay until there was free flight to get them home. BA refused. Apparently they were unwilling to lay out the cash to them and instead put them on the flight, leaving many desperate waiting passengers flabbergasted.

While I appreciate that this is a difficult situation for airlines, they should have a duty of care to their passengers and after making record profits for years.

It is hard for many of us, left thousands of miles from home, to understand the rationale behind not sending out extra planes to clear the backlog, as surely they would be full in both directions?

I've been very disappointed and upset with British Airway's slapdash and frankly dangerous handling of this situation."

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