Indians comfort and loss of time is of no value to British Airways

1 Jun

Update as on June 3, 2014 – IST 8.00 pm – Thanks everyone for reading and sharing this post. I received a call from a BA representative on my complaint and he acknowledged receipt of my email to their CEO, Mr. Williams. He apologized for the inconvenience we experienced with BA. He accepted that since we missed a registered connection we are entitled to duty of care and compensation under the EU regulations. He accepted that the behavior meted out to us was unacceptable and also explained our rights in case we miss such connections (for future reference). They shall also work on improving their customer care to avoid such future incidents. I have requested them for a written apology and shall share it on the blog once I get it. Additionally, Rick’s feedback and some of the comments on my post have been very constructive in spreading awareness on our rights and possible next steps, should we find ourselves in a similar situation again. I shall write a detailed post on this and share.

Update as on June 2, 2014 – IST 5.30pm – Thanks everyone for helping me spread the word on this. I have just received a standard email from British Airways Customer Care apologising for the inconvenience and confirming that they will look into this matter. I will keep you all updated on the progress.

This post is my letter to the CEO of British Airways recounting my recent experiences while flying British Airways from New York to Mumbai. Thanks to many of you who found the concerned email id for me and I have now sent this as an email out to him. I am also posting this as a blog post and hope that this makes a difference in the way British Airways treats its Indian customers.

May 31, 2014

Mr. Keith Williams

CEO – British Airways PLC

Dear Sir,

I had recently read a blog-post (which went viral on the internet) about an Indian national flying with Air France who was stranded in Paris, only to witness inhumane treatment at the hand of the airlines staff. I have since then removed Air France from my list of preferred carriers, but I had little knowledge then of the similar experience which I was going to face from British Airways (BA) when I flew from New York to Mumbai. And I must say that the entire experience has been an eye opener for me on British Airways condescending and arrogant attitude towards its customers; especially Indian nationals.

To give you a brief introduction, I am a marketing professional with a leading bank in India and a travel blogger (amongst top 50 travel bloggers in India). Thus you should know that this was not my first international flying experience and that I am not a novice who didn’t know how international flights and connections work.

On 18 May 2014, I travelled by British Airways flight ‘BA 114’ from JFK airport, New York to Heathrow airport, London and then had to connect via flight ‘BA 139’ to Mumbai. There was an hour’s difference between the two flights in Heathrow, London. As I was apprehensive about the little time difference between the flights at London, I pestered the travel agent who in turn checked with the airline and confirmed that this was a registered connection with the airlines and thus there was no chance of missing the connecting flight. I then booked these flights.

As planned and scheduled, I boarded BA 114 from New York and landed in Heathrow, London with a 10 minute delay on 19 May 2014. After a few minutes of landing at Heathrow, while the aircraft was standing near the parking bay, the Captain of BA 114 announced that “there is a delay in parking of the aircraft because another aircraft is standing in our parking bay”. We waited and were anxious about missing our connecting flight, but checked with the cabin crew who very kindly gave us their standard reply “the airlines knows that you have a connecting flight and about this delay, someone will meet you outside the aircraft to assist you”. All this was re-assuring and we waited for the next 30 minutes. After this the Captain announced that “there was a delay in parking our aircraft, as the other aircraft had still not taken off. And the reason for the other aircraft’s delay was that – one of the ground employees had forgotten to detach the cargo trolley from this aircraft, which was parked at BA 114’s parking bay. This means that the aircraft can’t take off until someone detaches that trolley.” After this announcement, we waited for the next 30 minutes (which means an hour in total) for something which was a BA ground staff’s responsibility and error and not a mistake of our aircraft from New York.

Let me also inform you that while we were waiting inside the aircraft, the crew made an announcement about a Vienna flight and a Helsinki flight, but there was no announcement about the Mumbai or Delhi flights. And your ground personnel later told us that they had requested the crew to make an announcement, but I wonder what happened to your prejudiced crew to forget only about Indian connecting flight announcements.

By the time we de-boarded BA 114, our BA registered connecting flight BA 139 had forgotten about its six passengers who had arrived by BA 114 on time and were jammed at the parking bay at Heathrow, and had flown off to India.

At this point of time, I was really upset. And while we were all waiting in a long queue to re-issue our tickets, I noticed that your staff was extremely rude and in some cases even shouting at Indian passengers who had missed their connecting flights to Mumbai or Delhi.

In contrast their behavior towards foreigners i.e. EU travelers was extremely polite and courteous. In fact on several occasions I even heard your staff say to the Indian passengers that the entire reason for us missing our flight was in fact not an airlines error at all, it was a risk of travel. Honestly do you expect us to accept this logic?????

Finally after waiting for an hour we reached the re-issue ticket window and had a chance to speak with your representative, Jeff. He checked and informed all of us that the next flight to Mumbai was after 12 hours. Since there was such a long gap for the next flight we requested Jeff for some place to rest. And he informed us that “since the flight was in less than 24 hours, we were not entitled to any hotel”. We then requested for a lounge access, to be declined again, saying that “since we were not traveling business or first class we were not entitled to any lounge access”. I have a travel credit card that entitles lounge access at all major airports, and again they denied as we were not traveling business or first class. We were even ready to pay for the lounge access but they again declined. Exasperated we asked if our comfort and wastage of time mattered to BA at all and Jeff’s exact words were “No Sir, your wastage of time and comfort has no value for us. As a goodwill gesture we are giving you a GBP 10 voucher (which also we are not required to) and that’s it. In fact legally we just have to reissue a ticket”. Thanks for the eye-opener Mr. William, that our comfort and time has no value for BA. Additionally let me inform you Mr. Williams that if anyone can afford a ticket worth GBP 1,000 then they can definitely afford food worth GBP 10. You don’t have any respect for your customers then why do you ply to India. Why don’t you just cater to the EU and Americas’ region if you and your staff are so prejudiced?

We were then left to fend for ourselves on the uncomfortable airport chairs for the next 12 hours. I had an urgent and important meeting back in India, the morning of May 20, 2014 but clearly there was no value of my urgent meeting or loss to BA.

In the long list of people to have missed the connecting flight, there was also an old lady who had wheel chair assistance. But from the moment they dropped her at the ticket reissuing counter there was no wheel chair assistance provided. In fact when we were to board the next flight to Mumbai (which was from Gate C of Terminal 5 and we were on Gate A), your customer care asked her to walk to the wheel chair assistance office and they would be happy to assist her from there. In this scenario, I totally fail to understand the meaning of wheel chair assistance or even your customer care.

The only saving grace was the next flight took off from London on time without any further mishaps.

On my return, I looked up at the laws prevailing delays in flights and lo and behold found this on your own BA website, which talks about a compensation for delays above 4 hours for all flights !!!!!- http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/legal/flight-cancellation-compensation.

And please don’t even bother to tell me that this was a delay due to extraordinary circumstances, as it was not. This was a delay due to an error of your ground staff.

Needless to say, I am glad that this entire episode is now behind me but I would still like to spread a word amongst my friends and family – about our value (i.e. customers and Indians) to BA. During this entire episode not a single member of your staff had the courtesy to apologize for this human error at your end and behave with us in a courteous or an accommodative manner. BA flies to and from five or six Indian cities and with the pace at which you’re expanding (and trying to woo Indian consumers), we do contribute to your revenue as tourists or as business travellers.

I work in the service industry myself and can conclude that your company and employees do not know the definition of customer service, are unprofessional and do not know how to interact or behave with customers. A quick Google scan and I realize that I am not the first person to get such a treatment from your airlines, still it has done nothing to improve your attitude towards your customers or improve your service deficiencies. Also, please do note that we don’t fly your airlines for free but pay a full price and expect an equal level of customer service that you are obligated to provide without having any prejudice.

I shall definitely spread my BA experience amongst all my friends, colleagues and travel blogging communities. And in case anyone now wants to book a BA, at least they can be mentally prepared for your service levels and attitude towards us.

So let me safely conclude this letter and say that the next time I see a BA India ad of a husband gifting a romantic holiday to his wife and how BA makes it all happen, I will only recall the words that my loss of time and comfort is of no value to BA.

And everyone reading this post, please avoid BA and if for some reason you do travel on their flights, then please do it at your own risk and be prepared for similar prejudiced treatment from their staff at all stages.

Thanks and regards

Snigdha

Name: Snigdha Jain
Booking Reference Number: 5DDQ5D
Flight and First Port of Boarding:BA 114, John F. Kennedy Airport, USA
Connect Flight and Airport: BA 139, London Heathrow

Complaint Reference Number: 12278590

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1,164 Responses to “Indians comfort and loss of time is of no value to British Airways”

  1. Adi June 5, 2014 at 08:45 #

    When i came to US 5 years back I was told by fellow colleagues that never go via London heathrow to any other place. Now I understand.

    My wife and 1 year old kid is going to fly next week to New York from Mumbai. I have seen that BA flight is cheap and was thinking of buying it. But after reading this post i will never let my baby fly with this BA flights until their is no choice. My wife alone with 1 year baby certainly needs a caring/polite staffs and crew from airports/flights.My kid has problems especially while takeoff and landing. I have booked Air India AI191 which is costing me more ($1100 USD one way) as it is direct flight and hope they will be caring and helping.

    I dont know about other indians but i am always ready to pay little extra for better service..

    • Anu June 5, 2014 at 18:49 #

      Very commendable. This is the attitude we need to adopt.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:01 #

      Adi

      This is the problem with us. We never ask questions but rely on purely someone’s opinion. You got it all wrong. Your colleagues told you never to fly via London may be for 1000 reasons. But if you find 1 right reason to fly thru that, you need to take that.

      You are sending your 1 year old kid and wife alone and hoping that the crew will take care of them? Hahaha…I cannot see anything more than you denouncing your responsibility and handing it over to others. This is exactly our attitude. Try getting that from a a Westerner. They would not be dependent on the crew rather they are dependent on them alone. What would you do if they get bad treatment form Air Inida?

      If you are so caring, why cannot you accompany your wife and 1 year kid to make sure you are there with them and take the responsibility on you rather than throwing it over to the crew. Oh sorry…you might say you are busy with work…again typical attitude..We never take any vacations and don’t want to spend for one more ticket..right..and loose the vacation days correct?

      Let me tell you, 8 years back I came to US alone..after 6 months, my 1 year old kid and wife are to join me..guess what I did…I did not depend on the crew…I went to India for a week and accompanied them here to be sure they have a comfortable journey. And again…I flew from Heathrow…guess what, during the security check, my wife was asked to taste some of the food that we are carrying (opened bottle of Gerber food, because my kid ate a portion of it in the flight from Mumbai to London)..and they did it very politely explaining that this is what they do to all the passengers when they carry opened food.

      Yes sir..There are surely lot of Indians who are ready to pay not just for little extras but one full adult ticket whom you don’t know.

      Regards, Sam

      • Anjana July 7, 2014 at 21:19 #

        I have lived US for the last 45 years I came as a kid with my mother from India. Each and every time I have travelled through London there is always an incidence, which involves lack of service and responsibility for failure by the airlines. It does not matter which airline it is. This has not changed in the last 45 years. Airport staff are extremely rude, hostile, and abusive to all passengers.
        Sorry to say, but in this day and age any one should be able to travel comfortably to any distance with out fear of mistreatment from the carriers and the staff..They are paid to do the job and it is their responsibility to make sure passengers are comfortable during their journey.We should not have to have escort to fend of abuse from carriers. Its a disgraceful statement to have to make, to even have to think in this way.

  2. Anand June 5, 2014 at 09:35 #

    you r an experienced traveller and do not know about issues at heathrow or british airways? i call that bullshit. be glad u at least landed in time and were only waiting for parking bay and not encircling heathrow for an hour.

    you didnt mention howwas your own behaviour with BA staff? were you as courteous as fellow travellers from EU.

    I have taken dozens of BA flights and hate them to the core and try to avoid connecting through london if possible. But never felt any predudice against indians only. For that matter significant number of their staff at heathrow are indians. Ifu urself are rude to them, they,and for that matter staff of any airline, will respond to you in same coin. Introspect.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:03 #

      Anand, you are right. I really don’t believe she is a regular traveler.

    • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 14:27 #

      Love this comment, totally agree with you.

    • Diana CB June 16, 2014 at 16:47 #

      Actually, I’d have to disagree with you. Flying out of India on several airlines I’ve felt like the airlines staff are not as polite to the Indians as they are to foreigners irrespective of the way they are spoken to. However, strangely enough, when they are flying into India there is a complete difference in behaviour they are suddenly far more polite and accommodating.

  3. shristi June 5, 2014 at 10:48 #

    Sadly I have to take the dreaded flight to India frequently from the us. The first leg is no trouble as it usually has a ton of ppl traveling to Europe. The second leg(to India), is the nightmare. On most European and American airlines, the AC is turned off the air hostesses go to sleep or are gossiping away and ignoring all your calls..etc etc. I think there is a general belief that Indians will and can take shit. It seems everyone of these airlines workers,including those from Indian origin, think that Indians she be grateful they are being allowed to go to India on a flight. Its quiet funny when most Indians tolerate the shit. My seats have been changed even when I was traveling with a baby, I was not helped even when I was on a wheel chair, I had to bribe the air hostess to make my connection (as she was going to call the grd agent who wld take me and the wheelchair across and ofcourse she had other important things to do etc.). I have seen elders being mistreated, just because they can’t speak in English and elders denied food or water(again because the employees think they will get away when they don’t help passengers who can’t speak English). I am glad more educated ppl such as yourself (and connected I hope) are speaking up! Some Indians themselves believe that Indians are worthy of such experience. I don’t deny that there are no “bad Indian travelers”, but this attitude needs to change. Yes we Indians will suffer whatever to get to India, we will keep mum when ppl pretend to not understand us(even when they are Indians themselves), or will show off the powers granted to them in the name of security(I was once told that I cld not travel on the flight if they wished and hence I she stop complaining about the agent who randomly grabed my handbag and checked it in with out as much as a please), but I hope these airline management will understand that sooner or later other airlines (gulf or African) will soon offer better services and then they will loose their biggest customer base. Again I am glad you have brought this up. We need to speak up if we want better services or we will continue to be treated like cattle. In my opinion, if the culture difference stresses out the employees they she be given training to deal with cultural differences. If these airlines are overwhelmed by the Indian behavior then they need to suck it up and figure it out if they want to do business. You can’t have your cake and eat it too(not for long I hope). You can’t want to serve this profitable route and not want to do anything to keep your clients. My fellow Indians please please please find your voice and complaint. We need a change and we can’t let these airlines walk all over us.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:09 #

      Shristi,

      First, please learn how to write in English..it is really difficult to read your post..leave alone understanding…names of the countries start with capital letters. It should be US and not us. Break it into paragraphs so that people can read and understand what exactly you are trying to convey. By the way even proper nouns start with a capital letter..It should be Shristi and not shristi.

      Thanks

      • Anjana July 7, 2014 at 21:28 #

        funny sam, funny… I understood every word she conveyed

        you must work at Heathrow… sorry heathrow for you

  4. amar sharma June 5, 2014 at 11:17 #

    Have forever wondered why Indians are obsessed with everything `phoren’, including airlines. We know well in advance that we’ll be mistreated, discriminated against; misunderstood (remember arrest of Indians talking & laughing loudly on a KLM flight?), but no, we’ll not fly Air India or Jet because these are `downmarket’ desi airlines. Log kya kahenge sort of a mindset. So what if we’d be understood better and treated relatively nicely, I won’t fly a desi airline as it has poor show-off value! Okay, Air India et al may not have those sexy tall gori mems serving you whatever, but then dear, it was your conscious choice to fly firangi. Why cry now. As far as poor service levels of desi airlines are concerned, as an educated globetrotter, why not use the existing Indian consumer laws to tighten screws on those erring and over a period of time help contribute to their betterment???

    • Tanya C. June 5, 2014 at 14:05 #

      I don’t think she’s interested in social work of tightening the screws or the betterment on existing Indian airlines. She’s furious about negligent service that she’s paid for. Seriously? That’s your point? If I’m paying over $1500 for 2 days of travel I’m not just paying for a flying vessel to take me from point A -> C with a stopover at B. No. I’m paying for the perks, cleanliness, friendliness, comfort, and entertainment on the way that Indian (and many other) airlines just don’t have. Yes BA usually has a fair fare, but if I have to choose between Virgin Atlantic or Emirates vs Air India or Air China or China Southern, hell, take my credit card and another $1000 and give me a better experience. If Air India chooses to enhance its quality to match those of the “firangi” airlines, I promise you, more people will gladly fly. The original writer and many other Indians are only expecting the service they’ve paid for (just like anyone non-Indian on that flight). It’s a sad world if you’ve just accepted being discriminated against. Getting rid of the discrimination is where you should be “tightening the screws” and working on “betterment”.

    • Srikanth Gollamudi June 5, 2014 at 15:59 #

      Hi Amar sharma,
      I agree that although Poor Air India is bashed for its very unfriendly customer service, I had a better experience withthem. It is a different matter that th planes were old and did not have state of art entertainment systems, but the food is unparalled in quality and the senior citizens are better cared for. Jet of course was a breath of fresh air when it started its two flights/day out of Heathrow. This was better than the so called top airlines out of the Gulf. Take that Emirates!!

  5. Arjun June 5, 2014 at 11:18 #

    I had left a link to this article and asked British Airways for their response yesterday (4th June). Guess what? My comment was conveniently deleted :) I think the same quality of customer service prevails on their FB page too!

  6. Dhairyawan June 5, 2014 at 12:47 #

    It’s clear example of racial discrimination. Avoid BA in future. There plenty of options via Middle East

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:27 #

      Wake up buddy..Open your eyes and read the post..

  7. Vidy June 5, 2014 at 13:23 #

    Indians have a high regard for everything British and this is illogical. Customer service is something which most companies don’t take seriously and BA certainly ranks below other airlines. I don’t believe BA are racist or majority of the staff are. Cost cutting and profits are something which managers are more concerned about. It is likely the Europeans did not have to wait longer as there are number of flights between any major European city and London. I have no option but to fly BA as they are the only direct flight to Bangalore but generally the Emirates have always given a better in flight experience compared to BA.
    If you feel they have broken the rules litigate. That’s the only language these companies understand.

  8. Abhishek June 5, 2014 at 14:58 #

    I went through the entire blog and am surprised to see that you did not initiate any legal action. Am a lawyer and believe that one must claim for their rights and entitlements to make it clear to others that they cant take it for granted.

    I would request you, for the sake of other Indians to sue BA and start and consumer litigation and legal action against racial discrimination.

    • Corporate traveller June 5, 2014 at 15:21 #

      As a lawyer then, what losses are you suggesting be sued for here….?

  9. Pratiebha Pathania June 5, 2014 at 18:00 #

    Thanks for sharing these travel experiences. here i would also like to make a comment that it has been 9 years me traveling twice / thrice a year but no other airline treated people like AIRINDIA treats. These crew members are impolite, most of the times rude in behavior with there own countrymen. Not only that, I am following a refund case since March 10 2014, there is no action till date. Amazingly, i sent my email to the CEO Air-India as well. But no one seems to be interested to handle this. whenever, i am approaching them, they forward my email to someone & mark a cc to me & after that no action. I am so upset that i live in Oman & they want me to followup for my refund in India. However they have their branch office in Oman but they are not interested to provide a solution but just want to trouble their unfortunate customer. It is such a shame for the national airline. They are not bothered at all about the customers, about their image globally. I have no idea at the moment as to how to reach these officials to solve this issue although i did not receive any response from AIRINDIA CEO as well till date.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:30 #

      Well Mam..that is what we expect from Air India. What else we can mam?

      • Nemesis June 25, 2014 at 01:42 #

        Sam, the self appointed, language and grammar police. I saw how you tried to educate Shristi regarding proper usage of the English language. Let me educate your dumb a$$. It is NOT Mam. The correct contraction for Madam or Madame is Ma’am. Mam is the dimunitive form of Mother.

        Now let’s get to your English: “What else we can mam?” That is wrong on so many levels I’m not going to spend all that time trying to point it out to you(Besides you won’t understand it anyways). Next time look inwards before you make fun or disparaging comments about someone else’s post. Quote about people and glass houses and all that…

      • Ashu July 2, 2014 at 11:53 #

        Sam, is that the real name? Or is it something like Sameer Kumar. and you shortened it up to sound ‘cool’.
        Why are you so irritated in all your posts. Stop advising others without knowing their problems. You never know why someone may not have been able to travel.
        And yes, we know you have got lot of money. No need to publicize it here.
        Take a chill pill , you really sound like some old nagging lady.

  10. Piyush June 5, 2014 at 18:47 #

    This is an eye-opener. I am an avid traveller, almost 200K miles in a year. Never going to book British Airways, and thank god didn’t do it before. Three airlines are off the list now: Etihad / Air France and now British Airways. We as Indian travellers should boycott the airlines which even smack of racism against Indians. These guys earn a lot from us, and if they cannot treat us even on par then they can go to some other country.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:34 #

      Good for you buddy…If you are an avid traveler you should know how to plan your travel 1 hour in Heathrow for change in flights is not enough..I guess you already know that in your almost 200K (air miles I presume) per year experience. Keep on boycotting airlines whom you think are prejudiced against us.

      • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 15:30 #

        Thanks Sam to point out perfectly, Please don’t take as a racist(people who had bad experience with BA), I am really glad not to sit next to all attitude people on BA flight next time I fly, because they all boycott YIPPEE!

  11. Vishal Singh Jain June 5, 2014 at 20:04 #

    I am myself world traveler and what I have seen is that matter of fact Indians actually use words like ‘ sorry ‘ and ‘ thank you ‘ way way too much and are overtly in awe of WHITE for god knows what reason and most of them suddenly become mute to non sense and too much polite – one principle I have learnt working with Israeli’s is GIVE THE SHIT back that is what you have to do is to give the SHIT back and then see XYZ White or Black will give you equal respect.

    As for brits they born racist people and you have to make realize that you are spending is well above her pay grade to answer your questions.

  12. Raka June 5, 2014 at 20:16 #

    Snigda ..very unusual name. The incident that happened to you happens to 1 in 5 people. As a customer you have done 100% the right thing to ask, clarify and complain. Why are you dragging ethnicity into it…?why do you think that it was because you are an indian or all indians go through racial discrimination. Let me tell you dear friend, you were intimidated and frustrated which lead you to believe that you were racially discriminated. Sit back and try reeling the whole episode with a cool mind there will be certain learnings you would like to ponder upon. I genuinely belive that people are good to people and there is no hidden motive to behave inhumanly with another fellow being. If you go with a preconceived notion then the world hates indians then god help you.

    • Sam June 5, 2014 at 21:36 #

      Raka,

      Did you read that Snigha assumed that she can change her flights in an hour’s time in Heathrow…She did not do her homework and starts cribbing.

      • ravi August 28, 2014 at 22:38 #

        Sam

        I am a travel agent and here is the legal connection with BA, as per their system

        BA 114 F5 A4 J9 C9 D9*JFKLHR 2150 0955‡1 744 M
        R9 I5 W9 E9 T9 Y9 B9 H9 K9
        BA 139 F8 A7 J9 C9 D9* BOM 1055 0020‡1 777 M 0

        Please do not insult the intelligence of others.

    • Poulami Bhattacharya June 6, 2014 at 14:43 #

      well said, I totally agree! God help you Snigdha!

    • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 15:33 #

      100% agree with you Raka, well spoke.

    • Sattwik Chakrabarti June 30, 2014 at 18:02 #

      I really didn`t get what you tried to mean..Just for your information I flew London – Delhi route quite a few times in BA & AI both. (You can check my FB profile to verify the authenticity of my claim). Let me tell you that this bias does EXIST. The funny thing is it is not only in BA but also in AI !!! Our very own brothers & sisters in AI discriminating towards their own countrymen themselves !! This is a very subtle thing only a person with not too thick a skin would understand. Days are gone when people are thrown out of train for the color of his skin. But the thing still exists in very sublime form. Having said that I must also admit the behavior of customs & immigration officials & security in LHR is thousand times more courteous compared to their counterparts in India Airports.
      I do very much believe what Snigdha said with a rider that this phenomena is not only a BA proprietary, it`s practiced by many.

  13. ruchisahota14 June 5, 2014 at 22:50 #

    Yes I too had experience in BA in 2008 ….the crew look in odd manner to Indians and show as they are fed up with Indian passengers !!!

  14. Jeyaram Srinivasan June 5, 2014 at 22:54 #

    We had a similar experience. Same BA , same date and we were 4 passengers. We boarded an American Eagle from Columbus Ohio to Chennai via Chicago. We were issued boarding passes for all the three flights. But the arrival of the American Eagle flight was delayed. What is strange? The flight could not get a bay for over 25 minutes. In the bargain we reached and exited from this flight with 15 still to go for the BA296. The shuttle announced on board the domestic flight wasn’t waiting. One of the 4 passengers was a senior citizen and another, a minor. BA296 left without 4 passengers. I am now sure that they flew with 4 standby passengers, perhaps, Europeans. We were stranded at Chicago for 24 hours. We were re-routed via Frankfurt to Chennai next day. It was united airlines and not BA who provided us accommodation and food at Chicago. We arrived at Chennai one day late, completely dis oriented and only to find that 8 of our checked in baggage did not arrive. It took 5 days to get all the baggage. But, BA? I sent notification and complaints from 22 till a few hours before this reply. There is stoic silence. They have chosen to ignore me. Any legal remedy?

    • Corporate traveller June 5, 2014 at 23:46 #

      I’m sorry for your travel difficulties, but what exactly did BA do wrong here?

      You had a delayed inbound (not on BA), which caused you to miss the BA flight. BA then re-routed you the next day, presumably on United. Between AA, BA and UA, your baggage got lost then found again.

      What should BA have done differently??

      • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 14:35 #

        Totally agree.

  15. Marib1946 June 6, 2014 at 00:00 #

    I’m sorry but some of the replies on here are hilarious. “Racism” “Prejudice” “boycott the airline” “spread the word to friends” “Will not fly BA” etc etc
    Instead of soundbites, check out the FACTS.

    FACT- the travel agent booked a passenger a 60 minute connection, when they could have booked FOURTEEN, yes, FOURTEEN earlier flights instead.
    FACT- The travel agent clearly did not know that a 60 minute connection is totally unrealistic. Possible but unlikely.
    FACT-the trolley delay was the fault of Heathrow Airport Ltd, not BA
    FACT-BA fulfilled all its legal obligations by booking Snigdha onto the next flight to Mumbai AND giving her meal vouchers.
    FACT-Snigdha did not qualify for lounge access
    FACT-You cannot buy lounge access at Terminal 5
    FACT-Snigdha did not qualify for a hotel
    FACT -The member of staff was rude. If they were as Snigdha said, they weren’t racist as they would have said EXACTLY the same to a white person.

    I’m sure there are incidents of actual racism and prejudice by airlines to Indian Nationals out there….but this is not one of them. Take away all the smoke and mirrors…and in my view, BA did very little wrong other than the “wastage of time” comment.
    What this blog does show is the power of social media, and from that perspective, it’s fascinating to read !!

    Snigdha, hope next time you to head off on holiday, you don’t have such a bad time….but it’s your travel agent that owes you the biggest apology.

    • Corporate traveller June 6, 2014 at 01:21 #

      Excellent summary.

    • VIKASH CHOWDHURY June 6, 2014 at 15:11 #

      #Marib1946
      As I was on the same flight I would like to understand your fact:-
      1. FACT- the travel agent booked a passenger a 60 minute connection, when they could have booked FOURTEEN, yes, FOURTEEN earlier flights instead:-
      Please share the list of the fourteen earlier flights which has a code share with BA (except for Air India which was scheduled at 1:15).
      2. FACT- The travel agent clearly did not know that a 60 minute connection is totally unrealistic. Possible but unlikely :-
      When an airline is giving the choice of taking a flight in the next 60 minutes why would anyone want to be at any airport with the tiring journey one has to take and land in the following airport at midnight, I am sure you wouldnt have done the same. (Lets exchange shoes).. My question why have that choice in the first place and even if we do then the airline should put up a no-liability disclaimer.
      3. FACT-the trolley delay was the fault of Heathrow Airport Ltd, not BA:- I am not sure if you are from the airline industry, I am certainly not. But sources say that every airline flying in and out of any country and using the parking bay pays for the same. In this case if the trolley delay was caused by the Airport dont you think BA should have done something about the same and escalated the matter so that the parking bay could have been released for the next flight. I am sure they were aware that if not released in time a lot of passenger from the other airline could miss their connecting flight (or were they not at all bothered)
      4. FACT-BA fulfilled all its legal obligations by booking Snigdha onto the next flight to Mumbai AND giving her meal vouchers:-
      Legal obligation is to compensate according to the EU laws for the delays above 4 hours.
      Meal Vouchers:- Really GBP 10. Really, thats what you call compensation. (something to learn)
      5.FACT-Snigdha did not qualify for lounge access
      She definiataly did not qualify for lounge access but could have been given one since there was a delay of 12 hours.
      6.FACT -The member of staff was rude. If they were as Snigdha said, they weren’t racist as they would have said EXACTLY the same to a white person:-
      I really doubt that, I was traveling Business class and the person who was taking care of my booking had a rude tone in his voice. He tried to take over the situation by raising his voice and I took it further up which really toned him down. I am sure Snigdha would have faced the same.
      I am sure this is not a scene of racism but I think we are expecting a polite attitude after coming to know that the flight has been delayed for 12 hours anyone can get frustrated. I mean people from the hospitality industry needs to be a little more caring and gentle specially knowing that the person from the previous flight is already tired and cannot get to his final destination for the next 24 hours. There are other cheaper options available but people prefer these airlines because we think they are better then the cheaper options. If this is the case then why spend more money. This entire experience and hassle just makes me think that I will surely prefer other airline over BA (given a choice). I am not sure if you agree with me.
      Vikash

      • getsetandgo June 6, 2014 at 15:27 #

        Hi Vikash, thanks for sharing your views and experiences on this matter…. In fact you guys were business and hence didnt stand in the queue for long… We stood in the queue for an hour and hence had a chance to actually see the difference in behavior towards Indians and other non-Indian passengers…

      • Marib1946 June 9, 2014 at 13:55 #

        Vikash:
        1. Please share the list of the fourteen earlier flights which has a code share with BA (except for Air India which was scheduled at 1:15 )BA180,178, 1511,184,112,174,002, 1517, 176,116,1515,188,172. Correction, 13 as one arrives 5 mins after.
        2. My question why have that choice in the first place and even if we do then the airline should put up a no-liability disclaimer.
        The travel agent is supposed to be the expert & IATA set the 60 minute minimum connections, not the airline. It’s an allowable connection based on which terminal you’re arriving from and if you’re coming in domestic/international
        3. In this case if the trolley delay was caused by the Airport dont you think BA should have done something about the same and escalated the matter so that the parking bay could have been released for the next flight. I am sure they were aware that if not released in time a lot of passenger from the other airline could miss their connecting flight
        In an ideal world, yes, but Heathrow Airport Ltd own the trolleys.
        4. Meal Vouchers:- Really GBP 10. Really, thats what you call compensation. (something to learn)
        Voucher amounts vary depending on the length of the delay, but agree it’s not a lot.
        5. I am sure this is not a scene of racism but I think we are expecting a polite attitude after coming to know that the flight has been delayed for 12 hours anyone can get frustrated. I mean people from the hospitality industry needs to be a little more caring and gentle specially knowing that the person from the previous flight is already tired and cannot get to his final destination for the next 24 hours.
        Agree-politeness costs nothing
        6.This entire experience and hassle just makes me think that I will surely prefer other airline over BA (given a choice). I am not sure if you agree with me.
        It could have been any airline though. The important point from the blog (that I see) is that there was an important meeting she needed to be back for. Given that, I’d have taken one of the earlier connections if I were in her shoes.

    • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 14:58 #

      Couldn’t agree more,really glad you point out perfectly.

      • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 15:02 #

        I agree with Marib 100%.

  16. Vibhor Agarwal June 6, 2014 at 04:16 #

    Yes, its true..i have travelled with other lower cost airlines like Gulf Air and even the attitude of their staff was not bad..

  17. Sunil June 6, 2014 at 04:24 #

    I have always had a bad experience with BA.
    On one flight from London to Bangalore , I had made reservations for a non-veg meal. I was told by the airhostess that all non-veg meals were over and so, I would have to be served a vegetarian meal. No problem with that. But a few minutes later I saw them still serving non-veg meals to European passengers on the flight.

  18. blogger@mailinator.com June 6, 2014 at 07:11 #

    Snigdha, it’s simply terrible that BA gets away with such systematic behavior. But some of us don’t have far better choices for flying to Europe, do you mind sharing details about passenger rights and required compensation? At least we can travel while being informed.

  19. Anand Subramanian June 6, 2014 at 08:46 #

    Just fly Emirates…latest and large aircrafts…best service and absolute care for all passengers..best for old aged passengers..transiting via dubai is easy for us Asians..food and paid lounges also available and works 24 hours..should make eu airlines bleed to death..

  20. KD June 6, 2014 at 08:49 #

    I am a frequent flyer having flown over 600 times, 120+ in 2013 and 50+ in 2014 so am very familiar with many airlines.

    I have to say that missed connections are a common thing and often we miss a taxi, bus or train and simply have to await the next one. What exasperates this customer issue is the frequency of the service, but to be fair he did get on the next available flight, so I do not see a major issue here. There are so many people involved with aircraft movement that human and technical error will happen and it should be accepted.

    A large part of my traveling has been across India visiting major and second tier cities and I have flown all airlines including the late Kingfisher. I learnt in India very quickly that all staff are on the back foot and largely treated as domestic servants. The staff are spoken to obnoxiously and seem to respond despite a complete lack of courtesy and appreciation.

    I apologise for stereotyping as India is my favorite country in the world and I have some amazing friends and colleagues, but this has generally been my experience, so a generalisation is appropriate. Rude, un-courteous and demanding passengers offering no gratitude to their hardworking staff who are largely their for safety and not to serve you 10 cups of water before we event take off.

    I suspect that despite the service not necessarily being great with BA, the treatment may have resulted as a mirror of the person speaking.

    I personally receive great service with all airlines and they have always gone the extra mile, but this is because of my approach….. Yes I have experienced major delays, lost baggage, wrong meals, missed connections etc etc, but these have always been resolved because I smiled and politely sought resolve.

    India – I apologise for my generalisation, but treat as you wish to be treated and watch the transformation of a restaurant, of a city, of a country…… This applies to every situation and not simply international travel.

  21. Sanjeev mehta June 6, 2014 at 09:03 #

    Disgusting and shameful. The Air France episode of a few months ago was one.of the worst, this one is pretty close. I would suggest you put this on your Facebook and ask all your friends to spread the word. It’s best to avoid airlines like BA and AF, mid East carriers like EK QR EY are better options flying to Europe or the US, only thing they are.not direct.

  22. Poulami Bhattacharya June 6, 2014 at 14:36 #

    My advice to Snigdha- please don’t force something to look like something it is not. I suggest you highlight and complain about inefficiencies of ground staff of BA rather than turning it into a ‘racism’ propaganda. There is no evidence of any racist behaviour here, yes it was a flight to India, I am sure a lot of BA flights to EU and USA have met with similar inefficiencies, I suggest you research those case studies too before shouting and screaming ‘racism’, it’s an easy and cheap way to attract readership I admit but I myself being Indian feel embarrassed that some of us like to just pull the crowd by seeking refuge under the ‘racism’ umbrella.

    • Piyush June 6, 2014 at 15:08 #

      Oh comeon Poulami! She has given an example of why it is a racism case because they “deliberately” did not treat Indians properly, whereas the others were treated as a customer should be. I am not sure if you have been abroad or if you are a smug (looks more of a latter), but yes there is racism and it has to be dealt with. It is a matter of fact that European airlines even when you deal with their staff really politely / and actually better than others, treat Indians as if they are giving us a favor instead of the other way around. We are dealing with it, and please little bit less of smug will really help.

    • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 15:09 #

      Thank,Poulami to point out perfectly,

  23. Krishnan Rao June 6, 2014 at 15:59 #

    there is no doubt that the British are racist who hate the Indians more than any other Asians.perhaps this is due to the reverse colonisation which has been troubling them for long.I also agree with Neha who is honest about our own behaviour when travelling abroad.we are certainly no angels but most of us are not as obnoxious as she portrays. Mrs.Snigada certainly did not deserve this treatment.I am a seasoned traveller well versed in the ways of airport rules and regulations and in my experience British Airlines is undoubtedly the worst amongst various European airlines and I am not surprised by the above mentioned tale.the only sensible option is to avoid BA like a plague.

  24. Krishnan Rao June 6, 2014 at 16:30 #

    My wife who is a medical professional when travelling to Ireland had to go through Heathrow in transit.she had suffered a fractured leg(both bones) and was on crutches.when she asked for a wheel chair after disembarkation the BA attendant curtly refused her and asked my wife to fend for herself.needless to say she suffered great pain as the distances one has to walk in Heathrow are vast.I too have suffered racist behaviour while travelling to U.K by BA and also the british immigration officials (which includes some shameless Indians) who for some reason consider every Indian looking guy as a criminal.

    • asarpota June 6, 2014 at 19:54 #

      The sad part also being that if a Britisher comes to India and asks for some thing, we will bend over backwards to ensure they receive excellent treatment. Many do it thinking foreigner, many do it out of awe, some simply due to ass licking and this is what fuels them more. The one set of people who actually treat the Brits they should be.. The Aussies.. Of course, both being equally racist, they are meant for one another.

    • Gordon Broon June 8, 2014 at 02:34 #

      Wheelchair assistance needs to be booked in advance, simple as that.

      • Nat Diloklap June 9, 2014 at 15:13 #

        Thanks Gordon to point out perfectly, they claimed they frequent flight how did they don’t know that.

      • K Singh August 2, 2014 at 22:11 #

        Gordon Broon, how do you book something in advance while anticipating a mssed connection? I don’t think Nostradamus was on the flight.

  25. 360 Globe Trotter June 7, 2014 at 02:33 #

    Lets face it – we Indians are obnoxious (Not all but in general). Let us be honest and accept the fact. But that’s the way we have been brought up. We can see public indiscipline in post offices, banks, airports, railway stations and bus stands….. Of course we can see in the west also people cutting lines etc., but comparatively much less – people are well mannered in general. We definitely need better public discipline.

    That being said it does not mean we should be a silent spectator. There are airlines (like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa etc., ) whose staff are well trained to handle obnoxious passengers. Lets support them and avoid airlines who do not respect their passengers – that includes some India based Airlines (Not domestic but international. I think we have the best domestic airline services in the world) ! I have seen a couple times where Indians are looked down by our own airlines !!!

  26. Nita June 7, 2014 at 09:53 #

    I had a similar experience with them from London to Lax,it’s a shame that some of there staff are racist .Its the most horrible experience I had in my life as I had a infant and a toddler with me and no assistance .

  27. Team BlogAdda June 7, 2014 at 11:19 #

    This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

  28. akhtar khan yusufzai June 7, 2014 at 19:57 #

    around 4 years back i traveled on B.A. with my family to paris, i had to travel via heathro airport as i had a B.A. ticket. after the transit time when we went to board for the flight for paris my wife was stopped at the counter and told that she could not travel on that flight. i asked the lady officer what was the problem. she told me that the surname on her passport was not matching with that on their system.i was shocked and argued that why in the first place was she allowed to travel from mumbai if there was mistake in the surname. after a lot of hisel-hagle i was told to pay a fine for re issuing the ticket. THIS IS BRITISH AIRWAYS. ” HATS OFF”

  29. Vineet Khanna June 7, 2014 at 21:35 #

    Can I Say something here people….in a week’s time…this is the 2nd instance..
    British Airways cannot learn it ever…I am experiencing a similar delayt of 12 hours–JFK-LHR- MUM…
    and similar experience

  30. rishi June 8, 2014 at 11:11 #

    the biggest reason such things happen to Indians is we are not good in legal tears, If it was any US citizen, they would sue the hell out of BA. But we are happy with a simple apology, the guy in case of Air France didn’t sue them for racism, neither did you sir. If we do that, even in mumbai as they have offices here, they wouldn’t dare to repeat the same mistake.

  31. Assh June 9, 2014 at 14:59 #

    Agree that BA treatment was unfair but Snigdha as a seasoned traveller should know better about booking a connecting flight with only 1 hour buffer… you must know better than trusting travel agents blindly. Racism exists everywhere so there’s no point getting worked up or angry about it… Best way is to just tolerate and be nice. Just because Indians are racially profiled at airports for screenings doesnt mean one should get worked up about it and start yelling at the service person… especially since you are a visitor to that country anyways.

  32. Dilip June 11, 2014 at 11:51 #

    My experience with BA was Singapore–London return via Athens. I found the service similar to our Qantas; I live in Australia. On the flight I was asked to fill up a form with suggestions to improve BA services. Overall, I think, it is not condescension but neglect. Under similar circumstances, in Australia we raise our hand and politely ask for service. It happened with me once on the Brisbane–Melbourne flight; I nearly lost it until I demanded attention to my urgency. I think, these things happen. Unfortunately, we suffer from a sense of insecurity–and hence look for instances of inequality. I remind myself that I am neither superior nor inferior to them.

  33. Punam Chand June 12, 2014 at 11:07 #

    Hi Snigdha

    Sorry you had to go through such an experience and thank you for sharing it.

    It is important that we “the customers” of the service industry blow a whistle in such cases, like you have done. I think it is time that the service industry starts noticing that no matter what their ads or a handfull of loyal customers have to say, it is incidents like this which will make a bigger impact on their business. I am not shocked about what happened to you, but shocked that i have heard this many times in the past and there has been nothing done to improve their service.

    I guess it is time that these companies in service industry realise that their industry run and makes profit because of “the customers” who use it. Even if we cant change the way these companies treat us we can make sure they notice and improve it by just spreading the word as you done. We should make sure that other people also consciously contribute to this by not using their service unless there is a apology sent to you and all the customers they have ill-treated. Their service needs to be monitored and if their is no improvement I guess all travellers should just stop using their service.

    Its time we stand up for the ill-treatment we are exposed to and raise a voice against it.

    I am glad you bought it up and will look forward to the apology that you are going to share on your blog.

    Punam Chand

  34. spock888 June 14, 2014 at 07:47 #

    Try flying an American airline, they treat everybody badly! :-p

  35. Nalini June 23, 2014 at 15:23 #

    I am not sure what kind of compensation BA offered you. I had a very bad expereince with BA as well if not similar to yours. I emailed Keith few days before I read your post online. I got some generic reply from the customer services. Then I emailed him again, this time they gave me a compensation for the flight delay according to EU legislation.
    Although it doesn’t make up for what we’ve gone through, atleast there was some kind of accountability.

  36. shriram July 5, 2014 at 20:58 #

    Best is file a case against BA in India. Once few people who suffered like this file court cases against them here, they will learn their lessons.

  37. iamnotajackass July 16, 2014 at 01:41 #

    Sad to hear your terrible experience with BA.

    I have traveled New York-Mumbai few times and have awesome experiences with Virgin Atlantic. Last December, I had a transit at Heathrow and there was a gap of 1 hr 10 mins between the connecting flights. Unfortunately the queue at the security check was a bit long but the VA ground staff made sure that our security checks were expedited and in the meanwhile, the ground staff was in constant touch with the pilot of the connecting flight.

    Moreover, in-flight experience was superb. I had missed selecting veggie meal option while booking the flight. I requested stewardess for a veggie meal and even though the meal was limited, she managed to get one for me. In addition, the crew was extremely polite and showed that they care.

    I can write some more examples from VA experience but, in summary, I realize Richard Branson’s approach to serve and delight customers can be easily seen in VA’s staff. I am a huge fan of VA since then.

  38. Sougata Pramanick July 17, 2014 at 22:02 #

    British snobbery – not only BA but also some of the respondents !

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