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 !!!!!-

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


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


1,171 Responses to “Indians comfort and loss of time is of no value to British Airways”

  1. Vivek Mehra July 30, 2015 at 01:23 #


    Travelling with Finnair has always & always been a pleasure & this time it had been my worst travel in life by travelling on British Airways, though while going to USA was kind of OK , but on the way back to New Delhi from JF Kennedy Airport, New York Flight No. BA 172 took off very late on 22nd September 2013, more than an hour late from New York, so till the time the flight took off , the temperature in the cabin got very hot & instead of putting the A/c temperature lower, the serving staff didn’t even serve water, however the flight started late by around 1hour & 15 minutes, the British Airways host in my row Seat No. 51 F was a racist man named RAY, he was not courteous enough to ask me for water instead he was happy serving the white clients & maybe I being an Asian was not a good customer to him, so I asked him for water, he behaved as if he had not heard what I said & moved ahead, I had to literally get up after 15 minutes & ask him again for water & finally he brought in a glass of water after 45 minutes of asking him for the same, initially I thought maybe this man RAY was hard in hearing but it happened again to me & I realized that actually he was racist because the next time again he passed away with the trolley of drinks & did not ask me even once if I needed something to drink, strange, so when he came back again with a coffee kettle in his hands, I politely asked him for some red wine & his instantaneous response was so rude that I was shocked at what he said & how he said to me, he rudely answered , we are serving coffee right now & not wine, Sir & he very cunningly smiled at me, so it was my turn now , I stood up tried to read his name badge & all I could get was RAY written on it. I stared at him & without saying a word to him I sat down on my seat & went on staring at him, finally he went & came back with a wine bottle & a glass & gave it to me & the same behavior of his went on till the flight landed at Heathrow at 5 minutes to 10.00 am, so without wasting time I had to run literally to catch my connecting flight to New Delhi which was scheduled to depart at 10:20 hours from Heathrow & by the time I went through my security check & reached with my boarding card at the entry gate just before last security check for which you climb the last flight of stairs at Heathrow, London, the Gentleman sitting there told me that I had missed the flight because I was late, I told him politely that I needed to reach New Delhi anyhow by that night as I had a very important meeting scheduled for 10:3o am , the next morning but he said he was helpless & asked me that I should go to the helpdesk & reschedule me for the next earliest available flight.

    The lady sitting at the helpdesk that a Virgin Atlantic flight was available at 22:30 hours, I requested her that I had an very important meeting early next morning otherwise I would not be able to catch the meeting wherein my customer from Hamburg was supposed to negotiate & place a new order worth US$ 85,000/=, she tried again , requested someone on the intercom & finally gave me a seat No. 27 E on the 17:35 hours British Airways flight No. BA 257 to New Delhi which was actually 8 hours later than my original flight with a meal voucher of just £ 10/= to me for having some refreshments though I am a One World member & a frequent flier member of at least 9 Airlines in the World & have been flying internationally since the last 29 years , never ever I have faced such a kind of callous service/harassment from any Airlines in my flying history, imagine I could not even get an aisle seat for the inconvenience I got from British Airways, let alone the £ 10/- meal voucher given to me?

    I thanked my stars when I sat in flight No. BA 257 as I was relieved that finally I would somehow reach on time in the morning for the important meeting with my German customer, alas there was more harassment in store for me, though the flight & the staff service was good, my 2 checked in baggages did not arrive when I landed in New Delhi on the morning of 24th September 2013, I waited at the luggage belt for at least an hour but both my strolleys were missing till the last bag came out on the belt, I had this important hard disk of mine which had the entire stored data of my business trip to New York & my personal camera( Sony TSC 1/B 16 MP Waterproof Digital Camera), I was so afraid at that time & again I had to go to the British Airways desk to lodge for the missing suitcases in the morning, the service manager there , Mr Lalit Rawat asked me to handover my original baggage tags & gave me a plain printed receipt mentioning my Baggage tag Nos, BA 138443 & BA 138444 & told me that the luggage would be sent to me at my home as soon as it arrives, I filled up a form where this man suggested that the amount that I should mention for the goods containing in those 2 missing suitcases should not be more than Rs. 25,000/= otherwise I would have to come myself to get them custom cleared on my own whereas I had lot of personal used stuff which was more than a lakh of rupees but I had no other option but to mention whatever this duty manager said?

    My luggage finally arrived today evening at 16:15 hours this evening at my home & I was shocked to see the condition of one of my original Jeep 75cms Soft Strolley worth US$ 340/=( please find the pictures attached) was sealed with plastic strands & when I opened the plastic strips/locks , I found my personal camera worth US$ 194/= missing from the same suitcase?

    In normal circumstances I would not have asked for such compensation from the Airlines, but being harassed so much at the hands of British Airways & its flying staffer MR RAY & finally the torn & broken condition of my branded strolley & my missing Sony camera, I want a compensation from British Airways or otherwise I would have to claim compensation in a different way(legal way)?

    Sony TSC1/B 16MP Waterproof Digital Camera: US$ 160.00
    Jeep Original 75 cms Strolley: US$ 200.00
    Delayed Luggage for Suitcases:US$200/each: US$ 400.00
    Harassment & missed flight due to BA callousness: US$500.00

    TOTAL: US$1260.00

    I would appreciate that British Airways expedite this claim of mine within a 15 days period of this complaint otherwise I would be forced to take the legal & the media way to claim what is due to me & which I am asking for is far below than what I have faced at the hands of British Airways?

    Waiting for a immediate & positive response from your side,


    Vivek Mehra….

    I am sure this is very important because I don’t want the same treatment meted out to any Asian again by British Airways or its staff anywhere in this World, they should not even think once that they are superior to us in any way & they can get away with this by not replying to the complaints of losses & harassment of Asians like us?

  2. ANAND KUMAR GUPTA November 5, 2015 at 12:01 #

    We (I Mr. Anand Kumar Gupta, BA Club Membership No. 16458460 and my wife Mrs. Arunima Gupta BA Club Membership No. 16458533) had booked our flights by British Airways (BA) for journey from Mumbai India to London U.K., New Jersey U.S.A. and back. We were given confirmed booking by BA vide Booking reference: ZT794Y and the following flights:
    Flight 1: BA0198 on Tue 12 May 2015 for the sector Mumbai – Heathrow London in World Traveller Class; departure time 13:05 hrs. and arrival time 18:10 hrs.
    Flight 2: BA0189 on Sat 1 Aug 2015 for the sector London Heathrow – Newark Liberty International (NJ) (New York) in World Traveller Class; departure time 17:05 hrs. and arrival time 19:35 hrs.
    Flight 3: BA0178 on Sun 25 Oct 2015 for the sector John F Kennedy (NY) (New York) – Heathrow London in World Traveller Class; departure time 09:30 hrs. and arrival time 20:15 hrs.
    Flight 4: BA0199 on Sun 25 Oct 2015 for the sector Heathrow London – Mumbai (arrival in Mumbai on Mon 26 Oct 2015) in Club World Class; departure time 21:25 hrs. and arrival time 11:45 hrs. on 26 Oct 2015.
    The Itinerary issued by BA showed even our seat nos.
    We did perform journeys on flights BA0189 (Flight 1) and BA0189 (Flight 2) and on Sat 1 Aug 2015 we did comfortably arrive in New Jersey USA for having a vacation there.
    On July 15, 2015 my wife received an email from BA on the subject, “Time Changes”. It read, “We are sorry to advise you that there has been a change to the time of your flight BA0199” and further intimated the change to the effect that flight time had changed from 21:25 hrs. to 21:00 hrs. It further specifically mentioned the following.

    Next steps

    We hope you are happy to travel at the new flight time. If so, you don’t need to do anything else – we have taken care of everything
    There was no further intimation to us and we were happy that we had patronised British Airways, which appeared to be humane.
    However, on Sat 24 Oct 2015 when I Logged in on BA Website and tried to make Online Check-in, 24 hrs. before the Flight BA0178 (Flight 3), for returning to India from New Jersey USA, I was shocked to find the prompt somewhat to the effect that there were no flights in our names in BA records.
    Being totally surprised and thoroughly shocked I contacted BA helpline over phone at around 10:00 hrs. Initially someone seemingly a novice talked to me but when I impressed upon the person the seriousness of the matter, I was put through to another person named Neha to whom I explained that I had certain plans for things to do in Mumbai upon arrival there by flight BA0199 on 26 Oct 2015 at 11:45 hrs. and also for reaching my home in Ahmedabad Gujarat from Mumbai, the person named Neha told me that she had understood my problem and would take appropriate action to see that we don’t have to miss our flights that were planned as long back as May 2015 and for which a confirmation was already given to me by BA through the itinerary issued to me, the person Neha told me that she would call back in two (2) hrs. after fixing the matter. It was around 13:30 hrs. when the person Neha had told me as above.
    I kept on waiting up to 16:30 hrs. and then called BA helpline once again. This time after initial conversations I was put through to another person, a lady, of whom I have forgotten the name. She once again tried to understand my problem and after telephonic discussions for about 2 hrs. she told me that she would definitely do something to see that we are able to perform air travels as per the original schedule and told me that this would take some time and that she would call back in two hours.
    I waited up to 20:30 hrs. and when I didn’t receive any call from BA I was very worried and sick but I somehow gathered strength to first find out the contact number of BA in London and then made a call to this number. This time the call was answered by a lady, seemingly European and competent(name of this lady I don’t remember at this juncture). She did help us by way of suggesting another set of flights such that we would be able to arrive in Mumbai, India, on early hours of Mon 27 Oct 2015 at 00:20 hrs. so that we would be able to board our flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on Mon 27 Oct 2015 as per our original plans. Thankfully, she was so kind as to do the required due diligence and fix up our travel back to India and later on emailed to me confirmation of the following travel itinerary.
    Flight BA0184, 19:35 hrs., Sun 25 Oct 2015 Newark Liberty (NJ0 (New York) – Heathrow (London) in class World Traveller Plus and
    Flight BA0139, 19:35 hrs., Mon 26 Oct 2015 Heathrow (London) – Chhatrapati Shivaji Intl (Mumbai) in class World Traveller Plus.
    Thus, although we were able to reach Mumbai India but British Airways did knowingly or unknowingly harmed us by causing unnecessary harassment to us firstly by unilaterally cancelling our confirmed flight reservations without any intimation whatsoever. My age is 75 years and I am a cardiac patient and my wife is aged 68 years and she suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hypertension that is why we had originally planned to travel the last leg of journey {from Heathrow (London) to Mumbai} by Club World Class so that we would not be required to keep sitting on chair beyond about 8 hrs. and would be able to stretch ourselves on fully reclining seats provided by BA in Club World Class. Secondly, I had planned a dinner meeting with some one in Mumbai on evening of Mon 26 Oct 2015 in Hot arrival in Mumbai on el Orchid at Santa Cruz (where we did stay on Tue 27 Oct 2015 after arrival by BA0139 at about 00:20 hrs.). I would specially like to mention here that I had specially paid for and selected our Seats in all 4 flights to suit us for our comfort for long journeys but BA messed it all thus displaying its unscrupulous business tactics and inhuman treatment to non-European and non-US passengers.
    British Airways had been our favourite airlines, since several years, for our annual travels to UK and USA for meeting our sons and their families. It is unfortunate that this airlines acted to take control of our lives in a destructive manner in a totally unethical way of business handling without caring that humans cannot be treated like cargo. This episode has exposed the highest level of cruelty and unscrupulous manner of British Airlines with which it can treat Indian passengers in particular – this I dare say because I am one hundred per cent sure that the airlines would not have dared to handle American passengers in this unscrupulous manner.

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